Tonight, the Devil reveled in her liberation. Akin to a shadow, dark victory swept over her. In the foyer, she stepped out of her polished heels that now slumbered on the red carpet. Bare feet sank onto the killing floor. With the ghost of her coat neatly draped over the rack, a great predator eased into a state of relaxation. Her flat was empty, her home barren.
Smith didn’t greet her at the back door. So, Ferguson walked, blameless and scot-free. After all, she knew the legislative loopholes; she wrote the bloody book.
Routine assumed its natural course. Scheming could wait; rest was pragmatic. Joan Ferguson began her lonely sermon. Silence filled the vast emptiness quite like an internal soliloquy contained within an empty room. There was no music. As an inky shroud, her hair fell down: loose and flowing and free.
Her metal thinking carried her through monotonous actions. In the dining room, she sat at the end of the table, its varnished wood gleaming mischievously. The chill of the glass against her hand grounded her. Joan’s lungs swelled and screamed as she downed the vodka, the ice clinking in meek protest.
As soon as the bell buzzed, her routine halted. A knock at the wolf’s door alerted her of a potential intruder. Outside, a heretic stood.
Caught off-guard, dark eyes widened. Glossy lips parted, opened, and then closed. With her hand on the door frame, her body stiffened, her posture prickly. Temporarily usurped by her apostle, there had been a failure in taming such a shrewish deputy.
She no longer sported the borrowed handkerchief. Injuries faded, healed, but the mind remembered abject trauma. Joan would never fulfill the portrait of a woman unhinged in the Kangaroo Court. Composed of thorns and sharp edges, her cruelty was bent on self-preservation.
Déjà vu. That’s what Vera felt then standing before her. Not too long ago she was here under different circumstances, and the reminder of that night stung. The awkward invitation to dinner. Actually, it was more so a command. As the ever loyal deputy she was, she went without much protest.
She was back now. She couldn’t help but feel a need to save her own ass out of fear that Joan would completely demote her, or worse. She’d worked so hard to be where she was, and it was all going to come crashing down.
All because of that one night that Joan claimed “never happened.”
So now, she stood in front of her former mentor, seeing the shocked facial expression, quickly recovered by the hardening of her eyes. Was it too late to turn back now? This could easily be forgotten too.
Or would it?
She found her courage, swallowed her pride and stood as tall her tiny frame would allow (even without the shiny gold crowns).
“Hello, Joan. I know this is last minute, but can we talk?”
Once upon a time, Joan trusted Vera. In a last ditch effort, she invited the little mouse into her den. After taking a moment to recollect herself, she straightened, stiffened, damn near bristled at the visible offense on her stoop. She wore her mask and she wore it well.
So you’ve come crawling back to me.
A sensuous invitation settled on her lips in the guise of a smile.
“Won’t you come inside?”