Your Loss, part 12

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If you are just beginning the story, start  here

“Sir? What flight?”

The woman at the desk was brusque and impatient. The line was getting longer by the minute. She didn’t look at or speak to Petra.

“2 adults to Lisbon.”

She prepared their tickets and stamped them, her eyes boring into Roberts’ eyes as they were slid across the counter with immaculately groomed and sharpened red claws. She seemed to notice Petra for the first time and eyed them both close and tight. Robert took the tickets and dipped his hat, turning to walk away with a hand at Petra’s back. “90 minutes.”

He could feel the shape of a target in the middle of his back as they made their way to the gate. They didn’t stop at a lavatory or a café.  They walked until they reached the gate, then they sat down.

Continue reading “Your Loss, part 12”

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Your Loss

downtown

“What do I have to lose?” Petra said, tossing a nickel on the roulette table, red 26.

“Your last nickel,” said a deep voice behind her and higher than her head,by a great distance. She knew the drill, and was used to taking care of herself.She was glib and smart in the way that many college–educated girls know how to be. But it was more than that. She had lost so much, in the United States of America, on the dime of the American Fund for Czechoslovakia, and then a certain Mr. Perkins whom she met after she got to Chicago via Ellis Island, N.Y. and her Aunt Sadie. Mr. Perkins married the young girl of 22 and gave her new hats and shoes to prove his worth. She could live with that for a little while. Only stipulation: she had to do everything he said. She knew that some day she would grow tired of that.

Her shoulders were straight as she watched the wheel go around.

‘Black, 12, 12 black.”

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Off kilter

I reached into my pocket and felt around for the shorty, a cigarette I put out under my boot when I had to duck into the butcher. I lit it.

The tip went cold and I shifted packages to one side awkwardly. A hand under my elbow held it steady while another brought ’round a match.

“Thank you green eyes, ” I said, and smiled, dropping the package of chops at his feet. “You saved me. I needed this smoke.”

We both bent for the package at once, bumping heads. I burned his neck with the cigarette, and dropped it.

Standing still, I let him pick it up for me, but instead of handing it to me, he put it under one arm and took my other packages as well. “Was that your last?” he asked.

“Yes. I smoked so many at a pub last night,” I said, wondering why I told this to a stranger. He started walking with my packages and my heels skipped over pavement to catch up.

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Jam Hag

Inspector Iris Cooper and young officer David Martínez took in the house before them. All the legends, myths, warnings, and mythos surrounding this place threatened to interfere with their experience and good judgement. From the icing on the roof to the gumdrop trim and doorknobs, Iris’ mind went back to childhood, to all the dreams of sugar her mother wouldn’t let her have, and jealousy of her schoolmates with more permissive parents. She inhaled the deep scents of cinnamon and cocoa, pulling on a pair of blue gloves, and reaching for the doorknob.

 

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Caught

The screen door is open and I walk in. Jeremy likes it open so I don’t nag anymore. I smell spaghetti. He cooked? I hear his voice and call out to him. He walks out of the den as if he has not heard me, his hand resting at the small of the back of a blonde who looks familiar. Is she Jack’s teacher? I duck around the corner. I want to catch him in the act. I am furious when I see my favourite red pumps dangling from her fingers, as they walk through the kitchen and out the door. He closes and locks it and I run out the side way to watch from around the garage. They take off in -presumably-<em> her</em> burgundy BMW and I grab my bike and hop on, hurrying to keep abreast of where they are headed. They don’t go far, turning off the side entrance of the old arboretum where we used to walk. I am crushed. Why would Jeremy cheat on me?

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