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So Long 'till Ellen (standard:mystery, 4425 words)
Author: SlowHandAdded: Mar 22 2002Views/Reads: 1904/1412Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Sometimes the line between true love and obsession can be a very thin line indeed. (Better classified as Noir, but Art doesn't support such a category).

My heart gave a thump and I stifled a giggle when I heard the knock at
the door. After all the searching and all the false starts, she was 
finally here. 

“Only be a second!” I shouted, shuffling from the bed. 

After straightening the covers, I fluffed the pillows and positioned the
chocolates.  It's hard to warm up the atmosphere of a no-tell-motel, 
but I was determined.  Scented candles flickered on the end tables and 
a lineup of liquor bottles stood next to the plastic ice bucket forming 
a makeshift bar. A portable stereo filled the air with silky voices 
from The Platters Greatest Hits.  With a step back, I surveyed the 
room. It still wasn't perfect, but would have to do.  No matter, we'd 
have the rest of our lives to make up for tonight's shortcomings. 

I moved past the mirror and stopped to straighten my tie. With a final
breath for courage I opened the door. “You must be Ellen,” I said. 

She was small, about five-four, with narrow shoulders and styled,
chestnut hair that was drawn back into a bun.  True to the description 
given over the telephone, she was impeccably dressed in a navy blue 
business suit, a look that could pass for any number of professions, 
least of which was the oldest on earth. Green sparkling eyes seemed to 
twinkle as she parted full red lips to reveal a smile that any dentist 
would envy. 

“And you must be Frank,” she said. 

“That would be me.” I extended a hand. “Please, come in.” 

She stepped inside followed by her over-sized companion.  I knew she
wouldn't arrive alone.  They never do.  Her driver looked like all the 
others.  I've begun to think they have a special farm where they breed 
these guys.  Always tall, with linebacker width, big square heads, 
finely tuned haircuts, and necks the size of telephone poles, it's like 
a waiting list for the WWF. 

“This is Neil,” Ellen said. “He won't be staying, just wanted to pop in
and say hello.” 

I offered to shake Neil's hand, but he ignored me.  First he looked in
the closet.  Satisfied it was empty of any surprise guests, he made his 
way into the bathroom where I heard him jerk back the shower curtain. 
He returned, nodded to Ellen, and then looked at me. 

“I can take the money now, friend. It's easier that way.” 

“It's a pleasure to meet you too, Neil.”  I turned my attention back to
Ellen. “Please forgive me for being so blunt, but I've been around this 
block a few times before and prefer to pay after services are rendered. 
 It's no reflection on you, and while I know you'd never be party to 
such foolishness, Neil here might get antsy and take off with my money 
. . . you know, before we've had a chance to get to know one another.” 

Ellen searched my eyes, sizing me up.  “Yeah, that's fine.  Thanks,
Neil.  I'll call you if I need you.” 

I escorted the big guy out the door as Ellen looked around the room. 
She moved near the closet where my suit jacket was hanging and eyed the 
inside label.  “Armani . . . nice. I have to ask. A six-hundred-dollar 
suit and you stay at a dive like this?” 

“This isn't where I'd normally stay. But considering it was our first
meeting and all . . .” 

She stared at me with those amazing eyes. My breath caught in my throat
and I found myself stuttering. 

“What I mean is, I knew you wouldn't arrive alone and somebody from the
hotel might see Neil.” Damn it, I could feel myself blushing. “I'm not 
making sense, am I, Ellen?“ 

“I get your point, Frank.” 

She peeled off her jacket in a well-rehearsed move that teasingly

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