Revenge – Part I

by Gaston Prereth

The shadowy figure held out a callused palm and gave birth to a small yellow flame.  It was no brighter than a candle and, as he held his hand up to his mouth, it wavered and fluttered in the evening breeze like any earthly fire would.  Colin eyed the dark bulk with unease as he watched the man bend his face to the flame and light his crumpled cigarette.

“If you want me to do the girl too, it’ll cost you another twenty.” Said the man through the corner of his mouth, as the flame took hold of the small white cylinder. Colin could see the creased lines of the man’s face and the rough cut stubble that crowded in clumps around his shovel shaped chin, but he couldn’t form a complete picture of what he must look like.  Despite his size he felt like a silhouette or, perhaps, an echo of a man.

“Twenty? You can’t possibly…”  The man dropped his hand, the flame extinguishing as quickly as it had appeared, and let out a long stream of smoke towards Colin.  The alleyway was cold but, as the man looked at him with his dark blank eyes, the temperature seemed to drop still further and Colin felt the hairs on his arms stand to attention like a thousand alert halberdiers.

“Killing is an expensive business.  It ain’t like buying a whore. You can’t just forget about it after the deeds been done.  I’ll have people after me. I’ll have to cover my tracks for who knows how long.  That costs money.  If you want the girl done too, it’ll be twenty thousand more.”

“But she’s just a little girl, she’ll be easy.”

“You ever killed anyone?” said the man in a flat mud like tone. “It’s never easy, but the hardest ones are the defenceless.  I ain’t got much time for talks on good and evil, and I ain’t religious, but I’d call any man a liar if he says killing a child is as easy as killing a well-trained soldier. So, both or just the guy?”

Colin swallowed, feeling a thick lump of mucus sink down his throat, adding itself to his already confused assortment of stomach fluids. He’d always known he’d need to remove both of them.  Just removing the traitorous shit wouldn’t be enough to pay for what he did.  They both deserved to die for his sins.  That had been why he had waited so long, hadn’t it?

“Both” said Colin.  He could feel his shoulders stiffen with the decision that was really no decision at all.  Tomorrow the bastard and his little pride and joy would be nothing more than rotting flesh.  Colin stared back at the man standing before him, looking for a reaction, but he got none.  The huge brute took another drag on his dwindling cigarette and nodded like a child agreeing to the unheard words of its mother.  The simplicity of it all made a knot twist tighter in Colin’s stomach.  It was too easy.  That bastard had probably not even given it a second thought.  He’d just have handed his money over and forgotten about it, but this dark man was right, killing was never over that quickly.  There were always repercussions. The juices of hate and loathing sloshed inside him.  He would have his blood. He would have his revenge and, by God, it would be sweet.

“Any preference on how?” asked the man after another long drag on his cigarette. Colin shook his head, his mouth felt dry.  He didn’t care.  His mind was only occupied with how good it would feel tomorrow, when he was free of all the hate and bile that had built up in his gut over the last four years. “Some punters like to be specific.” said the man with a shrug.  His voice had changed, the pitch raising an octave as if he was trying to make himself heard to someone walking away.

The alleyway fell into a stagnant silence for a moment; even the wind coasted soundlessly passed them.  Colin tapped his hand against the heavy purse concealed beneath his clothes, his fingers feeling the weight with greed.  Such little weight for one life, but only enough for one.  Colin glanced back over his shoulder and licked his lips.  His voice broke the silence, dry and crackling like a freshly stoked fire.

“I’ve only got twenty thousand on me, I was told that that was how much it would cost.  I can get the other twenty for you tomorrow, no problem.  I’ve got the money, but I just didn’t think I’d need it.”

“It’s forty for both.  You ain’t got it now; they live another day.”

“But it needs to be tonight, they’re leaving… look I’ve got the money. It’s no problem, I’ll have it to you first thing.”

“All up front. I don’t take life on a promise.”

“On my honour…” the man reacted with such snake like speed that Colin wasn’t aware of any movement until he could taste the stench of the man’s smoke tarnished breath.  The assassin had his hand around Colin’s jerkin, twisting it tight around his neck, and pulling Colin forward towards his stone clad face.  Blue sparks snapped along the man’s muscular arms and the air grew thick like oil.

“You have no honour you pitiful little shit.  You pay others to do your own dirty work.  Your honour, your word, your life means nothing to me.  You’re lucky that I know I could get a good price for you, or I’d have killed you for even trying that talk.”

“I’ll get it, I’ll get it tonight.” said Colin, feeling his bladder trying to squeeze a river down his leg, but his body was too tense to let the liquid flow.  “If you come back to mine now, I can give you all forty.”

“No.” said the man, his voice had sunk back into the murky depths and lacked the anger that had been burning so brightly in it only a moment before.  “I can’t be seen with you.  Bring it to the Devil’s eyes at midnight.  No one will dare go near that place after dark.”  Colin’s eyes widened as the man ground his cigarette into the wall. “If the money is all there, they’ll be dead by dawn.”

The final words were too tempting.

Colin, without a word, nodded and scurried out of the alley and back home.  If his retreating back had had eyes, it would have seen a broad grin sweep across the dark man’s weathered face, but it did not and all Colin could think about, as his legs sped him down the dark road, was how soon this would all be over and he would be free.

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