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Now You Know

“Honey, are you sure you have to go?” the wife asked. “Couldn't they send someone else?”

“No, not on such short notice,” the husband replied. “And it comes with the job, you know that. I don't get to decide.” In truth, he had volunteered for this business trip. He was looking forward to a change of scenery, away from his wife and children, however brief it might be.

“Oh, I know. But I hear it's such a violent city. Promise me you'll be careful and not wander around alone.”

“Of course, I'll be careful. But you're worrying too much; it's only for a few days.”

He took the bus to the airport, taking the only plane leaving that day for his destination over a thousand miles away. The plane arrived on schedule about four hours later, and although he had never been there before, he had no trouble finding his hotel downtown.

After leaving the luggage in his room, he decided to take a walk to get to know the city, since he had plenty of time before his meeting. With his wife's warning in mind, he asked the clerk if it was okay to walk alone in the area. The man assured him it was perfectly safe as long as he watched out for pickpockets.

He wandered through the streets for an hour, taking in the sights and the people. He was on his way back to the hotel when he remembered to call his wife to let her know he had arrived safely. He grabbed his cell phone, dialed her number, and walked on.

“I was just thinking about you,” his wife said when she finally answered, a hint of concern in her tone. “You should have called earlier. Where are you, honey?”

“I arrived well; everything was great. I'm just getting to know the city. And let me ...” He stopped mid-sentence, right in front of a real estate office, because something he saw through the window caught his attention. His wife waited a second, and when he didn't continue, she asked, “What is it? Are you at the hotel?”

The realtor's door was ajar, and he entered cautiously, still holding the phone to his ear. A receptionist was there and asked him, “Good afternoon. What can I do for you?”

Talking into his phone without realizing it, he muttered, “What? I'll just ...” Then he turned to the side, looking for what he had seen from the street, and found a closed door. He reached for the doorknob and the receptionist yelled, “Sir, you can't go in there!” Ignoring her, he opened the door.

In an elegant office, the woman he couldn't help but recognize sat at a desk with a phone to her ear. The plate on the desk had her name – her maiden name – along with the words “Owner/Designated Broker.” She looked slimmer than he remembered her, the way she used to be before they had two children. “Well, Robert,” she said in a guarded voice coming from both his phone and across the room, “I guess now you know.”

David August

David August lives in São Paulo, Brazil, and works in human rights advocacy. His stories have appeared in Fiction on the Web and Idle Ink.

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