So many of you enjoyed the Ferris Wheel story that this week I wrote a follow-up in Two of Kind inspired by the image prompt provided by Author Suzanne Burke for Fiction in a Flash Challenge 2021, week 40.
Two of a Kind
He was never late. Always minutes early, time used to accustom himself with his surroundings, or people watching.
Today, as he lunged in a winged-back chair covered in leather softer than anything nature intended, waiting at The Gentlemen’s Club – a place so private that even its members were on a secret list – he admired the colors in his whiskey glass. Amber, most said, clueless to the fact that whiskey owed its shades to the charred white oak barrels. To him the shade was auburn, with hints of burned amber, he thought glancing through the glass. Like eyes he’d seen once, as dark as treacle and just as deep, yet hiding specks of burned amber… His pupils dilated remembering how he nearly got himself burned. That’s how he chose to remember.
He turned in the chair as one would and exposed the glass to the light slipping between velvety curtains.
Behind the swirling fire from his glass and heart, he observed – effortlessly, through a life-long exercise – the two gentlemen engaged in an animated conversation that the tabloids would have loved to expose together… The zoo of politicians daily at each other’s throats, now enjoying cigars by the fireplace… The man wearing a suit in the wrong shade for such an establishment, now relocating photographs in his briefcase while the gentleman seated across just ordered his 3rd double.
Always useful to arrive early.
He donned his glass and allowed the vanilla and grassy notes to resonate in his nasal passages. For a brief moment, he was in the park, it was early spring and the scent of fresh-cut grass floated like a spell. Across from his bench sat the woman whose eyes held specks the colour of aged whiskey. And just as many promises.
Today he’d come here to close a business deal. Time for him to stand and meet his patron, the man who paid handsomely in exchange for his services. He always stood to meet his business partners. Common courtesy, although today’s partner could become tomorrow’s adversary. Some would say enemy, but he always strove towards turning his enemies into business partners. There was always something he could trade. People always had needs and wants. Especially wants. And he could always obtain whatever it was that they wanted when he gave his word. For his word was his bond.
Whenever he looked back on that fatal day he remembers the glass of brown whiskey, not amber, thirty years old – the mark of power – that arrived at the same time with the manila envelope… Although the glass had touched the table first. He still heard the sound of thick crystal against the mahogany, like the deep clunk of an empty gun.
‘From him, Sir,’ the waiter had said and they both knew: from the client he’d been expecting, whose problem he was about to take on. But who hadn’t thought fit to meet him and close the deal in person.
Only that his hand had touched the glass with the brown whiskey, the 30-year-old whiskey, first, thus sealing the deal before the manila envelope had landed on the table. And his word was his bond.
The picture inside the folder surprised him. It was not that of a person. He always insisted on a recent close-up, a time and a location, never questioning his patron’s reasons.
The picture showed two masquerade masks, white and black satin trimmed with honeyed cord. Day and night, female and male, good and evil… symphony and chaos, his mind offered as the white mask held intricate, hand-painted musical notes. And a pearl set in the middle from which feathers in shades of amber protruded. Like the whiskey…
‘She’ll wear the white one,’ was scrawled on the back and an address he recognized. The World Health Organization, WHO, held their charity ball there tonight.
He picked up his felt-hat and left.
True to his habit he arrived early, in a black mask identical to the one in the picture. But tonight he will curse his habit. The instant he saw the woman wearing the white silk mask, his partner for the night -and project – standing atop the stairs looking across without looking down on anyone, holding her clutch as if it was a drawing book, her right fingers poised as if they held a pencil, that instant, he knew it was her.
The woman from the park. The problem he had to solve.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
What happened next? Find out in A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon.
Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE
What do you think, should I go on with this story?? 🙂
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