Ignatius Finkelstein was keeping a secret from his wife.
This was nothing new. Their marriage, in fact, had been based on lies and deceit. Valetta had claimed to love him yet he knew that all she really loved was his money. The woman couldn’t even give him a male heir. All they had for a child was Hasenpfeffer and she was second rate at best.
It didn’t matter. None of it really mattered. He often wondered if he actually loved his wife and daughter. The wife? No, he didn’t love her. The daughter? The jury was still out on that.
He took the same route he always did. The roads weren’t too crowded this time of night and, within fifteen minutes, he’d arrived at his destination. He did the same thing he did every time he visited this place and looked at it for a while, as if sussing it out.
Through the haze of smoke that filled the cab of his car, Ignatius looked out into the night. The house sat there like a lover, bathed in a soft golden hue of light. And like a long time lover, the house looked as if it had seen better days.
It was dilapidated and slightly worn. The wrap around porch sagged in front of the main door. But for all its faded beauty, the house still held an iota of charm for him, something that called to him.
Stepping out of the car, he locked the car door even as the cloud of smoke that followed him readjusted itself around his head. Looking out at the parking lot, he saw that the place wasn’t too busy, not yet anyways.
As he always did, he felt a moment of fear, a moment of shock at his daring and wondered if anyone had seen him. Of course they hadn’t seen him. He knew that. Ignatius Finkelstein was nothing if not careful.
Gathering a moment of strength, Ignatius left his car and walked towards the old house. It had seen better days, but then again, so had he.
He rang the doorbell and shivered in anticipation as he heard the answering notes ring out through the old house. While he waited, Ignatius picked lint off his suit jacket. He tried not to run his hand over the item he kept in his pocket.
Looking up again, he saw a shape coming towards him, its lines distorted by the coloured glass set into the door. As the footsteps became louder, the shape grew. All too soon, before Ignatius could really calm himself, the door was opened.
A woman with a warm face looked up at him. “Oh, Mr. Finkelstein!” The woman’s was split by a large smile. “I haven’t seen you in a dogs age, come in, come in.”
“How are you today, Ms. Hockneybrow?” Ignatius kept his voice courteous and respectful. “Has there been any trouble lately?”
The older woman gave him a soft pat on the arm. “How many times have I told you to call me Mafalda? I’ve told you time and time again.”
“Every time I visit here.” Said Ignatius.
“Then why don’t you do as your told?” The old woman chided.
“I’ve always been taught to mind my elders Ms…Malfalda.” He said.
Mafalda Hockneybrow laughed and pinched his cheek. “You got a real smart mouth, anyone ever tell you that?”
“Only you.” He said.
She laughed again and led him down a long, darkened hallway. They passed closed doors, noises escaping past the sound proofed doors. Malfalda scowled at them. “Soundproof my ass.” She said. “Doesn’t matter how much padding you give a door, I can still hear you all carrying on.”
Leading him into the main drawing room, Mafalda sat him down on one of the large, black leather sofa’s and offered him a drink. “Beer, wine? Maybe some tea?”
Ignatius nodded. “Beer would be fine.”
“Now, what did you want this evening? There are a few specials on offer. There’s some nice middle eastern that’s particularly popular or perhaps you’d fancy yourself a nice oriental experience?”
Ignatius shook his head. “I don’t know.” He said. Smoke whirled around his head like a storm cloud. It seemed to move and pulse with his words. “I don’t know what I’m in the mood for tonight.”
“Well, you know what to do. Take a look through the albums and let me know when you’ve made your choice. Just press the button on the wall there.”
Mafalda walked away with quiet steps, leaving Ignatius to peruse the albums at his pleasure. Picking up the first one, he opened it and looked at the photographs contained within. It took him only a moment to decide.
He pressed the buzzer. Mafalda was with him again in moments. “I’d like that one,” he said.
“Oh, splendid choice, just added to the menu last week. You’ll be very pleased.” Mafalda said.
“For the money I’m paying, I certainly hope so.”
Chuckling, Mafalda led the way down another long hallway. Steeling himself, Ignatius followed the older woman into the darkness.