Friday, April 16, 2021

Cash or Claret by Colin Ward

 His glare cut right through me as soon as I opened the door. Dark. Dead eyes.

The man was huge. Not tall, but wide. Solid.

He walked past me, even though neither of us had spoken a word. He was who I’d expected.

I followed him down the hall and into the kitchen. I indicated a chair at the small table. My hand was shaking from adrenaline.

He didn’t sit but drew a small pistol from his pocket, chambered a round, and clicked the safety off.

My heart stopped.

But he put the pistol on the table. Then he took out a mobile phone and held it up to me.

A man in silhouette was on screen.

‘Good to see you,’ the voice from the calls said.

I couldn’t speak.

‘By now, you should hear the police sirens, yes?’

Listening carefully, he was right. Distant, but getting closer. ‘I never called them. I promise. It wasn’t me.’

‘Pick up the gun,’ the voice said again.

‘Let me see my…’

‘The gun.’

I did as he said. Reaching slowly, terrified the stocky man might react. The gun felt heavy despite its small size.

‘They are coming for you,’ the face on the screen said.

‘I don’t understand.  What have I done?’

‘Murder.’

My mind was a fog, head spinning. The picture on the phone changed to a short, repeating GIFF. 

My wife tied to the same chair as before. The man stood next to her holding the knife to her throat. And with one cut…

‘I warned you,’ the voice said. ‘I always collect. Cash or Claret.’

My eyes raised to meet those of the man in front of me. The red mist came down.

I raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

© Colin Ward

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