She dropped her satchel on the floor, the multitude of unconverged, expensive and fragile contents scratching and curmudgeoning like war-beaten cats in an asinine lover’s quarrel. Yet with the care of an ostrich turning its eggs, she used the tips of her fingers to coax her
surplus/refurbished/gently-used/5-dollars-or-less fur-lined coat onto the foam padded clothes hanger in the entryway closet. Priorities.
The answering machine winked like a lighthouse from across the room. She kicked off her maryjane oxfords, knowing that 4-inch, boxy heels can save a look from age-inappropriate Alice in Wonderland. Padding to the kitchen counter in nyloned feet, removing her earrings as she went, she winced as the unwholesome thought crossed her mind, “There’s no way they could have found it all by now…”
3 new messages, thirty-two saved messages. First it was Kathy from the Discrepancy Department at the credit card cabal, and then it was Grant from the other night, asking for a second date. That one extracted a rolling of the eyes, “yeah, and listen to another 3 hours of never-fail day trading strategies? What, is a restaurant without plastic tablecloths, paper napkins, and neon beer signs too much to ask, Mr. High-Roller-Figured-It-All-Out-Works-For-Himself?”
The last message was different. On any other day, she would have ignored it. Or maybe she would have rewound it a couple of times to play at detective for more details until she bored of it and moved on.
Today, it was the message from Hell that would consume the rest of her suddenly complicated life.
It was a full 23 seconds of nothing but the crinkling of paper and a radio with good ol’ Waylon Jennings singing “We Had it All.”
She had to grab the edge of the counter…
Somehow it happened. Despite every precaution… every vehement promise…
Somehow he survived.