Welcome to the Write…Edit…Publish blog hop. The theme for this February edition is 28 Days.
Incorporate 28 days in your entry. It can be the time limit for a task or a challenge. The quantum of growth, a journey, a change, and/or healing that happens in 28 days. Come in with a werewolf entry. Or don’t. Tell us about some other moon phase-based folklore instead. Fashion an epistolary flash as a series of 28 diary entries or postcards. Mainstream, fantasy, romance, travel – all wide open. A lot of things can happen in 28 days!
So here goes…
In twenty eight days my life has been turned upside down.
I have managed to compromise a solid friendship and observe my finances slipping even farther away from me.
How did this happen?
It started with a newcomer flashing wads of money in the bar.
I bet my friend Lee, that this stranger would donate money to our local charitable fund raising project. Lee and I always take these kinds of bets. I always win.
Rewind to a moment in the bar. The stranger is regaling us with stories from his travels. I nod to Lee. Let the shenanigans begin. Lee is included in the fund raising project on a ‘need to know’ basis. What he doesn’t know, won’t harm him. Lee is a good friend and we go back a long way. He’s always been there for me and vice versa. He trusts me implicitly. But I trust nobody. Not Lee, and definitely not this stranger. Turns out my instinct is right. The stranger is another kettle of fish.
The newcomer, Antoine, has taken control of the conversation. This one is a real smooth operator. That’s for sure. I look at Lee who seems totally under his spell. Antoine dips into his top pocket and produces a pack of cards. Lee and I exchange a glance. What now? A well-travelled, smooth-talking, card-playing Frenchman can serve a good purpose but it needs to work on our terms. And by the looks of things, he wants to run the show.
Antoine shuffles the deck of cards.
“Sure. Let’s see…” Lee makes a show of choosing a card. “Voila!” He flourishes it, waving it in the air.
The stranger is casual. Matter-of-fact. “Mmm. Queen of Diamonds. Let’s see. Powerful figure. From a wealthy background. You owe her something? A bad omen.”
My jaw drops as my mind races to Lee’s recent mishap with an ex-girlfriend who has been harassing him.
Not because she wants him back.
He owes her money and she is determined to collect every last penny.
Antoine produces a knowing smile; shuffles the deck again.
The Queen Of Diamonds trick is nothing spectacular. Loads of guess work and hope something sticks. I don’t trust Antoine. He’s up to something.
I remember the
occasion when I found out that Lee had a thing going with Miss Queen
Of Diamonds. At that time, Lee had been sporting fancy shirts,
sunglasses and showing off a Tag Heuer. When I asked him about it, he
just shrugged and mentioned something about a pay-out from work. But
then the fancy items didn’t stop. One afternoon I showed up at his
house, unannounced. There was a female laying by the pool applying a
generous amount of sunscreen to his bare torso. She turned around and
I stopped dead in my tracks. I quickly covered my shock, but
underneath my heart dropped.
Jenna Delis? With Lee? She stared at me from beneath those baby blue eyes. She was not the person Lee needed to be involved with.
I should know.
She is my ex-wife.
A powerful vixen with an impressive bank account.
Half belongs to me.
I too am determined to collect every last penny.
I have no idea where he met Jenna. Poor Lee. Stuck in the middle and oblivious to the situation. But the relationship (whatever he thinks it is) has to end. It’s a disaster-in-the-making. He is the perfect victim but he doesn’t know this. I don’t want him to be on the receiving end of her unscrupulous ways. I need Lee in my corner, but I need to collect what she owes me.
I just don’t get it. Numerous conversations about the wily ways of women like Jenna Delis, and he’s fallen into the very quagmire, a place I know all too well. You’re wondering how he could become involved with my ex? Well, he doesn’t know the details. He just knows that I’ve been married before. A condensed version of my liaison with the short-tempered shrew is that we met, I was sucked in by her and we dashed off to the courtroom. The marriage didn’t last. After six months, we called it quits. But not before she siphoned the joint savings account. Lawyers got involved and after an extended legal struggle, I’m still fighting to recover my money, a chunk of which is sitting with Lee.
Back to the quick-thinking stranger who always manages to draw in a small crowd. They are glued to his words and laugh on cue. I need to keep the stranger at a safe distance. Antoine and Lee seem to be getting along a bit too well. I need to investigate this man.
My internet is
down so I’m forced to visit the internet cafe. I’m tucked away in a
corner with my head behind a screen. A lady walks into the cafe,
stilettos clacking on the tiled section leading to the front desk. I
slide lower in my chair. A peaked cap does a good job of hiding my
face. She saunters over to the desk, twirls a lock and the poor man
behind the desk is speechless. I can imagine her batting those baby
blues at him. Poor guy. He won’t know what hit him. I observe his
hands which flap back and forth. Another man walks in and makes a bee
line for the first row of shelves. I peer from under my peak. It’s
Antoine, the card man.
This plot is now a three-way nightmare: Lee – card man – Jenna Delis.
How are they connected? Does she intend to use him to recover her money from Lee? The only way to find out what’s going on, is to follow as closely as possible. I had warned Lee about taking the money. He wanted to know why. I gave him a story about an acquaintance who had fallen into a similar trap and the consequences thereof. When I had no further details to offer, he put it down to jealousy. I couldn’t really tell him the truth, could I? What a mess. When the pair move to one of the aisles it’s my cue to make for the exit.
I’m on my way to meet with Lee. I think that I made a mistake letting Lee take the lead and deal with Antoine. Usually I take the lead. With all that’s going on, I don’t know what to think anymore.
“I’m begging you… don’t get involved with Antoine!” Lee doesn’t want to hear of him.
“What happened. Why the change of heart?” This is the same Lee who not so long ago was hanging on the guy’s every word?
“You have no idea…” He shakes his head.
But I know enough. I know that Lee had a fall out with Antoine; I know that Antoine is chummy with Jenna Delis, my ex and the woman who wants her money from Lee; I know that I need my money…
This is a nightmare.
“What’s going on?” I challenge Lee. “You have to trust me.”
I wonder what he’ll reveal.
* * * *
So what do you think Lee will reveal? And who is Antoine?
WORDS – 1180
I hope you enjoyed my take on the prompt!
I’ll be doing the rounds over the next week or so.
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