He closed the heavy door behind him as he left the grand house on Westbourne Terrace. It had become too late to catch a bus and anyway, it was still warm enough to walk. After midnight, London was at its most beautiful. Wide roads, which in other cities would have been called “Avenues” or “Boulevards”, but almost no traffic. Beautiful buildings with lights shining at them, and no people who ran into him when he paused his steps to take in the view. It was quiet, or as quiet as a metropolis of 8 million people could get, and the air felt almost fresh.
The date, their fourth one, had gone well. She was lovely to talk to. They had both enjoyed the film, but not too much to be totally consumed by it. The more intimate part of the evening, which we shan’t describe out of a protective feeling towards the uncorrupted minds of our youthful readers, had also gone well. He had enjoyed the ice cream which she had prepared. Girls who didn’t forget to add strawberries when serving ice cream were good girls. Good girls were rare, at least he had rarely met one in the 22 years of his life.
All the more he felt sad about how it had ended. Very messy. There wouldn’t be a fifth date.
“Why do people force me to make promises?” he wondered. “What is the value of such a promise?” But he knew that it was also his fault, and sharing it would not diminish it the least. Why was he so obsessed with sincerity, with keeping his word? At times he was proud of this character trait, at other times it felt like a burden which prevented him from leading a normal life. Others seemed to function perfectly fine despite breaking their promises. He couldn’t. And by now, it was too late to change. Not only because of tonight.
He had meanwhile walked past Paddington Station, which at this time of night was a sleeping behemoth of brick and steel and glass, only intermittently oozing with short bursts of smoke or steam from its various orifices. “Why did she have to insist like crazy that I promise to stay with her for the rest of her life?” he wondered as he ditched the knife, still seeping blood, into Paddington Canal.