Dark Justice

Contributor: Amaranta DeBrefny

- -

I have seen unspeakable things in my life. Darkness, depravity, injustice—the list goes on. But not today; today is about the light, about fulfilling a dream, and maybe about getting some of my own back. Well, not so much the last part. The straw of my Mai Tai is a tiny thing, and I push it aside as I toss the little umbrella onto the table. Pulling my sunglasses down and leaning back in my sun chair, I’m committed to simply living today.

            At least that was the plan. A shadow blocks out the heat of the tropical island sun, and knowing that a certain six-foot, bronzed someone is about to quash my plans, I sigh and slowly open my eyes.

            “And here I was thinking you, Melanie Justice, never went on vacation. You know, crime never sleeps and all that.”

            Even if I hadn’t opened my eyes, his voice would have given him away. Andy Lí stands before me larger than life. His tousled hair holds little grains of sand, and, as he gives me a once-over, drips water down his face as if he’s just been for a dip in the ocean. Sunkissed and carefree, he looks good.

“Nice to see you too.” If he’s going to ruin my plans and mysteriously show up on the island, I feel a little sarcasm is the least I can offer.

            “Aw, don’t be like that, Mel. Just think, we can spend every day together.” Andy winks conspiratorially.

            Sitting up, I wrap my towel around myself. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe I was after...oh, let’s see...a vacation? As in time away from the likes of...”

            “Me?” The hurt is evident in his dark eyes.

            I always put my foot in it around Andy. He’s been a PI as long as I have and we’ve managed to run in the same crowds for years—a few cops here, some journalists there. Neither one of us is much of a social player or has a family to go to. Come to think of it, he’s about as socially pathetic as I am. I think that’s why I’ve always liked him.

            “No. Just work. I don’t want to think about work. And why are you here, anyway?” My voice is snarkier than I’d intended, but it’s too late to backtrack.

            “Same as you. I just needed some time away from it all.” Andy offers a small smile. He runs his hands through his hair and turns his face away. “So I guess I’ll see you around.” He’s off before I can call him back to apologize. Not that I would. My work’s taught me never to make myself vulnerable. Sorry isn’t really in my vocabulary. I watch him walk away and wonder when we’re going to end this non-thing between us.

A little after nine I close the file I’ve been going through and remind myself I’m here to have fun. All work and no play makes Melanie a cranky woman. At least according to Andy. He mentioned this resort to me months ago, so I shouldn’t be surprised he’s turned up here. Especially after what we’d been through last month. Henderson, my client, was the misogynistic type who couldn’t fully trust a woman. He’d hired Andy for the same case, and when it went bad—and I mean really bad—Andy had paid dearly, just as I had. Time, I was learning, was the only healer.

            A sudden rap at my door raises my hackles. Laughing it off, I rise from the bed. “Andy, can’t you take a hint?”

            The cool silver of the doorhandle is smooth, distracting, against my palm, and as I open the door, the smile falls from my face.

            “Told you you’d see me again.”

            Henderson’s gloved hands form a sinister backdrop for the glinting metal peeking out of a concealed holster. Rattling off a silent remonstrance of I knew I shouldn’t have come here, I search around for anything to ward off my impending doom. Nothing. The room, with its cheerful floral accents and vases of exotic tropical flowers, provides nothing. I know I could jump for the phone. But he’d be too quick. Our eyes meet.

            “You don’t have to do this.” To my ears my voice sounds little more than a whimper. Something inside me snaps—I am not vulnerable, I think. I’m Melanie Justice. I am strong. I will go down fighting.

And then, taking a breath, I lunge at Henderson.

            The beat of canned island music pours through the hotel windows. The corridor is empty except for Henderson and me as we struggle. I could call for help, but I know everyone is out watching the last vestiges of the orange-hued sunset. They’ll lie back with a cool drink in hand, maybe sway to the beat of the music. And I’ll be here. Someone will find me, alone in the corridor. It’ll be a pro job. No one will ever know what happened...except for Andy. Wrenching Henderson’s grip from me, I shake my head sadly. I don’t want Andy to be the one to find me this way.

            “Playing hard to get, Justice?” Henderson’s rank breath washes over my face. He laughs, and sensing a split second of vulnerability, I take my shot. Monopolising a few choice self-defence moves, he weakens and stumbles back. He’s on his back, and before he can rise, I reach forward and grab the stun gun from his holster.

            It’s now or never.

            Six hundred thousand volts, and Henderson’s down. He convulses violently and then, finally, splays out on the carpeted floor.

            “Nice work.”

The voice is from behind me. I turn. “Andy! You could’ve helped me, you know!”
            He takes the stun gun from my shaking hands. “You, Mel, can take care of yourself. I always knew it. Now you’ve proved it.”

            “I guess I can.”

            Andy smirks. “Just not too often, I hope.”

            “Never again,” I reply. “As of tonight, I quit!”

- - -
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -