She appeared vibrant for a woman shot four times in the torso; perhaps even lively would be an accurate summary.
She was even looking at him with the same coy expression, her red-painted lips lilting up and to the right as if expecting him to speak and already knowing what he was going to say.
After staring, paralyzed, into the dead woman’s face, Shiloh gave a great jerk as if landing from a long fall, and awoke tangled in his bedsheets and staring at the clock.
At the time of her death, he had been thinking of inviting her to dinner officially, but had waited too long and now had aged a decade for each day since the announcement of her demise.
His curly hair was dabbed in grey. His coats were long and patched at the elbows.
He lived alone, though he had a downstairs neighbor named Miss Flatskey, who kept company with an alarmingly fat white cat, but Shiloh didn’t visit her nor did she visit him, except the Christian holidays.
He kept a well standing job as a physician, or had until recent months, and now his finances were stretched as thinly as margarine over a loaf of bread.
He had been walking his friend Lucy home down the sidewalk from the Burlesque where she worked nights, as it was dark and there were often unsavory characters lurking about. It was raining, and he had been holding his umbrella over her head to keep them both dry.
It had been dark and very quiet, though a streetcar did pass, wafting cigar smoke and male chatter as the nighttime workers began their commutes. Raindrops were falling fast and creating a glistening river in the gutters, and soggy autumn leaves kept sticking to his shoes.
“Horrid weather,” Lucy had commented, squinting upward against the dumbing rain. Shiloh nodded once. “It should clear up this week.” The comment regarding the rain had been the last sentence the two shared in life, as in the next moment a car slowed in front of them, the window rolling down.
The gunshots, as Shiloh recalled, had been more than four, and in the next moment her weight had been on his knees as he bent and pressed gloved hands to the holes in her torso, bewildered that something like this could happen here, stunned in the way gentleman are in the presence of violence.
Lucy had gripped the lapel of his coat as if trying desperately to communicate something to him, but the holes were too many and the time was too little. In the next moment, Lucy’s grip slackened and fell, and Shiloh was left with the horrifyingly numb realization that no one was left to help him.
He took the same route two days afterward, carrying his umbrella unopened. It was pouring rain again, and as he reached the street corner, his gaze fixated upon the patch of concrete which was, somehow, unoccupied.
How was it, Shiloh mused to himself, that something could just not be there anymore?