Are You Adaptable (part three)
Stenner touched her arm lightly, pointed up the brick pathway. “Your intuition is good, though. Walk with me a little farther and I’ll show you.”
Intuition, Beloye thought, wasn’t the word. She had too much imagination. Even so, she was pleased, rather than startled, to have come across Stenner. Or had he come across her? She must have been standing, contemplating a tree, the way normal visitors at Green Mount would contemplate a plastic wreath—
Did it look good, propped like that? Was it enough money?
“Look around,” Stenner invited. Shaggy cedars bent heads in Greek-chorus clusters; oaks, even half denuded, black and latticed against the sky, interlocked twigs and sheltered their charges.
Green Mount was a park where no one loitered. Only an elderly generation who’d bought their plots decades earlier remained to be interred here. Otherwise, people used its walkways, took shortcuts over its swards, admired its fall leaves, let their dogs run unleashed.
She could feel…with minor regret…no paranormal vibe. She saw the tilted headstones, but Stenner wanted her to see the local merchants, the apartments above their stores, the money towering up beyond, the high rises.
“There are vast sums to be made.”
He looked fixedly at one tower in particular, with its three abutted promenances, the center thrust out like a ship’s prow, the flankers receding, all encased in silvered glass. Of this, the panels fit so seamlessly, that moving clouds, then a passing helicopter, appeared like stories multiplying on an array of television screens.
“Stacked human units, the choicest spaces selling for seven, eight figures. This is a nice little area, right? See all this undistinguished, unpreservable, unprofitable, real estate? You got a genuine, old-fashioned coffee shop, Radice’s over there. You got a dry cleaner’s, carryout, curio shop…dash em all off the street and put up another tower. But,” he laughed, “you can’t encroach on burial ground.”
“Then, what you were thinking…”
Vantage points must converge where they stood. Who knew what could be seen from the tower penthouse? From the studio rentals above the storefronts? What sport for pranksters?
“I don’t see what they would have to gain,” she tried.
At this, and all at once, she felt intolerant of obnoxious conversations with men. She jerked a strand of hair from her collar, and turned a sharp eye on Stenner. His expression was amiable, encouraging.
“Yesterday, you said you thought someone was playing a trick, making spooky effects to scare off dummies. Just now you started talking about the tower. You want me to guess something, is that it?”
Are You Adaptable
(2015, 2018, Stephanie Foster)