By Scott Gould
Eleven hours later, Mal stepped outside into the cool morning. He needed a break, needed to go home and recharge. A light mist touched his face, and he could feel that the air was heavy with coming rain. Frayed clouds had filled the sky, floating across the face of the moon like the torn and ragged flags of a defeated army. As he traversed the parking lot, nearly empty at this time, he heard another person behind him. He turned and saw Amy exiting the building, her hair and face frosted white from the feeble illumination of the sodium vapor light that hovered over the door. It gave her a ghostly quality, as though she were an apparition from a dream, ephemeral and untouchable. In some ways, he’d thought of her this way from the first time they had met. She had been almost…angelic.
“It’s so quiet at this time of morning,” she said. “Almost eery.”
It did have an ominous quality about it. The lot was virtually empty of cars. The smell of the ocean, over a mile away, wafted like a distant memory on the gentle breeze. The sound of cars on the street beyond were so soft that they could have come from another world.
“Heading home?” he asked. A stupid question. He regretted the words as soon as he had spoken them.
“Yeah, been a long night,” she said, catching up to walk beside him. “I got to deal with a long series of difficult people.”
“That list doesn’t include me, does it?”
She smiled. “No, not you. You’re my favorite person to see during the day.”
His heart raced. Jesus, am I a teenager? he thought. “Thanks for saying that.”
“It’s the truth,” she said. “Something about you makes me feel…content.”
Mal glanced over at her, trying to discern whether she was serious. They walked in silence for a few moments until they reached a blue Ford Explorer. “This is me,” Amy said. She stopped in front of the vehicle and turned to face him. He looked at her the way he used to look at Theresa, and while that thought carried with it a great deal of guilt, it also carried excitement. He never thought it possible to have similar feelings for any other woman, and now here she stood, right in front of him. Was he a complete fool? Was he a traitor to his wife?
Maybe he was both
“Are you working tomorrow?” he asked
She reached into her purse, fumbling for her keys. “Same time, same place.”
“I’ll look forward to seeing you.” After a pause, he added, “I always do.”
“So do I. Look forward to seeing you, that is.” She smiled, and he pondered for a moment just how wonderful that smile was.
Amy took a step closer. “Are you trying to decide if you want to kiss me?”
That stopped him short. The look on his face must have been comical, because she laughed. “You don’t have to.”
“No, no, it’s not that,” he said. “I just…that question was unexpected.”
“I’ve seen the way you look at me.”
Oh, God. I really am that transparent. “I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
She held up a hand. “You don’t have to apologize, Mal. It’s very flattering. So have you decided?”
It was his turn to smile. “Yeah, I’ve decided.”
She leaned in towards him. He did the same, and their lips had almost touched by the time she pulled the syringe from her open purse and plunged it into his neck.