“You’re that advice columnist, Sarah Wilson, aren’t you?”
Sarah Wilson had been reading a book on the train home from her office in Manhattan when the question had been whispered over her shoulder. She turned around and saw a middle aged man in the seat behind her. He was giving her a look of intenseness that told her he probably wasn’t a fan.
Sarah Wilson was “that advice columnist.” A few of the passengers nearby stopped what they were doing and now looked at her as if to verify that they were indeed sitting with a celebrity. When they saw the look on her face as she faced front again, they quickly found something else they collectively felt was more interesting. They didn’t want to get involved.
“You told my wife, my now ex-wife, that she should leave me,” the man whispered, a little louder this time. When Sarah didn’t turn around this time, he poked her twice on the shoulder with his index finger.
Though she was surrounded by people, mostly commuters like herself, Sarah was afraid. Because even though she was surrounded by people, she had that feeling of aloneness that one often has in New York City.
She was still at least ten minutes from her stop and she knew a lot of bad things could happen in ten minutes.
A well-dressed young man sitting in the aisle seat across from her cleared his throat and smiled at her. He then pointedly frowned at the man behind her.
His briefcase had been on the window seat and he now stood, picked it up, and motioned for Sarah to take his window seat.
The man who had whispered to Sarah went to poke her again before she could get up. The young man grabbed the man’s finger and bent it back.
“Ow, ow, ow, stop!”
Sarah’s would-be savior let him go and he again motioned to her.
“I’ll ride with you,” he said. “You goin’ to the first Park and Ride stop?”
Sarah’s instinct told her to give the man a polite “thank you, no” and ride it out. When she got to the station, she’d report the nasty man and go home.
“I’m not done yet,” muttered Sarah’s adversary, rubbing his sore finger.
“Oh, you’re done all right. When this woman gets to her stop, you and I are gonna stay on the train, buddy. If you get off, you better get off runnin’. Got it?”
That did it. She owed this man more than a polite “no thanks.” She stood up from her seat and sat down in the offered window seat. “I’m Alex,” said the young man, offering his hand and sitting down next to her.
“Sarah…, but I guess you already know that,” she said, shaking his hand. “Thank you.”
Now that things seemed to be under control, some of the nearby passengers nodded to Sarah and offered sheepish smiles.
“So, you know what I do,” said Sarah. “What is it you do, Alex?”
“I’m a contract killer,” whispered Alex, leaning over into her personal space. “Ya know, murder for hire.”
“Geez, Louise,” Sarah said with a sigh. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope. Here’s my card. If the cops won’t help you with that guy over there, give me a call. We can do business.”
Sarah looked at the card. On it in black print was “ALEX (212) 555-2040.” That was it.
Alex pulled back his sport coat to reveal a small pistol in a shoulder holster. He nodded to Sarah and gave her a winning smile. Sarah smiled back.
***Now they were only a few minutes from her stop. Sarah was glad it was Friday; she’s have the weekend to figure out what to do with the Monday commute.
But she still had to get home tonight.
“If this Park and Ride is your stop too, you don’t have to stay on the train with him,” said Sarah. “You could get off with me.”
“Ya mean like a date?” said Alex.
“No, not a date,” said Sarah laughing. “You could walk me to my car. If you want to, that is.”
“Sure, I can do that. I’m kinda hopin’ the jerk does get off; I’d like to mess him up a bit.”
Alex said this loud enough for the man to hear and Sarah was thinking he would be staying on the train.
“Okay, it can be like a date,” said Sarah looking into Alex’s eyes. “I must be crazy —”
“Hey, no, Sarah. I’ve gone out to dinner lots of times with dames I just met.”
“Do guys still say ‘dames’?”
“Sure. Dames…, women, think it’s kinda cute when I do it.”
“It is kinda cute when you say it, Alex. I think we’ll have a good time at dinner.”
“Hey, we got the whole weekend, right? Right?”
Just last week one of Sarah’s girlfriends had told her she needed to get out more or she would get stale. Sarah was feeling fresher already.
As they walked to Sarah’s car, Alex scanned the surroundings. On the train platform he saw the man who had bothered Sarah. The man gave Alex a thumbs up and Alex nodded back to him.
Alex figured he could fulfill the contract on Sunday night just as easily as tonight. He liked to take the time to occasionally stop and smell the roses.
Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin and has been a voracious reader for over 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction published in Black Petals, Yellow Mama, riverbabble, Theme of Absence, Dark Dossier, Flash Fiction Press, Bewildering Stories, and a number of other online and print journals. Roy is currently the submissions editor at Yahara Prairie Lights, which puts him in the enviable position of sometimes being able to accept his own work. That site is at yaharaprairie.wordpress.com