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Preston Lang
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Match

 

by Preston Lang

 

 

Daphne threw her napkin aggressively onto the table.

“Some men seem to think online dating is this weird pretend world where there are no rules. One guy told me he was a pro lacrosse player. The guy is lumpy. Telling me he’s a professional athlete? Another guy seemed normal, nice. Got up in the middle of dinner and left. Never came back. Stuck me with the check. Psychotic, you know? Though I guess that’s better than the guy who cuts you up and puts you in his freezer.”

“That’s a guy? An actual guy?”

“Oh, that’s a guy. But I’d have a surprise for that bastard.”

The date was not going well. Time to split the check and shake hands. But when she got up to go to the bathroom, Bill saw a bulge at her hip. She was packing? Was that possible? By the time she came back, he’d paid the check.

“Hey, you want to go for a walk? It’s a beautiful night,” he asked.

“. . . Yeah. Sure, that sounds nice.”

They strolled, talking about this and that—jobs, music, childhood.

“I started getting varicose veins when I was eleven. My little sister called them very close veins, and that was just the cutest thing ever. She’d say ‘Daphne has very close veins,’ and everyone would just laugh and clap. Meanwhile, I’m eleven and I’ve got these ugly blue lines on my damned legs.”

“That’s really rough.”                                   

“Yeah. So I don’t like to take off my pants. Probably not something you want to hear on a first date. Ha.”

When he took her hand, she squeezed happily and brushed up against him. Yeah, that was a gun tucked into her waistband. No way it was legal, either. Concealed carry permit in New Jersey? Not this girl.

He steered them to Ridley’s Pub by eleven o’clock. As they walked slowly past the glass window, Bill spotted Terry at the far end of the bar, just where he sat every Saturday night. Probably about five beers in by now. Terry was looking the wrong way. Maybe Bill was going to have to use some trick—tell Daphne he needed to go inside and get change. But Terry turned and they locked eyes.

Now the game was to move quickly.

“Where are we going?” Daphne asked.

“It’s beautiful down by the river.”

“Kind of deserted this time of night, isn’t it?”

“We don’t have to go. It’s just that when the stars are out—”

“Let’s do it.”

They took a left towards a dirt road that ran along the river. Bill glanced back once and saw that Terry was following, closing ground quickly.

“Where you headed, Bill? Hey, I’m talking to you.”

“I think you have me confused with someone else.”

Bill quickened his pace, pulling Daphne along with him.

“I want my money.”

Terry charged closer, and Bill turned to face him, hands up, shielding Daphne.

“His name isn’t Bill, and he doesn’t owe you any money,” she said.

“Who are you? Jesus, Bill, you’ve really gone hogging tonight.”

“That’s uncalled for.”

“Shut the hell up. You need to get me my money. Understand. You been doing a pretty good job of hiding, but I—”

“Look, you’re drunk and confused, so—”

Terry hit him on the side of the head, then threw him to the ground and started kicking. Even though he missed half the time, Bill was taking some decent blows to the stomach and legs. Then he heard the shots—four of them. The kicking stopped.

Daphne stood over the body, shaking, gun still in her hand. Bill hopped to his feet—no real damage done. He scanned the ground—no hats, wallets, glasses dropped. He approached Daphne carefully.

“Tuck that thing away.”

She put the gun in her jacket pocket, and they moved quickly along the path to the next turnoff. They made it back to the residential streets, then all the way to the restaurant where they’d met.

“I think we should forget what happened by the river,” he said at her car. 

She nodded.

“But I’d really like to see you again.”

 They kissed tenderly in the moonlight.  

 

 

Preston Lang is a writer from New York. His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Spinetingler, All Due Respect, and Plots with Guns. He also writes a monthly column for WebMD.com. 

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