This brief tale was written for members of this site in August 2015. Membership includes a weekly newsletter with exclusive essays, stories, updates on my writing projects, and giveaways.
Seems about right, Harkness thought.
It was just after 7PM, but the restaurant was almost deserted. The occasional waiter wandered by, casting a brief glance in his direction, and there were one or two occupied tables, but most of the vast space was empty.
It was called The Exchange, and it had a sort of faded elegance. Brass fittings, marble floors, thick carpets on the stairs, and an ornate ceiling twenty feet above. There was a mini-grand piano in a far corner with a dust sheet thrown over it, and the menus were bound in well-worn red leather. From some unseen point above, tastefully inoffensive music played quietly.
His stomach rumbled, and he frowned at the glass of ice water in front of him. It had been poured from a tall carafe with cucumber, mint, and sliced lemon, by a young man dressed all in black and sporting an immaculately-groomed beard. The waiter had asked if he’d like to order something from the bar while he waited, but he had declined. There would be plenty of time for alcohol later.
And plenty of need for it, he thought.