I began to speak, but stopped short at the look on the other woman's face. It was not prudent to antagonise a hired killer.
All stories based on ‘Collins English Dictionary’—
As late afternoon merged imperceptibly into early evening, a warm September evening, I went for a long walk. A peaceful riverside amble before dark, where the blackwood, the box, and the bastard oak grew. Needed a change of scene.
The murmur of bees in the rhododendrons.
The birds tweeting in the branches.
Planes passed overhead.
A car horn.
A flourish of trumpet.
The scratch of a match lighting a cigarette. (I have many vices but smoking is the big one. I blame you for that.)
There were echoes and scents that awoke some memory in me—we went for a swim in the river, but the water was a touch too chilly for us. The weather was terrible, do you remember? It was raining hard. We took a bus back to the city center, wet clothes dripping onto the floor.
Where are you living now? Are you all right? Are you keeping company with anyone special these days? Have you lost your taste for fancy restaurants?
Your problems seem larger than life at that time of night. With a suspicion of a smile, I strolled around, muttering to myself, you’ll be okay, kiddo.
As the bullet passed through his head, he remembered with sudden guilt the letter from his mother he head not yet read.
“You'll never amount to anything.” Her voice was flat and emotionless.
They sat looking at each other without speaking. He slapped down a fiver. She considered him coolly for a moment. Madame Eva bent once more over the crystal ball. Her eyes dilated in the dark. She sat back and exhaled deeply.
“You'll get used to it.”
The valley was enclosed by rugged peaks, security fencing and annihilative firepower—a state secret. Nothing for miles around. They sat opposite one another they sat in the shade of a tree.
“Repeat the words after me: A fish is an animal.”
“A fish is an animal.”
“A cow is an animal.”
“A cow is an animal.”
“We go to the zoo to see the animals.”
“We go to the zoo to see the animals.” She nodded in affirmation.
“Very good.” She looked up with an absent smile and burst out laughing. Its mouth snapped into a tight, straight line and there was a fraught silence. Her body tensed up.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to insult you!” She leaned forward to take its hand and a cross-current of electricity seemed to flow between them. She felt guilty now, and a little uneasy. She looked at it warily, this naive, simple creature, with its straightforward and friendly eyes so eager to believe appearances—a shimmering evanescent bubble of cycloid scales and yellow fur agleam in the sun. Circuitry that Karen could not begin to comprehend. Since Parker’s research did not pan out too well, now she was the linchpin of the experiment. Her voice wobbled dangerously, but she brought it under control.
“I’m really sorry if I hurt your feelings.”
To her astonishment, it smiled and emitted a sound like laughter. She felt an inward sense of relief.
“I want an apple.”
“When you ask for something you should say, ‘Please.’”
“Please give me an apple.” It rolled the word around its mouth. She smiled distantly.
“I’ll think about it, amigo.”