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Contemporary Drama Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Never did his hands feel this way. Soft, gentle to the touch where she expected a strong, callous rubbing in her palms. His hands represented so much of who he was. A brash, cavalier type of gentleman. She loved him for it. For it was this brashness that brought him into her life. Yet it was this brashness that pushed him out of it too.

She remembered seeing him for the first time. It was dark out, past dinner but not past midnight. Cool air and traces of mist flirted amongst the streetlights and the damp asphalt let off a long day's exhaust. She walked along the street with her girlfriend. They chattered, laughing and recounting stories from when they were in college, the parties, the friends, those times. Then she heard him down the street, coming down a side alley. He was loud, whooping it up with the boys. His untucked, button up stopped at his chest and hung from one of his broad shoulders. Above his head he swung an open whiskey bottle, tucked into a brown paper bag.

“Can you belieeevvvveeeeee that?” he said, taking a swig and wiping his mouth with his arm. His eyes were as wide as the moon.

“No way Ketch. No fuckin’ way.”

“Ha, HAHHH!” Ketch said, putting his arms around his posse. She remembered his laugh. Thunderous. It made her smile.

The girls watched the three wind through the street. They hooted, hollered and cars stopped and they waved in thanks. 

“Mickeys! Right here boys,” Ketch said, dropping the whiskey bottle into the trash. A wide mahogany door opened and they disappeared inside the old, fail-safe pub. The street fell silent and both girls exchanged wry smiles.

“Should we go in Amelie?”

My bones already knew. We dashed towards the bar, Becca and I, our dresses flapping, heels clacking down the street. 

Across the room he sat next to the band, banging away on their drums and jamming on the guitar. The boys toasted, pints of beer each. It was during a lull in the set where they finally caught eyes. Amelie and Ketch. When he introduced himself, her heart fluttered. As they talked she noticed his voice, lower and deeper than when she had heard it in the streets. When he laughed she couldn’t help but laugh too even if she didn’t understand. When she left, he gave her his number and they touched and that’s where she first noticed the rough, callousness of his hands. 

Two weeks later Amelie’s sitting by herself overlooking Sheldon bay, in a short blue skirt, Jacky Kennedy shades and a sun hat like a circus top. She sips champagne from a fluted glass waiting for Ketch who strolls up in a boating outfit, gray tattoos exposed on his forearms. 

“The boat is ready Amelie.”

She looks over the rim of her sunglasses and smiles. On the water the Beneteau yacht cuts past the sandy beach and out towards the sea. Ketch mans the wheel into open water, seagulls follow then pass into the distance. At half past 12 they drop anchor and float in the sun. He pops another champagne bottle and they soak in the scenery. With a glass down he stands, unbuttons his shirt, kicks off his loafers. 

“I’m headed in Amelie. Join me?”

Bubbles in her nose and the warm sunlight guide her hand to her skirt to the deck. Her calves find the deck’s heat through her toes until the cool water washes away the warmth. Under the surface it’s vacant and then, his hands on her pulling her upwards. Above the surface in each other’s arms, his shiny wet black hair, paddling.

“I …” she pauses, “… I can’t believe I just met you Ketch.”

“Mmm. It’s unbelievable.”

They swim and then they surface and then they stop. She boards the boat and lays down facing the sky. Ketch follows and stands at the bow taking stock of the currents. Now, Amelie swoons near the aft laying her hands on her breasts, closing her eyes.

I remember it was late in the afternoon, the sun was going down, when he laid down next to me, kissed me. Then, he held me down and we made love. On a warm, waveless afternoon in the middle of the sea.

She wakes. Now, in his apartment overlooking the city early in the morning. The overhead fan circles, the glowing lights shine below the cityscape. He’s busy standing in his closet, pulling clothes from hangers, folding and placing them in a suitcase. His brow is furrowed and he breathes as a bull does in a ring. Amelie sits up holding the bed sheet to her chest.

“Honey. What’s going on?” Past their framed photos, the hanging jewelry he surprised her with on vacation to the hanging pendulum clock. “It’s 3 in the …”

“I know what time it is.”

She halts, blinking in the dark. This is new. It’s different. The room goes silent. The fan spins. He continues and then he zips his bag. Turning to Amelie, showered, dressed and ready. He looks amazing.

“I have some work to do and I will be gone for a few days.”

“Where are you going?”

“To work. Everything will be fine.” He smiles.

“I see.”

The fan spins, the street glows. He turns the closet light off and stands at the bedroom door.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Amelie lays back, staring at the ceiling. She rolls to the left, then to the right. Vehicle doors close outside and engines growl until they fade into the distance. On her side, she watches the horizon as light peaks out above the buildings. A day goes past. Then two. Three. On day four, she reaches for her phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi Becca”

“Hey love. It’s so late. What’s going on?”

“I … I need to talk to you.”

“Is everything OK?”

“I … I don’t know. It’s about Ketch.”

“What is it?”

“Well. He’s gone. Left early in the morning a few days ago. He said he was going to work. He hasn’t called.”

“Hmm. Any idea what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. My mind’s been wandering, trying to sort it out. Do you think … he might be cheating on me?”

“What!? No way.” Amelie closes her eyes and rubs her forehead.

“Well what the hell is going on then?”

“Um. Well. Ketch is a great guy. You know that. And you … well, you’re a babe. You have men slobbering over you honey. So why would you think that?”

“He was so … so vague about where he was going.”

“What else could he be doing?” Amelie asks.

“I dunno. Working maybe?” Sarcastic Becca. “Can you track his phone?”

I still remember holding my phone trying to figure it out. Then seeing his little icon blinking on the map. No shit. Mickey’s.

Mahogany is heavy, solid and quiet. Mickey’s is stale when it’s empty, suspended in dampness and regret. Why no one is behind the bar, she’ll never know. Amelie crosses the floor glancing at her phone. 

“He’s here somewhere,” she thinks. 

Then there’s rustling and shifting from the door that leads outside. Except that when she opens it, it leads to a cellar. She hears men talking in low voices. “Clean this shit up,” “Is it closed?” She descends stairs in her sneakers. “Let’s go man.” At the floor they’re there, three men hoisting a body bag out the back door.

“Into the van.” That voice. Thunderous. She says his name, but no words come out. They load the bag and he turns and sees her.

“Amelie.” He says, “No.”

I was cold. Cold and confused. Then he came to me and helped me up and said he would take care of me.

In the car he reaches over and holds her hand. The driver and the passenger are quiet, impeccably dressed and groomed. The van stops at a red light, hums, then turns towards the south.

“Where are we …”

He squeezes her hand

“My love. I’ll explain when we’re there.”

The van pulls up at the dock, backing in. It stops and the driver kills the engine. The front doors open then close and Ketch and Amelie are inside. Behind them is a body in a black bag. The two men open the rear, retrieve the bag, and close the doors. 

“Ketch. What is this? What is going on?”

He pauses, breathes.

“Amelie, I …”

A light shines through the windshield and they both freeze. It moves past the driver side and his door opens. 

“We should go sir.” The driver. 

“Yes,” he replies. 

They board the boat and head out to sea. An hour, then two pass until the boat slows and stops, waves lap against the hull. 

“This is good enough,” Ketch says. The two men go to work. It’s automatic. The body is hoisted at the aft and the bag is unzipped. Amelie watches the shadow of a figure suspended, then tipped over the side. The splash was unexpected, gentle and quick and the figure disappeared in the dark. Nausea washes over Amelie but she holds it in. The two men returned to the wheel, started it up and headed back. 

“This is it, Amelie. This is what I do. I have done it for a long time. My whole life.”

“I don’t understand.” She wrings her hands. 

“In this world there are wealthy people. Very wealthy people. There are some wealthy people who need to have certain affairs resolved. They have called on me and my father and my father’s father for this particular type of … solution. My family has done this work for generations. It has served us well and pays us handsomely. Immensely well I would say.”

His boat sputters in the early morning back towards the shore. She makes out lights on the coastline and turns to the water, away from what’s onboard. 

“Amelie, please understand. I didn’t want you to find out this way. I …”

“Enough Ketch. Please. Just please take me home.” She was stern and Ketch understood.

I can see myself traveling on his boat, then back in the van. I get out in front of my apartment and get into the elevator. I’m crying by the time it opens up on my floor and I’m not sure how I got inside. I cried until the colors faded and the air lost its smell. I crawled toward my bed and slept on the floor next to it until time stopped and nothing mattered. 

Becca’s on the floor lying next to Amelie, face to face. She rubs her shoulders and runs her fingers through her hair. 

“My love, you have to get up.”

Amelie blinks, her eyes are dreary, swollen. 

“Why?” She sniffs.

“Oh honey. I wish I knew.”

Amelie blinks again, then sits up. 

“What am I going to do?” she says. Becca rubs Amelie’s hands, stimulating warmth. 

“Well, he’s amazing. So handsome and well off. He’s perfect in so many ways.”

“Oh, c’mon Becca he runs a murder for hire business.” Amelie lays back down. 

“I know, I know Amelie,” she stops “but he loves you so damn much.”

“I know Becca. I can feel it in my bones.”

She agrees to meet with him at a public place, a brasserie downtown on a corner facing an old church. Service is out and parishioners walk down the front stairs. He sits down next to her, she shifts away slightly but noticeable. Behind her sunglasses she cannot look at him directly. 

“My love,” he starts.

“Stop,” and he goes quiet. “You … I can’t believe you. You’re. You’re a monster.” He stays quiet, folds his hands on the table. “How can you do this? How could you keep this from me?” She wipes her eyes and he leans forward, forearms on the table. 

“You are right.” There is no deviance in his voice. Strong, unabashed. “You are right.”

“How can you …” He holds up his hand. 

“I am going to say this one last time. When I am done, I will stand up and leave.” He clears his throat. “Not everyone in this world gets to live a good, gentle life. There are those that are rotten. No good. Disgusting. I have met them. I have killed them. I have buried them. Then, I’ve been compensated for it. Extremely well. So, I continue. I cull this land so good people, like yourself, can enjoy its spoils. When I’m done, I’m done. Then I will enjoy my spoils.” The chair slides backwards and he stands. “I am sorry I could not tell you some other way. I will give you space and some time to think. Know though, that I love you. I love you deeply Amelie, but I understand.” He smiles at her, turns and walks off towards the church. Amelie sits back in her chair, watching him walk off. 

I find myself thinking about that body, slipping over the edge and into the abyss. Floating for a moment, then sinking, accelerating towards the bottom. Dark and uncertain yet freeing, liberating. A leap into the unknown. Ketch is every woman’s dream and yet he is also every woman’s nightmare. Becca knows that. Ketch knows that. I know that. 

He is brash but can be soft and gentle. I am soft and gentle. So maybe I can be brash.

Amelie looks at him, his dark brown eyes. His soft hands. “I do.”

August 28, 2022 00:42

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4 comments

Cynthia Prokarym
23:51 Sep 04, 2022

Awesome story 👏 I enjoyed it. 🙂

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Ben Zuffi
14:31 Sep 05, 2022

Thanks Cynthia!

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Cynthia Prokarym
02:18 Sep 07, 2022

You're very welcome. If you'd like to check out my latest story, I'd welcome that. 🙂

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Cynthia Prokarym
23:51 Sep 04, 2022

Awesome story 👏 I enjoyed it. 🙂

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