Tale Number One – The Knock

Hi there!  Since this is the very first story in The Scheherazade Project, please bear with me while I handle a couple of details.

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The Knock

prompt: knock


“Get the door?” Merry called over her shoulder as she disappeared into the bedroom.  “I’ve just got to slip on my shoes and I’ll be ready.”

Doug sighed as he crossed the room.  Merry had never been on time for anything in all the years he’d known her.  He figured she was probably even born late.  He knew she’d never seen the entre’act of any show they’d ever seen together.  They were already fifteen minutes late leaving her apartment and a knock at the door could only mean more time gone.  Resigned, Doug pulled the door wide.

“Merion Marlowe,” the man stated.  He looked bored as he stared over Doug’s shoulder into the cramped living room.

“Uh, she’s not available at the moment.  Can I help you?”

“Yeah, you can get Miss Marlowe.”

Doug bristled a little at the man’s tone.  “I told you, she’s not available and we’re late for an engagement.  I’ll take a message.”

The man pulled a revolver, thick and unwieldy with the silencer firmly attached, from his jacket.

“You can get Miss Marlowe.”

“I’m ready,” Merry chirped brightly.  Doug could hear her bustling up behind him, her skirt rustling and bracelets tinkling.  “Who was at the door, baby?”

Doug stepped forward slightly, trying to block Merry from view.  “Honey, it’s chilly tonight.  Better go back and get a wrap or something. “

“Don’t be silly, Doug.  It must be seventy degrees –”

The man gave Doug a hard shove in the chest, sending him reeling into Merry.  She screamed as the both fell across the coffee table onto the divan, scattering knick-knacks and upsetting a tray full of cigarette stubs and ash.

“Miss Marlowe, I’ve been sent by a friend.  He wants his money.”

“Sweet Jesus.”  Merry clutched at Doug’s arm and stared up at the man with wide eyes.  “He said he’d give me time!”

“You had time,” the man answered.  “Now, he wants his money.”

“Okay, okay,” she said, shaking back her platinum, Veronica Lake hair.  “Can I get up and get my bag?”

The man stepped back but kept the gun trained on them both as Merry scrambled up out of the cushions.   Cautiously, she reached for her handbag where it had fallen under the overturned coffee table.  She plumped back down on the divan beside Doug and made an elaborate show of opening her handbag wide.

“I have to reach in to get the money,” she said.

“Keep it open so I can see.”  The man leaned forward slightly.

Merry poised her thumb and forefinger in an exaggerated pinching motion, her pinkie finger arched out.  She reached into the bag, extracting a small envelope such as one might receive at the bank.   Still gripping it between her thumb and finger, she offered it to the man before them.  He snatched it impatiently from her and stuffed it into a pocket.  He backed toward the door, his gun still pointing ominously.

“You don’t say anything to anyone,” he said, blandly.  “You say nothing and you don’t ever contact him again.”

“I don’t say anything and I never contact him again,” Merry agreed, solemnly.

The man backed out the door and disappeared down the hall.  A moment later, Doug heard the elevator doors open and close, presumably carrying the man away for good.

Merry rose, snapped her bag shut, and smoothed her hair.  She ‘tsked’ at a crease as she shook out her skirts.

“We’d better get going,” she said.  She hurried back into the bedroom, rummaged around a moment, and returned with an armful of diaphanous stuff that Doug recognized as her favorite evening wrap.

“I don’t suppose you’d like to explain what the hell,” he said, the edge in his voice belying the mild expression on his face.  He rose and helped her drape the wrap over her shoulders.

“Oh, I just wanted to get a few new things a while ago and I borrowed some money from a, um, friend,” she answered.  She looked up at him with a dazzling smile.  “I was always going to pay him back but I guess I was a little late.”

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