You can tell that Herman hasn’t changed a thing since his wife had passed. The living room is a mishmash of pastel furniture with decorative throw pillows, dark-colored end tables with lace doilies underneath the table lamps, and a collection of religious paintings and quotes on the walls.
“Please, Kenny, make yourself at home,” the old-timer says and motions to the living room couch.
“Thank you,” I say and sit on the small, uncomfortable couch that has a gaudy-looking afghan draped over the top. The cushions screech at my weight.
“Would you like some coffee? I just brewed a pot.”
“That would be great.”
“Care for some cream, sugar?”
“I prefer mine black.” Just like my name.
While Herman’s tinkering around in the kitchen, I wonder why the hell I just accepted coffee from this stranger who may know more about me than I know about him. He could be slipping something into my steaming cup of coffee this very minute.
My mind begins to race. Did I even come over with a plan? That’s so unlike me. Just because he’s old, doesn’t mean he’s weak.
I’m relieved when Herman returns with a tray, containing a coffee pot and two empty mugs. He sets the tray on the coffee table and pours me a cup, than one for himself. He’s also drinking his black. I wait for him to take a sip, and then take a gulp from mine.
“So…you’re interested in my garden, huh?” he asks as I take a second gulp.
And then I realize my big mistake. Just because the coffee itself was fresh, doesn’t mean a thing. The poison could’ve been at the bottom of my cup all along!
Shit, Kenny, you’re losing your touch. Old-time criminals are old for a reason; they’re a lot smarter than you are, ya dumb bastard.
“What’s the matter, Kenny?” Herman asks.
My throat begins to tighten and my head feels heavy. It’s getting hard to breathe.