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Fifty Shades of S.O.L.

“We can fix this,” Luke says. He's putting himself back together, taking on his familiar composure. He’s at his desk, this is a logistics issue, and he can sort out the difficulties and make the solution happen. “Nobody knows we’re here, right?”

I think of Adrianna. Shit! But I don’t say anything because Luke isn’t talking to me, I know.

“We fade out,” he says. “We wash any remnants of ourselves off of this room, and off of her, and we leave and never say another word about this. She didn’t have any real details, right? What is there to tie us to this? Our number in her phone? We’ll get her phone out of her purse. We’ll destroy that.” He frowns at me. “Darcie! Get up.”

I snap out of it. He’s right. I stir off the bed and start getting dressed.

“That’s the best we can do,” he continues thinking out loud, speaking rapidly, putting me in a trance. “We put a time limit on this. A year goes by and we don’t hear anything about it, we’ll assume that’s the end of it. And, honestly, Darce, even if this did come down on our heads, what do you think would happen? So we panicked and fled the scene. We don’t know what she died of. . . . Actually, we do. Natural causes. It would have to be natural causes. Think about it. If she was suffocating she’d have gotten you off —” He winces. “She would push you off . . . of her. She’d give a sign. She wouldn’t just wait for her life to end. So don’t worry, even with the worst case scenario it wouldn’t be that bad. We’d just have to pay a fine or something. We haven’t committed a crime here.”

I guess you never know what someone is made of until you see them in a situation like this. I’m amazed. Luke has sorted out problems and probabilities in seconds. He latches his belt, pulls his shirt on and begins sifting through her black leather purse, using a Kleenex to pull things out, laying them on the top of a dresser that looks like a relic from the late ’60s.

“Phone,” he finally says. “I got the phone.” He holds up a Smartphone enfolded in a tissue. He puts everything else back in the purse with the tissue and then turns and glances at the dead, naked woman on the bed. “Go in the bathroom and wet some towels, honey, okay? You don’t have to do this part. I got it. Just bring me some wet towels and do what I ask and we’ll be out of here in no time.”

That’s when we hear the thump. We both freeze and all of my nerves begin tingling. Luke and I stare at each other, waiting. It has to be coming from the next room.

Then a scraping sound. No mistaking it now. We both look to its source and there’s a closet that neither of us had noticed before.

Luke strides across the room, his eyes fixed on that door like it’s going to transform into some nightmare shape and engulf him. He walks straight to it, seizes the handle, and yanks it open. Just like that.

And suddenly a stranger is there, in the room with us. He steps out, a doughy, sweaty man with hair that’s either white or platinum blond and a boyish face. His turquoise polo shirt is damp, his forehead glistens, his cheeks are bright red. His eyes dart around the room and I see, behind him, the camera in the closet. It’s high tech, on a tripod that’s knocked over, and part of the lens has come off in the back of the door, where it’s embedded in the panel somehow.

The man is wild-eyed, looking around us, not at us. He goes to Barbie, touches her knee, scans her naked body, and his face begins to twist in grief, but he gets it under control. His eyelashes fan as he scans the room, still not looking at Luke and I. But while I watch him, something else is happening. A nagging feeling is coming on. I know this guy. Is he the local weatherman? I put a hand to my head. He’s somebody having to do with the news, I can feel myself looking at him as I’m in bed waiting for the weather report.

He brushes past Luke, almost runs over to the dresser, and only when he picks up the phone and puts it in the purse does Luke come alive.

“Hey, no!” Luke says, moving over to the guy. Luke grabs the purse and I feel hysteria coming on as they start in. I’m in a dim, disgusting motel in an awful part of town. There’s a dead, naked craigslist hooker on the bed and my husband is fighting a man for her purse. I’m about to start shrieking laughter until I see Luke seem to retract into himself. He has his hands between his legs and his face is ridiculously dark and the stranger, this fat, sleek son of a bitch, pulls his arm back and punches Luke hard enough so my husband drops backward and curls up on the floor.

The man has the purse now, with the phone inside, and he’s not looking at me. He makes a move toward the video camera in the closet and grumbles something and then the words drop down from my brain and deposit in my mouth with a satisfying clink, like a pop can dropping in a vending machine.

“Kirkgaard,” I say, my mind’s eye producing his face on the TV screen, so groomed and neat, talking about some new law in a deep, caressing voice. And I see the identifying information written on a color bar at the bottom of the screen. “Senator Walter Kirkgaard,” I say.

I see it hit him, tensing his body, and I know I’m right. He glances at me quickly, looks at the purse in his hands, step-leaps over Luke and I realize that he’s just going to . . .

Copyright © 2013 By T C Guise
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