Flash Fiction: The Gentrified Wharf & a kiss – a story with no moral to it by LJ Frank

Source: New York City. Photographer, Anon

Sunset was an hour away. I swirled the red wine around in the Bordeaux glass. The OWL or Old Wine Livery, a one-hundred-twenty-year old renovated warehouse and livery stable, is on a brick paved street that leads to down the hill to the wharf. The area was once known for its shadowy activities.

Today, seagulls, pigeons and professional looking people are ever-present. Urban planners called it the WGD or Wharf Gentrification District. No one knew what happened to the labeled undesirable and unwashed bodies of years past. They simply vanished. Reality is provocative regardless of its appearance.

The previous night a woman called me.  “Hey. It’s been over a year since we last spoke to each other.”

“Yeah, I know. How are you doing?” I asked, as my mind retrieved a picture of her face waving goodbye.

“We need to talk.”

“Sure. Are things okay?” Why is she calling I wondered.

“Let’s meet at the OWL near the wharf. Tomorrow afternoon?”

I agreed. So that’s why I am sitting in the OWL sipping wine, where they serve red and white, veggie burgers, home-made dark beer, fresh fish and naturally fried chips. The women and men inside wore suit coats, shirts, ties treated like scarves, expensive blue jeans, skirts, dress boots and ankle strapped heels. Gender, sex, politics, religion and old two-seat sports cars, like the one I drive, are relative to the culturally filtered mechanics of the mind.

I started to take my third sip when she walked in. An anxious smile spread across her face. Her red hair was long and wavy. She was biologically a woman and could be standing across the room and her mere glance caused a titillating effect. I noticed she was carrying a cross body leather saddlebag. I stood up to welcome her. We sat down, across the small rustic wood table from each other.

“Glad…to see you.” It almost sounded like a question.

“Thanks. Same here.”

“You know…timing can mean everything in life, wouldn’t you agree?” she asked as if it was the beginning of a cautionary tale.

“I can appreciate it in the abstract at times better than in the actual moment.”

“Always the intellectual?” She bit her lower lip. Her question was straight forward. Her eyes were expressive and compassionate. She knew something I didn’t.

“I met with my husband last month.” She cleared her throat. “You know our words never seem to coincide with expectations. And some people’s voices don’t always measure up to their physical and emotional presence. Even the most honest, hide the truth.”

I nodded.

She sighed and looked into my eyes. “It’s easier during your most vulnerable moments to be convinced by someone else’s aims other than your own. It’s less intellectual and emotional energy…I guess.”

“I think I understand.”

“I know you do. A person’s shyness may get confused for insecurity as we all need a paycheck.”

What was she driving at? I listened.

“I am in a place in my life…where I can effectuate change.”

“I’m happy for you.”

“I spoke with someone who is close to you.”

“Oh? Who and what about, may I ask?”

She sighed again. “Please, I need you to come with me. It’s urgent.”

“I’m available.” I said mustering a smile, took another sip of wine and left some bills on the table.

We walked outside. A four-door navy blue sedan was waiting for us.

She tugged at my hand. “Get in the back seat with me,” she said pointing a clunky looking Glock 26 pistol at my side.  Don’t try anything silly, okay?”

“What? I don’t understand.”

“Be quiet! Get in! Now!” She said in a voice above a whisper.

Once in the back seat she said to the driver, “you know how to get there from here?”

”Yeah.”

“Let’s go!”

She took a deep breath as the car headed toward the main artery through the city. She put her gun back in her bag and gazed at me with a questioning look.

“Now what?” I asked.

She grabbed my arm pulling me to her and kissed me, her soft wet lips pressed against mine. It was a long, lingering kiss.

She then withdrew and in a soft voice said,  “Sorry. I don’t know any other way.”