The Silhouette Man

   ‘One item?’

   ‘Quite peculiar, don’t you think?’

     Click! Through the blinds of the apartment opposite Gemma and Grace, the silhouette of a man snapped a suitcase shut. The noise swirled in the breeze from his apartment to where the girls spied on him.

     ‘The third time this week,’ said Gemma.

     ‘I wonder what that one item could be?’ pondered Grace. For years, all the two women had seen of the man was his silhouette through the blind. The secret identity of the man had them mystified.

     ‘We no longer see the silhouette of the woman he was seeing. Maybe it has something to do with her? He could be returning her things one item at a time?’

     ‘My hairdresser, Doris, told me about what went on there,’ began Grace. ‘Apparently, it was quite the scandal. She left him for a man 30 years her senior.’

    ‘The nerve!’

    ‘More in common with the other guy was her reason.’

     ‘Well, age wasn’t one of those common factors.’

     ‘Indeed! Do you want to know how he found out?’

     ‘Oh, do tell.’

     ‘Saw her across a crowded room at a running convention dinner holding hands before walking arm in arm to a table. Her expression when she saw the silhouetted man was priceless. Apparently, she had told him she was visiting her mother and father in the country so she couldn’t go with him. She thought he wouldn’t go if she didn’t. Doris said he was crushed.’

    ‘We have been spying on the mystery man for years. A mysterious man who oozes charm, style, and his smell.’

    Both girls sniffed the air. They almost fainted with their imagination of his aftershave that they had smelt from their window many times before.

    ‘Quite the catch,’ Gemma said, her eyes dazed, her face flushed, and a faint smile across her face. ‘If I were younger . . .’

    ‘Based on the circumstances with his ex, I reckon you might be in with a chance, Gemma.’

     Their laughter sailed through the breeze and drifted through the window of the silhouetted man. He froze, as did Gemma and Grace when they noticed his behaviour. Minutes passed without movement.

    ‘Do you think he heard us?’ whispered Grace.

    Movement. A gun, followed by a rope and a dagger, each placed carefully on the bed by the silhouetted man.

   ‘Is he planning to murder them?’ pondered Gemma in a quivering whisper.

   ‘Murder her? Murder him?’ replied Grace, equally as nervous.

   He vanished. The suitcase and the items that were once clearly visible on his bed had also disappeared.

    ‘We know too much, Grace,’ said Gemma, her voice high-pitched, her eyes doubled in size, and her fingers shaking.

   ‘Do you think he knows we know too much?’ Grace replied, her lips trembling, her feet tapping the floor, and constantly adjusting her hearing aid.

   ‘Will he murder us?’

   Bang! Bang! Bang! Silence. Both women stung into paralysis with fear.

   ‘Is that him at our door,’ whispered Grace.

   ‘It can’t be?’ replied Gemma. ‘What do we do?’

     ‘Who is it?’ called Grace out loud.

     ‘That is not what we should do?’ snapped Gemma in a harsh whisper.

     ‘I am the man from the building apartment across the street. Doris, the hairdresser, said you ladies needed some help with a cracked tile in your bathroom?’

     Grace and Gemma looked at each other in disbelief.

    ‘Did you tell Doris about that, Grace?’

    ‘I do believe I mentioned it to her, yes.’

    They hobbled towards the door and opened it like excited teenagers. There stood an attractive middle-aged man. He was dressed in dirty tradesman shorts and a half-unbuttoned shirt that revealed his muscular, sun-kissed chest. A thick, dark, perfectly trimmed beard added to his rugged good looks.

       In one hand, he carried a small case, the other, a tradesman’s silicon gun, some rope, and a scraper. Gemma and Grace stood there, eyes popping out of their heads, jaws touching the floor, and faces as pale as snow. For so long, they had mused over the silhouetted man from across the way. Now he stood before them at their door.

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