Victor Rams met Nadia one summer afternoon on a Greek island.
Nadia was only fifteen. But that didn’t matter to Victor Rams.
He had a lot of money — clearly — and on that particular day was wearing a white silk tussore suit and polished two-tone saddle shoes.
Nadia was browning her back in the sun on a colorful blanket. The straps of her black bikini top lay at her elbows in the hot sand.
She had come to the island with her brother, Vikram. Vikram ignored her; he was interested only in Greek girlfriends.
Their mother was Indian; their father, British. They’d both stayed behind in London.
Nadia was bored in Greece. She hadn’t made any friends. She didn’t go dancing in the discos — or, if she did, she remained cool, unimpressed by the noise and laughter.
People seemed to avoid her, especially the boys — although she was beautiful. Maybe it was something in her gaze.
Victor saw her on the beach, browning her back in the sun though she was already deeply bronzed. She didn’t notice him. Her eyes were shut. Maybe she was asleep.
Later he saw her sipping Coke in a dismal little cafe. He approached her. She swung her bare legs, lazily.
And her eyes looked at him. Victor sat down at the table. He smiled at her. She said:
-Take off your shades, won’t you?
He did. He put them on the table. They looked at each other. The waitress came over. Victor ordered an ouzo.
It seemed to him that his desire for Nadia heightened everything and that he would remember every single detail of this afternoon — the cafe, the cheap posters, the cane chairs, the metal topped table — along with the shape of Nadia’s scowling lips, forever.
As dusk fell, as the sun sank into the Ionian sea, Victor was looking at Nadia’s ear and at the dark hair curled behind it and feeling extremely drunk, when her voice said:
-Have you ever wanted to kill someone?
Victor said he had.
-No, she said, not someone you know. Just pick someone, for no reason in particular, then stalk and kill him. Or her.
They sat in silence watching groups of people wander past. Some were on their way to discos, some to bars and cafes, and some were just coming back from the beach.
Victor licked his lips. Finally, he said under his breath, as if exclaiming only for his own benefit:
–Quelle idee! (What an idea!)
His voice suffused with raw admiration.
-Want to try it? Nadia asked.
-Why not, Victor said. Who?
They were silent. Two Greek men walked past holding hands. Then a bare breasted girl in sandals and a red skirt.
-Anyone at all, Nadia said, shrugging. It doesn’t matter.