Another new story in response to a writing prompt. A shorter text this time, though. Feel free to leave comments.
Saturday night. A slow paced ordeal in this sleepy backwater town. A lazy rain raps listlessly at my window and the cheap coffee in my cup is too weak to keep anyone awake. Apart from the rain the only sound is made by the Freddie Mercury clock sitting on the wall, overlooking all.
The news pieces in today’s paper are old, having already taken several beats around the net before at long last reaching the printing press. I read them anyway, savor them, even. I am able to read subtle truths in the short notices that I can never find in modern crime novels. However, being in the know is probably the only perk that comes with having led my kind of life – especially since I decided to leave it all behind.
I have almost reconciled with this existence. It’s the price I have had to pay for breaking free of all the things that once weighed me down. That, and the disgrace of soon standing in front of a jury, testifying against my old allies. I just wish living within the federal witness protection program was not so goddamn boring.
The rapping of the raindrops on my window is suddenly accompanied by a far more substantial rapping on the door. Freddie Mercury looks just as surprised as I when I turn to him for an explanation. It’s almost midnight, and I expect no visitors. I seldom do nowadays. Slowly I fold my paper and walk towards the door to look through the peephole. I’m not really afraid of strangers, I don’t think the people who want to hurt me can find me here. But even so, the sight of the man outside the door makes me freeze. I know him very well. He knocks again. I open the door.
”I see you weren’t expecting me”, he says as he lets himself in.
I close the door. ”No, but I don’t see how it is logically possible that I weren’t.”
He is wearing a hooded sweater with its sleeves rolled up. His arms are covered in large, dark tattoos and his face in metal. He also has a huge tribal across his entire back, and an ugly scar disfigures his left thigh. I know this only because I had that very tribal tattoo painfully removed five months ago, and that old knife wound still pains me after long walks. The rain composes a monotonous backdrop to our silence as I stare at him. As he stares at me. Then he walks into my living room.
”So this is what I’ll sell everything out for? I don’t believe it…”
I stand in the doorway, watching him as he pulls out my books and scrutinizes my sparse furniture. ”It became too much. You will see in time.”
He looks up at me. ”No, I won’t. This will never happen.”
I shake my head. This young man has much to learn. ”How old are you? Eighteen?”
”Nineteen, actually”, he says and I suddenly remember getting that snakebite piercing on my birthday that very year.
I nod knowingly. ”Many things can happen in seven years. Feelings change. People change.”
”I won’t change”, he says. ”I refuse to change. I refuse to become… this.” He makes a gesture that encompasses the entire room, and it’s not until now that I realize that he is holding a gun.
I take a step back, but he reacts faster. I stare at the cold piece of metal in front of my eyes just as intently as he stares at me. Fear. All I can feel is fear now, and my entire body is starting to shake.
”They told me that I am going to rat on them. That they can’t let me into the organization for real because seven years from now, I will sell them out. Don’t you see that you have ruined everything? I’ll never be anything, and it’s all because of you!” He puts the gun to my face and forces me to my knees.
I almost cannot breathe, let alone speak. But still I force myself to say something between the panicky sobs. ”But… I am you. For fuck sake, can’t you see that? My choices are your goddam choices. You can’t be serious about this. Please…”
”They have given me one option, though. If I find you and whack you before you go to that fucking trial and ruin everything, they’ll let me in. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Nobody quits.”
I wonder who ”they” are. I wonder if this can really be happening. I wonder what will happen to me, to him, if he pulls the trigger. ”Fucking idiot”, I say as he readies the gun. ”Don’t you rea –”
The echo slowly dies. Only Freddie Mercury watches on in shocked silence as the impossible unfolds, but being a clock he will never be able to tell anyone. And the slow paced Saturday night wears on in that sleepy backwater town.