A SPECK OF DUST - DAVID BARBER
Originally published at Thrillers, Killers ‘N’ Chillers on October 23, 2009
A mahogany table sat in the middle of the small room, coffee stains and scratches adorned the once polished surface. There was a chair on either side and I was seated in the one near the window, my rucksack on the floor by my feet. The one near the door was empty but would soon be filled by ‘Stilts’, the loan shark. His real name was Kelvin West, not a likeable character. He wasn’t a hard man, either, but he was a nasty fucker and whatever he wanted doing got done by his two henchmen, ‘Shorty’ and ‘Titch’. You see, though, and here’s the ironic part, ‘Shorty’ was six feet five and eighteen stone of pure muscle and ‘Titch’ was six feet three and twenty stone with fists like sledgehammers.
The door opened, a huge hand holding the tarnished brass door handle. The ugly, oversized head of Titch peered round the door.
“Stilts is on his way.” The door closed.
Wish he’d fucking hurry up, I thought to myself. The room stunk. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the smell was but it wasn’t pleasant.
The door opened again and closed shut. A shuffling of feet accompanied the top of the head I could see on the other side of the table. You guessed it, Stilts or Kelvin, was a midget. He climbed onto the chair opposite me, standing on it with his hands on the table and leaning forward. His suit was immaculate, Armani or Hugo Boss or something like that. The only good thing about sitting across from him was the welcome break from the stench in the room that his cologne masked.
“So, let’s get names out of the way. I’m Kelvin, more commonly known as Stilts.” His voice made me think of the times when I’d been at parties and sucked the helium out of the balloons on the tables.
“Erm, yeah, I know, your reputation precedes you. I’m Dave, Dave Preston.”
“Ok, Dave. Now that’s out of the way, what can I do for you?”
“I was hoping to borrow ten grand for a bit of business I’ve got coming my way.”
“I’d rather not say.”
“Ok, ok,” Stilts said, waving his stubby hands in the air. “None of my business, I know, I know. Well, I don’t know you and you’ve never had money from me before so here’s the deal. Ten grand, forty-eight hour turn-around and I get eleven back. If it’s business, then you’ll be making a tidy profit yourself, Dave.”
“What if I can’t have it back for you in that time? It may take a few more days than that. Can’t you just give it to me and I’ll have it back for you in a week or so? The deal’s not fully sorted yet.”
“Well, that’s not my fucking problem, is it, you lanky bastard? Don’t fuck me around, Dave. Ten grand, two days I’ve said and that’s final!” Pointing a little stubby finger at me, he continued, “You’re nothing to me. See that,” he pointed down at the table, “a speck of dust, you’re nothing but a speck of dust and I could have you wiped away as easy as that.” Stilts brushed his hand across the table then looked back at me, a smirk on his ugly face.
I stared at his oversized head sticking out of the starched, white shirt collar. How the fuck did he get away with all this bravado? I could’ve killed the little shit with both arms tied behind my back, if it wasn’t for the two ‘apes’ outside the closed door behind him.
“Look, Stilts, you’ll just have to put some extra interest on what I lend off you.”
“Don’t tell me what I’ll have to fucking do. You want this money or not? It ain’t my problem that your ‘deal’ ain’t ready yet. I loan you, I want it back. I always get my money back, but when I don’t, I get little pieces of you until you pay up.”
Stilts opened the drawer on his side of the table and pulled out five wads of notes and a small box. He looked at me and then took the lid off the box and emptied the contents onto the table. Fingers fell onto the surface, one of which, I noticed, left a bloody mark as it bounced.
“Ok, ok,” I said, “I’ll take the deal.” I leant down and picked up my rucksack, moving stuff around inside it.
“That’s better, Dave. It makes sense to stay on my good side. I don’t want to have to hurt you, you seem a decent chap ‘n’ all. Let’s just get this sort...”
I cut him short with the Glock I had in my hand.
“Don’t even think about shouting your gorillas. You know, Kelvin, you are one piece of shit and you’ve threatened the wrong person. I guess it’s you who’s ‘a speck of dust’ now.”
Stilts put his hands up just as I pulled the trigger. The bullet went though his right hand and straight into his face. The back of his head exploded onto the door behind him, a fraction before the force of the shot threw him backwards off the chair. The door flew open, pushing Stilts’ dead body like it was a little rag doll, and I fired off two shots, hitting Titch in the chest with both. His enormous frame fell backwards into the hallway. I heard the sound of running and ran to the door just in time to get another three rounds out of the gun, hitting Shorty in the back of the head, blood and skull exploding forwards as he fell to the ground.
“All bravado, ‘n’ no balls.”
I walked back into the room and picked up the money and the bloodied finger from the table. I put the money in the rucksack: Stilts wouldn’t be needing that any more.
“Nobody fucks with my family,” I said, putting my uncle’s finger in my pocket.
BIO: Manchester born and bred, but now living in Crieff, Scotland, with wife, Lisa, and his two daughters, Imogen & Melissa. Wrote some years ago but has recently been inspired to write again by an old and good friend (Col Bury) and the beauty that surrounds him up in Scotland. Always reading - when not entertaining his girls and working - crime and horror...and now writing. He has had a number of short and flash fiction published on Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers.
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