Clean (Story by R.C. Peris)

She was clean. She felt it. Warm and reassuring. Like when you hold a hand over a candle flame. Yes. That’s what it was; a spreading warmth. Or maybe it was like the time she was dunked in the river when she was baptized at eight. It was in a swift-moving shallow river in Kentucky. She was submerged and then rose clean and special like a mermaid.

They were sitting at the storied Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo. Directly to the left of her was the famous Monte Carlo Casino. William was sitting at the table with her and he was chewing his lower lip.

The waitress, pale and blonde with a watered down attractiveness, took their order.

“French onion soup and Salad Nicoise.” She had been ordering the same thing on their journey along the Riviera. In every restaurant the tuna was remarkable. Not like the tuna in America, which obviously came from a can. She figured they bought the tuna fresh from the fisherman in the docks and then lightly cooked the tuna in herbs.

“And what will you have?” asked the waitress. William was still chewing his lip.

“Sole…no, I’m not hungry.”

“You have to eat. Bring a plate of cheeses and a gin tonic.” She had to keep William strong.

“What if they find out?” blurted William.

“Keep your voice down. They won’t find out. How could they? We contacted the authorities. Filed her as a missing person. She was twenty-five. A grown woman. She could leave at any time.”

“Her body will come ashore.”

“Probably but we did tell the police she was depressed and acting bizarre. They will merely assume suicide. And that’s all it was.” Maureen placed her hand over William’s. “Darling, it’s just us now.”

“Why did we have to push her off the cliff?”

Maureen flinched. “She was getting possessive of you. We didn’t need her in our life anymore. Besides, I didn’t push her.”

William looked up with wild eyes. “You told me to. You said when she stoops to touch the roses in Monaco, on the hill, that I should push her off. You said there no witnesses.”

“Yes, yes. Now let’s stick with our story. Stop worrying. You’re killing the mood of this vacation.”

“Like Bridget…”

Maureen shook her head and then smiled widely. “I feel lucky honestly.” She cocked her head to the Casino. “We can go in during the day and play the slots. The high stakes games are at night. Let’s try it.”

The food arrived and Maureen ate every morsel and most of William’s cheese plate. He downed the gin tonic quickly. Maureen was delighted Bridget was gone. They were a threesome in New York and Bridget had fallen in love with William. During their lovemaking, Bridget gave more and more attention to William and would barely touch Maureen. This was unacceptable. It was Maureen, after all, that invited her into their dynamic. Maureen decided on the plane to Nice that William would have to push her off a cliff somewhere. The French Riviera had so many perfect spots for murder. High cliffs, sliding rocks, precipitous falls.

Maureen paid the bill and led William to the Casino. Maureen presented their passports and paid the fees. Twenty euros each. The Casino, so famous from the James Bond movies, was smaller than one would expect. It was not like the casinos in Las Vegas. There was a cluster of slot machines and a bar. At night, people arrived in their finest clothes and jewels and went to private rooms for high stakes games. Maureen sat at a slot machine while William paid nearly twenty euros for another gin tonic. Maureen was happy. Pleased. She also had that feeling of cleanliness. She never laid a hand on Bridget. She went off the edge of the cliff with the force of William’s hand.

Maureen stuck a euro in the slot and pulled. Some coins tumbled out. She pulled again and then a red light when on and there was a low siren sound. A man in a suit approached.

“Madame, you have just won 10,000 euros.”

Maureen screamed and then quieted. She was indeed lucky. And she was clean. She waved and called William ’s name but he was staring into his glass. Moody and unclean. Maureen hoped it wouldn’t be a permanent demeanor or William might have to go. The Isle of Capri was quite steep.


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