Blue lights and screams of sirens surrounded the house in the woods. The policeman charged with negotiating was sweating. Tired and exhausted he put the bullhorn up to his mouth and tried again.
“So what’s it going to be? Will you come easily or will we have to go in there and drag you out? We do that, then someone might get hurt.”
He will not surrender. That would be the end of both him and her. They were perfect. She made him whole. Who hasn’t experienced such a feeling would never understand. They wouldn’t see why he had to do what he did. All those horrible things.
He looked once again in her eyes. She was smiling. Told him that it was all going to be ok. That he should follow-up on that thought he had. The one when he took the gun in his hand.
“It’s okay,” she said.
The police squad outside was ready to march on the house. But then a gunshot went off. And another one followed soon echoing in the forest.
* * *
“Do you have a lighter?”
“What?” he asked. He wasn’t used to women talking to him. And especially not this kind of woman. She was about twenty, not too tall. Had nice high heels, a mini-skirt. Her navel was showing. She wore all black.
Didn’t repeat her question. Only looked into his startled face, playing with a cigarette. A moment passed before he realized she wanted something from him.
“Sure. I have one,” he said. He didn’t smoke. Put the last one down ages ago. He did it because of his wife. Now that she’s gone, he thought of picking the habit up again. He did, however, carry a lighter with him at all times in his trusted jacket.
She was getting a little annoyed but he found it finally. He leaned closer to share the flame and could see her lips tighten around the filter and sucking in the sweet smoke.
Think. Think! Say something. Flirt. Do anything.
“What’s that?” she asked. She pointed at the laptop’s screen he had before him. There was a partially coloured sketch of a woman on it. The woman was looking out the window and held a baby to her breast.
“That? It’s one of my works. I do digital paintings for people who order them.”
“She looks sad. Why?”
“Why? I don’t know. Maybe she’s waiting for her lover and he’s not coming.”
“Maybe he’s dead?”
“Dead? Well, maybe… I don’t know. I don’t look into such details of my work.”
“Maybe you should be looking closer. You see that? Her left hand is too small.”
“Really? Let’s just… Oh yeah. You’re right.”
He modified the drawing on the fly with a few clicks.
“A lot better,” she said. “That’s impressive. You can just manipulate it like that? Why won’t you give her eyes of another colour then?”
“Which color would you like them to be?”
“Green.” She leaned towards him. “Like mine.”
Her gaze was petrifying, but very seductive. Don’t scare her off. Don’t scare her off.
“Would you like anything else?” The waitress came to the table.
“No. Thank you,” he said. He then felt a faint kick under the table. The girl tapped her finger at one menu item.
“One more coffee. Black,” he said.
“Do you want our chocolate cookies with that?”
Another kick under the table. This time strong and excited.
The waitress grabbed the empty cups.
“Please abstain from smoking here. It’s not allowed,” she said and walked away.
When he turned to the girl in the black skirt, she was gone. He cursed himself for not asking for her number or email address. Only a package of smokes remained. It was the same brand that he used to smoke. He put it in his pocket and felt as if the package had returned to its rightful place.
Well done, Jerome. Another missed opportunity.
He glanced at the screen. The woman feeding the baby had her eyes changed to green and now looked a lot like the girl he just met. He decided to keep it this way.
* * *
He woke up in the middle of the night. Someone was pounding on the door. At this hour? He put on a robe and headed for the door and looked through the visor.
“It’s me,” he recognized her voice. “Please let me in. I have nowhere else to go.”
Now that was something he did not predict. But he didn’t hesitate and let her in.
“How did you know, where I live?” He asked with his voice resembling a child’s as if he received a gift he dreamt of but never shared that dream with anyone.
She slipped gracefully by him standing in the door.
“Your painting was signed. Jerome Stankiewicz? I found out you’ve been staying at this hotel for some time now. The receptionist confirmed and told me your room number.”
He asked not to be interrupted. You just can’t find good hotel service these days.
“I need a drink,” he said. “You want something?”
He poured himself a shot of whisky. In the pale light of his kitchen lamp he noticed the girl’s face was bruised. She had a black eye. He didn’t say anything. Just poured another shot for her and handed the glass.
“I could use a coffee,” she said with a smile. It clashed with the purples and grays of her injured face but still lit up her beautiful eyes.
“Sure. I still have the cookies you wanted earlier.” He got a paper back from the cupboard. “I didn’t want to eat them alone. You want your coffee black?”
“I do,” she said and sit down behind a small kitchen table. She took a cookie out of the bag. “Aren’t you going to ask me about my face?”
“No. You’ll tell me if you want,” he said. “And also knowing your name would be nice.”
“Wanda,” she said. “Can I crash at your place, Jerome?”
“You can take the bedroom. I’ll sleep on the chair. It’s quite comfortable.”
“Where’s the bathroom?”
“Right there by the door. Grab some clean towel from those by the mirror. There should also be a toothbrush.”
She thanked him and went there to freshen up so he made the bade for her. He threw a warm blanket on the chair and relaxed. Finished up his whiskey. He closed his eyes for a moment and dozed off.
When he opened his eyes the girl was standing next to him. She changed into his t-shirt and shorts and was now reaching for his hand. He followed her to the bedroom and they lied down together. It was nice to feel her warmth next to him.
He wanted her. Desperately. But she just lay there embracing him. That gave him peace. He shut his eyes and finally got a good night’s sleep. Something he really needed after all the sleepless nights following the one, when he lost his wife.
* * *
“Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked, when they drove up to the address she gave him. “I didn’t ask you to.”
“No need to.” Jerome had never been more certain than right now. “I won’t let some asshole beat you up. Let me deal with this.”
He smiled at her and stepped out of the car and grabbed a crowbar from the trunk.