She awoke to the sound of an engine in the distance. It was dark again. She had somehow managed to sleep through the entire day. She got up and walked to the window that faced the road. There she saw the tiniest hint of lights heading her way.
He heard the click of the gun before he saw her. “It’s ok Hope, it’s just me – Jack.”
“I know. Otherwise, you’d have never heard me cock my gun.”
“How’ve you been, my dear? It’s been awhile.”
“I’ve been good. Getting by. You know how it goes.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I do.”
He walked over to her and hugged her, wrapping her up in an embrace full of longing, for he knew that she was never his – nor ever would be.
“Let’s go inside. It’s hot out here,” she said.
He walked to the car and grabbed a couple bags before following her into the cabin. “I brought you a few things I thought you might need. Didn’t figure this old place had anything left in it.”
“It doesn’t,” she said. “Please tell me you brought coffee.”
“Of course. I remember how useless you were without it.” He smiled at this, knowing she would follow up that statement by hitting him.
“Kiss it, Jack. You’re no better!”
“Never said I was.” He walked over to the bar separating the kitchen from the den and unloaded the bags and started a pot of coffee.
“So what have you been up to Jack? Still running with that crazy dame you found on the streets?”
“She wasn’t from the streets, she just wasn’t…refined. But no, I had to get rid of her. She talked too much. That happened not long after you disappeared actually.”
“Yeah, sorry about not saying goodbye. I had to take care of some things, and I had to do it alone.”
“And it took you this long to do it? Hope, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I promise. There just came a point when coming back no longer felt like an option.”
“I understand. So are you hungry? You want a sandwich?”
“No, just coffee. Not in the mood to eat.”
“You never were.” He made her a cup and poured himself a glass of whiskey before joining her on the couch. She was curled up in the corner, having somehow positioned herself to look like she was sitting up and lying down all at once.
“You’re still as beautiful as ever. The years have been good to you.”
“Thanks, that’s sweet. You’re looking good too. And it’s really good to see you. I had forgotten how nice it was to see a face you can trust.”
“Yes, those faces are few and far between.” He got up and walked to the window and stared out into the darkness.
“So how did the job go? Was it clean?”
“Did you leave any trace?”
“No Jack, you know I’m thorough. If I thought I could get caught, I wouldn’t have done it.”
“Good. We don’t want anyone suspecting who is behind this.”
“Who would? You all have alibi’s right? And I’m nothing but a distant memory in most minds – as far as anyone knows, I’m dead.”
“But you’re not dead. You’re right here, just like old times.” He paused a moment before turning to look at her. “Was it hard to do?”
She sat silent for a few minutes before answering. “Honestly, no. I suppose some things you just know, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve done them.”
He chuckled before resuming his position on the couch. They sat in silence, both lost in their own thoughts for awhile.
“Why did you call me Jack? Certainly you know plenty of others that could do just as well.”
“No, they couldn’t. Some jobs are something of an art, and that is a skill I have never found since you left. Plus, he asked me too.”
She sucked in a breath as a knife pierced her heart at the mention of him; more so at the thought of him mentioning her.
“How is he?” she asked, barely above a whisper.
“He’s doing okay. Has good days and bad, like any of us I guess.”
“Is he happy?”
“Happy? I’m not sure what happy is to him, but I suppose so. I will tell you this - when you left, he was lost, for he lost his Hope.”