Several have asked me how the new book is coming and it’s almost finished. I thought I’d give you all a taste. Let me know what you think.
He captured her attention as he ambulated along the sidewalk.
“Ambulating,” she whispered the word to herself, “such a clinical term for walking.”
Her professors would be proud if she used such a word. The human animal had so many styles of walking, she thought, they stroll, creep, stumble, meander, pace, and, of course, wander. He did none of those. His steps were measured and precise. They were timed and had rhythm. What would she call such a walk? She knew; it was a march. He marched along the sidewalk, that corridor between the storefronts and the curbs, that pathway separating window shelving stacked with wares and the women in the short skirts, standing, plying theirs. It wasn’t a ceremonial march; no stiff legged kicks of the Nazis or bandleaders, but it was a controlled form of projecting the man forward without waste of motion. She watched him.
He was about half a block away when she first noticed him and watched as he approached. His movements mesmerized her. His head was erect and he faced forward. He refused to gaze upon the items in the windows and he ignored the half a dozen women, who wiggled, whistled, and waved, as they attempted to invite his attention. She smiled at him as he passed her by, his face forward and his stride unbroken. He ignored her; he ignored them all. She turned to the street and waved to the men who passed in automobiles driven slow.
“You’re a pretty young lady. What’s your name?”
At the sound, she spun. He was behind her; about three feet away and she had not heard him approach. She tried to see his face, but could not. Between the blue baseball style cap worn low and his back to the closest street light, all she saw was shadow.
He called me a “young lady.” He didn’t say I was “hot” or “sexy,” no, he said I was a pretty young lady.
She smiled her gratitude but couldn’t see if he smiled in return.
“My friends call me Via. What’s your name?”
“That’s not important,” he replied and they stood silent for several seconds.
Then, she quoted her menu of services, just as she had rehearsed so many times. He made his selection.
She nodded her agreement and asked, “Do you have a car?”
“No, I came by taxi.”
Her disappointment was evident, but she offered him a tight smile of acceptance, “I’ll have to be careful where I place my knees.”
He said nothing.
The “pretty young lady” held out her hand and watched as he placed the asked for payment, in her palm. Quickly she counted, folded the bills into thirds, and tucked the money into a small purse that matched her outfit. She linked arms and led him toward an alley that broke the seemingly endless wall of storefronts. As they entered into the shadowed area, Via hid her nervousness, and whispered, “Welcome to lovers lane.”
Some thirty or forty feet into the depth of the alley, the couple stopped and faced together. Her back was to the wall and he continued to face away from the nearest light source, a bare bulb mounted over a garage style door. It was under powered and only managed to deepen the shadows.
Via examined the alley floor beneath her and after not finding broken glass, garbage, or a puddle of urine, slowly lowered to her knees. The man said nothing, only watched. One hand fumbled with the zipper at the fly of his trousers. The other held his leg, just above his knee for support. She felt a crisp ironed crease that ran the length of the slacks.
He’s a careful dresser, and she raised her face to smile up at him and indicate her approval. Something, a belt, a cord, or maybe a rope, went over her head and cinched tight around her neck.
“What,” she tried to ask, but the garrote stopped her air and well as the word.
There was always a level of nervousness when meeting a customer, but the constriction forced her heartbeat into terror. Fear wanted to paralyze her, but the need for air demanded a struggle. She inhaled. The air was blocked and wouldn’t come. Via screamed, and her ears heard the cry for help; but the alley remained silent. The restriction around her neck would not allow the scream to escape. She was without voice.
He’s trying to kill me!
Her fear exploded into anger.
What have I done to deserve this?
Her fingers reached for the restriction and she dug at it, streaking her neck with furrows left by her nails. Blood trickled and smeared by her efforts. There was no reprieve from the garrote. An animalistic and prehistoric growl rose in her chest, but was never heard. She struggled to stand, to break free, and run. She kicked with her legs trying to force the man off-balance. There was no traction; her feet skidded and her legs spread. The concrete abraded her knees and shins. The injuries weren’t felt. He held her in place.
Via looked up at the shadow-faced man, who stood over her almost motionless. She could feel his right hand beside her throat, where it locked the restriction. His left hand cupped her chin and jaw. He held her face up and studied her as he watched her struggle. Over his shoulder, she saw the light at the end of an arched arm hanging from the side of a building. She longed for the sweet fresh air, forced another inhale effort, nothing.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
The words were from a Dylan Thomas poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” and where they came from she didn’t know, but the words were her salvation. She looked over the man’s shoulder and locked in on the naked bulb struggling to illuminate the alley. That light would save her.
As long as I can see the light, I am alive. I must not lose the light.
Via struggled, but her efforts had weakened. Oddly, she felt better, she could see the light. All would be okay. She searched the area under the brim of the cap trying to find his eyes. He had to be told she was a good person. She raised her right hand and extended her pointer finger, and shook it. She wanted him to know she was a good person.
She struggled again and the effort was more of a convulsion, but it surprised him and he was forced to step sideways. Terror exploded through her. His sideways step blocked the light. She had to see that light. The last of her strength pulled against the man and he stepped again. She could see her light. She calmed. She’d be all right. She’d live. She had to watch the light.
Via watched the light as it dimmed, fluttered, and then extinguished.
I’m anxious to hear what you think. Drop me a note or leave a comment. I’m in the midst of choosing a book cover. I’d love your opinion. Click on the image below to get a glimpse of the two covers I’m trying to choose from. Please cast your vote.