Mr. Stoneyheart ran a big business empire. Because of the difficult economic times, he had been forced to make hard decisions lately, cutting back in some areas, even having to sell off certain branches of his operations. In particular, real estate was badly hit, prices had fallen and there were fewer customers interested in either buying or renting. The one bright spot as far properties were concerned was those such as Empire Gardens, which catered to the less fortunate. On the other hand his pawn shops were doing fairly well. Mr. Stoneyheart believed in diversifying.
After a particularly difficult day Mr. Stoneyheart decided he deserved a night out on the town. He began at his favourite club, Bogart’s, where he sat and planned out the rest of his evening. He was looking for companionship, someone to take his mind off his worries.
Once dinner was finished Mr. Stoneyheart took to the dance floor, but after a while he became rather bored and left. He continued on, going from place to place, listening to the music, dancing, socializing, but he was restless, never finding quite what he wanted. While wandering from sim to sim he spotted a poster with the words “Red Hot Martini” emblazoned across the top. Perched on the rim of a large martini glass was a beautiful blonde avatar, gazing out provocatively at the viewer. Next to her was a flaming match, but its heat could not match the intensity of her gaze. Mr. Stoneyheart was transfixed. None of the women he met that night could drive that image from his mind.
Around 3 am Mr. Stoneyheart decided to call it a night and return home. While walking the lonely streets of a darkened sim he passed a diner, empty except for a solitary figure sitting at the counter and looking utterly desolate. Mr. Stoneyheart could not believe his eyes. It was the young woman from the poster! What could she be doing there, all by herself, in such stark surroundings? This was not the kind of place for such a gorgeous woman; she should have been out in a fancy club, surrounded by admirers, laughing, dancing, the center of attention.
Mr. Stoneyheart decided to go in. He entered the restaurant and began walking towards where the girl was seated. Hearing his footsteps she looked up and he could see that she had been crying. Not wishing to frighten her off he stopped and spoke quietly to her.
“Hello, looks kind of lonely here, do you mind if I join you?”
“No, that’s ok, I’ll be leaving in a moment anyway” she answered.
“No one here serving?” Mr. Stoneyheart asked.
“They left a long time ago, I just wanted to come and sit down and be by myself” the girl replied wearily.
“It’s rather chilly, why don’t I get us some coffee” Mr. Stoneyheart offered.
The woman shrugged and looked down at her hands. She appeared utterly exhausted.
Mr. Stoneyheart poured a couple of mugs of coffee and brought them over to where she was seated. He sat down next to her and put a mug in front of her. She silently reached out and took hold of it, cupping her hands around it.
“My name is Mercy. What’s yours?”
“Nice to meet you Gloria”
She didn’t respond, just took a sip of coffee.
“I hope you don’t think I’m intruding, but you look upset. Is there anything I can do to help?”
She shook her head and the tears began to fall. Mr. Stoneyheart gave her his handkerchief but didn’t say anything.
Eventually she stopped crying and began to tell him her story.
“I discovered my boyfriend was cheating on me. I began to suspect something was going on because when we would IM he was often slow to respond and sometimes seemed distracted, as if he was having a conversation with someone else. Then he began to mention sims we had never been to together, as if he was familiar with them. I logged on one day when he wasn’t expecting me and I caught him with another avatar! He swore up and down that there was nothing going on, they just happened to be talking with each other when I appeared but he didn’t know her. Then one night we were at a party and who should be there but that woman. He said it was just a coincidence but later on I caught them off in a corner, slow dancing. We had a big argument and I left. I dropped him from my friends’ list and my access list and haven’t seen him since.” She started to cry again.
Mr. Stoneyheart remained silent for a little while, until Gloria calmed down a bit. Then he said “What a terrible story. I don’t know how anyone could do something like that to you.”
“It was just awful.”
“Yes, it must have been.”
And they continued their conversation, Mr. Stoneyheart gently talking to Gloria about this and that, until she began to come out of her shell a bit and tell him about her life. Gloria was a very successful model who hoped one day to become a designer and open her own shop. She had dreams of eventually opening a whole chain of shops across the grid. Mr. Stoneyheart told her a bit about his businesses, but mostly kept the conversation about her. He could be quite charming and persuasive and after a little while Gloria relaxed and grew comfortable with him. For his part, Mr. Stoneyheart was entranced by this beautiful creature and couldn’t take his eyes off her. They remained in the diner for quite a while until they suddenly realized the time.
Gloria looked up at him and smiled shyly. She stood up and said “Thank you, Mercy. I feel so much better now.”
He said “Good, good. I’m so pleased to see you smiling.” Mr. Stoneyheart continued “Why don’t we go back to my home for a bit and have a good night drink.” At first Gloria demurred but then thought “Why not, he has been so nice to me, not like some of those others” and they found themselves back at Mr. Stoneyheart’s mansion, sitting cosily in the study, having a nightcap.
They talked quietly for a while longer, getting to know each other. Gloria began to walk around the room, commenting on the books and artworks that Mr. Stoneyheart had scattered about. She stopped at the window and looked out at the rising sun. When Gloria turned around to say something she found herself looking up at Mr. Stoneyheart. He held her close and began to kiss her.
Gloria murmured “Oh, Mercy …..”
My thanks to Boye Jervil for his picture of Mr. Stoneyheart at Bogart’s.
All other photographs taken at Art Box.