by Morris J. Marshall
Chapter 14: : Waiting
Hao Dao, the Vietnamese restaurant, was crowded with diners celebrating Valentine’s Day. Tran looked at his cell phone for the fifth time in ten minutes. It was 7:15. Krista should have been there 45 minutes ago. Even with the Friday rush hour traffic, it shouldn’t have taken more than half an hour to get from DBC Financial to the restaurant.
Maybe she got held up at work, he thought. It was, after all, mid-February and tax season was in full swing. She could be with a last-minute client discussing how to max RRSP contributions. But she always calls, a voice in Tran’s head protested. Over the month they’d been dating, Krista had always informed him if she was going to be late. Even his wife hadn’t been that reliable. A TTC delay then? The subway in Toronto broke down frequently, especially with the added ridership and aged infrastructure. And you couldn’t use your cell on the subway. That could explain everything.
Tran leaned back against the restaurant wall, watching the front door. Each time it opened, his heart jumped in anticipation that this time it would be Krista. Each time it wasn’t, he’d sigh and glance at the empty space across from him. He’d ordered her a coffee and by now it was cold.
Tran had called her cell twice and been shifted to voicemail both times. “This is Kris. You know the drill.” Then a high-pitched “beep.” He’d left her two massages asking her to call back. What if she’s been in an accident? he thought. What if she’s in the hospital right now, lying on a stretcher, bleeding, wondering where I am? What if...
He rose from the table and walked outside to the parking lot. He’d go to her work first. If she wasn’t there, then he’d consider other possibilities. Deep down, he knew he wouldn’t have to. DBC Financial was twenty minutes away by car. From Eglinton and Yonge, the best route would be to head straight south on Yonge to King. Thankfully, there was no construction in winter.
Tran opened the trunk of his car and reached inside. He pulled out the holster containing his police issue Glock pistol and wrapped it securely around his waist. He pulled his hoodie down over his belt, went to the driver’s side and got behind the wheel. Before turning the key, he picked up his cell phone and went to “Contacts.” He highlighted the entry he was looking for and pressed “Call.”
“Hey, Bill, it’s Tran.”
“What’s going on?”
“It’s Krista. We were supposed to meet for dinner almost an hour ago but she didn’t show up. Have you heard from her?”
“Not since this morning. Where are you now?”
“I’m on my way to DBC Financial. I should be there in about half an hour. Are you at home?”
“Aye. I was worried about something like this. That lass never backs down from anyone. Should I come join you at DBC?”
“No, stay where you are. I’m not sure if anything’s happened yet.”
“Thanks for the heads-up. You’ll let me know when you find out?”
“You’ll be first.”
* * *
Bill went back to the sofa and sat down. He continued drinking his after-dinner coffee. He scanned the television listings on the TV screen in search of a movie but put down the converter after a few minutes. He got up and slowly climbed the stairs to his bedroom.
Once upstairs, he steadied himself on his cane and lowered himself to the strip laminate floor beside his bed. He pulled up a red floor mat and loosened a portion of the floor. He produced a small safe and, after lining up the numbers, clicked open the lock.
The black 38 Special revolver felt natural in the palm of his right hand as his index finger curled around the trigger. It had been two months since he’d used it in target shooting. He hoped he could still shoot, that his hands were still steady despite his lack of practice and worsening rheumatoid arthritis. This time, the targets would be a lot bigger, which was a good thing.
Bill went to the closet, took down a box of bullets and placed one in each of the gun’s chambers. He found his blue duffel bag, inserted the revolver and walked back downstairs. After calling a cab, he picked up his cane and bag and waited by the door.
“Lass,” he mumbled under his breath, “just hold on.”
Copyright © 2017 by Morris J. Marshall