It started with a woman. It usually did. She had grey eyes. They could
look blue or green, depending on the light. Cold or warm, depending on
her mood. She was the reason. Boyle tried to keep his mind off Stella’s
eyes and on the job. Outwardly, he was calm. Inside, everything had
coiled up tight. His mouth was dry. The food tasted like greasy cotton
wool. He crushed the fast food wrappers around the remains of his meal
and tossed the bundle into the back seat.
A bustling woman with a backside wrapped in a skirt one size too small,
read names from a clipboard and doled out room numbers and keys.
The crowd slowly dispersed, and then there she was. He smiled, stopped
smiling, smiled again, not knowing what to do with his face. She came
towards him with that smooth, gliding walk of hers. She wore a charcoal
trench coat, belted at the waist and carried a black, square bag made
of leather. She was buttoned up tight, giving nothing away.
He could see himself living a simple life. Maybe a shack on a beach
somewhere. Some place it was cheap to live. Maybe Mexico. Yeah, Mexico
sounded good. Somewhere on the Pacific coast. He could drink the local
brew, eat what the locals ate. Fresh fish, burritos, tacos, whatever. He
pictured a whitewashed adobe house. Paint peeling, but in a picturesque
kind of way. Simply furnished, a lethargic ceiling fan shifting warm air around.
Just thinking about it, he could almost feel the sand between his toes.
Jimmy pulled off his balaclava and tossed it onto the passenger seat, then fired up the engine and headed south. He sat back, feeling good with nothing but open road ahead. he enjoyed night driving, having the road to himself, the feeling that he could go on and on forever.
Macallister struck the glass with tremendous strength. It was reinforced, but by the third blow, cracks were showing. Boyle whacked it one more time and a mass of fissures appeared across the window. Macallister tapped it with his crowbar and the centre collapsed.
The population was sparse but there was always the chance of someone noticing the very thing you didn’t want them to see. Eyes in the shadows. Poachers and keepers. Farmers up early and old women staring out of their windows because they didn’t sleep so well these days.
She was standing in front of a big bay window that overlooked the neat garden. The late roses were in bloom. Frank’s roses. Frank took great pride in his collection of delicate, thorny-stemmed flowers, forever cutting, pruning, deadheading.