by Mark Renney

The Gangster’s Wife had arranged to meet with an old friend in a park, close to the offices where she once worked. She hadn’t been in the city in a while, at least not during the day and on her own, without the Gangster and all that being with him entailed.

It was bright and sunny with shadows slicing the pavement. She could hardly see in front of herself but it felt good, getting lost in the crowd and looking in shop windows at all she could so easily afford, at all she already had.

She didn’t have any regrets, hadn’t ever doubted that she could be who she had become. They were clichés, she and the Gangster. She was all too aware of this. In their designer labels and with their fast cars and holidays in the sun. And she had hardened over the years, well no, that isn’t strictly true. She had always been hard and wilful enough to see it through. But at almost fifty she looked the part, with her fake tan and impossibly white teeth. There were more lines on her face now when she smiled and she smiled a lot. But she was still sleek and slim, her body sculpted at the gym and with just a little help from the most trusted of surgeons. She could still turn heads—both men and women stopped in order to look at her.

It was the Gangster’s suit that had first caught her attention. She had been attracted to it, rather than him.

She and her friends were sitting at a table in a club and she had watched the Gangster holding court at the bar. It was dark in the club and the suit was a deep blue. But even given the distance and the poor lighting she could tell it was a quality cloth, expensive and she suspected that it had been hand made, tailored especially for him.

There wasn’t anything gaudy about the suit, nothing flashy, that was all him, the cockiness and the swagger. He was loud and she could hear him. He had noticed her, she had noticed that much at least. But she hadn’t gotten a proper look at him, not yet. She hadn’t taken him in, not his features.

When he approached their table, she was the first to speak.

‘Nice suit,’ she said.

‘Yeah, I know,’ he replied.

But she didn’t look up at him and so he crouched down in front of her.

‘Yeah,’ he repeated, ‘yeah, I know.’ And he grinned.

Later, walking home from the nightclub, her friends had told her who he was and what he was. They didn’t come right out and say anything but she decided there and then that she wouldn’t be told what not to do.

The Gangster’s Wife had reached the park and she could see her friend sitting on one of the benches. But she didn’t step through the gates. Suddenly, she didn’t want to meet with her, to catch up and talk about old times and gossip about people she no longer knew.

The office block where she used to work was right there across the street and, looking up at it, she started to make her way back. There was a man on the pavement ahead of her, a young man and he was glancing back at her. He had slowed and she was gaining on him and any moment now he would take one last look at her and, turning himself around, he would move along. But she stopped and stood in front of one of the shop windows, letting him go.

Mark Renney lives in the UK. He has had work published in Spelk, The Pygmy Giant, Unbroken Journal, Bones and The Interpreter’s House. He also contributes to the Art Blog Collective Hijacked Amygdala.