He crushed his cigarette under the heel of his boot and stood up. The man grabbed his case off the bench and turned to walk into town. The chugging of the train softened as he weaved between buildings and a chill ran up his spine when he heard a wolf cry out faintly. He quickened his pace towards the shop. He couldn’t be late for the meeting. Tardiness was not something this particular customer tolerated.
He turned the key and slipped into the shop. The bell over the door tinkled loudly in the darkness. He locked the door behind him. The man expertly navigated the dusty displays, cabinets and furniture scattered around the shop. He ducked into the back office and flicked on the desk lamp. He took off his coat and flopped down onto the old leather chair by the desk. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cigarettes. He checked his watch. It was midnight. He thought it was strange for her to be late, even by seconds. He struck a match and lit his cigarette.
“Your watch is 46 seconds fast. I’m just glad it isn’t 46 seconds late.” She leaned against the desk while picking at her long, purple nails. She had always caused him distress. Her strange appearances and disappearances. The way she talked like she was from another century. The strange way he could never tell her no. And those eyes. Glowing like the dying embers of a fire with shadows dancing around the edges.
“I-I-I have w-what you requested, Erlina. It wasn’t easy this time.” His hands and voice shook violently. She laughed, and it sounded like sleigh bells in the winter’s first heavy snow. Erlina leaned down and kissed the top of his head and he immediately calmed.
“I never told you it was going to be easy, John. It’s just that I needed you to do these things for me, and you know you can’t say no to me, sweetheart. It’s just not in your silly little nature.” She looked deep into his eyes and he reached into his inside coat pocket to hand her a small package wrapped in brown paper. “You’re the best, Johnny. You know what you have to do next. See you very soon.” She winked at him and disappeared into thin air without a sound.