When Maggie Mathews’ husband died, she had no idea what she was going to do. They had owned a small flower shop near Withington Road but he had always taken care of the day-to-day running of the shop and she had been in charge of the business side. She was a strong woman but the loss of her husband hit her hard and she found running the shop too much in her grief. The debts mounted and she found that she did not enjoy dealing with customers like her husband had and eventually decided to shut the shop.
The first shooting happened on a Monday. A man walked through the downtown office of a small insurance firm looking for someone in particular, and, upon finding him, opened fire, sending a single bullet through the accountant’s forehead.
“On your feet, pirate!”
Jay, lying on the metal plank that constituted his bunk in the small cell, turned his head for a moment to look at the man who had barked the order. Unimpressed, he turned back and continued to study the ceiling, his hands cuffed together in front of him.
One time, a few years ago, I took to a river in Cambodia in a rented kayak for what I hoped would be a lonely overnight adventure. It turned out to be neither lonely nor overnight, but it was so much of an adventure that I struggled for many years to put it down.
On the first morning we stepped outside our bungalow and took a seat at the two wooden chairs that faced out to the water. I poured us each a cup of the fresh coffee from the pot on the small glass-topped table between us. Breakfast wasn’t due to be served until seven thirty but we had arisen earlier partly because the jet lag had left us wide awake at six but mostly because we’d been told we’d have more luck seeing whales at this hour.
“My boy, it is desire and nothing more. You want to possess her. You do not love her.”
I thought about the old man’s words as I stared at the divorce papers.
The trigger had a resistance to it as I began to squeeze. It was asking me “Are you sure?”
More force for yes, relax for no.
“May I join you?”
Alberon, who was nursing his second whiskey with his head resting in a propped hand, looked up at the young lady and snapped to attention, spilling his drink. She had a pale, softly triangular face, accented with scarlet lipstick, and framed by curly dark hair that fell around the thin straps of her blue dress, leading down to a pair of knee-length boots.
She laughed at the long pause. “So may I?”
“So they just disappeared?”
“Only explanation, sir.” The sergeant said. “There are two ways out that corridor, and my men…sorry, people…er, team”—the sergeant was still coming to terms with the captain’s mandate on how the security services were to be formed—“had ‘em both covered.”
One day a few years ago I woke up and I could no longer see myself. When I looked into the mirror, I wasn’t there.