by Charles Stone
photo by uosiek1
“What if I get lost, I call out for you, and you don’t save me?”
Kalif looked at his ex-wife/new girlfriend’s reflection in the mirror. “What if you get lost. What in the world… you won’t get lost, and Ciara what in the hell are you talking about?”
Ciara flopped down on the queen-sized bed and looked at the swirl designs in the ceiling. “I’m talking about the total lack of attention from you. I’m talking about being ignored since we arrived.”
Kalif looked up from the computer screen, adjusted his glasses. He
returned his attention to the title of his work: HOW TO COMMIT THE PERFECT MURDER.
“We’re on vacation in beautiful St. Vincent, no worries. Just the two of us and… See? You’re ignoring me now, Kalif.”
He had given up about half an hour ago. “Ciara, I told you I was coming here to write. I thought you understood that this is a no pleasure trip for me. Why don’t you get dressed and go mingle with the other tourists? Reserve a table for us around 6:00. I’ll join you then.”
“Why don’t you go mingle with the other tourist.” She mimicked with a sneer, grabbed her bag, and sauntered out of the door.
“This is very dangerous Senor, why would a fine gentleman need this terrible thing. There are far more exciting and safer things to do here on the island.”
“This is research, that’s all.“ Kalif held the vial towards the sunlight to get a look at the liquid. He spent the entire afternoon trying to find a shop that would sell what he was looking for. Every shop owner thought he was an undercover policeman. He had almost given up, and planned to join Ciara in the lounge. The hotel clerk directed to him to Samuel’s shoppe on the outskirts of the village.
“Very beautiful isn‘t it Samuel?”
“Beautiful? This is not something to be admired.” He tried to take the vial back from Kalif. Samuel had been burned before by a police sting. But he didn‘t think this English speaking man was a cop.
“You do know this is secretion from the Poison Arrow Frog. This comes from a species of frog that is very dangerous to handle. Two micrograms is enough for a very painful and ugly death. There is no antidote.”
Kalif shook the vial. “Is it soluble?”
“Yes, it is senor. May I ask why you need to know all this?”
Kalif grinned, as he pulled out two Benjamins. “If I tell you, Samuel, I would have to kill you. Let’s keep this little transaction between you and me okay?”
Samuel smirked. “In this village silence cost four Bennies.”
“That’s a beautiful bag. What is it? A Martini?”
“Oh, you know your bags. She extended her hand. My name’s Belinda Cook. Is this your first time here?”
Ciara turned in the captain’s stool and smiled at the stranger. “Belinda, my name is Ciara. Yes, this is my first vacation time here on the island. I’m with my… my ex-husband/new boyfriend. She smiled . “Yep, it’s a long story.”
Belinda drained her tall glass. “I have nothing to do but sit in this air-conditioned lounge, drink and listen to stories. Have a couple of these seaweed shakes they’re to die for. It taste better with your favorite poison added. And tell me your long story. If it‘s juicy, I‘ll tell you mine”
“Okay. I‘ll try a seaweed shake and… oh, my goodness, Belinda, is that gun in your bag?”
“Yeah girl every women needs a little pocket protection here in paradise. You don’t want to walk alone after dark. Don’t let the brochures fool you.” She removed the gun. “This little cutie here is a H&K P2000, light weight and accurate. Here feel the weight.”
“I… huh, I never held a gun before. Wow, that’s really light, unbelievable.”
“Yep, about fifteen ounces, all you do is point and shoot. Very simple and easy.They make it that way for women. “Haha, I can get you one here. Cheap.”
“What you got there?” Kalif swept in the booth across from Ciara.
“This is a seaweed shake, a super food and guaranteed cure for fatigue.” She winked. I’m told by the natives that it is also an aphrodisiac and a longevity-booster.”
“A longevity-booster? I think we all would like to live longer.” He eyed the waiter and mouthed ‘the same’.
“So, Ciara, what’s on the agenda for tonight?”
“Really? You want to hang out with me tonight? Okay, before you change your mind… I was talking with a few of the ladies and they told me about this very secluded spot about thirteen miles from here; they showed me pictures. Very beautiful lust green plant life. A small thirty foot waterfall into a natural hot water spring. I thought we could bring some wine and fruit, a blanket. Make a fire and just rough it for the night. We could talk, the way we talked before. You like?”
Kalif reached out and removed a strand of hair from her face. “Yea, I like. Just one thing, Ciara. Allow me to choose the wine, seaweed shakes are horrible.”
Ciara squinted into the setting sun, as she looked over Kalif’s shoulder. “I bought a gun today.”
“ That’s three surprises today.”
“Yep, you found this wonderful spot, a paradise in a paradise. Two, you go out
shopping and buy a gun of all things. I expected you to come back with a armful of handbags, native shoes and big floppy hats.”
She gave him a quick peck on the lips. “And the third surprise?”
He placed two fingers on her lips. “You’re unusually quiet. What’s on your mind?”
Ciara averted her eyes and drew circles in the sand. “Murder.”
“Whoa! Sorry I asked, not mine I hope?”
“No silly. Belinda, one of the ladies I met this afternoon. She told me she killed her boyfriend. He was very abusive, he beat her. She shot him after he fell asleep, after they made love. She put two bullets in the back of his head, the gun hardly made a sound, she said.” Ciara reached in her bag and pulled out the gun, “Shot him with a gun like this one.”
Kalif flung the blanket off, he rose and put his pants on. “Why did you bring the gun here?”
“Remember when you beat me Kalif?”
“No, I don’t remember when I beat you. I remember when I hit you one time. Will you put that gun away? You’re making me nervous.”
Ciara sat up. “There was a time when you made me nervous.”
“Yeah, well you made me nervous when you raided our joint accounts and ran away with the pizza delivery boy. And that’s why I hit you, not beat you. That was the only time I ever put a finger on you.”
“Ha ha,” and she slipped the gun back in the bag. “Silva wasn’t the delivery boy. He owned a pizza restaurant chain. Kalif. I’m not going to shoot you, the gun’s not even loaded. Come sit down, pour some wine.”
“Why? You haven’t drank a drop of yours.”
“I thought you might try and poison me Kalif. I took a look at your writing when you slept last night. Planning the perfect murder, using poison. Poison is a women’s murder weapon. You should know that.”
“Murder you. You think I want to kill you? That’s why you brought the gun?”
“The thought crossed my mind. But that’s not why I brought the gun. Belinda told me that it’s good to have protection on the island. You want to shoot it?”
“I thought you said it wasn’t loaded.”
“I did bring a clip along, two clips in fact. One for me and one for you. Have you ever fired a gun?”
“I was in the Army remember? I’ve shot a gun before.”
“Yeah, I remember. My little solider boy, all dressed up in your starched
camouflaged fatigues. They’re called fatigues, right?
Kalif looked into the setting sun. “You were dressed in a sun-dress, it was lime colored. You were so tiny and fragile then. I remember, June 6th, 1994.”
She grinned. “You…you remember the date.”
“I remember a lot more than you give me credit for.” Kalif turned away from the bright sun light. “I remember the first time you cooked for me, on our third date you cooked your speciality tofu meatballs in a bland mushroom sauce.”
Ciara patted the empty space on the blanket. “Come on sit down. I thought you liked my mushroom sauce.”
“You always thought a lot of things about me, most weren’t true. You thought my dreams of being a writer and artist where a pipe dream. You didn’t think my job was a real job. You thought I was soft because I avoided verbal confrontation . Tell me again why you married me? I loved you then in 1994. We were young and in love. I loved everything about you. You were the first women that I could really talk with who wasn’t a family member.”
“A family member? Your sisters hated me. They were jealous of my beauty and refinement.”
“No, Ciara, you were jealous of my relationship with my sisters. Your family is so dysfunctional, you had no appreciation for the closeness of my family.”
“Keep rewriting history, Kalif. Your sisters never tried to bond with me. Behind your back they were very vindictive towards me. Too bad we can’t go back to 1994. Now that I have a gun.”
“You hated my sister enough to want to do them harm?”
Ciara jumped up. “No more talk. Come on let’s shoot the gun. I want to play with my new toys.
Kalif rolled over on his back. Resting his head on his arms. “Shoot guns? I’m going to mix a couple of drinks. Go ahead, I’ll catch up.”
Charles Stone: I am a retired educator, mentor, and child advocate. In my new life, I am a writer and colorist. I live in Pittsburgh, PA, USA with my wife, Cornis, and our Pit Bull mix named Tango. I am a lover of children, animals, and the written word. Currently I am putting the finishing touches on an anthology of short stories depicting human interactions in an array of different genres.