I cursed out a string of obscenities, then shot back the final third from a tumbler held tightly in my right hand; two parts whiskey, six parts ice, and one part, some sort of poison, bitter, with a slow personality, so I’d been told.
My face distorted, then shifted back someplace near normal, as I tossed the tumbler at the man’s feet – that beast that tried to take my bride’s life… my bride to be.
“It’s done,” I barked “now give me that damned photo!”
The man smiled, perfectly warm, reached down to grab the tumbler, then placed it on a small table just beside the bed in our Honeymoon Suite — mine and Suzie’s.
He said: “I’m sorry, friend, but it don’t quite work like that.”
He spoke with such a pleasant tone; it was all I had in me to keep from busting his teeth with that tumbler… if I hadn’t already tossed it away—
“Why the hell not, you son of a bitch; it’s perfectly fair, one life for another.“
“Picture’s been shot.” He flashed me the photo of Suzie, smiling at the edge of our bed – the hotel’s bed from our Honeymoon Suite: “And I’m afraid, friend, this sort of business can’t be undone.” And then he grinned at me, the son of a bitch grinned like a friendly little handshake between associates, “it’s not my call.”
Not his call – who’s call was it?
I said some more dirty words, then tensed as he rested his hand on Suzie’s shoulder; boy I wanted to break it off to all of GOD’S glory, but she shuttered, and her eyes glazed – so much pain in those damn eyes, those goddamned beautiful eyes, that I was a man, hardly able to move a muscle.
“Get your hand off my wife.” I managed out, both rows of teeth still showing. “I drank your goddamned mixture, now snap a new photo if you need it, then get the hell out of this room.”
His eyes were so damn remorseful, it made me sick to my stomach – or maybe it was the poison; but he took a step closer; just one, so’s to keep us at a safe distance apart, then said to me, as passively as could be: “Your numbers not up yet, friend—“
It was at that moment, maybe a few beats sooner, that my wife, Suzie – my wife to be that is, doubled over then cried out: “Please, Billy, it’s getting worse.”
She was down to her knees by now, and sweating like a hog, as I rushed to her side, with this man — this, death messenger in a man’s shell, shuffling over to the other side of the room.
“Please, Billy, I need a doctor real bad – this pain…” She clutched her side, her right side, and tumbled into my arms, “it’s getting worse.”
I swallowed hard, then turned, looking up at the son of a bitch, now waiting safely across the room. “Why the hell are you doing this to us, how could you take her from me, on this of all days?!?”
“Please Billy, there’s nobody out there.” It was meek, but Suzie managed to get it out.
I looked down at her, her eyes clouding, then back up at the man, now pushing himself nervously against the wall.
“She can’t see me no more, friend, I left over an over an hour ago.” He flashed the picture one last time, “after I took the photograph.”
“But the poison—“
“Wasn’t meant for you.”
“I drank it anyhow, you son of a bitch. Why is she the one that’s gotta be dying right now? “ I needed a damn answer, desperate for some sorta’ explanation “why not me?”
He just looked at me; that terrible man, pushed so far back, he started blending into the wall, then said to me quite simply: “It’s not your time, friend.”
Now this is when Suzie sat up, no more pain, she just sat back in my arms then looked up at me with those eyes – those goddamned eyes, and she said to me: “He’s right, Billy,” she kissed her hand, then placed it on my face, so damn tender I nearly crumbled, “It’s mine.”
And then she died.
Lukas Persson lives in NYC.