Ricky, taxi driver and part-time poker player, had been born with four teeth, blue eyes and a full head of hair the colour and texture of a baby-brush. However, his hair rapidly darkened and by the time he was fourteen it had begun to fall out.  Constant jibes from the other children at school had prompted him to have his head shaved, a style he had maintained ever since.  His face was roundish, and friendly, which tempted some of his contemporaries to bully him, but he was well built and after taking lessons in self-defence became more than capable of taking care of himself.

Ricky, at age 31, is a nice guy toughened by the experience of divorce.  He meets Esther on a return flight having won the World Poker Tour Championship event of 1992 in Las Vegas.  Richer by $2,000,000, he is in celebratory mood and asks her to join him in a glass of champagne.  They share a meal, and enjoy each other’s company throughout the remainder of the flight…

The first rays of sunshine peeped over the horizon as the plane made its approach to Heathrow Airport. “Look, the dawn,” said Ricky.

A suffusion of colour lifted over the skyline and, with all the magnificence and power its heat promises, the sun burst through the porthole, illuminating Esther’s face. Once again, Ricky was awestruck by the aura this beautiful, but seemingly vulnerable, woman gave off. The words, “God, you’re lovely,” came in a spontaneous rush.

Ricky’s heart leapt when Esther’s enquiring eyes found his. An emotion, so powerful it threatened to burst from him and embrace her, seemed to ignite his very being. His legs seemed paralysed and, for a sublime moment, he was overwhelmed. He blushed, and said, “I… I wasn’t thinking.  I didn’t mean to embarrass you. It’s just that… when the sunlight caught you… I thought…”

Esther smiled. “That’s okay,” she said kissing him lightly on the cheek. “What a nice welcome to a new day. You’re one of the nicest people I’ve met. I’ll never forget your kindness.”

For the first time since his divorce, Ricky was interested enough in a woman to find out more about her.’

Buy Splinters