Veradero

I feel safe. Ninety impenetrable miles away from authorities. Cuba is beautiful, and I have 3.3 million newfound reasons why I love Havana.

For a while we sleep. After three months of nonstop planning, walkthroughs and going over and over and over my plan, sleep is nearly as rewarding as the haul.

Ten million. Untraceable. Sitting on the floor. Last night Holton fanned me to sleep with one hundred-dollar bills. Now I overhear them in the other room, discussing our options. I’m actually surprised Holt is saying much of anything with Brock, I thought by now we’d have parted ways with him and kicked off our honeymoon.

Married. With the mission at hand, I’d almost forgotten our wedding. I hold my ring up to catch the morning sun. The cars grumble outside my window, reminding me this is not a dream. Mrs. Holton Hollohan. Millionaire expatriate. At your service.

I’m still smiling when I catch a bit of what is being discussed. I make out the words “just go in there and do it.”

Brock doesn’t sound like he’s urging Holt to kiss my neck. My toes instinctively curl at the thought but I snap out of it, edging to the door to get a better angle on the conversation.

“If you don’t do it, I will. Of all things, getting married, are you dense? It’s only a matter of time before she’s ready to run back to Mommy and Daddy. And then what happens? I’m not going back to jail, Holt. Not for you and certainly not for her.”

“Lower your voice, Brock. I told you I’d take care of it.”

Not exactly a gentleman, my husband. A chill wiggles up my spine, setting the room to a spin. An empty flower vase, thin curtains on the window, a wooden chest of drawers, Holt’s fedora. Vase, window, chest, fedora.

I can only cry. The ring winks at my tears, reminds me of how we met. At the casino. He was so handsome to be alone. I was so desperate to be fooled.

The spinning stops at the vase. The voices are silent. It seems we all have secrets. Brock is not a dumb brute. Holton is not the man of my dreams. But me, I’m not a fragile little girl. And I won’t let either of them make me a victim of their jailhouse games.

It turns out the chest of drawers is not so empty. I scramble to come up with a plan. Shaking. Enraged. Heartbroken. That he could make love to me and kill me in the same bed. I take a breath as the door squeaks open.

“Hey baby.”

“Hi Holt.” A slab of slate, his eyes, they roam to my ankles, running up my calf and rolling down my thighs. He backs the door shut. As soon as it clicks his face tightens. “Listen to me,” he says, his voice low and urgent. My hand tightens. He sees my tears.

“Baby, what is it?”

The gun explodes in my hands. Twice. Then Brock swings into the room, swallowing up the doorway where I drop him like sack. I wipe my face. Burning. Slobbering. Forcing myself off the bed, I keep the gun on Brock’s lifeless body. Holt gasps, and I kneel down and take his face. Pained. Confused. Fading away.

My tears splash his face. He grimaces. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

I whisper. “Why?” But he just stares off, into our honeymoon. I ask him again. “Why did you want to kill me? Was I just part of the plan?”

His mouth opens. His eyes say no but he nods, to free me of the guilt. Then he’s gone.

I’m out of the house in minutes. In a dusty cab with no seatbelts. I cruise through the country with a change of clothes and ten million dollars. I end up in Veradero. I order rum on the beach. It’s a great start a grieving widow.

 

 

–Pete Fanning/2016

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