After I bought myself a drink from the bottle in my suitcase, I pulled the drapes open and dragged a chair over to sit in front of the window. An electric fan on the dresser hummed lies to me about tropical breezes. Across the street, the sky over the water was turning twilight, and I wondered if Annie Kahlo was looking at the same ocean from someplace cleaner, a thousand or so miles to the south.
I hadn’t seen her for twenty-four hours. It was a full day since I had kissed her goodbye. She liked it, in the small Mexican town that she had run to. She liked it that everyone thought she was dead. She spent her days painting pictures and walking on the beach. We had something, once. Maybe we still did, but now she lived there and I lived here, and neither of us seemed to know what to do about it.
There was my one-man detective agency to keep my days full. I had an office on State Street, and an empty house a few blocks away on Figueroa. I kept them because I didn’t have anything else. My work was mostly dull, but there were dangerous moments. I knew that not having my heart in it was a good way to get myself killed, sooner or later.
I had been thinking a lot about death lately. It had been closer to me than it was now, but never worried me as much. I blamed Annie that it bothered me. She was turning me sentimental. I missed her. I missed the things that were gone, but I missed the things that hadn’t happened yet even more.
Her words were a charm against the strange things that rattled around in my head. I said them out loud.
“I’ll be on the other side of your last breath.”
The ice was finally doing what it was supposed to, and the glass was getting cold. I took a long sip of bourbon, slipped my shoes off and closed my eyes.
“I’ll be on the other side of your last breath…” I murmured again to myself, or maybe to her.
After a little while, I slept. I didn’t wake up, even when the sky outside went fully dark and the glass fell from my hand onto the carpet.