Starbucks, City. 11.30am, be there.
Darius stood staring down at the note on the wooden dining table. They were intending to meet again, even after he had specifically forbidden her to meet him. He knew what he had to do. He didn't want her being hurt yet again, didn't want to watch her walk through each day forever enveloped in numbness, unable to eat. Last time it had taken all his effort to help her return to a relatively normal thinking mode. She hadn't wanted to return, in fact, she fought him every step of the way. What she really wanted, was to put an end to her misery. The black hole that had become her existence numbed her to life, as she had previously known it. She was in reality, a walking corpse, emotionless, brain dead.
He closed his eyes then and Sandra appeared in the mists before him. Her eyes were large though lifeless and her body sluggish. Her shining long mane of hair hung dull and lank from her head. She had drifted through each day and night for six weeks before anything of significance changed in her. He didn't really have any idea what had brought her around, it had been more of a gradual change. Perhaps the dog had helped, she walked with him each night. Though she did feel enough to complain that the dog wouldn't walk the pace she wanted to. Knowing her though, she would have been walking spurred on by a need to distance herself from her feelings.
Opening his eyes, he reread the note. It was written with ink, only an older person would bother with pen and ink. He knew the man was an intellectual. That's the only way she would have fallen again. Perhaps he, like her previous lover, had managed to find that deep hidden tenacious need she had for giving. The need that long ago she had drowned, just as her father had drowned his unwanted kittens.
The house was cold and silent. He realised the grandfather clock which stood in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs had stopped. The housekeeper had forgotten to adjust the weights again. He looked at his gold wristwatch. 10.45am. She'd be halfway there by now.
He left the house by the front door. When he had come home, he'd only intended on surprising her and joining her for a coffee and one of those delicious mixed chocolate muffins she used to enjoy making. It seemed her last lover had taken even the simple pleasure of cooking from her. Now, he growled under his breath and pushed the accelerator closer towards the floor. The dark green convertible shot forward switching from lane to lane with ease.
Darius pulled up around the corner from the café, climbed out and thumbed a few coins into the meter. He walked straight into the café, then looked around the room. It wasn't a large room, set on an awkward corner of the building, the tables and chairs spread throughout the shop, but it was packed with pre lunch diners. He saw her, sitting with her straight back to him. She picked up her cup and sipped it.
He indicated for a waitress to bring him a cappuccino and cake, moved to the only vacant table at the back of the room by a tall potted plant, then settled to wait. The waitress brought him his coffee, a slice of banana cake and ensured he could feast his eyes on a large amount of her cleavage. He looked, but didn't bother to touch or acknowledge his interest. His interest was five tables away, sipping her coffee.
Halfway through coffee, he arrived. Darius didn't know him. He looked carefully at the man's face as he greeted her. A slit-wound of pain slithered through his heart as he watched the man smile at Sandra. She shook his outstretched hand, offered her cheek for his kiss. Darius half rose from the chair then sank back into it as the older man moved around their table and sat down.
When he threw his car keys onto the small round table, Darius realised the man and Sandra had met before. He wondered how often they had met and had coffee.
Sandra moved in her seat, a frown marred her forehead. Never once did she smile. Never once did she laugh. Her shoulders drooped, her chin dipped a little, not noticeable to an acquaintance, but glaringly obvious to her husband. He watched as the man spoke, she shrank further back into the chair. Her feet clad in smart black court shoes slid in an almost lazy manner under the table. One foot, her right one, wrapped itself around the table leg. She had anchored herself to the spot.
The man drank the last of his coffee urging her, with a nod of his head, to do the same. Then he stood, held his arm out for her and waited. She drained her cup, putting it back on the saucer with a clang Darius could hear above the general noise in the cafe, turned and draped her red coat over her arm.
As they left the café, Darius followed. He watched them enter the seedy hotel. Paint peeled from the walls, upholstery moulted from the mustard velvet furniture. Through the foyer they walked. Her footsteps slowing, almost dragging along the linoleum floor. Her head bowed in subservience to the act she was about to commit. They rode the lift upwards in silence.
Darius stood and watched the elevator indicator slowly move up the floors. When it stopped, he moved across to the express freight elevator arriving at their floor in time to see the flash of her red coat as she followed the man into the room. Mustiness seeped into the hallway. Darius leaned against the wall in the shadows, listening, watching. The door closed, then the lock clicked, echoing in the silence of the long empty hallway.
He lit his cigarette, took a deep drag then blew it out through his nose. The blue haze dissipated in the air. He leaned against the orange painted door, listening. Deep male moans oozed between the cracks in the door. Darius recalled the last time Sandra had made him moan uncontrollably.
Over eighteen months ago, she'd dressed up for him. She had worn the waitress outfit, a short red skirt and frilly white apron. She'd walked into the bedroom when he'd been dozing on top of the bed. Her red shoes clicking on the polished wooden floorboards had awoken him.
She had stood in front of him, her eyes sparkling with mischief as she unzipped his trousers. Then, while they were still on him, she had turned and bent over. Desire had ripped through his body at the sight of her pink pantyless bottom, and he'd been unable to stop himself slamming hard into her. He'd shouted his need, and she had squirmed and tried to get away from him, but his hands had splayed over her hips and dragged her back against his body. She had screamed in her orgasm, moments later he had spurted his hot juices deep inside her. They had collapsed on the bed together and slept the rest of the afternoon away.
The moan from behind the door now turned into a deep roar. The hot cigarette butt burned his fingers. He stubbed it out with a black leather shoe on the floor, and moved to the far end of the hallway slipping inside the cleaner's cupboard just as the door to the hotel room opened. Sandra walked from the room alone, the clip on her wallet clicked as she closed it. Peering from behind the safety of the door, he watched her face. Her eyes were dead, lifeless.
The hotel room door slammed behind her. She moved to the elevator, pressed the ground floor button and waited. The door slid open, three men in suits eyed her appreciatively and moved to allow her room. As the door began to close, Darius slipped into the elevator.
She was searching for her car keys in her red coat's pockets and hadn't noticed him enter the elevator. The three other people allowed him to silently move to the back. He waited until they left before he moved behind her. The car keys jangled in her hand as she lifted them from her pocket.
The sharp point of the double-edged blade glinted in the garish fluorescent light then entered deep. Her gasp was faintly audible. He withdrew the silver stiletto as she slumped to the floor. He took the wallet from her clenched fist and watched with detachment as bright blood trickled from the corner of her mouth landing on the elevator floor in a tiny puddle of shiny red. The foyer was empty when he stepped with care over her body. He walked out to the convertible and drove home.
It was when he entered her room that he realised how little he had known her. He hadn't been in her bedroom for over a year. The stark whiteness of the room glared at him. He opened her drawers; all were empty. He opened the wardrobe cupboard, every item of clothing was either white or black. Her shoes were stacked methodically on the shelves, all were black or white or a careful mixture of both. The only item of colour had been the red coat she'd worn today.