The Long Road Home, Chapter 9: Scenic Byway (Alice)

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Chapter 9: Scenic Byway

I was completely amazed at the changes ten short years had made on New York. When I had fled the city, terrified of being pursued by Corin and his Volturi stooges, the city had seemed so much less...modern. The gaslights were almost all gone now, and the skyline was becoming cluttered with skyscrapers.

I had slipped unnoticed from the hold of the mail ship in the commercial docks after dark and had disappeared into the night, knowing I had to make myself more presentable and come up with money and new clothes. It couldn't be helped that I came out of the belly of that boat looking like a drowned rat, bedraggled and filthy, but that didn't mean I had to stay looking like one.

The first thing I had to do was get my hands on some money, which wasn't a problem. I still had substantial holdings in the banks that I had foreseen wouldn't close during the stock market crashes of 1929 and thereafter, not to mention several stashes of cash hidden in certain places all over the city. Knowing I couldn't very well walk into a bank the way I was, I had to settle for one of my hidey-holes, and hope that the human currency I'd hidden away ten years before was still good.

Central Park at night was deserted, the moonlight gleaming off the lake, the trees black cutouts against the sky; it was quite lovely. I found the particular bridge I needed and swung myself underneath it, prying a particular stone out of its mortar with my fingers, revealing my cache: paper money, coins, some jewelry, a few identity documents, and keys to the safe deposit box at the Manhattan branch of the Bank of New York that held a great deal more cash and gold, as well as bearer bonds and stock certificates.

I had known when I made these arrangements that I would be coming back to New York flat broke and empty-handed, but not all the particulars, since seeing that far ahead isn't easy, given all the twists and turns life can make. Once again, I blessed my lucky stars for my visions; they made life so much simpler. I had nothing but pity for those who were adrift on the merciless current of fate without any kind of compass-the future was scary enough for me, who could see it; I shivered at the thought of not being able to do so, how blind and alone everyone else must feel.

Cash in hand, I found the dress shop I saw in my mind right where it should be, and easily managed to jimmy the lock and let myself in. The shop would be dark and deserted till the morning; I moved around easily, picking out a few items, basic things that would wear well. I knew I wasn't staying long in New York, but there was no need not to be pretty and stylish.

Once I had made my selections I went into the back of the store and used the bathroom facilities to give myself something resembling a washing; I rinsed my hair out in the sink (it stunk of engine oil and salt water), cleaned off all the traveling grime, and dressed myself in clean clothes. I felt like a new woman afterward as I spun around in front of the mirror, admiring the way the swingy skirt of my pearl-grey drop-waist dress swirled around my knees. New patent-leather mary jane shoes, kid gloves, a dark-grey duster coat and a jaunty little pillbox hat completed the ensemble to my satisfaction.

I slung a black purse over my shoulder and dropped my cash and documents inside, except for the pile of money I left sitting on the counter by the cash register, along with a detailed inventory of what I'd taken. I knew the shop owner would come in the next morning and be completed baffled by what she found, but I tried my best not to steal anymore if I didn't have to. Anyway, with my gift, it made it really inexcusable to be rude.

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