"No Cause to Worry"
It was worth one last try before the opening. She had the whole day. She called for the car to take her back across the bridge to Brooklyn, to the two-story building that looked like an old factory. But first she asked the driver to take her to Seventh Avenue, to a restaurant called Alva’s Cafe.
“Djyou know Alba?” the driver asked, suddenly becoming friendly, which was surprising, because he hadn’t said much of anything to her in all their trips over the bridge and back.
“Que?” asked Isabel, not thinking about what she was saying, with Lita on her mind again and the opening later. She had to call Raymond. Christopher had promised to come to the hotel to do her hair. He and Raymond had picked out a dark maroon dress and boots, had helped her find long earrings and a silk scarf patterned with dark orange flowers and dark green leaves and they chose elegant slim suede gloves. Christopher had left her hair long and wavy.
“Alba, Alba Pattersohne,” he said. And then he spoke of Alva and the café and all the people he took there. “Me, I’m Benny. Alba my good fraynd. Good lady. Helping eberywon lots of times.” He smiled at the rear view mirror.
Isabel moved forward so she could talk to him more easily. She asked him about the café, about Alva, about who went there and if Alva really knew everyone.
“Si si,” said Benny. “Alba know eberywon, all ober.”
This gave Isabel a little lift and as she looked out the window at the river below them she thought about the Pacific and how far away it seemed now. Soon they were pulling up at Alva’s Café and Benny was telling her to ask for Raoul, that he would know where Alva was.
Inside she hesitated, not knowing exactly what to do. And then Benny was beside her, pointing toward the back of the restaurant to a large woman wearing a bright red skirt and a print blouse. She was laughing at something a big man standing next to her had said.
“Alba,” said Benny, and, taking Isabel’s arm, he led her to where Alva was standing. When they reached her she broke into a big smile and hugged little Benny, engulfing him for a moment.
“Alba, I bring you someone,” he said.
Isabel smiled tentatively and extending her hand, introduced herself.
“Oh honey, I know that name. Your friend Ray was in here not three days ago with a story . . . lands, I know you looking for someone dear. Come on over here where we can talk. You men get something to eat for this child,” she hooked her arm into Isabel’s and led her to a table by a back window.
“I been looking for your girl,” Alva said. “Now don’tchyou worry none. I think I know where she’s at.”
“Is she all right?” Isabel asked. “I haven’t talked to Ray since . . . ” she stopped.
“What I hear is she’s fine, just fine, honey. You got no cause to worry, although I know it’s hard not to worry ’bout your baby. That address you got, they’s artists living in there, and some only work there. It ain’t exactly legal, so lots of them don’t answer they buzzers less they know who’s doin’ the ringin’,” she said.