Darkly’s Dilemma

by Norah Deay


The only light on the street came from the Chinese restaurant down the block. At half past midnight all the other businesses had closed already and Darkly knew the restaurant would have closed by now too if it weren’t for his lateness. 

His feet slowed as he neared the pool of light on the pavement. Anything to put off the telling. He stood outside street a little too long to appear as someone contemplating the menu. But it was now or never. He had to tell her. He pushed the door, and it swung open to reveal a solitary figure at a table front and centre. A glass of red wine to match the fingernails that tapped the glass impatiently was all that was left on the table, and it was obvious she wasn’t happy about the wait. 

Dark eyes turned in his direction and she frowned.

“Where were you? You were supposed to have been here at 10!”

“I got held up.” His eyes roamed the shadows to see if anyone was watching, but the room appeared empty. Distant kitchen sounds were the only sign there was anyone else in the building. 

“Held up? By whom? OR what? What was so important you made me wait? I’m the one paying you!”

“Hold on!” He held out a hand, palm down. “I was held up by your business.”

She sighed, the fingernails tapping the glass again. 

“Well, you’d better tell me what it was about then.”

He pointed towards the bar “Okay if I get a drink?”

She nodded and he quickly slipped behind the bar and pulled a pint of beer, gulping down half of it before he got back to the table. 

She gestured to the empty chair opposite her.

“Right, what happened?”

“I got the information you asked me to get.”

She regarded him silently and when he didn’t elaborate, she slapped the table with her hand.

“Tell me!”

“He’s not having an affair.”

She slumped in the chair, the air leaving her body like a balloon that’s been stuck with a pin. 

“Why not?”

His laugh turned into a cough.

“You asked me to find out if your husband was having an affair and I’m now telling you that he’s not. He’s learning to play the piano so he can play Lady in Red at your anniversary party.”

A sharp intake of breath and then her eyes closed as if she didn’t want him to see her thoughts. 

He waited a beat and then asked, “is it not good news?”

She leaned across the table towards him. 

“Do you know where I can hire a hitman?”