«One Cigarette City.»
All you have time to do in this city is smoke one cigarette. Then your eyes will do all the talking for you. The windows here are huge eyes. They are watching you. Even James Fisher, head of the small police department, hides his fears and weaknesses deep in the bottom of his whiskey glass. His gray pupils have many answers to hundreds of questions, and he knows how to breathe with you in tact. How's that? Oooh, it can't be explained. Magnetism, charisma, a subtle hint of nature that his presence throws women in the heat, they unbutton their blouses by themselves, the first two buttons, and men nervously rummage through their pockets in search of documents.
He's almost «God,» everyone here is almost…But no one's perfect, right? Fisher, however, can afford it – not to be perfect. He has made arrangements with his «skeletons in the closet.»
A young girl got off the train at five o'clock in the afternoon. In the city of one cigarette, it was a sin not to smoke. Her red hair was caressed by the wind, which also prevented her from extracting even a particle of fire from the «vortex of eternity,» as Vell called the lighter.
Cheerful Harri, the saleswoman who greeted every train, usually cheerful, red-faced, scandalous, and curious, was quiet today, the whole town frozen. Something's going to happen – the treetops whispered. The town was brought out of its stupor by the whistle of a locomotive. And so it happened. There was this redheaded wonder on the platform in a khaki shirt, snub-nosed and freckled.
A cheerful Harry turned to the stranger, «Hey, baby! What are you doing in this neck of the woods?
Well: - I'm looking. Good woman, could you tell me the police station?
Cheerful Harri: -What a strange way to talk. So you're after Fisher's heart?
Well: - His heart is the last thing I'm interested in. Is there a lot of people after him?
Cheerful Harri: - The Destiny Hotel is often crowded! Our Fisher is tough as a coconut, since Dee's disappearance he's given up, more running after his thoughts than his skirts.
Well: - I don't wear skirts. So can you tell me where the police station is?
Cheerful Harri: - You can find it yourself.
Vell: - Do you have a lighter? Mine doesn't work.
Cheerful Harri: -Women don't smoke in this town!
Well, I'm glad I'm not from your town. Good woman, please don't tell me you've seen me,» she turned to Harry, and got an arrogant look in reply, and a receding back. It was still three hours before eight, so Well decided to take a walk and have a cup of coffee.
In the evening, Fisher opened a new bottle, his feet resting snugly on the table and his back in the chair. His gaze followed the hands of the clock on the wall.
It was eight o'clock sharp, the front door creaked open, the familiar scent of Bonjour perfume overpowered the smell of alcohol, a reddish cloud of hair covered his unshaven cheekbone.
- James…exhaled the girl.
Fisher: - My Dee, my baby. A long kiss full of passion echoed through the room. I thought it would never end, I hate waiting. By the way, you've stirred up our community!
Fisher, sitting Dee on his lap: - You have no idea baby, for your long three hour trip through the city I was almost charged with murder again!
Dee: - Cheerful Harry I assume is one of them? Dee laughed. She didn't recognize me.
Fisher: - The operation was a success. I can see the effect and I like it. Harri thought you were a journalist and came to investigate the murder of my wife, who disappeared so suddenly.
Dee: - That's original, investigating the murder of yourself.
Fisher: - Well, there were also theories. The owner of the pub where you went for coffee decided to give you a title. That's what he said – Fisher, we all know she's police, she must be after you! Oh, my God, they had such funny theories. I had time to listen to five!
Dee: - How I love this town. One Cigarette City, I guess that's why I couldn't smoke? The smoke reminds me of the shroud of gossip around everyone who visits this place. Gossip is the best kind of literary genre. Perhaps it is underappreciated. Do you think, Mr. Fisher, that we should exacerbate this general hype?
Fisher: - Now you certainly look like an officer. Officer, are you going to arrest me? James picked Dee up in his arms, put her on the table, and pressed his nose against her thigh. I missed the smell of you.
Dee: - But we couldn't do otherwise, could we? Curiosity is a good thing in our case. Miss Fisher disappeared a year ago and now you have Well Huxley back. Long live the new Miss Fisher. Well Fisher. I can imagine how difficult it must have been for my James.
Fisher: - You can't imagine! Those long months of investigation, they put me out of business, sent in some «gray cardinal,» a funny little man, small in stature, wearing a cap, in his fifties, with pig-eyes. For six months he came into our house as if he were in his own house, but Selyavi! No body, no case.
Dee: - Whatever you're accused of, even my murder, you're innocent, now I'm innocent too. Everyone was looking for Diane Fisher so much that they didn't pay any attention to Simon's death. I'm free. You and I know what happened. The only witness to what happened is our love.
Dee stood up and hugged James tightly, a sly twinkle in her golden eyes and a knife in her hand.
Fisher bent strangely, shuddered, a question ran in his eyes – Why? …faded away just as his life did.
Dee, and today Well, carefully wiped off her fingerprints, walked out through the backyard and headed on foot through a thicket of bushes toward the highway, ten kilometers, three hours to remove the mask, and there it was – New Life! Greg Dawson, her latest crush, was the consummate makeup artist. They worked together to create the image of Well Huxley. Really, Greg didn't know about DD's plans.
Pretty soon, Diane Fisher will return to One Cigarette Town to mourn her husband. She'll probably start an online column, «Our Town Gossip.» After all, it's such an unrecognized literary genre.