I sit at two seats away from the head of the table. The suit I’m wearing is incredibly uncomfortable, probably because it isn’t mine. The name I’m answering too isn’t mine either. Neither of them seem to fit me very well. If I had to guess, I’d say the name and the suit belonged to the same guy. I wonder if I killed him. I wonder if it matters.
I continue to talk about the weather. It seems to be a popular topic at the table. That, and the incredible dish that our generous host has prepared for us. I’m not sure who the host is. I resolve not to invest any precious brainpower trying to figure it out, a second before a name pops into my head, completely unbidden. The name goes with the face across from mine. It’s a familiar face. Odd that the host wouldn’t sit at the head, unless the woman sitting across from me isn’t the host. But then why am I thinking about her? Is she the person I’m here for?
Is she her? The thought slips out, unbidden. No, that’s ridiculous. But it suddenly dawns on me that she knows something about her. I reach into my pocket and pull out a scrap of paper that I had just become aware of. I slowly slid it across the table, my true intentions hidden under the guise of reaching for the peas. She picks up the note, as I knew she would. She excuses herself from the table, muttering something about going to freshen up. A minute later. I give a similar excuse and leave the table.
I walk into the hallway. She’s standing at the other end of the darkened hall with a pistol in her hand. She asks me what I want. I tell her what I want. I tell her who I’m after. When she hears the name of the woman who was once her best friend, the woman who shot her and left her for dead, she lowers the gun.
She asks me if she knows me. I can see it in her eyes – she recognizes me, but doesn’t want to accept that I’m that boy she once sort of knew. I tell her the truth – she doesn’t know me. She wants to believe that. She does believe that. She asks why I’m after her. I tell her that doesn’t matter either. All that matters is that I’m going to kill her. She seems confused. Maybe I am too. She asks me why I think she can help. I shrug. I’m sure I have my reasons, but I’m just as sure that I don’t know what they are.
She tells me I should abandon this crusade, that it’s going to get me killed, that she will kill me. I grimace at her use of the word crusade. My mission is much purer than a crusade. I am no fool or fanatic. I am – was – am a teen super-sleuth, and I always get my man. Or woman, for that matter.
I reach towards her. She flinches as I reach into her purse. I pull out a manila folder. She stares blankly at it. She tells me she doesn’t know how it got there. I tell her not to worry, that I do know. I open the folder. It’s too dark to read it, but I know what it is. A time and place. She’s inviting me to a showdown. I’ll be there. I do not fear her gun. I do not fear anything, I realize with a start.
I walk back into the dining room. It’s time for the denouement, the second reason I am here tonight. The man at the head of the table has been embezzling from the charity he works for. It’s why he has such a nice house and such a nice suit. I realize his wife is the host we’d been praising. I slip over to him, tell him I really must be going. Then I pull the knife out of my pocket.
I leave the house, the sound of screaming echoing through the cavernous rooms. I loosen my tie, a smile creeping across my face.