Scratching her head, Eny returned to her seat on the bed and resumed her writing:
He utters raw and raucous notes;
He lifts his glossy, glinting pinions …
Eny was on her feet at once. “That wasn’t the wind!” she said to herself. “The wind doesn’t say pssst!”
But when she made a second investigation—creeping to the window on all fours so as to be as small and inconspicuous as possible—the street was silent and empty. She thought about closing the sash, but it was too hot. Besides, if her new theory were correct—if the Other World really could break through in a place like Hollywood—then there was really no reason to be scared. Her curiosity was roused, and she wanted to see what might happen next. She went back to the bed and took up her poem for the third time.
“He dives into the sun,” she wrote.
“Hssst! Young miss!”
This time she didn’t jump or start. Neither did she look towards the window. She perked up her ears and listened.
Someone was calling her. It was almost as if she were expecting it. Lifting her head from the page, she put the pencil aside and got to her feet.
Come out! There was something about that voice, something in its tone… as if it had the power to cast a sort of spell over her. She was not afraid. On the contrary, rarely had she felt so calm and collected. Slipping the notebook back into her pack, she picked up her fiddle and walked slowly to the living room.
At the front door she paused. Come out the voice had said. It seemed crazy, but Eny felt inclined to obey. Slowly she reached for the door-knob. She undid the latch. And as she stood there, ready to fling open the door, there came a gentle knock.
She had not forgotten what her mother had told her. She remembered that this was Hollywood. She knew that the streets weren’t safe, that people couldn’t be trusted, that crimes of all kinds were common in this neighborhood. “And yet,” she said to herself, “Mom never said, ‘Don’t go out.’ She just said, ‘Don’t let anybody in.’”
Tap, tap. The knocking again. Someone was rapping, lightly but persistently, at the other side of the door. There was nothing harsh or threatening in that knock. It was a friendly knock. It was patient and kind.
What if this were Santa Piedra? she thought. What would I do then?
Already she knew the answer. Tucking her violin under one arm, she opened the door and stepped out into the night.
Nobody was there. Strange, thought Eny, squinting into the darkness. She looked to the left. Nothing but dusky oleanders. She looked to the right. The lights of the apartment building next door winked at her through the leaves of an elm. Some bits of paper stirred on the sidewalk in the sultry breeze. A dog barked in the distance. A moth fluttered around the porch light.
And then, without warning, she was falling. Someone grabbed her and pinned her arms behind her back. A hand clapped over her mouth. Another seized her fiddle. She gasped and tried to scream. She twisted and kicked and struggled to wrench herself free.
At last she slipped down into an engulfing blackness and knew no more.
* * * * * * * *