Saturday, 14 June 2014
Excerpt From 'Serendipity'
Tap! Tap! Tap!
‘Ooh! What’s that?’ shrieked Anthea, snapping her head around to the window. There stood Nathan Potter on the balcony – pointing a handgun at them from the other side of the sliding glass door. One had the feeling that if he were applying for the job of Grim Reaper, his application would be successful.
Nathan pointed to the latch and nodded with a vicious smile. ‘Yes, that’s right – let me in or I’ll shoot you!’ that nod and vicious smile told them.
Anthea screamed as Edward hurried to release the latch. Nathan put his finger to his lips and pointed the gun at Anthea’s head. ‘Naughty, naughty!’ he mouthed, wagging an admonishing finger at her.
‘Edward slid the glass door open and Nathan stepped in.
‘Thanks, fatso – it’s brass monkeys out there!’ he said gratefully to Edward. Then he frowned and rested the gun gently against Edward’s temple.
‘Now – tell me about how sorry you are for ripping me off and how you are going to recompense me as soon as the banks are open!’
‘Nathan,’ quivered Edward, ‘I didn’t rip you off. It was Malcolm! He’s ripped me off, as well.’
‘Wrong answer,’ said Nathan pleasantly. ‘Try again.’
Nathan was 45 years old and desperately trying to live out his dream of the playboy millionaire. His money went a long way in attracting certain women, but that did not change who he essentially was. He was a life-long, self-loathing nerd with a hair transplant – and his designer clothes only served to accentuate this fact rather than conceal it.
‘Sh – sh – surely,’ pleaded Edward. ‘You noticed the bizarre change in Malcolm?’
‘What change?’ demanded Nathan. ‘He’s the same as ever! Stop trying to change the subject!’
‘He’s got religion like a nutter!’
‘Shut up!’ snapped Nathan. ‘Answer me one question, you slimebag, – and don’t prevaricate. Are you giving me one million pounds sterling in cash later this morning?’
‘Not later this morning,’ conceded Edward. ‘But just as soon as I regain control of my assets. Definitely – I promise you that. As you know Nathan – your money has always been in good hands with me.’
‘I’ll blow your assets off,’ Nathan assured him. ‘Now, why must I wait? Sounds ominous, that does. I’m not a particularly cynical guy – but what you’re saying to me sounds like just a tiny bit of a fob off. Now, listen Edward – if I ascertain that you’re not going to pay me back – I am so cross – I will shoot you. I know it’s irrational – but when I’m cross I do irrational things.’
‘Jake – what the hell’s going on?’ cried Anthea. ‘And why is he calling you “Edward”?’
Nathan looked over at her.
‘You’re a tasty bit of stuff,’ he informed her. ‘I wouldn’t mind a go on you myself once this is all cleared up. This just gets better! So he’s told you his name is “Jake”, huh?’
‘Who is he, then?’ said Anthea, scrutinising Edward with disdain.
‘Edward Noble – a back-stabbing con artist pighead whose just taken me for a million big ones – that’s who. Looks like he was about to do the same to you. Asked you to marry him tomorrow – isn’t that right? And you accepted.’
‘Yes, well he did appear to have a certain je ne sais quoi,’ Anthea explained. ‘He said he was unfeasibly rich.’
‘Listen Nathan and Anthea – it’s like this,’ started Edward. He decided to tell the truth and throw himself upon their mercy. ‘I signed everything over to my wife to protect my assets if everything went tits up.’
‘Ah! So you never did intend to pay me back!’ Nathan crowed triumphantly.
‘Please listen, Nathan. I was merely being cautious. Well, I returned home earlier today and I found her in bed with the gardener. They said that they were keeping everything and told me to get out. I came to London to secure a loan from Malcolm – but he said that the whole AAPU thing had simply been a ruse to teach us “sinners a lesson”. Bill Cheeseman is a convicted con man! We’ve all been had! The only way we can fight this is by joining forces! What do y’ say?’
‘Why did you lie to me, Edward?’
The name was said with menacing emphasis. Anthea was staring at Edward with hurt disillusionment.
‘Anthea – I needed you to help me get back what is rightfully mine!’ Edward declared. ‘Once I do – there’s a massive pay-day awaiting you, my darling! Will you help me?’
There was silence as Anthea continued to stare at him. Suddenly, with a movement so fast and powerful that Edward couldn’t move to avoid it – she picked up her glass and hurled it at him. It impacted painfully against his shoulder before smashing on the floor.
‘Rotten filthy liar! You’ve lied to me from the start and you’re still lying to me!’
‘Anthea – I’m not – believe me!’ Edward tried desperately. ‘Give me one more chance, please!’
‘No way! Get out – you’re uninstalled!’
Anthea turned away from him in a way that let Edward know that she had already cut him completely from her life.
Nathan pointed his gun at Edward. ‘I’ll uninstall the filthy pig!’ he said adamantly.
‘If you’re gonna kill him – do it in the street,’ said Anthea indifferently. ‘Have you any idea of the expense and trouble it takes to remove bloodstains from furniture?’
‘Sorry love – it’ll have to be here,’ Nathan apologised. ‘I don’t particularly want to appear on CCTV executing Noble. Tell you what – I’ll pay you 20 grand if you tell them that it was a burglary that went wrong.’
Anthea’s face shone with delight. ‘Okay! Besides – he’s a rotten shag. He deserves to die just for that!’
Edward couldn’t believe how utterly cold and callous Anthea was being. Okay, okay – so she wasn’t up there with the Dali Lama in terms of spiritual evolvement, he knew that. But to agree to permit his life to be snuffed out in return for blood money seemed symptomatic of how society was disengaging from itself. Edward wondered how many more there were like Anthea. Maybe the majority was like her. That meant that he rubbed shoulders daily with amoral soulless ghouls. That thought made him shudder. He had hoped that most, like him, would try and fight to preserve a life in such circumstances.
Actually, Nathan had never killed before and was struggling to do so now.
‘I’ll give you one more chance, Noble!’ he squeaked.
‘Come with me to see my wife, then!’ said Edward hopefully. ‘Demand the money from her! After all, she’s the greedy bitch who’s got it!’
‘One reason why not, Noble,’ sighed Nathan. ‘Because you are bullshitting me!’
‘Oh, thank God for the Flying Squad!’ shouted Edward, his eyes fixating so intensely on the window, that Nathan could not help but take a quick look to verify his claim. When he turned back a moment later, Edward was making like the wind for the door.
‘Oh no you don’t!’
The surfeit of adrenaline made it easy for Nathan to raise his gun and take aim at Edward’s fleeing back and to locate the trigger with his finger. Anthea instantaneously came out of the nonchalant dream-like state that had made her willing to be an accessory, by toxic default, to Edward’s murder. Her awareness of how ugly this all was drenched her consciousness. She grabbed Nathan’s wrist as he fired and the bullet plunged into the door. Edward screamed, thinking that he was dead: overlooking his contradictory actions of turning the door handle, throwing open the door, and launching himself into the corridor.
As Anthea and Nathan wrestled, the gun fired again – this time the bullet went through the ceiling. Nathan pulled the gun from Anthea’s grasp and shoved her back into a chair. He threaded the gun through his belt and covered it with his Miami Vice white jacket. Then he raced out after Edward.
Edward slammed hot-heeled down the corridor, alighted upon the top of the stairs, and projected himself downwards. He fell, bounced, and scrambled – crashing against the wall of each landing. Then – as if his feet were seared by a hot tin plate – he would levitate and descend full tilt to the next level.
Nathan was following in a similar fashion: he tumbled down the stairs helter-skelter behind Edward. Both men were evenly matched. Edward’s fervour to live was as strong as Nathan’s current fervour to extinguish his life.
Edward reached the front lobby, and as he scurried past the startled concierge, screamed, ‘Help me! Help me!’
He reached the door – flung it open – and was lost to the night. The concierge heard more clattering and heavy breathing from the stairs and Nathan appeared. He looked straight through the concierge, not appearing to register him at all. He got outside.Edward was nowhere to be seen.