Hitchcockian suspense aboard a moving train.
Nicholas was growing slightly impatient himself, checking his wrist watch ever so often. He was also being watched by an Obscured Figure whose appearance was hidden from Nicholas's sight— due to his raised newspaper.
Only amateurs would lower the newspaper, or glance over it. Nicholas was neither very curious, nor an amateur in the field of activities; he was, a cold calculating professional.
Whoever the Stranger was, he presented no immediate threat. If this was simple curiosity, he was allowing him to satisfy it; on the other hand if this was something completely opposite, a subtle but hidden intent present, Nicholas was certain they would cross paths again.
Nicholas was thirty-five years old, with a face that was a cold mask, unwilling to tell anyone anything, but with eyes that were human. Suggesting that deep down, even someone like him was capable of passion. But at the moment, he had business to attend to; a meeting that required his presence at his father's estate.
The train noisily approached the platform. Nicholas folded his newspaper — that he could have easily used as, an indentation to fire his unlicensed pistol through, unnoticeable, if the situation asked for it; even with the obvious risks of being on a crowded platform—handed his ticket to the Ticket Master, and boarded the train.
Nicholas walked through a spacious hallway, past fabulously furnished first class compartments, occupied by Anonymous Nobleman, until he stopped in front of his own.
Just when he began to get comfortable within the private confines of his temporary living quarters, his sacred rest was disturbed, and his territory invaded by a mysterious trespasser.
She was an enchantress, with artistic curves, wide eyes that engulfed your every ounce of attention within their circular lunar orbits, and her perfume's fragrance was a healing ointment for his tormented soul.
As soon as she walked through the door, she became entrapped within his world; she just didn't know it yet.
"You look like a scorned female in need of emotional healing."
"Do women generally get any satisfaction from hearing you make false assumptions, through these over-analyzed stereotypical sexist male remarks, even though after a while they become monotone?"
"Wouldn't intentional falseness be classified simply as a lie?"
"I hated when my ex-husband was right, and I hate it now. I think I could be an applicant for retribution, caused by this annulment."
"Men are sometimes right. They say bad things happen to good people because they can handle it, makes them stronger. And in the end be thankful you got out, with your close fitting ornamental sewn pattern stockings, and semi-precious gem stone."
"What are you going to tell me next, I should be thankful, and embrace my newfound freedom?"
"A housewife is a domesticated animal, once you forfeit your freedom, you forfeit your rights."
"Pedigrees and breeds are vastly different things Mr..."
"Nicholas, but they have spurned from the same principle."
"Juliet, I suppose he isn't all bad, if you knew some things about him like I do, you might even come to like him."
"Neither is my estranged brother, who always competed with me for my father's love, but we must have the ability to move forward, especially, after something bad like this happens. Always keep your head up and remember something better will arise, as long as you acknowledge the truth. You know, it's somewhat of a rarity to unexpectedly find myself in the presence of a charming coquettish countess. I suppose I am not a big believer in coincidental chance meetings aboard a moving train, in a cabin I reserved beforehand, selfishly all to myself."
"Calling me a countess might be an exaggeration. I want us to be fair from the start. Sameness can exist between sexes without the need for the well defined drawn lines that won't balance much at all. We could co-exist in this habitual environment, like an equinox."
"I would like nothing less, than to go and spend some quality time with the woman I am going to sleep with..." Nicholas let's this phrase linger in the air, before uttering its completion from a set of lips with upturned corners, smugly grinning, "...in the same compartment."
"You've read my mind."
"Before it slips my mind, a friend of yours intercepted me earlier at the door, when I was surveying the premises, before bribing the controller to let me vacate it with you. He asked me to give you this note." She handed Nicholas an envelope.
Inside was a preface written in longhand, "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE." Then, nothingness spread across a white font, leaving the rest to the imagination of the man accused.
At dinner they had polite conversation while consuming the Chef's favorite recommendations, until Juliet mentioned a very minor fact; the visitor Nicholas hasn't had the pleasure of meeting, was currently presiding in the dining room, only a few tables over, in the same row as them and casually glancing at Nicholas at this very moment.
Nicholas became aware of the wide spread overflowing feeling of being the eye-sore in a detestable wide-mouthed Executive's excruciatingly judgmental stare.
He eventually had to excuse himself, saying something like: individuals are entities whose entrails are enigmas, and how their moods are as changeable as a chameleon's, and retired to his compartment's bunk bed with inflamed swelling of the temples.
After taking some antiseptic powder for migraine pain his mind began to contrive a chronological outline, as he closed his eyelids wanting to see no more reality.
But he was having trouble sleeping, noticing somewhat consciously, as he was twisting and turning in bed, that the occasionally ominous sounds of the train whistle were replaced with thundering indiscreet sounds of the unknown that night.
Eventually, as he began to drift off to sleep, due to fatigue and exhaustion, something very particular caught his attention. Someone was standing before the door on the other side.
Whoever it was, he was blocking the streak of light usually projected in-between the door and the floor. The width of the intruder's illuminated shadow suggested a single person to Nicholas and while the strange figure hasn't intruded, it was probably intending to, for the time being; just waiting for the right moment and listening.
Nicholas reached under his pillow, and retrieving a loaded gun with a silencer — the safety already off, as not to make any noise and alert.
The silencer was just inviting the intruder to come inside. But he didn't, instead, there was a rustling sound, as if something was slid underneath the door. It struck Nicholas as another reputation slandering note, but he was lacking the time to actually check — The Assailant was retrieving back to his cabin.
Nicholas moved quickly, every step precise and well measured in advance. He stood up in full height, his hand unlocking the safety mechanism on his lower bunk, as well as the unoccupied upper, folded them and embedded their square shapes in to the wall.
The cabin's layout was forbidding for a lot of movement. Nicholas moved to the other side, diagonally obtaining a supreme position, suitable for habitual surprise attacking.
He released the upper bunk out of its plastic imprisonment, unfolding it over a sleeping Juliet. The bunk, at shoulder height was perfect. On it, he placed his gun.
The lights remained darkened. Nicholas noticed the ever familiar harsh taste in his mouth. The room suddenly seemed irregular in shape to him, perhaps because there was space left to be filled. Thankfully the guest wouldn't be staying too long.
He cast a glimpse in to Juliet's now widely opened eyes, full of alertness, full of shock. She was awake, slowly positioning herself upright, while putting on her spectacles.
Nicholas firmly gripped her unsteady hand, and used it to retrieve her metallic framework, snakelike enclosed around two magnifying lenses — that would help her put the next set seemingly spur of the moment circumstances, into a definite perspective.
With her glasses clasped in her hands, Nicholas used his hand to shut her eyelids over her dilated pupils, and unlocked the safety mechanism on the cabin door.
What happened next was a rapid succession of steps.
The handle rotated downwards and the door slid wide open, cutting the barrier between the two men, and allowing a freedom of movement for Nicholas's eagerly desired onslaught.
Nicholas grabbed him by the jacket and pulled him inside the cabin, spinning around while holding on to him, so that his own back could be positioned once again next to the door.
A streak of light from the open door hit Juliet's tightly shut eyes; she opened them.
Nicholas used his outstretched foot, to slide the door in its proper place — tightly shut. The gun was no longer lying on top of the upper bunk bed; it was in fact now in Nicholas's hand.
From Juliet's blurred weakly narrow eyesight's perspective, all she could see was: the concealing darkness suddenly filled with a bright flame.
Her ears heard the ever eerie sound of the bullet leaving the deep toned lethal instrument, penetrating the skin tissue and causing a fatal laceration; that she knew no stitches could patch up in time.
About the same time, as her nostrils smelled the sudden rush of hot air that resembled sulfur; she found herself a witness. To a violently out-bursting cry of the victim — who so intently watched them earlier at dinner — muffled by Nicholas's hand firmly blocking his air tunnel.
Nicholas's other hand grasped one of the assailant's arm's, pressing his fingers tightly around the pulsating wrist. It didn't take long for the ceaseless beating to become scarce and then nonchalant. Only then did he release him.
Everything seemed almost the same, but not quite. Nicholas was still gripping the stranger; the only difference now, is the stranger was lifeless.
He didn't want to throw her into anymore confusion, so he threw the body out the window. A dead body is always an inconvenience.
The landscape was constant and uneventful that night. There was decaying wood on farmhouses housing skeletal farm stock, influenza of blossoming flowers, and an overall prolonged stillness except for the lightly wavering weeds in the ongoing current of wind.
Nicholas held her tenderly afterwards, under a wool woven blanket, his one arm, tightly clutching her shoulders; his other, holding something that was producing a sharp outline under the covers. All he said was, "When you fail, you sink. I don't want to fail, once you have sunk there's no way to unearth yourself."
Then in the morning, she was gone. . .
Nicholas had to attend to the situation immediately and centralize what was now divided. Fear is a contagious, widespread decease. He had to disinfect it. His cerebral coordination was set on swiftness; cubic centimeter by centimeter, he would locate her among the cement asphalt jungle and make her understand. Persuade her with pleasant words, or deaden the hollow pain she must be feeling inside right now; the type that circulates continuously while always returning to the heart to inflict more hurt.
Ceasing a hold of sureness with each preceding step, Nicholas holstered the gun that was as close fitting to his skin, as bones to the framework of a human.
With delirious diligence, he descended from the safe compound of the locomotive, on to the heaped stones of the sidewalk, slightly past the train station.
His movements were closely guarded, with gracefulness he moved through crowds of people. His eyes remained watchful for any peculiarities.
Just when surrender was eminent, the spreading soreness of defeat, the likeliness of this carnivorous retracing of his prey's steps, he found himself staring on to a picturesque sight. One he nearly missed.
He remained calm, quietly estimating the value of risks. Forsaking would be the plural of the present situation. A spacious memorial park, an active opposition to a severely simple task.
High officials of the law, Two Constables speaking openly in the regions dialect, were positioned near the bench Juliet was occupying.
The scenery was brightly colored, atmosphere far from suspicious, except to Nicholas who noticed an almost undetectable odorless, colorless vehemence of death obscuring him from basking in the brightly burning sun.
As he joined her on the bench, she remained motionless, rigid, veins protruding in a face with an overall pale contrast. And when she spoke, she did so indirectly without acknowledging him, continuing to stare in to the distance.
"Is murder a Bohemian feeling an elitist feels when he squeezes the trigger? Empowerment surging down the narrow cold barrel, releasing a capsule enclosing all that hatred you felt as a child, parental love divided between you and your brother. Acceptance isn't gained with a pistol, neither is love."
"But submission of every known human emotion is. For after all inarticulate bourgeois with a gun, is still just a man with a gun. Whether or not he is a distinguished gentleman, who is the offspring of a prominent upbringing, with a richness of manners, means absolutely nothing when he faces to lose it all."
"Have you noticed, Nicholas, that as much as you try to anticipate your opponent's forthcoming reaction, they still once in a while surprise you?"
"Sinister planning equals immaculate results. But guaranteed efficiency like anything else in this world is almost impossible to achieve under such stressful working conditions. Well at least by itself, so the weapon is needed to even merely emphasize my eloquent speech. It's endearing I am even offering to lengthen your life indefinitely even after all this elusiveness. The indefiniteness depends solemnly on you. Keep an open mind but I will remind you that the caliber of this bullet is efficient enough to turn your spinal cord to clusters. I know it's a trite-expression but there's not much effort in pulling the trigger, especially when the safety feature has been removed in advance. I suppose, I am expecting the worse, so when the opposite transpires I am pleasantly surprised."
"Are you ever overcome with a sense of anguish, pain, grief, or torment about what you do?"
"Just like those words are abbreviations, so are my actions. There's birth and there's death, and I am in the middle with the power to grant either one. Do you even realize how many such as yourself take living for granted, criticizing it severally like it's a natural right?"
"I guess, I would be foolishly fond for assumptions, if I said anything to contradict your cause to effect logic."
"You know, I can smell your perfumes fragrance once again, the fragrance of perspiration left behind on the back of your neck, and of course the fragrant seed of your unborn child."
She let out an unnatural fit of laughter, momentarily drawing the attention of the Two Constables.
"I wouldn't try that again. Repetition gets a tad bit boring. Surprise me by doing the opposite of what you just did." Nicholas remained completely conservative, as he slid his hand inside his jacket — UN-holstered his gun while un-noticeably pretending to search for something in his jacket's breast pocket — and retrieved his gun which he hid in the spine bent of his newspaper. "You might have a fixed dislike towards me, but you also eagerly desire the remedy that would counteract... well to be quite blunt... death. While my ability to fabricate the truth might come to you as no real surprise. No great astonishment, the unpleasant reality of the current situation is that you are a pawn, and as you must know, pawns are expendable. But expend-ability is wastefulness especially when my opponent is a worthwhile player and is destined to be a mother. I rather aid you in the right direction to help you add to your happiness in life, rather than subtract and cause you grief. Then again, you wouldn't feel anything. One needs a beating heart to feel. You have an obligation to your unborn offspring, for me this is just a job. One of my personal choosing."
"This isn't work."
"This is work. You are just allowing emotions and professionalism mix where they shouldn't."
"Most don't require fire arms."
"Unless you are protecting something, or someone; or that someone's interests. I am protecting mine at the moment. And it would be in mine, and your best interest to consider your options very carefully. But that's why I am here, to help outline those very options for you...
Moments later, he had no more doubts, he made his point and she understood the systematic arrangement of this intimate conversation.
He briefly watched idly playing children at his feet, as they dug sandbox trenches. The anonymous enemy was unseen, but whose presence they clearly felt as they continued to dig at a more rapid pace fortifying their position. The big one might have been over and forgotten by the world, but the smaller personal wars were still being waged on.
He appeared the definition of stateliness the whole time, if it wasn't for his darting eyes, as if anticipating something.
Seconds later, a movable car — elegant brilliant framework, colored a gory black after a glycerin explosion — came to a halt and stationed itself near the central exit of the park.
Nicholas stood up, commemorated their chance encounter with a firmly planted kiss on the lips, and entered the automobiles familiarly sheltered leather bound premises with ease; glad to find the train's internal combustion engine replaced with the soothing quietness of distilled petroleum of well greased superior machinery.
The transmission erupted again; exhaust began discharging wreath, the passenger side window rolled down.
It was absurd to see the sarcastic almost sneering smile, to hear his undignified laugh, but it was there in the richness of his handsome unaffected face.
The window rolled back up again, deflecting the interior with a projected mirror reflection of Juliet's own face. The automobile fled forward and disappeared.