(Fiction) For A Stranger - Stuart L Holmes
The buzzing blue neon sign flickering in the corners of his rear view mirror put him steadily at ease. As the 'vacancy' sign slowly shrunk and minimized into obscurity the man let out an audible sigh and leant his head on the steering wheel. He rocked his head left and right on the wheel, hoping the motion would stimulate some calm air, or dislodge some hidden truth and clarity in his head. The dark green Citroën Ami 6; a discontinued car model from France, spluttered briefly before backfiring. The man jumped up in shock before he quickly looked back into the rear view mirror. Nothing but dark night shroud and the ambient glow of the road and the moon.
His hair was a sharp blonde, cut cleanly and professionally. Even his wild beard had a sense of precision about it. Wearing a dark navy blue jacket and white pair of trousers, He rubbed the back of his hand on his forehead, the black leather of his glove tugging gently at his forehead as he dragged his hand through a pocket of sweat. His foot's grip on the pedal lifted as the car gradually turned left to slip into a space between a group of autumn oaks. The car halted causing the rusted glove compartment lock to force open, papers and cassette tapes scattering the bottom of the passenger's seat. The man turned half heartedly to the mess, then took a deep breath and opened the car door stepping out into the brisk winds.
His hands fluttered from pocket to pocket in search of a lighter for the cigarette that shook like a brittle leaf in-between his fingers. The chrome lighter, engraved with the time of death of his father flicked open and shot a small jet of flame up to meet the end of the cigarette. The man drew heavily on his smoke, as if tobacco were about to go out of fashion. His head looked up to catch a glance of the crescent moon. His eyes held an almost solid iron gaze with the moons constant illumination. His vision stroking the moons curves with the focus of his stare. The wind gusted by as a bright orange glow began to pour in-between the trees behind him. The man drew once more on his cigarette as he turned to see a large plume of smoke rise from the distant past.
The motel burnt like an amber star, roaring and crackling with the sounds of a dead man's last breakfast. The man quickly lost interest in the moon and instead bore a hole in the night sky with his eyes about the flames as they grew in the distance. He flicked his cigarette to the floor and stomped on it with his shining brown shoes. He needed a drink, more now than any point in his life up until this hollow moment.
Previously he was embracing a young girl with dark skin, Egyptian perhaps, he could not say for sure. Her eyes a deep brown and her hair like a flowing river of black. He had arranged to meet her at the New Armwells Motel, just a few streets away from the local hospital. The paper that he gripped tightly in his hand when she had opened the door for him was a note from an old acquaintance. It had said that he must meet with a young woman presumed to be from Cairo and remove her via an assisted accident. It was never a conscious decision to actively kill someone but blackmail is a great motivator in times of hardship and urgency.
His 'old friend' had information on him that he had sought out his entire life to keep in the shadows. He was unsure as to why the girl was needed dead. She seemed very pleasurable and intelligible when he sat at the dinky small table in the room chatting with her under the guide of 3 gins and tonics. The girl placed her hand on his across the table, tugging at his gloves fingers. He wanted to tense, keep his gloves on at any cost which happened to be well being of his life's quality and manageability. He let the woman remove his gloves and throw them down beside the kitchen table, which the man payed particular attention to. She slowly got up off her seat and walked over to his side, playing with his hair.
He couldn't stand it. All he needed to do was just knock out the girl and then grab the gasoline from his car parked in the nearby lot then light the place and run. He wanted it over and done with. The man leapt up from his chair and scooped the Egyptian temptress up his arms, hurling her to the bed. She gasped then sprawled out across the scope of the king sized bed. The man quickly removed his trousers as she undressed. She quickly glanced up smiling. She looked towards the fan up on the ceiling. She cooed as he rubbed her lower thigh.
Suddenly she felt a sharp jab. She vacantly looked down to see the blond man with a needle sticking out of her lower leg. Within seconds she blacked out, the man removing the syringe and placing it in a plastic container which slipped into his jacket pocket. He stood up straight and looked out the window. The curtains were closed but slightly see through. He prayed no-one was outside silently to himself as he quickly got his gloves from the kitchen floor and slipped them on. He began to wipe the girl's thigh with a disinfected cloth. He reached into his inside jacket pocket and removed a small spray can no larger than a deodorant canister. He'd bought it a few hours ago while he was investigating the area, from the local hospital. Spray on skin for burn victims and other skin related injuries. He shook the can under his jacket slightly muffling the noise then proceeded to spray a small shot of the cans contents over the girl's thigh. The small discrete hole in her thigh vanished, it seemed pointless to him but his acquaintance advised him to make sure that all possibilities are covered. Should she escape or survive it is in both their best interests to have the traceable factors nullified.
The man put the spray can back in his pocket then left the room. He looked about for anyone that may have heard or seen anything. He was quite safe to his mind as he had checked the front desk for the room number of the girl and the motel owner had told him the room on the far right, number 12 but that number eleven was available should he wish to sleep there. The room next door was empty so he was reasonably safe.
He walked cautiously over to the back of his green car and took out 3 wine bottles from the open boot. Slamming it shut he turned and carted the bottles back inside the suite. The woman was still passed out on the bed, partially naked. The man started at her briefly. Certainly she was a thing of beauty. He began to wish he could have been asked to kill someone else. Burn down some slum on the east side, having to kill some junky who owed a substantial amount of cash. At least he could have deserved it in some way or another or at the very least allowed the blonde man to sleep easier at night knowing that maybe he killed someone bad, someone who had killed before. That at least there was a chance of redemption. But all that awaited him was that face, that deep Ashburn face with red rose lips staring at him lifelessly every time he looked in the mirror.
He gritted his teeth as he popped the cork on one of the bottles and
began to pour it all over the floor and kitchen. The frothy mixture of a few
shots of red to simulate the illusion of a wine colour and car fuel slopped and
waved over the furniture and base of the bed as he opened the second bottle. As
he poured the liquid around the bedroom he took another look at the girl. What
had this girl done or been doing that had got her so noticed, marked for death?
Who the hell would want to kill this woman in her prime? Or at all for that
matter. The man reminded himself why he was doing it. It was him or her and he
was the only one conscious so she didn't have much say in the matter.
As he relinquished the remanding drops from the last bottle, lathering the woman without her even so much as flinching in response, he grabbed his lighter and lit a small candle on the bed side table near the woman's limp hand. He lit the candle then knocked it down onto the ground, leaping back. Flames engulfed the sides of the bed as the man shielded his eyes from the roaring heat that now filled the motel room. He quickly hoped towards the front door and burst outside, dusting himself off as he did so. He quickly dashed over to his car and hopped inside; turn the key and starting the engine in one fluid motion. Having to wait for a moment for the engine to heat up he took a final glance at the girl.
The car engine cut. He punched open the door and entered the door once again. He saw the girl was now being cooked ever so slightly by the flames, her fingernails polish beginning to melt. The man leapt over the rising fire and onto the bed. He lifted the woman up awkwardly onto his shoulder and jumped of the corner of the bed towards the open door. Her weight on impact forced the man to his knees as he landed. He grunted then pushed up against her weight and continued to lift her outside. Time was fleeting and the fire would only stay contained within the room for so long. He dropped the girl down on the sidewalk a few rooms further back from 12, pulling her dress up to brace her for the cold winds. The man rubbed her face with the last few seconds he had to spare before sprinting to his Citroën and speeding off down the highway.
The hospital would take care of her once she's found. Any injuries she's suffered can be dealt with quickly so at least she'll be okay. The man's eyes shut in tired defeat. He needed that booze he had so desperately craved not moments ago. He would drive to a liquor store further down the highway and drink himself to sleep in the back of his French car. Come morning he'll try and call the hospital to see how she is doing and then meet her again. He'll offer her all the money he has to take a new identity, new name, life, home so that he and she can both live. Tomorrow he'll call his old friend and explain she's dead. Hopefully he'll believe her and once he sees the girl she will as well.....
Stuart L Holmes