Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Ties That Bind - #fridayflash

He had to hand it to her, she was a cool one all right. Sucking her cocktail through those peachy red lips, her breathing had remained level throughout his propositioning. When he dropped the bombshell, there was no slurping through the straw to betray any surprise.

"Seventy-five grand in all." He held his breath as he awaited her response. She lifted the small parasol from her collins class, bore it vertically between her eyes, tipped it to the horizontal and then opened it with what he thought was an element of vehemence. His first female of the species, he seemed destined to enjoy this one even more than normal.

"Fifteen now, here in the bag. Sixty more on completion."

She shut the parasol and held it bisecting her face as if she were presenting arms on a military parade ground. Her movements were a mixture of the stately and the honed.

"How am I gonna collect the sixty?"

"Also in the bag is the address of my bank. I'll have this here key to my safety deposit box on me when you rub me out. Just take the key and go collect the money."

"You could be stiffing me. The box could be empty."

Such a suspicious mind strangely put him at ease. When everything was only valued by green, he knew he was dealing with an outright professional. "So come after me then. Oh no wait, you can't, can you? You would've already killed me!"

"How can I collect from your box? The bank will be expecting a man from the keyholder's name won't they?"

"Initially that did pose me a conundrum. I had to invent a wife and make it a joint box. But she's dead to me now!" as he tapped his temple with pistol fingers.

There was a pregnant pause between these two strangers contracting to meet in the most intimate manner possible. Whereby one takes the life of the other.

"The only stipulation is that you do the deed on Friday the 22nd."

"Two days time huh?" She pursed her lips.

"You don't have any prior engagements do you?"

"There's the ballet. Ain't gonna pass it up, hottest tickets in town. Couple of scalpers handed them over to me. After I scalped them."

He brought the tips of his fingers together over his nose and inhaled. "Well that's not until the evening surely? You've got the daytime."

"I think one dying swan per day is enough don't you? Two would just be a profanity."

He sighed but then restored his gaze to confront her again. "Okay, guess it can wait a day or two, just not before is all."

"Why's that then?" as she rattled the ice around her empty glass with the straw.

"Oh it's all to do with various investment cycles coming to fruition. The only redemption left for me in my life."

"My sixty grand form part of that?"

"In a sense. It's ring-fenced, but I need the time to pick it up in cash and deposit it in the box."

"This doesn't smell right to me. You got all this money coming to you, and you want to check out for good? I don't buy it. Not for one moment."

"Call it guilt money. Blood money. Whatever you want. The price of trying to put things right."

"That so? Well my money better be in that box when I come calling for it, or I'll be persecuting you in Hell. I've got plenty connections I sent down there."

"The money will be in place."

"What does my broker say? Investments can go down as well as up?"

"Not in two days. Not to the extent to wipe out my funds. Even with another Wall Street Crash."

"You're gold plated huh?

He could not help himself but laugh. Damn she was going to leave a hole in the world. Aesthetically as well as her winning personality. But she was about to lose perhaps for the first time in her life. Since she was to be his next victim. And the brilliance of his game plan, is that he summoned his victims to come to him. On an appointed date, or soon after, where he was lying in wait for them. What better series than those of trained killers themselves? He liked to test himself against the best, albeit with a slight edge. It would put him at the top of the profession, the serial killer's serial killer. With the added bonus that once the cops start investigating the victim for clues to motive, they soon quietly let the case drop and think themselves fortunate that's there's one less killer on the loose. It was an impeccable scheme.

As evening drew a bead on the 21st, she let herself out of his house. His face, when he righted himself from emptying his washing machine and saw her at the kitchen window! How she revelled in the range of emotions that played across his countenance in quickfire succession; from surprise, to confusion, to disgust and anger then fear. A bullet to the temple through the glass wiped the slate clean of all of such hollow expressions. She idly fingered the safety deposit key and wondered whether the money would really be there. Psychopathic as he evidently had been, she doubted that his monstrous ego would permit him to stake against himself by offering a prize. He never would have assumed anyone would see him for what he was. But then he also never imagined that hit-men sometimes hit on hit-women and they get hitched. So when her beloved husband didn't come home from an assignment, whose weird details he had shared with her in bed two days before he disappeared, naturally she would engage her talents in tracking down his grisly fate. And then utilise her skills in gaining revenge. For she and her husband were merely sociopaths. They still retained one foot in this world and the other in the ties that bind.

36 comments:

Aislinn O'Connor said...

Wow - every time I thought I'dd understood what was going on, another twist wrong-footed me!

Great story, Marc - seems even some serial killers can have family values, of a sort... :-)

Carrie said...

A vicious circle. Favorite line had to be "Couple of scalpers handed them over to me. After I scalped them."

Ha.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Ohhhh I like this! I figured she was going to kill him first but I had no idea why! Very awesome.

Marisa Birns said...

Really, really excellent story. Absolutely loved the dialogue.

"I think one dying swan per day is enough don't you? Two would just be a profanity." is just wonderful!

Sulci Collective said...

You know something Marisa? I was really in two minds about the final line of this piece. I wanted to add "now she could look forward to the ballet tomorrow" but ummed and ahhh'd over it and left it out in the end. Only because I felt the last line ought to clarify the title.

Thanks for your lovely comment

marc

ThomG said...

So many twists and turns in this. And interesting read, to be sure.

Laura Eno said...

Nice twisting circle, Marc! I like values in a hitwoman. ;)

Marisa Birns said...

Marc, I think you ended the story with the best line. Not only does it clarify the title, but it gives an added punch to the sentence preceding.

Though your original last sentence was amusing.! :)

L'Aussie said...

I especially like 'But then he also never imagined that hit-men sometimes hit on hit-women and they get hitched.' Great twists..:)

Thanks for commenting on my story and for the RT..:)

John Wiswell said...

This one twisted almost as much plot-wise as semantic-wise. A good application for your style, Mr. Nash.

G.P. Ching said...

This had everything. Intriguing tale, funny with ample twists and turns. I enjoyed it.

Linda said...

Fabu, Marc. I had to read twice, and carefully, to make sure I had the double-crossing right, so much intrigue here. Of course, I kept dallying in the dialogue, which is superb. Also a huge fan of the line of swans a dying and profanities. A ten. Peace...

J. M. Strother said...

Ooh, I liked this. Nicely woven web here, Marc.
~jon

Eric J. Krause said...

Some great lines in this one. He certainly underestimated her and his abilities. Good story!

Bukowski's Basement said...

Marc: This one was super fierce. The twists. The turns. Well done, sir!

brainhaze said...

So many twists in this I felt like I was on a rollercoaster - great stuff. You have a very unique way of writing :)

Laurita said...

This is full of tension right from the first lines. A delicios mental game of cat and mouse. Well done.

David G Shrock said...

Every time I thought I knew where this was going, it would angle off in a different direction. I had to read close, so much good weaving here.

pegjet said...

Never understimate a hit-woman. Egos always interfere.

Fantastic twists in this one.

daniellelapaglia said...

Nice job, Marc. I love the extra twists in this one and the dialogue was fantastic.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Whoa, you gave me whiplash - excellent plot! I love this idea of hit man & woman getting together - it would be insane! What an excellent flash!!

ladyscribbles said...

Marc ~ This is a truly excellent piece of writing. My only concern is - where on earth can you go from here?! The dialogue is witty, the tale twists and turns and the back story is drip-fed to us beautifully. Well done!! ~ Hazel

jdanetyler said...

That's great. Love the way the hit-woman did her thing. Set him up just right. Great job on the pacing in this, too. Keeps the reader reined in until the reveal.

Good stuff!

Pamila Payne said...

I love that he got it while doing laundry. That was some kind of poetic justice. As others have said, very twisty. Great flash.

Anonymous said...

(I really want to write a last line that befuddles & doesn't tie in or even mean anything at all) having said that - this was a hoot to read! I was totally confused the whole way through & had to really concentrate to keep up - you git! Expert twisting & I think the unloading washing machine was a masterly touch.
Pen

Sulci Collective said...

Well such negotiations can be very baroque Pen (I imagine...)

Lilian said...

Brilliant to get so much into such a short piece. Loved this Marc.
xx

estrella05azul said...

By the end I finally understood it all :) Loved the many twists and turns, your writing is excellent throughout!

mazzz in Leeds said...

Ha - good twist!

"There was a pregnant pause between these two strangers contracting to meet in the most intimate manner possible. Whereby one takes the life of the other." I think you could leave the "Whereby..." part off and have just as much effect, perhaps more.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Marc, wow, that just blew me away.
The pacing was breakneck and engrossing. I followed along almost breathlessly. The writing is so intelligent but not so much that I couldn't comprehend. You have taken a plot line that I have read many times and made it your own, made it exquisite.
Congratulations, my friend, that was awesome.

Valerie said...

Good tale. I wonder if it would have been stronger if it ended in action instead of exposition, though. Having everything just explained like that left me a little distant from the scene. Even so, good characters and a nice twist.

Heather Lloyd said...

Captivating and enjoyable to read - murderers have featured in countless Friday flash stories but probably never before with such panache and great literary style

Jason Coggins said...

Its an education in the craft reading your stories each week. The dialogue in this one is razor sharp, cheers.

Clive Martyn said...

Nice twist :) liked it. Well done.

Kemari said...

This was great. Love that twist. I am a big fan of stories where killers kill each other.

Tomara Armstrong said...

A twist on a twist.. clever, clever :-)

I really enjoyed it,
~2