March 11, 2011 § 11 Comments
Max started talking as soon as he saw a sliver of person in the door way. A good salesman comes out swinging, charm his left, wit his right.
“Nice to meet you, I’ve known Gus a long time. I’m happy to help out a friend. Lovely weather, isn’t it? You never know, do you? The sky has secrets and it isn’t tellin’” He was pouring it on thick, but she seemed under whelmed by his performance. He immediately shifted gears and excused himself to get something from his duffel.
He had not been able to tell from his window view if Ms. Swashnek was beautiful. When she entered the room he could see he’d have to be careful. He would have to fight his instincts as a male with a dick and not be charmed by her. She didn’t walk into the room, she slid. He sensed she was one of those women, charisma heavy. In a light purple scarf and a cream dress covered by a soft ivory coat, long and hanging to her ankles. Her energy filled the room like incense smoke, thick and chunky. Again Max reminded himself to resist, otherwise he would follow that smoke like a cartoon animal to pies on a window sill.
Simon escorted her to the card table so she could look over the prints, but Max saw this was pointless. When Gus told him about the sale, he had big plans to sucker the spoiled little rich girl into purchasing other product, not just the special item she was searching for. The way this ivory woman held herself, he felt she was going to haggle. But there was an undercurrent of something else, like something brown submerged in something blue and solid. She and Simon were murmuring over the prints, but she motioned to Max by flapping her fingers into her palm.
“So where is it?” She asked, removing a cigarette from a vintage case that she pulled from her expensive handbag. She tapped the filter on the outside of the case, a move Max recognized as a privileged request for a light. Max did not move a muscle. The instincts of the salesman kicking in, he was latching on to what he had felt, that undercurrent. He needed to gain dominance, so he went after it, like he went after everything. Full throttle.
The tapping went on and on and Max just stared at Myra. She kept a serene smile on her face while she continued to tap. Finally Simon noticed the room was a skipping record in a groove. He brought out his lighter and went to her. She made him wait there for 30 seconds as her eyes, dark brown, never left the moderately handsome face of Max. Finally, she leaned forward, softly laid her hand on Simon’s and accepted his fire. She cast her eyes up at him and slowly smiled.
“Thank you. What a gentleman.” Simon seemed utterly enchanted and she had to push his hand away to break the spell. Returning to his spot by the door, Simon rubbed his hand unconsciously. He acted as though she had laid some magic on him in those few moments. Then, Max noticed Simon unbutton the hammerlock of his holster. He quickly looked at Myra to see if she had noticed it, but she was now busy flicking ash off her dress. Bizarre, he thought. But then he saw her peek. Her dark eyes were too striking to miss darting over to Simon, specifically his waist where the gun rested. She placed her purse flat and crossed her arms. The smoking hand made an L shape with her other arm and pressed her smallish breasts to her body. “So? I know you know what I’m looking for. What’s the deal…” She trailed off and acted like she didn’t remember his name even though he had just given it to her moments before.
“Max.” She nodded with a deep inhale of smoke in her lungs and then blew it out, closing one eye to avoid burning it with the bluish white cloud.
“Max. Right. So?” She then fixed her eyes on his face, seductively removing a piece of tobacco from her tongue with her pointer finger and thumb.
“Well, I thought you might want to look at some other items, shop around a bit.” She giggled when he said this.
“You did? Well then maybe I should make myself clear. I only want that one little thing, Max. So let’s talk business.” He now had to fight his way back to where his was the upper hand. But her words revealed more than she thought, and he knew what the undercurrent was; desperation. She was desperate to get the item. Under the confident layer, her nerves vibrated. He knew now that’s why she was smoking, that’s why she was brushing away imaginary ash and folding her arms, repeatedly crossing and uncrossing her legs. A hard rock was inside her, and the inner woman stood on it. Water was rushing all around her and she was desperate. Max was the lifeboat, the bridge, the man who was going to place new stones for her to use to escape. Because Max saw that knowledge quite clearly in those midnight eyes. She needed the item to elope. Myra Swashnek was making a getaway.
“Well thank you. That is now very clear. And let me be frank as well. I can get you the item, but the owner is extremely hesitant to part with it.” This was, of course, a bold-faced lie. The client had told him the opposite in fact. They were sick of the liability it presented, and they wanted it out at the best price he could get. Max wondered if this was a coincidence since not two days after, Gus had called with the information that a woman named Myra had contacted Repucci’s people looking to buy the item. Max struggled to think why the chips had fallen this way, in this time and in this place.
“You mean Phillip? No he isn’t. I talked with him a week ago. He mentioned his interest in parting with it. So, “She said bringing out a sweetly acidic smile. “Let’s cut the shit and talk money. Which I have plenty of.” Her words left him nonplussed once again. If you have come to bargain, you don’t throw down a statement like that. And if she knew the owner, why didn’t she ask him directly? His eyes had wandered while he was thinking. He brought them back around to her flirting, confrontational face and then glanced at Simon. Simon was now on full alert. The very air in the room seemed to have a hand on its holster. The tension was enormous.
“I don’t know any Phillip.” He said and his eyes darted from hers to Simon, sending a message. They would be done talking if she directly mentioned his clients’ name again. With a plop she fell from her throne of control. She also looked at Simon, and not at his face, but at the polished metal at his waist.
“Very well then.” She said. With this she stood up, dropped her butt on the floor and ground it out with the high-heeled ball of her foot. She slipped her coat back on and tucked her purse under her arm. “I guess we are done then.” Max’s heart raced as he watched her do this slow, like through jello. Oh shit, he thought. Simon moved to block the door. She really had no idea how to deal with people like this. Suddenly she appeared ridiculously young to him. She flipped her hair off her shoulder, again trying to hide her uneasy feelings. Max saw a bruise and a slice on her neck, right under her ear. This is not good, not good at all, he thought.
Simon reached out to stop her. She pulled her arm out of his grasp and her hand bumped the bottom of his holster, knocking the unrestrained gun out. Simon fumbled to try to catch it, and he did. In the gut.
The noise of the gun changed the color of the whole room from tense violet to danger red. Globules of blood sprayed as the bullet became Simon’s ticket to a more ventilated breadbox. He fell down groaning and started to drag himself closer to the fallen weapon that had chanced to land in the open triangle of Myra’s shocked feet. A heavy stripe of blood appeared on the floor. Simon had decided he should stretch his arm out to recover the firearm. Max could tell by his face that moving was proving to be very painful. Myra stood there shocked, but when she saw him reaching, she kicked the gun slightly farther from his outstretched fingers. A chill fell over Max watching this small act. Once more she had proved herself unpredictable and he found himself in a strange land where he had no idea what to do. The man with the plan, the man with the instincts, the man who always knew what to do, the man who was a student of human nature and who used that study to line his pockets successfully for almost a decade. This man had no idea what to do next. But time and blood was draining away as Simon rested his head for the last time. Myra turned and looked at him.
“Well what do we do now?” She said in a quiet voice. He looked out the window, noticed the room was no longer glowing because the snow was no longer falling. The light had left the room.