Good Prose Don't Come Cheap
A damp chill hangs heavy in the city air, muffling my footfalls as I trudge through the graveyard after her. She's maybe twenty yards ahead of me, so absorbed with whatever she's scribbling in her moleskine that she's yet to notice me. My fingers once more find the ornate handle of the dagger in the bag I wear slung over my shoulder, tracing the delicate line of its filigreed design. I quicken my pace, closing the gap between us.
I've been following her since she hopped a cab out front of that gluten-free bakery on Arthur Ave., and straight-laced as she looked, I didn't figure her for bee-lining it to Woodlawn for an evening stroll among the headstones, but who am I to judge -- and anyways, it's not like I know the woman.
Her head raises as she hears me coming. Flashes a smile -- guarded, polite. My palms are sweating. Nerves kicking in. Just get it over with, I think.
"Hi," I say, my tone all friendly-like, disarming. "I hope I didn't startle you."
"Not at all," she says, and then she frowns. Her hand drops to her side, and her eyes widen as she realizes what isn't there. "Hey, is that my bag?"
I shrug the strap off of my shoulder, hold it out for her to take. "Yeah. You left it at the bakery -- I tried to flag you down, but you were in the cab to quick for me to catch."
"And you followed me all this way?"
"Uh, yeah." I swallow hard, then dive right in. "Hey, I was wondering, you maybe want to get some coffee?"
She smiles. "I'm sorry. I can't."
I redden. "Oh. That's cool." I turn to leave, but then something occurs to me. "Hey, what's that funky dagger thing about? The one in your bag, I mean."
Her frown returns. "You looked inside my bag?"
"Well, yeah," I say. "I figured if I couldn't catch you, I could use the address on your license to return it. Only when I opened it, there was no license, just some goofy-looking knife."
"Ah," she says. She removes the dagger from the bag, and turns it over in her hand. "This is actually a replica of the ceremonial daggers used by bocors to perform blood rites."
"You some kind of historian?"
"No. I'm a writer. And good prose don't come cheap."
Her hand flicks out, and the dagger plunges into my gut. I crumple to the ground in front of a headstone that reads Melville, my blood seeping into the soil beneath.
"Don't worry," she says, wiping the dagger on her shirt before slicing open her own arm and letting her blood drip onto the headstone, where it runs down and mingles with my own. "That wound probably isn't enough to kill you. But sometimes the writing gods demand a little more than I can give."
My vision blurs, my stomach churns. And my last thought before I pass out is, This chick's book better be a doozy.