A shriek of pain rips through his skull. He clenches his head and sits up in bed. This feels familiar, he thinks, I’ve been here before. But the bed feels clinical, starched. The sheets are hardly rumpled and a stark white. The view, though pleasant, is not his own. He opens the drawer of the night stand. A Gideon Bible. Definitely not his home. Inaudible to anyone else, screeching wails rise up inside of him, reverberating inside of his mind. He winces, a reflexive action. The white light emanating from outside is harsh and causes his eyes to water. He is at a hotel, he reasons. The Bible makes him certain. He sees next to an alarm clock a phone. He dials down.
“Good morning, Mr. Devlan,” a woman chirps on the other end. He slams the phone down. He does not remember any of this. He looks at himself and recognizes old rugby wounds, scars from surgeries, the chain his mother gave him with a medal of St. Christopher dangling down. “The patron saint of travelers,” she had clucked, giving it to him. What did she think? He was a school boy? He felt ridiculous wearing it, but for some reason, he felt inclined to do so.
Feeling like a fool, he rifles through the pages of the Gideon Bible. He’s not searching for answers per se, not of the religious persuasion anyway, but though he does not know what city he is in or how he got there, he does see some answers scribbled within the pages of the Bible. In his masculine scrawl, he sees the words”missed connections” and “dangerous heart”. “Missed connections?” he murmurs to himself. It sounds like something out of a personal ad. He thinks, and sure enough, on top of the desk is a folded-up newspaper. He reaches out and grabs it. Even more telling is the fact that it is folded to the personal ads section, but why would he be perusing the personal ads? It all feels so familiar.
Then, he sees an ad he circled: Lonely heart seeking dangerous heart. Missed connection. I saw you standing at the Hotel Napoleon holding an umbrella. You were smoking a cigarette. Tell me what color was your umbrella, and what was I holding? Rereading the ad feels like a riddle. Was he the lonely heart or the dangerous heart? Was he the one smoking the cigarette? He pulls on a pair of corduroys and pats down the pocket: his packet of cigarettes is safe in the back pocket. He yanks out the pack and sees quite a few missing. He doesn’t remember smoking them, but he doesn’t remember not smoking them either. He sees an umbrella drying in the corner of the room.
That’s when the woman strolls nonchalantly through the bathroom door into the bedroom. He sighs, content. This all feels so familiar. He lies back down on the bed, striking a casual pose. The woman is beautiful: dark hair, dark eyes, bold red lips. She is wearing nothing but a towel, and her skin looks like porcelain. She reminds him of the statues he had seen in art museums, every detail chiseled and perfect. He is busy examining her, a smile stretched lazily across his face. It all feels so familiar.
“Lonely heart seeking–” he doesn’t get the opportunity to finish the sentence. The words die in his throat when he sees the gun. He lets out a bubbling gurgle of breath as the bullet jams into his throat.
“Dangerous heart,” she completes his sentence, a smirk on her face. She takes the personal ads from his corpse and checks his ad off the list. Onto the next fella. It all feels so familiar.