Guilt Instinct

by Pravin Jeyaraj

Amy King approached the park entrance for the first time in six years. But this was not really of her own volition. Actually, she had been offered a choice but did not want any refusal to leave a blemish on her career record.

"I'll be honest with you, Amy," her boss had explained. "If you would be willing to take part, we could achieve a much-needed result at a lower cost."

Sure, she had been assured that any declension would not appear on her files. But it is her workmates who would remember that she allowed her personal life to interfere with the job.

I just wish there was another way, she thought.

* * *

"Look at him," whispered Rachel into Amy's ear. "Isn't he just gorgeous?"

Glancing in the direction indicated by Rachel's eyes, the 16-year-old Amy could do nothing but agree.

The object of their desire was creating quite a stir. The other girls in the class started to adjust their skirts (with subtlety) to reveal as much leg as possible, or play with loose strands of hair in a bid to look cute.

The new boy, Frank, did not seem interested in any of them. There were a lot of superficial smiles before he noticed Amy.

Did he just smile at me, she wondered? Did his eyes pop out when he looked in my direction? Surely, he would never be interested in me. Or would he...?

* * *

Amy's feet were killing her, despite the fact that she had had a lift here most of the way.

She hated wearing high heels, but she had to convince Frank that she really wanted to see him again after so long. That, a short skirt, and a low-cut boob tube were bound to captivate him, let him feel comfortable before she pounced, like a cat preying on a mouse.

The immediate vicinity was almost exactly as she remembered it. The Wham! posters on the street lamps had been replaced by Spice Girls posters. The strong red privacy-friendly phone box had been usurped by the new see-through type.

Why do I feel so guilty, she wondered, if everyone says I'm doing the right thing? I hope it's all a mistake. He doesn't know that anything is wrong.

Though Amy had not seen Frank for almost six years, she realized that she was still in love with him. No wonder her other relationships were mere flashes in the pan in comparison. Then, a horrible thought entered her mind.

What if Frank was the one?

* * *

"Isn't the night sky beautiful?" suggested Amy, feeling totally romantic and on top of the world. She snuggled close to Frank, as the two of them sat on the park bench gazing upwards.

"Yes," replied Frank. Amy loved the way he would answer a question, but never too much so as to spoil the moment. Not the only thing, mind you. There was, of course, the way he made her laugh, how he was only full of compliments, how he was always there. And then, there were his brown eyes, Mediterranean skin, short hair, and (unforgettably) sexy body.

She leaned over and kissed him on the lips. Frank reciprocated the action.

Whenever that happened, Amy's heart skipped quite a few beats. She had lost

count of the number of times she had died and gone to heaven, as he moved his lips sensually over hers.

He always pulled her against him so that she could feel the warmth of his body, while he simultaneously placed his mouth on hers. Lips often gave way to tongues. As the moonlight lovers lay on the bench, she knew he was enjoying it too. That was as far as they usually went.

But that night was different. The zipping sound was not part of the script but, after a year, it felt like she was doing the right thing.

* * *

A dark-haired, long-haired man, slim and bronzed, dressed in a Versace suit entered the park. Amy recognized Frank straightaway, but she wished that had not been the case. She felt inside her handbag to make sure everything was fine.

"It's really good to see you again, Amy." The two former lovers chatted about themselves, and all that had happened since they parted ways under less than friendly circumstances. Frank said he was not surprised by Amy's success as a model. Amy was worried about Frank's lack of success in love since the split.

That could only mean one thing, which turned this whole affair from bad to worse to sickening.

Before they could say "I love you," the two of them were kissing as if there were no tomorrow, their hands were all over each other.

"You know what, Amy," said Frank. "I don't know why we ever split up."

"I think it was something to do with our ideas for the future," replied Amy.

Frank said, "I can't believe I was so stupid. I still love you. I should have not been so selfish."

That was the first and last thing Amy wanted to hear. But she said, "I love you too, Frank."

Frank took her hand in his. "Then let us get back together, like before," he said.

As much as Amy wanted that, she had to decline. "I'm sorry, Frank. It just wouldn't work out."

"Why not?"

"Because our careers are not compatible. You are a dealer, I am - "

"I thought models do charlie all the time," Frank said. "That's why you wanted to meet me, isn't it?"

That was it, that was what she both wanted and did not want to hear. "Look, Frank, maybe it was not such a good idea us meeting like this," Amy said. "I'm going home."

"But why?" asked Frank. Amy had already risen, straightened her clothing and walked quickly away, leaving him behind with a confused look on his face.

"I am really sorry for lying to you," she apologized to Frank - silently, in her head. But it did not make her feel any better.

* * *

"You can do that?" The next time they met, the conversation took an unexpected turn and Frank looked at Amy as though she had just confessed to having a contagious disease.

"Why not?" she queried.

"Because of the conflict of interest. I want you to do well at whatever you do but I stand to lose a lot of clients. Just imagine what it would be like, saying that my girlfriend is a p- "

Amy interrupted him. "You don't have to say anything."

"Oh, and it's going to look really good for you when I get coppers knocking at my door."

"I won't say anything, either."

"Corrupted before you even started. I am sorry, Amy," Frank started to apologize. "I don't want you to gamble away your entire career, but I love you too much to deny you your destiny."

"What are saying, Frank?"

"I am saying that I think it's over between us." Amy could hardly believe what she was hearing. The guy that she had loved, and still did, for the last four years, was ending their relationship. She watched helplessly as Frank got up from the sofa and started to pack away his belongings in his suitcase.

* * *

"Amy, are you sure that you are up to all this?" asked her sergeant, sounding concerned.

"Ill be fine, sir," Amy said.

Dressed in her uniform, Amy led the other police officers up the stairs to the suspect's house. She rang the doorbell. After a few seconds, a dark-haired, long-haired man, slim and bronzed, opened the door.

A look of fear (or guilt) appeared on his face when he saw six or seven police officers on his doorstep. The fear was quickly replaced by a look of confusion. "What's going on?" he asked.

Amy showed Frank a piece of paper. "Frank Traviata, I am arresting you for supplying a Class A drug. You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say will be taken down and used as evidence."


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