FlashFic: Such a Gentleman

The mask intrigued her. A good man wouldn’t need to hide behind one. He had been nothing but a gentleman to her.

They had stepped out of SG Bank at the same time and found a sudden downpour. He smiled at Beverly and put up his umbrella, prepared for the weather in trenchcoat and hat. Her car was at the parking garage, but he was kind enough to say it was no trouble. He gave her his card, a twinkle in his eyes. “In the event you need my umbrella again.” He even waited until she started the car. My lucky day, she thought.

She waited until Wednesday to call, hoping for a Sunday brunch at Salletano’s. “I’d be delighted to join you, Beverly,” he replied. He sounded delighted. She smiled, a little quiver in her belly. She was distracted all afternoon.

~

He wore the grey trenchcoat and hat when he arrived. She already gave the butterflies one mimosa to settle them. The gloves he tugged off seemed out of place. They were forgotten in the brightness of his smile. He led a leisurely conversation. Beverly told stories of childhood memories. She was surprised hours passed. He walked her to her car, kissing her knuckles, looking into her eyes. Her heart trilled.

As she nuked her Lean Cuisine that night, she heard the news report. “… trenchcoat, hat and gloves. SG Bank, one of few open on Sundays, reports a loss of $240,000.” Frowning, she tried shake it off. It didn’t work. A search of news websites showed both a sketch and the bank surveillance footage.

Beverly called him the next morning. “I need your umbrella,” she said. “Although we should avoid the bank, yes?” Silence. She squirmed.

“Salletano’s at noon?” Was there an edge in his voice?

~

He was attractive in a blue suit. “No gloves?” she smiled at the gentleman.

“Warm day,” he replied, smiling back. She nodded and pretended to look at the menu. They were quiet, small talk over salads. He was relaxed, even casual. Anticipation sizzled through her.

“Beverly, my dear,” he finally leaned forward. “What are we to do?”

“A business venture.” She smiled at him again with a coolness she forced herself to feel. Her heart pounded deafening staccato. The slight widening of his eyes was gratifying. “You need a partner.”

“Do I? I hadn’t realized. Kind of you to keep me apprised.” He tilted his head slightly. “Busy Friday night?”

“I am now,” she answered.

~

He led her around the hedge of a stately home. “The family’s away, neighbor checked the house. Let’s go.” He climbed up to a window and came to the back door, letting her in. She followed him, heart hammering. Without flourish, he opened the safe behind the Picasso. Holding out a bag, he nodded to the safe. She reached in to gather the cash. A cold, hard pressure at her nape stopped her.

“Pity. You had promise.”

Mask dropped, he fired.

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

My thanks to @Selorian (Clifford Fryman) for his #storystarter, the bold first lines, which inspired the story.

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24 thoughts on “FlashFic: Such a Gentleman

  1. yearzerowriters April 16, 2010 at 4:22 am Reply

    Never mix business with pleasure (or criminality for that matter).

    This was beautifully controlled. His gentlemanliness masked the dark ending and therefore kept me in the dark for full impact. If I had tried to render such a tale, I probably would have blown it within line 1 by calling her Patsy or some such lack of subtlety. You play a blinder here. Well done.

    marc nash

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 16, 2010 at 4:54 am Reply

      Thanks very much, marc. I appreciate your feedback. I have a clear view of this man and he is, as you put it, beautifully controlled. I may revisit him.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Deanna Schrayer April 16, 2010 at 6:13 am Reply

    Very well written Jess! The pace is just perfect and though I could feel the ending for her, it still came as a bit of a surprise. Good work!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, Deanna. I’m glad the pace hit a good note. Thanks for letting me know.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. mazzz_in_Leeds April 16, 2010 at 9:46 am Reply

    you should certainly revisit this chap, he is very intriguing…

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm Reply

      So much more to learn about him. I’m glad he caught your imagination as well. Thanks!

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. Clifford Fryman April 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm Reply

    It always astounds me to see such full stories woven from the few lines of a #storystarters prompt.

    I’d love to see a further exploration of this guy. This was so well done it is impossible not to want to read more.

    Great job! And thanks for using one of my #storystarters!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm Reply

      Thanks for that, your feedback is important to me. I’m glad you want to hear more about him. High praise to any writer. Your #storystarters usually make a story bloom behind my eyes. If only I had time to write them all. Thanks for all you do at #storystarters, #StoryStarters500 and its sister, #ss500.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. Simon April 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm Reply

    I hope he’ll take the Picasso too?

    She did have promise, and that it is cut off so gracelessly by such an artful dodger is deliciously distressing. Great piece Jess, finely deployed.
    Simon.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm Reply

      This gentleman would never overlook such a generous offer from the homeowner. Oh, what hides behind these masks we wear. Thank you, Simon. I appreciate it very much.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Branli April 17, 2010 at 12:29 am Reply

    This was awesome! I love the ending 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 17, 2010 at 1:57 am Reply

      Thanks, sweets! So cool that you checked it out, even cooler that you liked it. Thank you for telling me.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. Gracie April 18, 2010 at 1:31 am Reply

    Smooth operator… those guys always have a trick hidden up their sleeve. And those butterflies in her stomach were trying to tell her something other than what she heard. Poor girl.
    This is, in fact, a very smooth, well-written story. Nicely paced with just enough tension and loads of suspense, and in a very compact word count. Well-done. 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 18, 2010 at 4:29 am Reply

      Thanks, Gracie. I’m glad it kept you entertained. You’re right, he is a smooth operator and she should have paid more attention to the cues given. Your feedback is so kind and very appreciated. Thank you.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. Johanna Harness April 18, 2010 at 9:40 am Reply

    Well done, Jess. You really have a talent for bringing characters immediately to life. You make it look easy–and we all know it’s not. Excellent.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 18, 2010 at 10:19 am Reply

      Thanks for that, Johanna. It’s great to know these characters come across clearly. The gentleman may be interesting to explore.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  9. Eric Krause April 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm Reply

    Excellent story. As others have said, he’d be an interesting character to keep tabs on.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 19, 2010 at 8:29 am Reply

      Thanks, Eric. I’m mulling over the idea of revisiting him.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  10. Cathy Olliffe April 19, 2010 at 12:18 am Reply

    Surprise ending! Loved it!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 19, 2010 at 8:29 am Reply

      That’s terrific, so glad it was a surprise. Thanks, Cathy.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  11. Valerie April 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm Reply

    Nice, tightly written. Girl got herself involved in the wrong way. There may be something seductive about dangerous men, but there’s also something, well, dangerous.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 19, 2010 at 7:34 pm Reply

      Thank you, Valerie. You’re right – there’s a reason they’re called “bad boys.” Even when they are gentlemen.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  12. Tiffany White April 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm Reply

    The ending was definitely a surprise. Wow. Tight. And I loved Mr. Shady Guy, but I really felt bad for Beverly. When she decided to go “all in” I knew she was in trouble. Thanks for the read!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 22, 2010 at 6:35 pm Reply

      I love how you put it: When she decided to go “all in.” She certainly did. Thanks so much for the nice comment, Tiffany.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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