A Lady’s Edge
By Rico Wallace
He dipped a strawberry in the whipped cream and put it to her lips. “You poor fool,” Lucia said. “I told you I would murder to keep my freedom.”
High up on the side of the mountain the dining patio was laid out on the ledge of a cliff with an unobstructed view overlooking the lake and the distant, misty hills and peaks. Humphrey laughed. “You look beautiful tonight,” he said.
“If we didn’t keep running into each other this never would have happened,” she said. She dipped a berry and put it to his mouth. “A little town in the mountains, on the shore of a lake without a boat. I swore this would never happen again. So you think you’re big enough.”
“Good things come in small packages, Lucia, if you know what you’re doing,” he said as he flagged the waiter. “Two more Martinis, please, and we are both going to have the Salmon with vegetables. You’ll love it, Lucia.”
“That’s the thing about you, Humphrey,” Lucia said. “When I tell you my car is messed up, you bring a mechanic over to fix it. When I tell you my sink is dripping, you show up with a plumber.”
“That’s why I asked you to dinner tonight,” Humphrey said. “I told you I worked as a salesman before retirement, but truthfully, I was a professional nice guy.”
“What!” Lucia exclaimed. “You must be joking. You’re a gigolo? I’ll kill you.”
“Hold on, I’m not a gigolo,” Humphrey said. “I was a funeral director. Some people are turned off by the thought, so I say I was a salesman. I was taking care of people during a very stressful time of their life. So I got pretty good at being a nice guy.”
“That super nice guy act is what intrigued me. So a professional you are,” Lucia said. “But you might be a control freak. I need my space. The Salmon is delicious. How did you know I liked it?”
“I asked the waiter, while you were in the ladies room. Networking – a professional, remember? He said he knew you, and you loved the Salmon. Now I want to hear about your secrets. Where do you disappear to for days and sometimes weeks?”
Lucia raised her eyebrows, took a breath and looked around. She sipped her Martini. “Well Mr. Professional,” she said mockingly. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” She smiled and raised her drink. “A toast to you and me, Humphrey. Here’s to getting to know you.”
They clicked glasses. “And I, you,” Humphrey said. “Tell me where the mystery lady disappears to.”
“I like to travel,” Lucia said. “I go to Europe, sometimes. I go to the Pacific in January. I love the beach. I keep a horse across the lake. A very secluded, very quiet ranch. That’s my healing passion.”
“Horse poop is your raison d’etre,” Humphrey asked sarcastically. Lucia tilted her head and frowned. “Just fooling, Lucia. But you’re cute when you pout like that.” He called the waiter over and ordered two more Martinis.
“Do you think so,” Lucia asked. “Let me show you a picture of me, the future serial killer, when I was ten years old.” She got her phone and pulled up a family picture. She was wearing a pink dress with a pink cap and elbow length white gloves. She had a sour expression.
“You look good in pink,” Humphrey said.
“I hate pink,” Lucia snapped back. “Let me take your picture, Humphrey. Go over there by the end of the patio. I’ll get a nice shot of you with the lake and mountains.”
“Ok,” Humphrey said. “Then I’ll take you home.” He downed his Martini, leaned over and gave her a peck on the cheek. He walked to the end of the patio. “How’s this,” he asked.
“That’s good,” Lucia said. “Do you think you can take another step back?” Without thinking Humphrey stepped back and twisted his ankle on the lip of the patio. He started to fall and the strong gravity pulled him over the cliff. Nobody heard a cry for help, a groan or a scream. The waiter saw what happened and went to Lucia. “I’ll pay the check,” she told him.
“I feel so bad for you, Miss Lucia,” the waiter said. “This is the third time in as many years that this has happened to you.”
“I warned him not to get so close to the edge,” she said. “They never listen. Call me a taxi.”