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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Mysteries By Members  / Short Mysteries  /

Hollywood & Highland by Marta Tandori
 
He ignored the sausage vendors littering the sidewalk, the sounds of their sizzling meat electrifying the humid night air. He was oblivious to the winos nursing their bottles of elixir, shrouded in dirty paper bags, and cut a wide path around the buskers and scam artists hoping to score a quick buck off of the late-night tourist trade. It was two in the morning but Hollywood Boulevard still throbbed with life. His shoulders were hunched and his hands were thrust into his pockets as he walked, seemingly without direction, yet he was very in tune to his surroundings. He forced himself to remain calm.

She had disappeared as abruptly as she had come. He had asked around, checking all of the homeless hangouts around Hollywood and Highland, including the dumpster behind the Burger King, as well as the alleyway behind the pool hall off of Lipton Avenue. Not a sign of her. Ditto for the block around Frederick’s of Hollywood. Every head of matted hair was cause for a second glance, but the past four hours had been an exercise in utter futility. Some sixth sense told him she wasn’t far; that it was just a matter of him being able to find her as she had found him earlier tonight.

Despite his resolve to focus his thoughts on the task at hand, he thought back to their meeting earlier in the evening when she had appeared on his doorstep without warning. The irony did not escape him that after all of his years of lusting and yearning for her, he hadn’t even been able to recognize her.

“Trade for tit’s milk!” Her words had been a litany of barely coherent gibberish. “Tit’s milk for April.”

“What’s she saying, Señor?” asked his housekeeper, cowering just inside the doorway.

“How should I know?” His irritation at having been pulled away from his dinner guests was clearly evident.

“Maria trade,” she announced, “priteee picture for tit’s milk.” The dirty hand that had been hidden deep inside the pocket of her ragged skirt was now thrusting a worn photograph towards him.

The name “Maria” had made his blood run cold. He had taken a step towards her, furtively scanning the worn features of her wizened face. The face before him held none of its former beauty or innocence. Was it possible that this dried-up hag standing before him was his Maria? It simply couldn’t be!

“I call the police,” his housekeeper announced.

“No!” he barked at her. “No police. I’ll deal with her.” He gave his housekeeper a measured look. “Go tell my guests that I’ll be back in a minute.”

The housekeeper hesitated momentarily before going to do his bidding. Only then did he turn his attention back to the creature on his doorstep. With a trembling hand, he very slowly took the proffered photograph from her gnarled fingers before reaching for the reading glasses in his breast pocket and perching them on his nose. He looked at the picture closely, his heart skipping a beat. Despite the deep creases having worn grooves into the photograph, the image was been unmistakable.

“Why did you come back?” he demanded hoarsely, grabbing her arm.

“Maria trade tit’s milk!” She twisted out of his grasp, the fear on her face unmistakable.

“Why are you afraid of me?” he had asked. “I would never hurt you.” Despite his reassurances, she backed away from him, clearly distrustful.

“I just want to talk to you.”

He made another lunge for her but missed completely. With a muffled cry, she ran from him, stumbling down his driveway. His first instinct had been to run after her but then he remembered his guests who might very well have been witnessing her flight from his living room window. For the second time in his life, he had let her get away from him.

The laden shopping cart came out of nowhere, careening into his side with a painful jolt which pulled him from his revelry. The force of the impact scattered the pile of bags from the cart around the sidewalk at his feet. The owner of the cart muttered something guttural under her breath as she stooped to pick them up. The glint in her blue eyes was unmistakable. They were taunting him. She was no better than the trash in her cart and yet the scathing look she showered upon him was a testament to his ineptitude. His jaw clenched imperceptibly as she turned her cart around and loped down the alley behind a tired-looking pawn shop.

He closed his eyes, trying to forget the roadmap of wrinkles that had been the derelict’s face. His father would never have allowed her to act the way she had in his presence. With slow, measured steps, he followed her into the alley. It was strewn to overflowing with trash cans and garbage bags ripped open by stray animals as well as the usual assortment of discarded bottles and decomposing food whi


Fran Hinkel - 10:06am Apr 2, 2014 PST(#1 of 1)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

I hope you will continue this in another post, Marta.

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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Mysteries By Members  / Short Mysteries  / Hollywood & Highland by Marta Tandori

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