There was Annette on the screen, beaming like So You Can See Me. Close, but not too close to the camera. She was holding up a book and saying something, though Gian couldn’t hear it. The cover of the book said Interview with the Vampire. Video Annette tapped her French-tipped fingers on it. Real Annette’s fingers were not French-tipped, which was too bad. Still, they were slender, long, Please Look At Me type fingers. Reassuring, We Hold Things Nicely.
“Turn it up,” Ma said.
“It’s up all the way,” Annette said. “It’s soft on purpose. You’re supposed to wear headphones to get the full effect.” She was a teeny bit out of line talking to Ma that way, but he could forgive her for it. She was drunk and he was Invincible. Plus, maybe she didn’t know how to deal with real, live scrutiny. Plus, Ma kind of deserved it.
Under the video it said “Relaxing Librarian Roleplay” and “MysteryWhispery” and also “5,028.”
“This helps you sleep?” he asked.
“It works for me.”
“He doesn’t sleep well,” Ma said. Gian shot Ma a Don’t Start.
“Do you need help finding something?” Video Annette whispered loud enough to hear.
“You don’t?” Real Annette asked him.
“Yes!” Ma shouted because sometimes she got tired of repeating things.
“Alright,” Real Annette laughed. “Watch it later with headphones. By yourself.”
Video Annette whispered, “I can give you some suggestions.”
“Okay,” Gian said, very cool and nonchalant again. Ma radiated like Mary in one of those Madonna with baby Jesus prints. Yes, this whole Annette asking him to watch her thing was a Big Deal. Yes, it looked like he would not be watching Bob Ross reruns with Ma while she repeated “The world is beautiful” after all.
Ma held her hands out in a Well Look At This. He couldn’t help but shoot her an Invincible smirk.
After Annette left, Gian took the laptop up to his room. Ma didn’t mind. She was vegging out in front of American Experience.
Annette had shaken his hand and said, “Let me know if it works.”
“Definitely,” he’d told her, cautiously optimistic.
He brushed his teeth, turned off the light and settled into bed. The laptop glowed.
Annette had left YouTube on the screen. There was a triangle Play button, like a VCR’s. He was now about 25% Invincible, more than enough to press Play.
Video Annette reappeared, tapping her fingers on Interview with the Vampire.
“I’ll be your librarian,” she whispered.