The chain rattled against the door as it swung open, revealing the matted green carpet and mustard bedsheets. Lights above the two queen beds filled the room with a steady hum, casting a dim glow against the faded and stained wallpaper behind them.
“After you, my Queen,” Rick said, straightening his tie.
“Doesn’t feel much like a castle, Rick,” Cheri said as she sauntered into the room ahead of him.
Rick shut the door behind them and walked over to the dresser. “Once we drink enough of this, it will.” He reached into the top drawer and revealed a bottle of scotch, half full.
“Where are the glasses?”
“Still out on the porch from drinking with Lily,” Rick responded, nodding towards the glass doors. “Or was it Sandra?”
Cheri slid out the door and dropped onto the padded porch chair. It crunched against the cement as she shifted around. The fence was tall, enclosing the porch and its few tropical plants within a wooden wall. “It should’ve been Elizabeth,” Cheri said. “Unless she blew you off, again.”
“Ah, yes. Husband came into town. Turns out, it’s their anniversary today.”
“It’ll all work out,” Rick said, joining Cheri on the porch with his sloshing bottle. “She’s going to ask him about investing, tonight, and bring the money in the morning. Plus, that let me meet with Lily or Sandra or whoever, today, instead of Thursday.”
“So now you can have dinner with Mrs. O’Brien Thursday night like you planned.”
Rick slammed the bottle of Scotch against the plastic mini table between them, causing the whole platform to jiggle like Jell-O.
“Betty, right?” he asked, filling his and Cheri’s glasses.
“Debbie. Mr. O’Brien calls her Deb.”
“Well, then I better not call her that.” He took a swig of the scotch and leaned back in his chair. The sun beat against his dress shirt and slicked back hair. He loosened his tie. “Why is it so blasted hot?”
“We’re in Florida, Rick. It tends to be hot,” Cheri said, quickly wiping the fresh lipstick stain from her glass.
“Right, for a second I thought we were still in Houston.”
“It was hot there, too.”
Rick laughed. “What would I do without you, Cheri?”
“Get caught,” she responded. “Or shot.”
“I wish I could give you more.”
“More than warm scotch?” she asked, holding her glass up for a toast. “Honestly, I’m just glad you can remember my name.”
Rick smirked, finished his scotch, and poured himself another glass. “I’d never forget your name, Cheri.”
She blushed and tugged at her shirt collar. A blurry reflection of the two of them swam in the window. “Castle, huh?” Cheri asked, taking a sip of her drink. “I’m gonna need some more scotch.”
Rick handed her the bottle. “Trust me, we’ll upgrade, soon. Once I get a few more ladies to invest,” he said, flanking the word in air quotes. “We’ll have enough money to go anywhere, do anything.” He paused and sipped his drink. “Be anyone.”
Cheri sipped her scotch and leaned back in her patio chair. “What if I want to be a better person, Rick? What then?”
Rick tipped back his glass and wiped his lips with his sleeve. “It’s a little late for that, Cheri,” he said, refilling his glass.
Cheri took another sip of scotch as she ran her finger down the FBI’s wire in her shirt. All of a sudden, their reflection in the window became crystal clear.
Jordan Danielle attends Full Sail University and will graduate in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Jordan’s latest novel, Watched, was published in January 2019. She has also written and directed several live productions. Jordan enjoys teaching Latin to high school students and listening to 1940s Big Band records. She lives in Washington State.