One night, it was long past twelve, I woke up at the sound of Mr Yunioshi calling down the stairs. Since he lived on the top floor, his voice fell through the whole house, exasperated and stern. ‘Miss Golightly! I must protest!’
The voice that came back, welling up from the bottom of the stairs, was silly-young and self-amused. ‘Oh, darling, I am sorry. I lost the goddamn key.’
‘You cannot go on ringing my bell. You must please, please have yourself a key made.’
‘But I lose them all.’
‘I work, I have to sleep,’ Mr Yunioshi shouted. ‘But always you are ringing my bell…’
‘Oh, don’t be angry, you dear little man: I won’t do it again. And if you promise not to be angry’ – her voice was coming nearer, she was climbing the stairs – ‘I might let you take those pictures we mentioned.’
By now I’d left my bed and opened the door an inch. I could hear Mr Yunioshi’s silence: hear, because it was accompanied by an audible change of breath.
‘When?’ he said.
The girl laughed. ‘Some time,’ she answered, slurring the word.
‘Any time,’ he said, and closed the door.
I went into the hall and leaned over the banister, just enough to see without being seen. She was still on the stairs, now she reached the landing, and the ragbag colours of her boy’s hair, tawny streaks, strands of albino-blond and yellow, caught the hall light. It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening of her cheeks. Her mouth was large, her nose upturned. A pair of dark glasses blotted out her eyes. It was a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman. I thought her anywhere between sixteen and thirty; as it turned out, she was shy two months of her nineteenth birthday.