She falls ass backwards into an extortion plot gone wrong. She staggers through a psychotic plot to murder hundreds. She bumps into the love of her life. Her name is Sam Haine, and she always, always, knows what she is doing…
Out of the mist and the almost-dawn she walked, not as tall as I had imagined, but reeking of confidence. Her skirt billowed in the morning breeze, flapping around her buckled, booted ankles and stained with paint. Her hands were buried deep in the pockets of a purple suede frock coat and a ridiculous hat slouched on her head. A long red scarf trailed down to her waist. Her eyes smiled at me, or at least one did. One of them looked glass. She was singing a song to herself. Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark, I believe…
The woman beamed, like a fanged magpie, and sat down next to me on the bench. She checked her watch – five in the morning, on the dot – and stared out over the bay. It was too early for dog-walkers and joggers; it was the hour for blackmailers and their victims.
“Say what you like about summer,” she said, apparently to me, “But the first day in autumn is still the time to fall in love.” She looked at me; I didn’t like it and she saw that, “or perhaps you don’t agree.”
“Can I help you, Madam?” I asked, bristling.
“Oh I’m sure you could, Mr Mark, you’re a man of resource and imagination. What did you have in mind?”
She knew who I was, my name and my secret, but this horrible amiable familiarity was the real hook in my flesh.
(c) Ian Bird 2009