Rocky and Hank Know Fake Alice is a Fake
Originally written for NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2022. Requirements: crime caper with a subject of plastic surgery and a drunkard as a featured character.
“That’s what I’m saying, man, just look at her — look at how she is, man. Look at her body and her hands, man — you see what I’m saying?”
Rocky and Hank peered over the back of the couch in the common area of the San Diego ComfortCity Senior Village. Alice Hannigan, or a woman claiming to be Alice Hannigan, was checking in at registration. She wore a pink skirt and blazer and a cartload of sweet perfumes that could be smelled from across the room.
Hank wasn’t sold. “I don’t know Rock. Looks like regular old… regular old Alice to me.”
Rocky stiffened. “She don’t look old. And what do you know anyway, how hungover are you?”
“Not even hung-ober,” Hank slurred, “Just maybe still a little drunkish from last nigh or this morning, hard to say.”
The two men turned away from the reception area and slid down the couch to speak in confidence. Rocky was tall, thin, and bald on top with a long gray ponytail. Hank was short, round, and sported a full head of white curls.
“I’m telling you, man, that ain’t Alice. She has, like, man, Alice’s ID or whatever and her clothes but that ain’t her — it smells like her but too much like her. And she don’t move like Alice, man, I know how that woman moves, I’ve seen her move, man, I know her.”
Rocky took a deep drag on his vape pen then puffed a plume of rich white vapor. He then subtly looked over the back of the couch for another peek at the potential imposter.
Hank looked at him quizzically. “Wait. Wait. You tellin’ me,” and Hank leaned in close. He put a hand on Rocky’s knee and looked him dead in the eyes, “You’re telling me… you’re still trying to hit that?”
“C’mon, man!” Rocky said, pushing away his friend’s hand. “Have you been listening to me at all, man? Have you heard what I’m saying? This is identity fraud, man! This is serious shit!”
“Okay, okay. But why are you saying… what you’re saying.”
“Because that’s not Alice, that’s why I’m saying what I’m-!”
Both Hank and Rocky looked up with a start. Whitney Chambers was standing above them, intense rouge and mascara lending clownlike life to her sunken face.
“Doesn’t Alice look great?” she asked with a grin. “I saw you two cads taking in the sights.”
“You know, that’s exactly what were, we’re, were doing,” Hank said.
“Yeah,” Rocky added, non-committal.
Whitney sighed. “After all those procedures, I’d say she looks ten years younger. If you go for that sort of thing.”
“Better than that,” Hank added. “She’s always a fox, now she looks brand new.”
“Procedures?” Rocky leaned closer to Whitney. Even though he was seated, the two were nearly eye-to-eye. “Like, what do you mean?”
“Rhinoplasty, facelift, tummy tuck,” then more quietly, “boob job. Whole shebang.”
“See, Rock!,” Hank exclaimed. “That’s why she looks different to your face.”
“How do you know, man?” Rocky asked Whitney. “She told you she was doing all of that stuff?”
“Oh yes — we had a long conversation about it over the phone. She was terribly excited about the whole thing. Personally I think a woman of her age — “
“She talked to you on the phone?” Rocky interrupted, “but not, like, before she left here? Like, how long ago, man?”
Whitney was taken aback. “I don’t know, ten days, maybe? Two weeks?”
Hank perked up. “Hey, that’s not enough-“
“Eh-hem-hem,” Rocky silenced his friend with a grunt, a “cut it out” sign, and a paralyzing stare.
“I mean… yeah, how great for her,” Hank said, smiling, then taking a sip from a cup that almost certainly wasn’t just Diet Coke.
“Don’t know why you’re so invested, Rocky. Last I heard, she dropped you like a hot rock.”
“Yeah, okay Whitney, thanks, for like, stopping by, man.”
“Well you boys stay out of trouble, though I know sometimes you can’t help it.” Whitney gave a knowing smirk. “Chair aerobics at five, I’m calling.” She sauntered off.
Hank dropped his smile and turned to his friend. “What’d you do that for, Rock, why’d you stop me from saying-?”
Rocky spoke in a hushed tone. “I don’t know who knows what, man. We don’t want to go around, you know, giving information to just anybody about… whatever this is, man, if it is something, you know?”
Hank let this settle in. “Makes sense. You’re right, makes sense.” He then adjusted himself and leaned in close for a whisper. “Two weeks isn’t enough time to recovery from all of that. When Swirl, when Swirl… when Shirl did just some of that stuff, she had bandages and bruises for longer than two weeks.”
“Exactly, man, and, Hank, man — if she’s gone two weeks, man… where are her bags?”
Hank and Rocky looked over to Alice, whose face did look tighter and whose middle looked thinner than the typical ComfortCity resident. But there were no bandages. No bruises. And no bags.
“You’re right — no bags,” Hank said.
“No bags, man. Something’s going down.” Rocky took a drag.
Alice left the registration desk and headed towards her room. When she was out of sight, Rocky and Hank approached the desk. Rocky spoke to the attendant while Hank kept lookout.
“Hi there — Janet,” Rocky said, reading the staff member’s nametag. “How are you, you know, doing so far today?”
Janet was busy, but well trained at appearing friendly. “I’m good, Rocky — Hi Hank. How can I help you two?”
“That woman who just checked in-“
“Alice Hannigan? You know Alice, she’s been a resident here for years.” Janet leaned in a little. “In fact, I thought you two… you know-“
“Yeah, yeah, man, yeah, but, hey, so — did she seem, like, okay to you?”
“She seemed fine. A little tired from her procedures, but otherwise okay.”
“Procedures,” whispered Hank, “but — no — scars, no scars Rock,” he gasp-whispered so only Rocky could hear. But Janet could still hear.
“She had, you know, all the right paperwork or whatever?” Rocky asked, grasping at straws.
“What’s gotten into you two — it’s Alice. She doesn’t need paperwork.” Janet clicked her tongue against her teeth. “You men, always jealous over something.”
“What did she need to talk to you about?” Rocky asked. “Did she need anything, like, unusual, man? We saw she was filling out forms.”
“She just needed a copy of her key,” Janet said, “She forgot her keys in Tulsa, that’s where she’d been, so I checked her out a new one. Perfectly normal, happens all the time.”
“Oh man,” Rocky felt like he was onto something. “You check her ID first?”
“Of course, I did,” Janet said, getting annoyed but doubling down with an even bigger smile, “there’s no problem with any of this. Now you two leave me alone, leave this whole thing alone, and don’t make a thing about it like I know you’re prone to do. If you need an activity, chair aerobics starts soon, and the game room opens in an hour.”
Two hours later, Alice, or possibly “Alice,” was sitting in the game room, working on a puzzle. The two old men watched her from an inconspicuous distance.
“I can barely see, I don’t know what she’s doing,” said Hank.
“We need to not draw attention, man, I told you.”
“What are we even doing? What are we looking for?”
“We’ll know when we see it, man, we’ll know.”
Just then, Alice removed her phone from her purse. She held it up to her face. Nothing seemed to happen. She then lowered the phone to the table, tapped it a few times, and then held it up to her face again. Nothing happened.
“See! See, man! See!” Rocky took a victorious drag from his pen.
“What?” asked Hank. “I missed it.”
“She’s trying to do face recognition, man, I had a phone like that too. But the phone don’t even recognize her, man. Her own phone, man!”
“But, if she had face surgery, wouldn’t the face recogni-, recogni-… wouldn’t the face thing know that she wasn’t her because she didn’t look the same?”
Rocky looked at his friend. “You’re so drunk, man, maybe you should go lie down.”
“But you know what I’m saying.”
“No man — what I’m saying. I don’t recognize her and neither does her phone. That ain’t Alice.”
A few hours later, Rocky and Hank met up at the dining hall.
“You doin’ better, man?”
“Oh, definitely,” Hank said. “I was over-done earlier — now I’m at a light buzz, that’s when I’m at my best.
“Whatever, man, I just need you ready for action.”
“Action Hank, ready to go. I’m lubricated and ready for…” Hank looked at his friend. “I forgot what we’re doing.”
“Come on!” Rocky snapped, and he left the hall at a quick pace, Hank close at his heels.
The two grey men powerwalked through the facility as Rocky recounted the plan. Rocky was in very good shape for an older guy and Hank, despite his roundness, was surprisingly fleet of foot. After navigating through numerous hallways and an atrium, the pair came to room #109.
“This is it,” Rocky said. “You know what to do?”
“Say absolutely nothing — just listen.”
“Nailed it, man, perfect, here we go,” but before Rocky could knock on the door — it opened. Alice stood in the doorway. She was a handsome creature with sharp features and stunning violet eyes. She was wearing a ton of makeup.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” Alice asked, cool as a pudding pop.
“We know you’re not Alice. Man. We do. Both of us. Who are you??”
Alice’s tight face dropped. She looked up and down the hallway — seeing no one, she regained her composure.
“Seems like you two want to talk. Might I invite you both into my room?”
Hank nodded, giddy, and started to walk forward — Rocky held him back.
“Not until we know who you are.”
Alice smiled. Then, to everyone’s surprise, she grabbed both men by their shirts and yanked them over her threshold, pulling them both to the ground of her entryway. She closed her door quietly behind them.
“My elbow!” Hank whined. “Owie, owie, owie.”
“Forget your elbow, man, we gotta get out of here!”
The two seniors scrambled to their feet only to see Alice standing between them and the front door, brandishing a large kitchen knife.
“Whoa, whoa! Chill out! What’s with the knife, man?” Rocky and Hank instinctively put their hands in the air, hostage-style.
“Why are you two following me and why don’t you think I am who I say I am?”
“Because you’re not, man. It’s, like, that simple,” Rocky said.
“Can I say something now?”
“No, man, shut up, Hank.”
A bolt of recognition hit Alice’s brain, suddenly her body language softened, and she lowered the knife to one side. “Put your hands down, you look like idiots. Hank, Rocky, you big kidders.”
“She knows our names,” Hank hissed at Rocky, “Not-Alice knows our names.”
“She’s done her homework, man, whoever she is,” Rocky replied.
“I’m Alice!” “Alice” asserted.
“Prove it then, man, like — prove it.”
“I know your names, I’m in my room, I’m wearing my clothes, you want to see my ID?”
“Answer a question,” Rocky said. “Answer something only Alice would know.”
“Fine, fire away.”
“Which of us two… you ever been with,” Rocky asked.
“Rock!” Hank said, aghast, “She may be an imposter, but she is a lady.”
Alice sighed. “Only you, Rock.”
“Nope.” Rocky said — lying. His face started to grow hot as his heart rate quickened. Hank began to sweat.
“Well…” said Alice, covering well but still covering, “there was that one time when the three of us go into some trouble-“
“Nope! No man, that never happened, man!” Rocky shouted, pointing at Alice. “Never — even — happened, man!”
“Boom!” said Hank, “Imposter!” he said, jabbing his finger at “Alice.” “Alice never gave me one look, not once — not never.”
The two men felt so vindicated that they were literally dancing around the room, hearing only the music in their head.
“That — ain’t Alice! We knew that ain’t Alice,” they sang, doing the robot, then the Icky Shuffle.
But then the guys’ celebration was cut short.
A suddenly spry “Alice” approached them both with renewed vigor, now armed with two kitchen knives, one in each hand.
“How do you two gentlemen feel about spending the night in a closet?”
Hank and Rocky shared a look.
“Would rather not,” Hank offered. “Just being honest.”
Rocky took a deep drag from his pen.
ComfortCity staff found Hank and Rocky late the next evening, stuffed in Alice’s wardrobe — alive. Their hands, legs, and mouths had been aggressively duck taped, and then the two of them were taped together with Hank’s head nestled under Rocky’s chin. They were embarrassed, hungry, and soiled by the time they were discovered.
After showers and changing their clothes, Rocky and Hank sat down with Janet at her desk. She was one of several staff members who had found them in Alice’s room, along with local police.
“How’d you find us?” asked Rocky, rubbing his wrists which were still sore from the tape.
“When neither of you came to breakfast or dinner, we started asking around. Whitney Chambers said something about you asking about Alice, and you also asked me about Alice, so we came knocking looking for Alice. She hadn’t come to any meals either, so we let ourselves in.”
Hank recoiled. “You go to my room, did you? You look under my bed?”
“No,” Janet said.
“Oh. Good. Proceed.”
“Did you catch the imposter?” asked Rocky.
“No, not yet. Police aren’t positive but they think she might be one of Alice’s relatives. Someone who looked enough like her and knew she’d be out of town. The real Alice also reported her purse was stolen, so there you go. But she does have her keys — so that’s one mystery solved.”
Rocky nodded. “What’d she get? We could hear her going through drawers and stuff.”
“By the looks of it — jewelry, furs, maybe a few antiques.”
“Shame, man,” Rocky said. “If only someone would have said something.”
Janet rolled her eyes. “I had the kitchen make up some plates for you before bedtime.”
“Thanks,” Hank said, “I am a touch peckish.”
Rocky was lost in a thousand-mile stare. “When the real Alice gets back, you’ll tell we were right, right?”
“Would that help you out,” Janet asked?
“Yeah, man, I think it just might.”
“Can do, Rocky. Can do.”