by Jake Barnes

The woman was dressed in black. She wore a wide-brimmed hat, which was also black. Her hair was the color of a Raven's wing; her lips were cherry red. Her eyes were in shadow. She held a black and silver cigarette holder in gloved fingers. I asked her if she wanted another martini, and she said but of course and blew a smoke ring at the ceiling. The mysterious woman excused herself and went to the ladies' room. “Je dois prendre une d├ęcharge, aussi,” she said. Max looked at me. “Is she French?” he asked. I shrugged. I was looking at her ankles as she walked away. Upstairs, in a room where some years later, the occupant would be murdered by his lover, I sat in my skivvies in an armchair and wondered if I should call my wife. My lady friend sat on the bed wearing nothing but her hat and rummaged through her purse. I asked her what she was looking for, and she said her diaphragm.