Here I was at an exclusive eatery with Marilyn and was so intrigued by her I could have cared less about the meal.
I wanted to know everything about this beautiful girl who lost her identity and now was haunting my dreams
“You know you’re asking me to do the impossible,” she teased.
“You’re asking an amnesiac to tell you about herself.”
We both laughed—it broke the ice a little.
“Just the facts, Ma’m,” I said in my best Joe Friday voice, “meaning, the facts as you know them, or have been told about them…”
“Okay, I get the picture,” she giggled.
She took a sip of her wine and then began.
“Ella Whitcombe spotted me standing in the pouring rain, looking bewildered. She came out and brought me inside—I vaguely recall that—but how I got there or why, I have no idea.”
“It must have been frightening,” I said.
“I was absolutely terrified. Nothing made any sense, including the way I was dressed.”
“How were you dressed?”
“Like I stepped right out of the Thirties—a black cloche hat, and matching gloves, handbag and shoes and a beige calf-length wool knit dress—all thoroughly water logged.”
She stared off into space as if picturing the scene.
“Ella was kind—she dried me off, gave me a housecoat and a hot cup of tea—but when she began asking my name and where I lived, I went completely blank. It was as if God took a giant eraser and poof! —All my past disappeared.”
“Were you injured in any way—were there any signs of physical trauma?”
“None. There wasn’t a mark on me. That was the first thing they did when the police took me to the hospital. I was thoroughly examined for head injuries or shock resulting from an accident. There was nothing.”
“That’s weird,” I consoled her.
“It was bizarre. The psychiatrist saw me and formed me—they kept me in the psychiatric ward for a month and then transferred me to a convalescent type facility—but after three months, they released me into Ella’s care.”
“Why was Ella so interested in you?”
“She said I reminded her of a favorite niece who died tragically when she was about my age. She visited me every day in the hospital and kind of adopted me—took me under her wing and treated me as if I were her own.”
“Remarkable and compassionate. Without Ella’s help, I don’t know where I’d be—not that I know anyhow.”
“So, Ella offered you the job running the bookstore and let you live in the apartment above it?”
She nodded. “She’s been a real angel of mercy—that’s why I call her grandmother—she’s as much a grandmother to me as if I were her step-daughter or niece.”
“Do you still see a psychiatrist?”
“Every week. He’s tried everything to stimulate my memory, but to no avail.”
I decided to broach the topic that would be of interest to Abe.
“I understand he doesn’t want the police questioning you at all.”
“He thinks it could be dangerous to force any kind of recall.”
“What if you never regain your memory?”
She shrugged. “I guess I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing now—not really knowing what to do, I suppose. Life would be so wonderful, if we only knew what to do with it.”
I chuckled. “That’s Greta Garbo, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” she asked—“I thought I just said it off the top of my head.”
“No, I’m almost positive it was Garbo—I’ll look it up. If it is Garbo, it’s appropriate—she was a mystery woman in her own right.”
I might have added Marilyn also wove her own mystery, but I think she already knew I had fallen under her spell.
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