by Colleen Rae
Lola leaned out over the balcony railing and looked up at the Big Dipper. The sky was alive and twinkling with a million stars, trying to compete with the neon splendor a few miles away in downtown Las Vegas. The air was warm, its touch like a feathered kiss on her skin. Her legs brushed against the wrought iron balustrade as she inhaled deeply the luscious aroma of the thick jasmine bush in full bloom, growing alongside the wall of the house. She moved over to the jasmine and buried her face in its blossoms. White star shaped flowers enveloped her, covering her shoulders and bare breasts. She could almost stand inside the bush, it was so thick.
She didn’t know why she had awakened. An elusive dream hung just beyond her consciousness. It was something about her and Tony dancing. The image of them twirling across a black and white marble dance floor, her skirt billowing behind like a sail on the wind, suddenly came to mind. She loved to dance with him. Last night he had taken her to a club on the Strip. It was crowded and difficult to move without getting bumped by the other couples. Not at all like her dream.
The night light in the bedroom illuminated just enough that she could see Tony asleep in bed through the vines of the jasmine, like the small aperture of a camera. Through the glass door she saw one arm thrown above his dark curly head, the silk sheet falling across his groin. One minute she was staring at him alone in the bed, the next, two men swiftly came into view. One of them raised his hand and plunged it down toward Tony.
When Tony cried out the first time, Lola covered her mouth, afraid she would cry out, too. She grasped the jasmine bush, embedding herself nearly within its center. Each time he screamed her heart spasmed as if it were pierced. She could hear him thrashing against the headboard, and someone was grunting as the other man held Tony down. Every shriek made her feel faint. Finally the man stopped attacking Tony and looked down at the floor. Lola saw him pick up her nightgown. Both men searched the room and the bathroom. Then the man who had struck Tony walked to the balcony doors and peered out. He opened one of the French doors and stepped onto the balcony. Lola held her breath, willing herself to complete stillness. She must not allow even a vine to move. Lola could not see him but she knew he was only a few yards away. She thought she could hear his excited breathing. A few seconds later she saw him come back into view as he returned to the bedroom. When he turned to close the balcony door she saw his close-cropped white hair and the grim look on his face. A face she would never forget. My God! They had wounded, or worse, killed Tony!
© 2009, Colleen Rae