Clarissa Bell and the Missing Man

Updated on December 20, 2017
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Melony Gallant is a South African Short story Romance writer that sometimes dabbles in flash fiction and mostly drinks coffee

Clarissa Bell worked in a coffee shop after she finished her studies in film and production. She desperately needed a break in the film industry but no one seemed to be interested in her short homemade films. So she worked at the coffee shop downtown in the meantime. A man came in the coffee shop each day ordering a cup of coffee and scribbling furiously in a notepad. She wondered at first what the man was writing. Until one day when she got the chance to give him his coffee. She saw him drawing a beautiful woman and they started talking. Since then she always gave him his coffee and they had small talk about the news, the weather and even flirted now and then.
Today was the day she decided to ask him out finally. It is the era of the metro woman and as a metro woman she can ask a guy out, of course. Therefore she bought two incredibly expensive theater tickets that she had never held in her hands and could never afford with her low pay. Unfortunately it meant she would have to starve for a whole month and beg her roommate to help feed her. But it also meant he might consider her offer.
He was a tall man, always wore a grey suit with a buttoned up shirt, he looked precise and very clean, his hair was always in the right order and his glasses which she quite liked was always sturdy on his nose in the perfect position. He looked like a business man, and not just any business man but from the look of his cell phone and his very expensive pen (yes she paid attention to such detail) he had to be a very rich business man at that. She imagined the scenario playing out. He was going to come in like any other day, take out his notebook, glance out the window once and start sketching. She was going to bring his coffee, he was going to smile at her and ask her about her cat (she didn’t really have one but she brought it up for conversation purposes one day. It wasn’t too bad since she liked cats quite a little and she could easily get one free for if he visited.) She would ask him about the picture he was busy drawing and then the moment would come. She would mention the wonderful play that was being shown this Saturday and how badly she wanted to go. She would also mention that she had no one to go with and act as if she had the sudden inkling to ask him to come. He would smile and say he loved plays and it would be a done deal. He’d pick her up at seven, just like in the movies, well actually at six since the play started early, and the night would end with him dreamily staring in her eyes and whisking her away with the words ‘I love you, would you marry me’. Well that or just a simple ‘we should do this again’ would work. But today the rich business man didn’t show in the afternoon like he always did at two. She still had hope at four, but at five she gave up. He wasn’t coming. She watched other strangers filling the booth he usually sat in and sighed gravely now and then. Her fellow waitress asked her what was wrong and she dramatically answered,
“My life is over!”
With that the other waitress went on with her work, obviously not interested in what disaster filled Clarissa’s life this time.
Clarissa filled an order for a customer, a lady of forty waiting for her book club members to arrive, when a strange man entered the shop. Of all the customers ever coming into the coffee shop, he stood out to her. He quite looked like that famous actor in that old musical movie with his greasy hair forming a smooth curly bang hanging lazily in his face. He happened to wear a leather jacket, making it even worse. But she noticed that underneath his jacket he was sporting quite a bit of muscle, which had never been her preference and she disliked him immediately. Especially for the air he held when he glided over the floor towards her fellow waitress. She rolled her eyes thinking it was obvious that Patricia would know a man like him. She always had bad taste in men. He talked to Patricia for a while, while Clarissa stared intently, not noticing her clients’ annoyance. He walked away from Patricia and Clarissa was glad he was leaving. But she caught him looking at her and to her horror he started towards her. She tried to avoid him by busying herself but she couldn’t for long.
“Excuse me miss,” he said. “Can you perhaps help me?”
“Yes?” She answered warily.
“I’m looking for a man that always dines here.”
“There are many people and I don’t remember all their faces.”
“Oh I think you might remember him,” he said. “He had dark rimmed glasses, always wears a grey suit, always busy, looks like a business man, a little nerdy.”
Clarissa took offence at the word ‘nerdy’. The man of her dreams was anything but nerdy. But she kept her cool and answered.
“Yes, I know him.”
“Great. When last did you see him,” he asked.
“Yesterday.”
“So he didn’t come in today?”
“No,” she said.
The guy looked worried and she wondered why.
“Why are you looking for him? Did something happen to him? Is he in trouble?”
“Do you always ask so many questions?” He said.
Clarissa gawped at the man. The nerve.
“Last time I remember you were the one asking me questions.”
She was still bogged down by the man’s visit and hoped she would never see the likes of him. But he left her his card telling her to call him whenever she saw the man again or found something out. She wasn’t planning on calling though. There was something odd about him. She knew whatever reason he had for looking for the man, it wasn’t good. She didn’t trust him. He might kill her dream man, she thought. But as the days went by and the man still didn’t show, she became worried. What if he was kidnapped? What if he was lying dead in a ditch? She could go to the police but it wasn’t really any of her business and she didn’t have any proof. Clarissa walked the long way to her apartment after work. She wished she could have found an apartment closer to her job but since she wasn’t planning on keeping her job she wasn’t looking for anything else. Clarissa took the turn at the corner when a hand gripped her arm and pulled her back. Startled but still remembering her metro woman fighting skills she hurled her purse at the stranger, willing to fight to the death for her life, even if it meant destroying her make-up that was now jolted in her purse.
“Woah, relax! It’s me.”
She looked at the ‘me’ and snarled. It was the dodgy looking man from the coffee shop.
“You almost gave me a heart attack. Couldn’t you just come up to me like a normal person?” She barked.
“I guess I could’ve,” he grinned.
She didn’t soften and stared him down.
“What do you want?” She asked.
“Did he show since I’ve been there?”
“No,” she answered. “And why do you care?”
“It’s private.”
“I’m not going to help you unless I know.” She said.
He sighed and brushed his hair back, the curl jumping back in position. She grimaced at the thought of his now greasy hand.
"The man's been missing for a while now. His ex-wife has been very worried and she hired me to find him. There's some bad guys he made angry."
He had a wife! Clarissa shoulders drooped and she frowned. Well, that was another wrong tree to bark up.
But, this could still be useful. Clarissa had an idea.
"I want to find him too."
“Why do you want to find him?” He asked. “What’s it to you?”
"I make films."
He laughed. "Okay?"
The nerve!
"And this could be a really good story."
"So?"
“Like I said, this could be a really good story and people would be interested in the back story of how we found him.”
“We?” he said.
“Hi,” she held out her hand. “I’m your new partner.”
“Absolutely not!”
“Please,” she begged. “I’ll make us famous.”
“And you’ll do that because you’re some kind of film student?” He said.
“I’m a qualified director!”
He sighed.
“Fine, fine, whatever. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look these are dangerous people you want to deal with. This guy’s involved in drug trafficking.”
Her heart raced.
“I’m going to find him. I don’t care if he’s some kind of criminal,”
“Not some kinda, is a criminal.”
“He’s still a person and he doesn’t deserve to die or something.”
There was silence.
“So are we going to do this or not?” she asked.
“We can look at the surveillance tapes at his house. I’m sure we can break in there without anyone noticing.”
She smiled.
“I take that’s a yes.”
“That’s an I’m-going-to-regret-this-yes.”

© 2017 Melony Gallant

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