A Gentleman’s Proposal. Short Story.

I’m sick, hooray. Luckily it’s not too bad, just a blocked nose and sore throat & ferverent hoping that it doesn’t get worse.

Also in the news, one of my dogs, Dougal, had to go to the emergency vet the day after christmas due to a cut on his leg that wasn’t healing, it kept opening. He was kept in the vets for most of the day while they gave him anesthetic (he had eaten before we left so they had to wait because you have to fast), then widened the cut, took out the parts that were beginning to get infected and stitched him up. He’s doing fine now, wandering around normally, well, sleeping on the mat normall, with his bandages.

I was slightly more worried than I would have been because of the day. We don’t have a good track record of bringing our dogs to the vet around christmas. Last time it happened our dog died christmas day. Boy, was that a fun thing to wake up to.

Ok, so off the morose stuff, it’s all depressing and this is a happy time of year, the wonderful gap between christmas and new years where you just kinda wait around until you can get so drunk, you can feel it next year.

New year is kinda strange when you think about it. Every day is the beginning of a new year if you go back a year from that day. I know that it’s the time measurement but I don’t really get the big deal. Last years night was crappy, wandering around, trying to get to where we were going. This year I’m going to my sisters which will be awesome.

This is dragging on more than I intended, and I think being sick is causing me to ramble slightly, only slightly. So….eh….on with the show?

—————————————————————————————

A Gentleman’s Proposal.

He was surprised to see a woman walking unescorted. It wasn’t really that safe, not here of all places. He walked a little faster, concerned for her safety. When he was close enough, he slowed his walk to match hers, he was only a few feet behind and an observer might think he was a guard. If anyone did attack he wouldn’t get involved, after all, so many people were wounded or killed that way, stepping in for strangers. He didn’t want his name in the papers tomorrow, saying he died for something stupid.

She browsed as she walked, glancing in shop windows here and there, musing over the displays for scant seconds before continuing onwards. She must be a lady of higher class, she didn’t scurry or hunch, but rather she walked at a slow pace, taking her time. He wondered if maybe she was trained in some form of fighting, perhaps she had a knife on her. Her movement was graceful, but not enough to suggest some formal education in the bodies movement. Perhaps she was used to people doing what she said, moving out of her way, that would class her as a noblewoman, her dress was certainly expensive, though demure, perhaps she had donned it thinking it would help her blend, but it was too perfect, too clean to have come from anything but a tailor. It fit her form perfectly, as though it was sculpted for her body, which after a few seconds consideration he decided it probably was. It’s fabrics rustled softly as they drifted over the stones, he couldn’t quite hear it over the noise and movement of others, but he knew it was there.

She intrigued him, though he couldn’t say why. Perhaps she had snuck out from her gilded cell. Everyone heard how noblewomen could take flights of fancy, become bored with their opulent surroundings and crave the droll experience of the commoner. Maybe this is what happened to her. She looked the part, even without jewellery or exceedingly expensive clothes, but then, they would be eye catching, a casual observer would not notice too much about her as she passed by, however anyone planning on attacking or stealing from her would be instantly aware and less than pleased if they got less than they expected her to carry. He moved a step closer, wondering if maybe he should call her attention to the problems she could face. She certainly wasn’t wandering the town with permission, who ever she was, she would have had someone to escort her, to ensure her safety rather than wandering the streets alone.

She entered a shop, he stood outside, waiting for her, pretending to be captivated by a window display. She came out a few moments later, holding a small bundle awkwardly. She couldn’t seem to figure out the best way to hold it until she settled for grasping it with both hands. It made it obvious to all the world she was different, unlike those girls who walked past, holding everything easily and without concern. Finally deciding, he took another few steps. “You should be careful.” She visibly jumped, “I’m sorry?” “Well, you’re walking alone and you seem to have difficulty holding your parcel. It makes you a target.” “We’re in public, I doubt someone would try to attack me, besides, they’re just stories.” He sighed inwardly, definitely a noblewoman, an extremely sheltered one at that. “I’m afraid they do attack people in public and no one else would step in, why should they get killed for you?” “That’s ridiculous.” She increased her pace, “If you don’t mind, I’m in a hurry, so tell me, what do you want?” “Well, I was going to suggest I escort you to your destination. You will be less of a target” “I thought people didn’t interfere, why would you do that for me?” “Concern? I don’t really know to be honest. I just wanted to do a good deed.” “You can accompany me if you wish. I shouldn’t be too much longer anyway.” she stopped, “How do I know you don’t plan to rob me?” “I would never do that but if it were my intention to do so, I wouldn’t have made you aware of my presence, instead I would have followed you and waited until an opportune time.” “I see.” she looked him up and down, “Well, you don’t look like a thief, I’m going to trust you, but I am warning you that if you do try anything I will fight back and make your life a living hell afterwards.” He tried to hide his smile, “Of course.” “I’m Katrina by the way.” “Jeremy” he bobbed his head down slightly. Katrina started walking again and he followed by her side. “So what are you doing out here alone?” “I wanted to get a few things and thought this would be the fastest way. We would usually send maids out to get our things for us, but I wanted to go for a stroll as well, so I figured I could do both at once.”

They chatted as they walked, Katrina doing most of the talking, Jeremy didn’t really know what to say most of the time, her anecdotes were so far removed from what he knew. He thought he was well off, though he knew there were plenty of people above his station, but Katrina was something else entirely. She spoke of people and places he had only heard vague mentions of, of things he had long ago dismissed as rumour and tales created by those who wanted access but were doomed to never enter.

She stopped at the mouth of an alley, then began to turn into it, “Are you sure you want to go there?” “Yes, it’s faster, besides, you’re with me.” Before Jeremy could answer she had turned down the alley, walking confidently into it’s gloom. He was nervous as he followed, wondering if this was a good idea, after all, she could be tricking him. Part of a band of criminals, perhaps a prostitute who killed her clients. It was possible. The alley was surprisingly empty, but then, people did avoid them. Normally there would be a nest of the homeless, violent and strung out on what ever drug concoction they could afford. About mid-way through the alley he felt something in the back of his mind. A warning perhaps? Slowly, he withdrew his knife, careful not to make it obvious. She turned to say something and as her body faced his, he moved forward, slamming the knife upwards under her ribs. The blade was sharp and cut through her easily, with one quick flick he brought the knife down and out, slicing open her stomach. The look of shock and pain was still frozen on her face as she dropped backwards, landing heavily against the wall. “I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t trust people around here. They’re dangerous you know.” He dropped to her side as she writhed in agony and carefully opened her package, just as he thought, though they’d probably be marked he knew where he could sell them, for a hefty price tag too. He searched her pockets, both the obvious and concealed and took everything he found.

Jeremy strode away from the corpse, he didn’t have any blood on him and, once out of the alley he merged with foot traffic, becoming indistinguishable. He smiled slightly, everything had gone perfectly and she was obviously begging to be killed. He was used to taking out some form of guard and the lack of any made the job refreshingly easy. His lifestyle was slipping, a few investments had gone bad and she was just what he needed to get back on his feet. It wasn’t the first time he had to do this and he doubted it would be the last. There would be some trouble of course, what with her status, but someone else would be blamed for it, someone else was always blamed for his crimes. Whether that was the homeless or some noble that the king wanted to be rid of he didn’t care. Once he was safe, that’s all that mattered.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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