Steven Shinder

Lemons Loom Like Rain

“Yeah. So on September twenty-seventh next year, I better have the first payment of one thousand. You've got plenty of time, so I expect to be paid. Otherwise, I'll have to come after you that night, if you catch my drift.”

Something about this threat was appealing to Randy. A threat from someone who looked capable of murder should have been frightening. And it partially was. But Randy was surprised to find a bit of relief in the prospect of being killed and not having to deal with financial issues. As selfish as he was sure it made him seem, he saw it as a viable way to escape from all the pressures.

“Got it. You wouldn't want to beat me over the head with reminders that night, right?”

Mathis smiled.

“Seems like we understand each other perfectly.”

Randy thought back to the woman who had been here days earlier when he called. He wanted to be sure that he understood.

“Who-?” Randy stopped himself, regretting that he had let the start of a question escape his mouth.

“Go on,” Mathis said. “Don't be shy. I can answer any questions you have about this process.”

Randy had no choice but to finish his thought, despite the possible risk.

“Who was on the phone the other day?”

Mathis maintained the smile, accompanied by unblinking eye contact.

“Don't worry about her. She's gone from my life. Frankly, she was a bit of a trainwreck, going on about the pointlessness of life. She came to me for advice, and I did her a favor.”

“Is there a point to life?”

“Not for you. Now, here's the form.” Mathis blinked at last and turned a paper around to face Randy. “Be sure to write down your current address and your emergency contact info. You wouldn't want an emergency to worry anyone, but, you know, just in case.”

This part worried Randy. In his hometown, he had his parents and a ten-year-old sister. Getting them involved was out of the question. Randy wanted to maintain their safety.

“So, would we meet here when I give you the first payment?”

“I'd prefer to take care of it at your residence, just to make sure that you're there. Would you be at your current address, or your permanent address?”

“They're the same,” Randy answered quickly, committed to making his current address his future permanent address.

“Really?” The smile faded, the face laced with skepticism.

“Y-yes. Once the one-year lease ends, I'm gonna renew it.”

Randy wrote down the apartment address, as well as Ted's contact info.

“Who's that?”

“A flatmate.”


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