(Author’s note: Another brief sequence from the novel. And again, there are no hyperlinks in the story.)
A bellow summoned Bess, not the call of a passenger hanging out another automobile window, but from behind me. Thumb again deployed, I pivoted into the image field of a professional camera lens. Its operator snapped my picture, once, twice, and based on the whirs and clicks, perhaps a dozen times.
“Wait,” I said. He ignored the cease signal of my upraised palm, a request for time to declare my identity.
The scruffy photographer ignored me. “Nice do.” The remark oozed sexist objectification, not sincere compliment. The paparazzo affixed the lens cover and scooted away, satisfied yet unaware of his unwitting score.
A young woman watched the incident from a nearby building entryway, loitering while she slaughtered her lungs with a sticky paste of combusted tar. An oversized emerald-green sweatshirt proclaimed an institutional identity across her bosom, the yellow block letters U V M.
The enthusiasm of Bess supporters encouraged me to play along, but after the photojournalist’s questionable leer and picture making, I asserted myself on the one person who observed and said nothing. “I am not Bess. I’m her twin sister Tess.” I wanted to shout out to the world about my new family.
The student ignored the explanation and offered advice on my do. “It made you look twenty. I like it, and you received my vote in the primary. I’ll vote for you again in November. But I doubt older Vermonters will like the look, Bess.”
“I’m not Bess.”
“Yes well, you sure could fool me, were you an impostor.” The student finger-punted the spent butt to the sidewalk and extinguished it with a foot mash. “Later.” She walked away, fooled.