This story is by Anna Savastano and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
”Ugh, what the hell,” I shouted out when I tumbled to the ground and became the recipient of a large mocha colored hot beverage. The smell of wet dirt mixed with coffee made me sick to my stomach. The whole idea of the fall season made my insides turn. With its trees bare of foliage and its lawns overrun with dead leaves, it was by far the dirtiest period. Besides, what good could come of a time of year where the sun gave way to the rain and foreshadowed worst to come, winter?
“So sorry,” said the biker chick that held exhibit A, an empty Starbucks cup. Her curly blond locks flew off her shoulders as she unzipped her tattered black leather jacket exposing a flimsy see through top that gave me an eye full. “Hot much?”
Crap, yeah it was hot! In more ways than one.
“Good, I’ve got your attention.” She said leering down at me with a pouty mouth. I couldn’t help noticing those bowed lips and curvy hips that promised a guy a very good time.
She had more than my attention. I gazed into her corn blue eyes waiting for her to give me some clue as to why I lay stunned on the wet grass in my best suit.
I, Justin De Way, own my own detective agency. We specialize in cheating spouses. This isn’t the weirdest thing that has ever happened in my line of work. However, I always make it a point to find out why my aggressor is riled up at me. Especially since her devil like smile warmed the cockles of my heart so.
I’ve followed too many cheating spouses around to find truth in such the far-fetched tale of love. Although, this beauty with milky white skin, long sinful legs, and a come-hither stare that could move mountains would be right on up there. Wait, that’s not love. That’s lust. I do lust after women. Many ladies call me a player, a dog and then some. I wonder which of my shortcomings earned me the honor of laying here wetter than a waterlogged boat?
“And how are you today?” I always try to keep cool in strange situations. You never know how a person will react. “If you wanted to meet me and have coffee, you could’ve found a better way of offering me one.”
“Shut, the snarky attitude off,” said the woman who body slammed me to the ground and poured coffee over me. “Ever hear of Heather Brighton?”
“No, don’t think I did,” I said wiping away the excess liquid that hadn’t yet made its way through my suit.
“Maybe you’ve heard of Heather Stott then.”
Yes, the Stott case, I knew well. That’s the reason I got all dressed up this morning. Mrs. Stott’s husband hired me to follow his wife around for evidence of her illicit affair for court. I couldn’t tell her that, professional secrecy forbids me to say anything. Nonetheless, if I read her actions right, she already knew my name.
“No, don’t think I do,” I lied, hoping she didn’t have another coffee around to torture me with.
“Seriously, so if I look in your briefcase, I won’t find a bunch of pictures of Mrs. Stott and her lover?”
“Be my guest,” I said pointing to my carrying case. I never lugged pictures in there. The portfolio remained a decoy I carried around if ever someone wanted to steal my evidence. No, I always put the pictures in the inside pocket of my suit. Right about now, they were probably soaked.
“Help me up, and I’ll open it for you,” I said stretching my long hand up to her. Her eyes were slits. I could swear I heard her teeth grit. She drew out her sleek fingers and gripped my callused hand. At her touch, electricity sliced through me sending me back to the ground. I gazed up at her in shock.
“What’s wrong?” She huffed waiting for me to grasp her hand again.
“Nothing,” I said, and I shoved my fingers in her hand expecting the worst. She helped me up, with no dire consequences this time. The woman eyed me back suspiciously as I dusted every leaf off my suit.
“Well, what?” I asked. “Oh, the briefcase.”
“Never mind, I know you’ve hidden them somewhere else.”
“You do?” I stared at her puzzled. How long had she followed me?
“C’mon, I don’t have all day. They’re in the inside pocket of your suit coat.” She said pulling out a tiny gun that fit just inside the small of her hand hidden from view. “Make no sudden moves. Just open your jacket and I’ll reach in for them.”
Without a word, I flipped opened my jacket, my eyes never leaving that weapon. The cute little beauty moved in close. My mystery lady settled in so near I could smell this morning’s minty toothpaste on her breath. A lush array of flowers mixed with a light musk filtered in through my nostrils as I let her move even closer. She reached into my pocket and stopped.
“Of course, it’s wet; you threw your coffee all over me. Didn’t think things through before you did it, did you?”
She pulled the package from my pocket and shivered at the name on it.
“I don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand, Amy?”
Her head snapped up when I called her by her name.
“How do you know me?”
“Well, when you spend so many nights in the proximity of someone, you tend to research who they are.”
“All the time, I followed you, you knew?”
“Yes, it’s my job.”
“And I thought I was careful.”
“You were. The only reason I knew was I never work alone. While you were watching me, watching them, I had someone snapping shots of you. Go ahead take a gander. You should still be able to make out some of them.”
My eyes drank her in, while she flipped through picture after picture of her behind bushes, tree trunks, red cars, blue cars, falling in poison ivy, going back for ice cream when her night of spying on me ended. She came to the zip locked bag that also had her name on it.
“What’s this?” She said backing away.
I already mourned the loss of her body heat.
“It’s a present for you. You sure earned it. Here’s your evidence for your court case. Wasn’t that what you were after?” I tried to convince myself I had no ulterior motive for giving her this gift. Although, the long hours I wasted ogling her pictures, wondering what dirt bag could cheat on a woman like this, said otherwise.
“So, you knew that the man Heather Stott was seeing was my husband?”
“Yeah, I knew. I always wondered one thing though?”
“What was that?”
“Most women would have busted in on him straight away and caught him in the act. You didn’t. Why is that?”
An impish grin played over her face when she spoke. “Most wives don’t have a stipulated pay off of half of the partner’s fortune if the said cheating spouse was caught on camera. This is the end of years of enticing the old fart with my sexy friends. But, he never took the bait. The idiot loved me, cherished me, and stayed true. I refused sex for over two years before he even glanced at Stott.”
I gawked into space feeling deader than a deer in a car’s headlights. How could I have committed such an error, misinterpreting her as the wronged party in this caper? I understood now that she sported her role successfully. Far from jubilant, I suffered like an imbecile, having crushed a man whose sole sin prevailed to be dying of love for a calculating tart.
“So what do you think of that, mister big shot detective? Had you considered this through before you allowed me this evidence? Don’t fear when I pick up my money. I’ll send some your way. Maybe we could hook up sometime,” she trailed off.
A whirlwind of leaves surrounded us as her pliant lips slid onto mine. I kissed her because I was a dog and I knew it. Our tongues mingled, passions flared and for an instant, I craved a story with her. When I recalled the plan she carried out on her husband, the creature in me revived. I squeezed her like a savage beast, wanting to crush her for taking me for a first class moron. I cut her lips because it was my particular form of punishing her. The air blew harder while my rage rose. Before I utterly lost my mind, I pushed her away and reached for my pen writing a memo in my palm I would never neglect again.
“What did you write?” She said rubbing her bloody lip while she pried my fingers opened.
It read: Note to self, fall + love = disaster