Ling's was at the edge of the desert. Wild dogs barked and scampered across the dusty road. Skoda pulled into the parking lot and moved inside. It was the one place on the island that never ceased to surprise him. The cool gloaming of the room, with its faint perfumes of the Orient, felt like a mirage, a dreamed shipwreck.
She was at a table at the back of the room, a bereft glass in front of her. The owner gave Skoda a nod and quickly produced a Heineken.
"I didn't know why you wanted us to meet here," she said.
"It's the only place where I wanted us to meet."
The woman looked down into her glass. "I'm only going to ask this once. What happened to Patrice?"
Skoda paused. "Many people fall in love with the sea. Me, I've loved the sea all my life. Then I fell in love with the desert."
"You fell in love with Patrice as well."
"As did you."
"She was not yours to kill."
Skoda sipped his beer. "She was making questionable moves."
The woman's eyes narrowed. "I could say the same thing about you."
"I do what I'm told."
"Why would you listen to Van Es?"
"Because he pays the bills."
The woman pushed back from the table and reached into her purse. "Here's one that's overdue." The bullet hit Skoda between the eyes. In the moment of death, he saw the face of another beautiful woman, with the same look of defiant contempt as he pushed her off a limestone cliff into the pulsing rage of the sea.
29 March 2015