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News & Features » May 2017 » “Lena” by Preston Lang

“Lena” by Preston Lang

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Preston Lang pens a love letter to a mysterious paramour. 

Lena
by Preston Lang
Peckham, London, United Kingdom

My dear. My sweetest intimate. I long to be with you. We will touch with a profound fondness. You are the house of my soul. I count on you to send the funds so that we may be together—85,000 United States Dollars.
– Lena

House of my soul? William had invented that phrase. Of course, it was possible that the words had been shared throughout the land of 419, but it was not the first of William’s old pet expressions that Lena had used on him: the tender nibble of yearning; the fearsome palpitations of my bosom. In four years William had read through countless declarations of affection and promises of riches, searching for the one. Here it was at last: the love he’d been waiting for.

Lena wanted the money wired to London. So she’d left Nigeria—must be doing well. This was not surprising: William had to admit she had talent. She didn’t simply paste his old material into letters anymore. She tailored her writing to his interests and affinities—I too love reggae, fancy cheeses, and amusing animal GIFs. She flattered and shared dreams.

William promised her only 700 dollars. The truth was he could have sent 85,000. More, if need be. Maybe she was doing well, but William was doing better. Legit business in New York that allowed him to fly to Heathrow on a moment’s notice.

In a café across from Western Union, he sipped tea until Lena arrived with a scruffy, little beard. Lena—a sweet, feminine name for a big, devious man. Lena took the money and left, walking happily back along Peckham Road. William followed at a distance as Lena took a left then entered a small brick building. A minute later the third-floor corner flat lit up from inside.

While William waited across the street, Lena emailed again.

Thank you so much. But sadly, my love, this will only gain me a temporary reprieve. Disaster still stalks me. Please. I beg you. My sweetest cuddler. We must raise more capital.
– Lena

Five hours later Lena came out of the house dressed in a white martial arts outfit, carrying an athletic bag. Even without training he’d always been much stronger than William. It was likely now that he’d learned how to break windpipes, shatter kneecaps. William buzzed the fourth and fifth floors.

“Locked out. Let me in, mate?”

Up the stairs, third floor, corner. It had been a while, but William’s fingers were still nimble and lucky. With the right tools he beat three locks easily.

It was a small place—neat and well-furnished. In the back of the closet, under old clothes was a lockbox fused into the wall. Foolish Lena still only trusted cash-in-hand. It wasn’t hard to jimmy open, but a tinny, little alarm wailed as William reached in and gathered money—pounds, dollars, naira. William took it all and dashed down the stairs. A few heads poked out of doors, but no one stopped him as he hurried into the night.

I will always cherish your affection, but I have seen fit to take back my money and an additional 37,000 dollars from the lockbox in your closet. I hope you can forgive
me this. My love makes me act without reason.

He hoped Lena would understand how he’d been beaten. But William well knew that even the best scammers had baffling streaks of naiveté—No one could ever cheat me.

In the first class lounge with a scotch, William read:

My love. This is very confusing. Why has my money disappeared? What is your role in this? Please I am in dire needs.
– Lena

Damn you. Don’t you understand who has won?

After I taught you everything, took you into my home, treated you as a brother, you stole all I had. Now I go chop your dollar.

This, of course, should’ve made everything clear. But a week later, riding the elevator to the top floor of the Citicorp building:

My own kitten. Where is my money? I know you will return it. You would never intentionally hurt me. Darling, I know this is not you.
– Lena

***

PRESTON LANG lives in New York with his wife and daughter. His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Spinetingler, Near to the Knuckle, Betty Fedora, and Crime Syndicate. He has published three crime novels and also writes a monthly column for WebMD. For more go to Prestonlangbooks.com.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: May 15, 2017

Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , ,



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