Smart, like a slap to the face.
She suffered fools the way a cat strips feathers from a blackbird hauled indoors through the cat-flap.
When she spoke she held a man's attention, like a foot soldier's attention holds when the Field Marshall approaches down the line.
We'd met by chance, the kind of chance you'd have crossing Interstate 495 in rush hour wearing a blindfold.
It had to be a set-up, the kind of set-up Kasparov would only use on a fellow Grand Master.
I was suspicious obviously, the kind of suspicious a cop gets seeing a rucksack left on the subway.
But there was something about the dame I liked, something akin to the strawberry jam you find on top of Devon clotted cream on a warm scone that you hear about from Limeys.
Maybe it was the blue in her eyes, a blue you would normally only see in a mural when touring the Sistine Chapel?
Or was it that laugh that disarmed me like a Muhammad Ali left jab to my jaw?
Underneath I sensed a heart, albeit hidden the way an eye lens dropped in the Great Plains is hidden.
I managed to hold my nerve, the way a catcher holds a fastball from a Hall of Fame pitcher.
But inside I was shaking; palm trees in hurricane season shake less.
I was putty in her hands that day, putty moulded by a glazier after a bomb-blast.
She held me, not unlike ransomeware holds a bank database.
I knew if I stayed I would end up paying a price, a price only an Atlantic City loser would ever understand.
n.b. NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Twenty-Four prompt: Raymond Chandler similes.