“Miranda said you were good with mature women,” she says and takes in the exquisite details of the Degas etching in the front hall. “I wonder why that is, hmm? Was your mother very cold to you? Did you need to please her?”
Bren stares at her back for a second. Looking at her off-white flowy pants, her orange silk blouse, and matching Jimmy Choos being lit up by her copper-red curls, one can almost forget the raw scar that cuts her face in two on the diagonal, making her seem like David Bowie’s evil twin. Then he says,
“The utilities are included in the lease. If it should come out to less, it will be returned with the deposit at the end of the term.”
She turns to inspect him. A young man, so innocent with his blonde hair and blue eyes. Like taking the sweetness of a child.
“Oh, I make you uncomfortable, hmm?” She says and curls her dark brown lips into a small knowing smile.
“All the lights in the apartment are fitted with motion sensors but can, of course, be turned off in the bedrooms,” Bren says and sweeps his right arm up to the ceiling and then to the light switch panel by the door like he is a flight attendant marking the exits.
“Very good, Bren,” she says. “Did you cuddle with your mother in the dark, hmm? Did she call you in when she wanted you? Bren, Bren, mammy wants you? How old were you then?”
Bren backs into the living room with the white leather couches in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the La Brea tar pits.
“And this is the first of the three living rooms,” Bren says and keeps on with the safety instruction hands. “There is a larger space en suite with the dining room, and then a more private one with media setup off the master bedroom.”
“Master, interesting word, hmm?” she says. “Speaks of dominance, hmm? Were you her slave, Bren? Did your mother spank you for pleasure?”
“What? No!” Bren says with too much outrage. “Ma’am, can I just finish showing you the apartment, please?”
“Ssshhh, ssshhh, Bren,” she says, walking toward him, “impatience is a poison, hmm, it kills the pleasure. But you know that, don’t you? Your mother taught you not to finish first, didn’t she?”
“Excuse me,” Bren says and turns on his heel. He hurries through the kitchen and into the bathroom, where he locks the door. He fumbles to get his phone out of his pocket and almost drops it in the toilet. With shaking hands, he finds Miranda’s number and calls it.
“Come on, come on,” he whispers as he waits for her to pick up.
“You know not to call me when I’m with clients,” Miranda says in her raspy voice. “This better be something!”
“It’s that woman,” Bren whispers, “Ms. Witcher.”
“Is she dead? Is she bleeding?” asks Miranda. “Otherwise, I’m hanging up.”
“No,” says Bren, “but she’s saying things, asking me questions.”
“Oh, no, is she one of those clients who speak?” says Miranda. “Bye, Bren!”
Then she hangs up.
Bren puts the seat down and sits with his face in his hands. Then he hears the metallic song of a Japanese butcher knife being pulled out of a rose tree knife block.
“Bren? Why are you hiding, hmm? Did your mother like it when you played coy?”