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The Roommates – Fast Forward to 2019: Chapter 20
Bette popped a piece of gum into her mouth before climbing into the elevator of Sidney’s building. James was on his way. As the elevator car ascended, Bette could feel her pulse race. She had asked James to pick up some coffee and bagels. It would give her time to get to the loft, deal with her own anxiety, and clean up just in case anything needed it.
Her jaws moved quickly as she chewed on the cinnamon-flavored cube, popping the gum between her teeth. Her hand shook when she unlocked the door and she stood in the doorway for a moment before going inside.
The air smelled of stale cigarettes. Bette felt just as vulnerable as she’d felt the last time she was here. Her hand moved to the bandage on the side of her head. She glanced at the couch and the coffee table. The vodka bottle was still on the floor. Her strides were rapid and angry as she marched over and picked it up, throwing it in the trash. Next, she emptied the overflowing ashtray and then put away the bottle of scotch that remained on the table. She grabbed a towel and cleaned the tabletop. Standing back to inspect it, she felt better. At least something was now under control.
She moved to the far wall, opening up the windows to let in the fresh air. And then she stripped the bed and changed the linens. Anything to keep moving and not having to think about where she was and what had happened two days before. In short order, the living quarters became presentable and just as she was bagging up the trash, she heard a brief rap on the door before it opened.
James arrived at 7:25 am, coffee and bagels in hand. Bette set up their spread on the coffee table and checked the camera, ensuring it was ready to snap photos. She and James set up a numbering system for the pieces and got started, moving through Sidney’s charcoals, oil paintings, and a handful of sculptures. Sidney was a prolific artist and there were more than 27 pieces to view.
As they got lost in the work, Bette felt herself relax. This was where she shined; reviewing and critiquing art. Her dark brown eyes studied strokes, textures, colors, emphasis. It was amazing to watch her work. James moved with her as they moved from piece to piece. He typed notes as she took photographs and provided commentary regarding adjustments and modifications. She also gave ideas to enhance the presentation of each piece.