I slid my silver M3 quietly to a stop behind a UPS delivery truck and surveyed the scene. The dockyard was quiet except for a delivery boy whistling as he loaded an empty hand truck into the back of the van. He tipped his cap toward the chirp of my electronic lock as he climbed in and drove off.
A twinge of remorse poked at my ribs from the inside as he rolled away. If only I’d started off with a normal job at that age. The choices we make are the ones we live with I guess. Anyway, that was water under a bridge I’d burned a long time ago.
It was an odd time of day for a warehouse delivery. The docks were closed, and I wasn’t expecting anyone around, but I wasn’t investigating UPS. I was hot on Annie’s trail and I knew I was getting close. I picked the padlock on the warehouse door like I had the key and rolled it open. It only took a moment to search out the breaker for the lights, revealing nothing but an empty room.
She’d been here alright. She’d stayed a while too, and probably within the hour. The rank musty smell in the wooden plank floor, echoing my new $1,400 Testoni wingtips, couldn’t hide the faint linger of Chanel Allure in the air. A rickety overhead fan and the rustling of a few pigeons in the rafters were the only other sounds disturbing the silence.
A month ago, that scent was just another perfume on a young brunette I threw a salty glance in the hotel bar. She looked like she didn’t get many of those. Her thin-lipped smile when she noticed me convinced me a guy my age had a chance. Some hand signals to the bartender and in moments, I had her singing to me like a canary in a cage. Twenty minutes later, I was handcuffed in my hotel room, my wallet and car keys were gone, and she knew everything I had in her file. My car smelled like Chanel Allure for a week after the police recovered it.
The lonely-looking, scrawny brunette who played me that night was a girl of the past. It was a busty ginger I was following now. Quite the looker too, from the glimpse caught by the surveillance camera at the airport. Green eyes now. Did it even matter? The only thing familiar about her would be the taste of her kiss, a kiss that would never catch me off guard again.
The methodical chopping of the ceiling fan brought me back to the task at hand. An office door stood ajar across the warehouse. It was the only thing not dressed in a Ralph Lauren suit that seemed out of place at all, except maybe the trail of women’s clothing leading toward it. I imagined Annie sitting nude in a chair, feet propped up, her smooth thighs disappearing behind a desk. Even in my imagination she was teasing me. I strolled over and pushed the door open with reserved caution.
There wasn’t much to see. This was the emptiest warehouse I’d ever found padlocked. Inside the small office was a desk, but with no naked reminder of my night in handcuffs. There were no papers or anything to indicate that it had ever been used for much, but it had been cleaned recently. The luster of the polish was proof of that. Only a pair of scissors and a small brown package sat on top of the desk. I turned the package aimlessly, but it was the floor behind the desk that caught my eye. A pile of freshly-chopped ginger locks lay against the wooden planking.
That’s when it hit me that this package was on the wrong side of a padlocked door. The UPS guy I’d passed wasn’t a guy at all. I could only smile as I looked back to read the name on the package: Kasey Scanlon. That’s my name, Sweetheart. I peeled the wrapper away slowly, but I didn’t really need to confirm my suspicions. The box inside contained my wallet. Empty of course.
I looked at the return address between my fingers and shook my head. I knew she was telling me where to look next. And I knew by the time I got there, she’d already be gone.
© 2012 Anne Schilde