nurses chattering. Only fifty-six .
. . atrial fibrillation. Talking like squirrels rustling
in the leaves. Ignoring him as though he were already dead.
clicking through laptop screens. Screw the bitches in white. They did what they
had to do; he had his own imperatives. His lifeline was the dozen Twitter feeds
and chat rooms where he was Coyote, the insider and tipster. His barbs and quick
wit, arcane economic
patterns, and a deep well of knowledge secured respect and fear.
Eben’s roommate —
cancer patient anticipating death — turned on the TV. Eben considered hurling insults
as Christmas carols blasted off the walls. Stifling the urge to throw something,
he returned to his laptop.
His computer chirped,
“We’ve found the friend you’ve been looking for.” He clicked the link, and Myra’s
name and photo appeared. Trust a search engine to find someone who had disappeared
from the fray.
drained as he stared at her picture. She was the opponent he’d never vanquished.
They would slip apart after brutal acquisition battles, only to run afoul of
each other in board rooms and courts. At different times, she was with Silicon
Valley startups while he managed an array of money management firms selling
them short. Another time, she directed a billion-dollar acquisition while he
was in the Caribbean, killing her efforts with rumors.
“Myra,” he sighed.
“Are you still pissed at me always getting the best of you? Don’t
be such a pussy.”
“You okay, Eben?”
stuck her head in the door.
Ebenezer to you.” He clicked through to Facebook, punched in a friend request,
and was rewarded with Myra’s instant acceptance.
“Hey, Eben,” Myra
texted. “My fatwa still stands. You’re
going to be dead before Christmas.”
“Forgive me, old
girl. If I’m not near the girl that I hate, I hate the girl that I’m near.”
“Same aggressive jerk.
Still calling yourself ‘Coyote’? Get real. You’re not the trickster. Just
another three-card monte dealer trolling Wall Street.”
Time was suspended
as they pushed and pulled at old memories. This was a woman he could have
ruined just for the thrill.
interrupted. “Will you put down that computer long enough for me to do this
“Piss off,” he shouted.
“Feel free to use my water bottle for a rectal thermometer.”
wrote, “Ciao, Eben. Got to go. I’ll
be waiting in hell for you.”
Two wives had come
and gone, both bitch goddesses. But Myra was his forever enemy. Hate and love were
two sides of the same coin. Nurse asked why he was chuckling.
“I was remembering
when a lovely lady and I were caught hiring the same law firm to destroy each
other. What a glorious ending then, when the Feds went after her!” More laughter
came to his gut, recalling the time Myra saw him at DeGaulle Airport Duty-Free
Shop and threw a two-hundred-dollar bottle of Scotch at him. Love of battle
was so exhilarating!
said. He overheard her talking outside: “Gotta
have a heart to have a heart attack.”
She was back an
hour later. “You got a visitor.”
He looked up at
the only person who had remained constant over the years. Bergerson was friend,
confidant, and lawyer. “What’ve
you got today?”
“Mail, Ebenezer. Paperwork.
No problem. I got you covered.”
“Bergy, I’d like
Stella to make sure my houseplants are watered when she comes to clean,” he
said. “And while I think of it, if something should happen — you know, something
— see that she gets a nice
gift from my estate. Five figures, at least.”
Bergerson said, sitting down. “I had a call from a lawyer in Manhattan.
Remember Myra Kostyrka? You and her in those epic battles?”
Eben pushed the
laptop aside and stared hard. “Yes.”
“Her lawyer said
she died yesterday.
who. . . ?
Aloud, he said,
“I’ll miss that bitch. It wasn’t about the money. Just the chase.”
“Before she died,
she told the lawyer to get a message to you. Said she’s the Ghost of Christmas
Yet to Come. Said she’ll see you soon for payback. What’s that mean?”
Eben managed a
crooked smile. “She wants a rematch. For old times’ sake.”
between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance,
with a little historical nonfiction thrown in, for good measure. His work
has appeared in print, and online, in over two dozen publications. Two
volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, were
available until his publisher ceased operations. He’s also bounced from
Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states, and to a
couple of Asian countries. He now lives in New Jersey, a nice place to
visit, but he doesn’t want to die there.