The Present…

He slid a small box across the white table-cloth toward her. The box was a polished rosewood with a butterfly made from mother-of-pearl inlaid on the top. Her smile grew as her fingers traced delicately across the top, feeling the smooth surface.

“For me?” She asked, perking up.

“Yes.” he said, his legs crossed as he sat back in his chair, pulling the cigarette to his lips and looking at her as his head tilted back. “You’ve earned it.” he said as smoke billowed out of his nose as he talked.

Sitting up straighter, she placed both hands on it, the light glinting off the strand of jewels embroidered on the plunging neck-line of her Vera Wang black evening dress. He watched her, his demeanor cool and calculated, a small smile cracking his lips.

“What is it?” She asked, unsure if she should open the box now.

“Go ahead.” Ash fell from the cigarette as he flicked the filter with his thumb. “Open it.” He waved at her with his fingers down, in an almost shooing motion as he scrunched his eyes closed and nodded toward her.

“Really?” Joy overtook her. “I can’t remember the last time anyone got me anything. This box looks so…” she struggled to find the words.

“I hope you like it.” He said taking a sip of his cognac.

She took a deep breath and slowly opened the ornate lid. Her joy was suddenly replaced by confusion and dismay as she eyed what lay within the box. “What the hell do you expect me to do with that?” She said as she looked at the Jennings .22 caliber semiautomatic pistol lying in the red crushed velvet interior.

“I expect you to do your job.” He let his words sink in as she closed the lid to the box. Her face slowly started to reveal that her mind was understanding what was going on. “He is behind you, three tables, with the blonde woman.” He crushed his cigarette out and started to stand.

“Where are y…” He put his finger to her lips and tsk’d her into silence.

“I will be outside when you are done.” He pulled on his jacket and straightened it out as he turned to walk toward the entrance. “Oh, and, please, do hurry. I don’t like to be kept waiting.”

He gave her a quick wink as he nodded and smiled at her, then he walked away, leaving her alone with her present.



Published by

R. Todd

MFA from the Queens University of Charlotte ('21), BA in English from the University of Central Florida ('17), Group leader for the Florida Writers Association since 2019, member of AWP and ACES.

6 thoughts on “The Present…”

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