The first frost on dying brown, once a representation of flourishing life. Soft white flurries take their time to drop, but leave little evidence of their brief ambush other than the dark naked twigs under a thick gray. The frigid air suggests winter is coming, or is it here and I have missed fall? Another indicator life moves too fast, but at least the snow soothes.
Jack Swift rested his laptop atop his tray table as his long fingers glided over the keys, balancing with ease during any and all annoying turbulence. He learned to have steady fingers and deep concentration from his years of piano lessons as a youth, and was a product of his parents’ talents and modest morals, yet was never shaped to use his strengths in route to becoming a career criminal. They did everything they could to steer him in the right direction despite their struggles, but he grasped the hand he was dealt, for values can be altered through vengeance. Swift had come a long way from rags to first class.
He composed an email with a soft grin and tapped a gold coin next to his computer between thoughts, keeping the beat with the rhythm that flowed through his headphones.
The refined older woman next to him couldn’t stray her attraction from the beautiful piece. Her delicate touch reached Swift’s shoulder. “Excuse me, son?”
Swift removed his headphones and smiled, “Yes, ma’am.”
“I don’t mean to be a bother—”
“Oh, don’t be silly, how could you be a bother? I’ve had the pleasure of sitting next to a lovely young lady such as yourself this entire flight.”
The woman blushed. “Oh stop. I haven’t been called a young lady since my third husband.”
“He must’ve been a lucky man.”
“Meh, he was just after my money.”
“Despicable gold-diggers. Always wanting something that isn’t theirs.”
“Isn’t that the truth.”
“How can I help you?”
She pointed at the gold. “That coin you have, it’s gorgeous. What currency is it?”
“Oh this,” he held it up, “this is Spanish. I’m a coin collector and I’ve been searching a great deal for this very piece.”
“A coin collector? That’s an interesting hobby, Mr.—”
“Smith. John Smith.”
The woman extended her hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Smith. Is that why you were in San Francisco?”
“For the most part.” He took her hand and kissed the back.
The flight attendant served glasses of champagne to both, smiling seductively at Swift and admiring his chivalry. She strutted down the aisle with a spread impossible for a man to ignore; the older woman took notice with her tongue pressing against her teeth and an idea in mind.
She said, “I think that young beauty has a thing for you, John.”
“She’s probably just jealous that I’m taken for the next half an hour.”
She leaned her head back and laughed, gently slapping his arm with playful flirtation. “If I was forty years younger.”
Swift held up his champagne and clinked the rim of her glass. “Well, here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.”
The woman laughed again and sipped her drink. “You’re young enough to be a flirt, but too young to know that song.”
“Music has always played a huge role in my life; my parents made sure of it.”
“Well, they’re smart people.”
Swift broke eye contact to reflect. “They certainly were.”
The flight attendant announced over the loud speaker, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have begun our descent into Las Vegas. We ask that you please turn off your electronic devices, make sure your seatbelts are fastened, and return your seats and tray tables to their upright positions.” She simpered at Swift as she slid the microphone back into its holster.
“I guess she means me.”
“I’m sorry to have distracted you, Mr. Smith. Would you like to finish that email really quick? You can blame it on me if you get in trouble with your lady friend there,” the older woman said, her eyes suggesting a tryst for the two.
“Oh, that isn’t a problem at all. It was just a draft anyway.”
Swift shut down his computer and followed the other standard requests. He held the gold coin in his hand and grinned, then finished the remainder of his champagne in one gulp and handed the flight attendant the empty glass accompanied by a warm beam and wink. She raised her eyebrows in return and dropped a folded cocktail napkin in his lap, coy enough to keep private. Swift opened the note. It read:
This is my last stop. I’m staying at the SLS. Perhaps we’ll run into each other at the bar.
TO CONTINUE READING “CROOKED GOLD: A JACK SWIFT CASE” PLEASE CLICK HERE!
It was strange that I had succumbed to depression in what should have been a jubilant occasion, but other than my close friends, no one noticed. I sat on that cold bench – every adjustment I made gave me the chills from the squealing sound and rough base – and watched my fellow students break away from the standard control that was required while on campus. The scene rivaled a riot, but with smiles and hugs instead of flaming objects and punches. Crushes came close to each other, friends built their relationships, teammates strengthened their bonds, and faculty members were proving they weren’t as dull as many of the students assumed them to be. In fact, I believe I even saw Father Schuler having a raucous time – as in raucous I meant he was smiling, laughing, and not judging the actions of the students. It was one of the few times we had been allowed to be kids while on school grounds.
I stood, but yet remained unnoticed. Scotty was the center of attention, receiving all the praise for essentially doing nothing and relying on his teammates to bail him out. Wendy and him were close, grins across their face as if they had always been sweethearts and nothing and no one could break their romantic destiny. They kissed amongst the joyful chaos. It was a scene that belonged fifty years in the past; the moment was actually tender – however, I would be lying if I thought it to be charming.