“I must admit that when you put it that way, it does make my desire seem a bit, um, eccentric. I have no intention of ending my life. I just want to eliminate the clutter and noise.” Wesley centered his empty cup in the saucer and leaned back in his chair.
“You don’t know how close you came to getting your wish.” Abby patted her purse and Wesley felt a thin shock pass the length of his spine as he recalled his recent close encounter with a firearm. He wasn’t quite sure if what he felt was fear or excitement. He realized that it had been some time since he had felt much of anything, and he relished this new experience.
“I do appreciate the fact that you didn’t shoot me,” Wesley said as he rose to take his leave, “and I wonder if it would be overstepping the bounds of your kindness if I asked to borrow one of your books?” He walked over to her bookcase and reached out for ella minnow pea. His fingers twitched with excitement; he would most definitely enjoy his time with this volume. He might even need to buy a new red pen!
“I never loan out my books. Never.” Abby’s reply hit him like a verbal bullet. Wesley’s hand stopped just short of touching the coveted book.
“Well, perhaps I could come here and read it. That way, it would still be here and you wouldn’t have to worry about it being lost or…”
“No. I’m sure you can find your own copy. Check the library if you prefer not to buy a copy.” Abby moved toward him, still carrying her purse. Wesley stepped away from the shelves. He loved editing his books, but he also loved his body and felt it would not be enhanced by the addition of bullet holes or bullet fragments.
“Fine. I understand. Yes. Most definitely.” Wesley sidled to the main door, keeping an eye on Abby and her purse as he moved. “Perhaps we can get together again for tea and coffee. I did enjoy chatting with you. You seem to be a very understanding person.”
A faint smile moved across Abby’s lips. “I’ve been called many things, Wesley, but I don’t think ‘understanding person’ has ever been one of them. I accept your invitation and look forward to hearing more about your plans. For now, I think we should call it a day.”
Wesley heard the snap of the main lock and the heavier click of the deadbolt as he stood in the hallway outside of 4B. He realized that Abby was watching through the peephole, so he headed back to his apartment.
A creature of habit, Wesley let himself in and headed straight to the kitchen where he brewed a cup of tea. Real tea. Not whatever Abby had given him. He really must instruct her in the fine art of tea preparation and drinking. She seemed cultured, if the decor of her apartment and the collection of books were any indication. Odd that she should have a gun, now that he thought about it. More specifically, it seemed odd that she would carry something called a Desert Eagle. She had piqued his curiosity, and once Wesley’s curiosity was piqued, it had to be satisfied.
The following day, Wesley set out for his favorite bookstore. The proprietor didn’t mind the hours Wesley spent browsing, as he had always been a very steady customer. Wesley took his time, checking his favorite sections before locating what he wanted: a book detailing firearms. He found several sources and learned that the Desert Eagle’s main uses were for hunting, target shooting, and silhouette shooting. This seemed an odd choice of weapon for a woman who wanted protection from intruders or muggers. Perhaps Abby inherited the gun. It was the only sensible explanation.
Before leaving, he decided to purchase a book. Even though this went against his plan for spartan living, he felt he deserved something new to read after his adventures of the past few days. Sadly, no copy of ella minnow pea was available. He had to find something else. He knew now that ella minnow pea would be the Mount Everest of his editing efforts. He would one day possess his own copy, and that knowledge made him happy. Perhaps that would be his special treat once he had settled into his mausoleum. Yes. That would be most satisfactory.
Wesley finally settled on a book, paid, and made his way home. He spent some of his afternoon tidying up his apartment. A place for everything and everything in its place. He loved order and routine.
He fixed a simple meal of soup, bread, cheese, and grapes. As he ate, he daydreamed about his life in the mausoleum. He would invite Abby to visit; she would be impressed with his innovative ideas, and he blushed as he thought of various phrases of praise that would fall from her lips.
Once the kitchen was tidied up from his meal, it was time for his favorite activity. He busied himself with his preparations, muting his telephone ringer and turning the volume off on his answering machine. He hated interruptions while he read.
At last, he sat in his favorite reading chair, his slippered feet propped up on the ottoman. He was ready for a lovely evening at home. The small table next to his chair held a fresh pot of tea, his latest purchase from the bookstore, and his red pen. He pushed his glasses up on his nose, picked up his book, and uncapped his pen.
He opened the book to its first page, and that’s when he heard it. No mistake about it. Someone just unlocked the door to his apartment.