That Afternoon

 (This is a re-write of a previous story.)

It was nine o’clock on a Friday night and I was holed up in my office trying not to think about how badly things had gone earlier that afternoon. It wasn’t as though I had any choice in how things had turned out. I was in a crappy situation and I ran, what else could I do?

The rain pounded on the windows like a million tiny hammers. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hear him come in.

“It says on the door that you’re Dirck Smythe. That true?”

I looked up from my desk where I’d been concentrating on polishing off a bottle of whiskey. He stood in the doorway dripping water from his expensive suit. He was a skinny guy with greased back hair, a pencil thin moustache and tiny eyes that were squinting at me in the dim light. What caught my attention though was the big .45 he had pointed at my chest. I shook a little from being surprised but didn’t spill a drop as I finished pouring my drink.

“Who’s asking?” I growled. I downed the whiskey in my glass and set down the bottle.

“Look fella, you Smythe or not?”

I leaned back in my chair and steepled my fingers in front of my chest. I was pretty sure who sent this thug. I was also pretty sure what the message was going to be.

“Mind if I light one?”

“Yeah, sure, why not?”

I reached for the pack of coffin nails on the desk beside my lighter. As I pulled one out and lit it up I briefly toyed with the idea of tossing the lighter at him. No good. He’d just shoot me. I thought of something else. I motioned to the chair on the other side of the desk.

“Take a load off. If you smoke yours must be soaked, want one?”

I held the pack out to him. He was no dummy. He didn’t take the bait.

“Put it down, I’ll get my own.”

He took a couple of steps, grabbed the pack and lighter off the desk and sat himself in the chair. I sat back again watching him light one up, using his left hand. The gun never wavered from my chest.

“I’m guessing you are Smythe and that you know what this is about.”

“I am and I do,” I confessed.

“Boss says this isn’t personal, it’s just business. If things had gone any other way this afternoon I wouldn’t be here.”

“That makes me feel a whole lot better,” I said as sarcastically as I could.

“He also wants you to know that he’s in the process of tracking down the other parties involved so they can be dealt with. He also wanted me to hear you say what you did. So we’re clear on why I’m here. Go ahead.”

I’d had enough. Sure this afternoon’s fiasco was nothing to be proud of but it wasn’t exactly my fault. I stubbed out my smoke on the arm of my chair. I sat forward and slammed my hands on the desk and looked the thug in the eyes.

“Look, I know this afternoon was a tragedy and all but I’m not to blame!”

He sat forward locking his gaze with mine.

“I wasn’t there so why don’t you tell me what happened?”

“Alright! I was in the restaurant to meet a client. It was a set up. The client’s thugs started shooting. I dove for cover and bumped into your boss’s son. He swallowed something and choked. That’s all I know. What was I supposed to do, stand there and get shot?”

“The Doc says that he swallowed his toothpick which lodged in his throat and caused him to exsanguinate. You know what that means? He died choking on his own blood in his father’s arms. Boss sees this as your fault, Mr. Dirk Smythe.”

As he finished his sentence I saw the edges of his eyes tighten a little and knew he was about to pull the trigger. That’s when my secretary Remona walked in on us. She is the kind of girl a guy just can’t help but look at. Remona has long gorgeous legs, a narrow waist, a great pair of emerald green eyes and long blonde hair. He turned his head slightly when she came in and his eyes went wide. He never saw the whiskey bottle coming. I slammed it into the side of his head knocking him out cold.

I went around the desk and grabbed the .45 and his still smoldering cigarette. I wondered what to do as I stood over him smoking it. Killing him was out of the question; I’d done enough killing for one day. Pocketing the gun and grabbing my jacket and Remona I thought that now might be a good time for us to take a vacation. We went out the door into the rainy night, headed for the bus station and parts unknown.



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