He asked the man, through teeth gritted as if he were trying to file them down to his gums, where the deposit was. Half payment up front, half at the end. The bleeding man on the floor couldn’t hide his surprise, the white of his wide eyes choking the brown that uncannily matched Jaimie’s. Simon nudged an answer from him by setting the long barrel of the silencer against the man’s forehead. The reply came stuttering and breathless. It was in his car, beneath the driver’s side seat. He pulled the guy to his feet with a jerk and, gun thrust into his back, shoved him down the hallway to the front door. Sunlight blasted their faces upon opening the door, as if they were in a vacuum and air existed only outside. The bleeder kept moving, not as effected by the bright, and Simon watched his gait, low and swinging like Jaimie. He didn’t know what would happen next. So much coincidence seemed impossible, but here they were, desperate men playing their written roles. It was time for a rewrite, but each new similarity made Simon wonder if they were locked into the cycle, rats in an endless maze.
The guy’s black slacks were loose on him, and he thought back to when Jaimie was younger and heavier, just as Simon had been. They didn’t have enough money to buy new pants after dropping college weight either. Simon realized the storm door could close on him if he didn’t pick up his pace and he stepped quick to catch up to the guy. They no doubt looked ridiculous passing through the rotting wooden gate and crossing the patch of dying grass before the packing lot; a demented bride and groom clearly in need of ice, gauze and a stiff drink. Simon spoke in a growl and pushed the gun into the guy’s left kidney the entire way to his beaten-up black Honda. A difference: Jaimie drove a red Tercel back then. Back when Daneen was still alive and smiling like the sun before her memory became a black hole. The guy stopped after opening the door, again as if he could hear Simon’s thoughts about the dead, lovers, wives. Simon gestured with the gun and as the man reached under the seat, out of view, Simon suddenly feared what might be revealed. (To be continued…)