a valet in a black uniform took joe’s car keys and directed joe and sonia to a set of stone steps, almost hidden in the dusk, that led up to mister madison’s house.
a servant took joe’s and sonia’s coats.
the party, which promised to be a sedate one, was just starting.
sonia knew some of the people there, joe did not know any. commissioner morton had obtained them an invitation so that he could introduce them both to mr madison.
joe had never heard of mr madison, and even sonia, who knew everything and almost everybody, was not sure who he was.
but commissioner morton seemed to think he was important. important enough that he had to be informed of the new plan of sonia’s that the commissioner had approved.
while they waited for mr madison and the commissioner to appear, sonia introduced joe to some of the other guests.
sonia had warned joe that many of the guests might seem very rude, especially in the manner in which they would ask questions of complete strangers, of which joe would be one to them.
sonia was dressed as stylishly as always, but joe was wearing clothes one step up from a homeless person, so that it would be assumed that he was either tremendously wealthy, or some kind of genius.
joe and sonia had concocted a cover story for joe. they decided on one that would arouse people’s contempt, so that they would not suspect it of being made up.
an overweight fellow with an unkempt beard was the first person to approach them.
“sonia, my old friend, how nice to you,” the bearded man began. “who’s this punk?”
“hello, cleve, it’s nice to see you too. this is joe. joe, this is cleve.”
“joe, eh? who are you, joe, and what do you do?”
“i’m a filmmaker.”
“a filmmaker! but everybody is a filmmaker! what else do you do?” cleve asked.
“i’m just a filmmaker,” joe answered.
“i see. does anybody get to see the films you make?”
“no, they are private.”
cleve considered joe’s baggy corduroy pants. “so, you don’t derive any income from them?”
“where do you derive your income?”
“my family owns some islands in the pacific.”
“which islands? australia? japan?”
“i’m not at liberty to say.”
“hmm. well, happy filmmaking.” cleve moved away. “sonia, always a pleasure to see you.”
“always nice to see you, cleve.”
“that went pretty good, i thought,” joe said when cleve was out of sight.
“perfect. let’s move around, we don’t want to look like we are avoiding people.”