500 words based on a sentence selected by Dive. Click here for more info.
This week's sentence is from Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country: Jarvis sat a long time smoking, he did not read any more.
Jarvis sat a long time smoking, he did not read any more.
He studied the woman seated across from him at the century-old desk. About thirty, he guessed. She was hot, with wavy auburn hair cascading past her shoulders, smartly dressed, her tailored suit showing off just enough of her curves to draw his attention away from the bottle secreted in the bottom drawer. And she was cool, cool as the two-carat diamond flashing on her left hand.
She showed up without an appointment, a manila folder under her arm, as Jarvis faced his daily 4pm debate: gin or coffee? She put the folder with its sheaf of handwritten yellow pages half-way between them and waited while he read, a mix of hot and cool and certainly not lukewarm.
The late afternoon sun and half-drawn Venetian blinds sliced zebra stripes across her face and upper body. The frosted glass in the door behind her bore the words The Jarvis Agency, Investigations. She had not spoken. He tossed the folder on the desk.
“What do you want me to do if I find him?” he asked, gesturing with the cigarette toward the pages that spilled across the blotter. His other hand went to his mouth, absently removing a piece of tobacco from his tongue and flicking it away. “And what do I call you?”
“You can call me Miss Smith. And I don’t want you to do anything. I want to know the truth.”
He drew a few pages from the folder, turning his attention back to her neat Catholic school script. She waited, gazing out the window to the traffic below.
He lit another cigarette from the butt of the first. Who was the man whose story she’d so carefully outlined on the pages torn from the legal pad? Couldn’t be her husband, there was no band accompanying the sparkler. Ex-fiancé perhaps? Then why was she still wearing the ring?
She reached across the desk and helped herself to a smoke.
“I need to know if anything, anything, he told me was true. You’ve got everything I know about him, everything he told me.”
“Miss Smith, you say he’s gone. Left the city years ago. What’s it matter now?”
“I loved a liar, loved him like an animal.”
“And I’m getting married. But this chapter isn’t closed. I cannot swear to forsake all others until I know.”
“Are you prepared to live with what I find?”
“I’m not living now. I’m trapped in the past. I can only move ahead by putting him behind me, and the only way to do that is to know the truth.”
“It’s a thousand a week, plus expenses. And I’ll need two weeks in advance.”
She took an envelope from her purse and placed it on the desk. “I’ll call you next week for a report.”
Jarvis reached for the bottle in the bottom drawer. As the afternoon turned to dusk Jarvis sat a long time smoking, he did not read any more.
copyright (c) 2010 Lulubelle B