“Its alot smaller than I’d imagined.”
Monday, August 6, 2012
She had long strong fingers. They probed deeply into Candice’s lower back, exploring the knotted muscles, pressing exquisitely into painful areas before releasing, allowing pure blissful relaxation. Candice wasn’t sure if it felt so good simply because it wasn’t hurting any longer.
“You’re new.” A statement not a question.
The probing faltered momentarily, the touch lighter for a second.
“I’ve been away for a while.” The digging continued.
Candice rolled onto her side and caught the hand before it could withdraw. Her towel slipped revealing a breast. Both women drew a breath and regarded one another.
Candice slowly smiled and released the hand. She sat up and pulled her towel up to cover bare flesh. “Away huh? Must have been some holiday. What’s your name?”
“Roz” she stumbled.
“I’ve had enough today. Make sure you are free this time tomorrow. I’ll be asking for you.”
Roz lowered her eyes, the flush rising to her cheeks. There was a time, she’d never have given the time of day to a woman like this. “Thanks Mrs Haynes. I’ll be outside if you need me.”
Candice swung her legs off the massage table and stood naked, not even attempting to reach for her robe.”That a promise?”
Roz closed the door behind her, clenching her fists and biting a lip. Toya looked up from her magazine. “Is she ready for her manicure yet?” Roz nodded. “I’m going to clock off. She was my last client.” Toya picked up her kit. “Suit yourself. I’ll be about 20 mins if you want to get a drink?” Roz shook her head and grabbed her back before heading out through the glass doors.
Roz feigned interest in the abstract art displayed in the hotel foyer, acutely aware her pale purple tunic uniform stood out in stark contrast to the whispering silks and luxurious furs which floated past. She was angry at herself for wanting to see Candice again, even if it was from afar. A warm, spicy presence slid up behind her.
“Roslyn? Rose? Rosetta? I think you may be right. Roz suits you best.” Candice regarded her through long lashes.
“Mrs Haynes; I -” Roz’s heart hammered. she licked her dry lips as her eyes fixated on Candices glossy red pout.
“Put this jacket on. I’m buying you a drink.”
Sitting down in the corner of the bar, Roz toyed with her softdrink. Candice sipped her cocktail, her hand finding Roz’s knee. Tenderly she traced a circle on the top. Roz lent across to Candice , hissing, “You don’t think I don’t know what you are trying to do? Play out your lesbian fantasy with something you can pick up and throw away like garbage? Then you can run on back to your sugar daddy or whoever the fuck pays your bills. I am not that person, so get your hands away from me and don’t come back to the salon.”
Candice pulled out a cigarette and lit it. “Now see thats where you are wrong. We are both very much the same. Trapped in a place neither of us wanted or dreamt about. Forced to play the parts of people we don’t like. Both of us are meant of better things. Away from here. And I will be back. You know you want to see me again.”
Roz caught her breath as she stared at Candice. Her body, now tightly wrapped in the latest fashions, was now twice as desirable as it was when she was naked on her massage table. “You got the wrong girl. I need to leave. If I get caught here, talking to you - I’ll get fired.” Roz struggled to stand.
Candice put her hand on Roz’s. “Rose Lyn Ferrier. 27 years old. Jailed for 5 years for the Chiveld Jewellery Hoist. Out after 2 years for good behaviour. Self professed lesbian and known accomplice to Sugar Lil. Accused, but never sentenced for countless other artwork and jewellery robberies across the state.” She squeezed the cold hand. “ Oh, I think I have the right girl.”
Slumping into her seat, Roz shook her head. “So much for the frigging slate being wiped clean after you get out.”
“Don’t look behind you, but I’m being followed right now. My husband controls everything I do, where I go, every moment of my life. He thinks I am having an affair.” Candice raised her empty glass to the bartender to signal another round. “Idiot doesn’t realise I‘ve been taking the pill for months. He’s desperate to get me banged up, breeding, a house full of kids.” Candice’s eyes suddenly welled, her bravado crumbling,” I can’t do it. I know thats what most women want but its not me. I want to choose.”
“Mrs Haynes, its been very nice sitting with you, but I can’t see what I have to do with any of this.” Rozs' eyes slid around the bar. Two men in suits sat with near full drinks in front of them. Her shoulders sagged. “Can’t you just say something? He’s your husband - I mean its the 21st century for Christ sake its not like you are a 50’s housebound bride.”
Taking a swig from her newly deposited drink, Candice shook her head. “He’s THE Gerrard Haynes.”
Roz stared. “Millionaire type, Gerrad Haynes? You guys live the high life. What are you doing here?”
“Some dumb conference he is opening and then we are stuck here for a fortnight while he does the rounds at the schools and colleges. I’d trade it in a second. But I can’t leave. I got no family, no money, nowhere to go. Just him.”
Opening her jacket so Candice could see her uniform, Roz smiled, “Look at me, learn a trade - get some dummy papers, its not the highlife, but its a life. One I chose. You could do that.”
“Roz, its no accident I walked into your salon. I did my research. I knew you’d be the one to help me get out. Get papers, whatever. Please, get me out and away from him.”
“Well, You need a heap of money for what you are asking. Need time to plan things. But, I don’t do any of that any more. I am dead to my old life. I’ve made a new start.”
“Wait Roz. Its not just about me. My husband - he’s not a good person. You know he’s not all that clean?”
“Not really that interested in your bedroom life.”
“He is made out to be this philanthropist doing all this charity stuff. He rips them off. The Charity, the people who sign up. All those orphans who are supposed to have money sent to them, to improve those orphanages never get a cent. You remember those places don’t you Roz? Cold showers, thin blankets, no food.”
Roz shuddered recalling the beatings, solitary confinement and endless chores she suffered at the hands of the nuns.
Candice traced a pattern on the table from the condensation dripping off her drink. “What he is doing isn’t right. Those kids deserve better. You deserve better. You could help other kids have a better life. I need your help to expose him.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m not going back to the slammer. The girls in there - make me look like a marshmallow. I’m straight now.” She grinned half heartedly - “You know what I mean.”
Candice stood. “Think it over. Help me, help the kids. Don't you wish someone had done it for you? Its your duty to isn't in? Bring down one bastard who deserves everything he gets.” She traced a heart on Roz’s hand before gliding out of the bar.
The next week overflowed with secret trysts; Candice always careful with meeting places and times. She didn’t mention the orphanages or her husband during their love making. For the first time, Roz felt she had connected with someone who was kind, loving and considerate. She fought the urge to be the first to suggest they leave their current lives together to build new ones. At night, she schemed and calculated how to make it - them - work.
A week since they met, the pair lay entwined across a king sized bed. Roz’s lips tingled as a flicker of a tongue crossed over lips. Candice’s breath sweet, musky warm air between them, filled her with renewed desire.
“We could just stay like this - you and me. Discrete.” Roz refused to look at Candice, fearful of what her face might reveal after her suggestion.
Candice stroked her head. “I wish we could. But Gerrard wants me to have a baby. Once I do, nothing will be possible or the same. Please Roz. I can’t. I can’t let him touch me any more, not after you.” tears welled and grew in her eyes. “The thought of a creature growing inside me, clawing to get out, ripping me apart and then suckling mewling and helpless. I can’t”
Roz pushed a stray hair out of her face, catching the tear on her finger. “What can we do then?”
Candice sat up. “He is exchanges a work of art for a replicas and then donates them to Art Galleries. Pays off the authorities who have signed to say its real.”
“And the real ones are ?”
“Rolled up and sold to a private collector.”
“But how is this going to help us?”
“Its time to expose him and run. He has a Van Gough to auction off for the Children's Fund. We can take the real one with us. We may be poor and got rotten jobs in some hillbilly town, but we will have each other. Meanwhile he will have alot of explaining to do from the authorities, and the collector. All we need to do is to tip off the authorities, cause a ruckus, it will give us the space to get out.”
Roz rolled onto her stomach. “This ruckus needs to be high profile. Mr Haynes - he is top end of the strip.”
Candice clicked her fingers “ The strip - He is doing some promo for the Childrens Charity in two days on the Glitter Strip where the painting is going to be displayed. Everyone who is anyone will be there.”
“So whats your plan Candice - neither of us are computer savy enough to hack into his presentation?”
Candice shrieked in laughter - “As if anyone could do that in the first place.”
“How about doing some sort of text message at same time to give everyone there the info about his underhand dealings?”
“You watch too many movies. What we will do is the simplest thing. Start a rumour about the authenticity by word of mouth. I know some gossips who can’t keep their mouth shut. Once one of the art critics takes a good look at the painting, and has a questioning look, he will want to leave. We never go in the same car - Michael will probably chauffeur me we can meet up and take off from there - he won’t miss me for at least 12 hours.”
Roz frowned. “This is dangerous ground we are going into. There is no turning back. Trust no-one till we are thousands of miles away, with new haircuts and identities. This is the real deal - we aren’t in some sort of action movie. Listen, if I get caught, I’m straight back into the slammer. This time no chance of parole. I can’t blow it. I’m not going back for anything.”
“I know you want out as much as I do. We do this, and we are both free.” Candice traced a finger down Roz’s arm picking out the tribal tattoo entwining her bicep. It twisted around kanji. She pressed it. "Hmm. 'giri' Seems we have a duty to do this. We will be together forever afterwards.”
In the alleyway outside the convention centre, laughter and music lilted their way around the two figures hunched in the shadows. Roz handed Candice a small pack of paperwork and cards. “Our new I.D’s; untraceable and near perfect.”
Candice unrolled a small canvas sheet. The women stared at it.
“Its alot smaller than I’d imagined.”
“Its alot smaller than I’d imagined.”
“Its worth how much?”
Candice snorted and rolled it up again. “Beauty and art is in the beholders eye. Here, you keep a hold of it.” She slid the I.D’s into a handbag and swung it over her shoulder. “Lets get out of here.”
Two dark suited men sprang from the dumpster and hoisted Roz by the arms, slamming her against the wall. One of them flashed a police badge while the other grabbed the artwork from her trembling hands.
“Sorry darlin. Every girl for herself. Once a thief, always a thief.”
Candice stepped gracefully into a sleek MBW Z4 and slid on a pair of sunglasses. “Trust no-one. Duty means shit.”
Words - 2000
This was also submitted to Friday Flash ( though technically its a bit long for a flash.)