The Tuna Hunter Ch.2 “The Contract “

Posted on December 25, 2008

2. THE CONTRACT

The light in the dingy room was subdued, coming as it was from a single dim bulb that hung precariously from a cracked light fitting. The room was sparsely furnished, with an old desk, a few decrepit chairs that looked as if they had been used in a bar room brawl, and a dusty, rusting filing cabinet. There was no carpet, and even the floorboards were cracked and moldy. The floodlights on the harbor quay outside did their best to add some light, battling with a miserable, drizzling rain, and a dark, moonless night. One of the window panes was cracked, and the steady drip of a leaking drain pipe quietly invaded the silent room.

There were five men either sitting in the tired armchairs, or leaning against the wall. Three of them smoked, one obviously nervously. Nobody spoke.
One chair was conspicuously empty, and it faced the desk. Four men were arranged around the vacant seat in such a way that it promised to be the focal point. The fifth man, the nervous one, florid, expensively dressed, sat behind the desk. He frequently mopped at his forehead with a white silk handkerchief. Nobody else moved.

The telephone rang shrilly, almost obscenely, and the nervous one practically suffered a stroke on the spot. He grabbed the receiver off the hook, paused, composed himself with a superhuman effort, and managed a fairly tight ‘Yes?’. Some words were spoken at the other end. The others in the room could not make out what was said, but they guessed the content. The nervous one replaced the receiver, mopped his forehead again, and announced quietly: “He’s coming… ”
Once again, silence returned, but one could sense a heightened air of anticipation. The nervous one caught himself drumming his fingers on the desk, and forced himself to stop. He wanted to impress his men with how cool he was, and how much into the big time of things he had gotten. The leaking drain pipe took over the accompaniment where he left off, and the steady drip continued once again as the only sound.

A few minutes later, foot steps could be heard on the creaking stairs. The handle on the door turned slowly, and two very large men in long raincoats entered. One, carrying a small black brief case, sat down in the vacant chair, whilst the other assumed a position behind his left shoulder. Still not a word had been spoken, and no greeting intimated by either gesture or speech.
It was the nervous one who broke the silence first. He was ill at ease.
“As agreed… ”
His hand trembled as he reached into his inside pocket, and produced a large, bulging envelope.
“Expenses and up-front money… ”
He handed it across to the newly arrived occupant of the chair in front of him, who accepted the package without comment. There was a click as the small briefcase opened, and then another as it shut. The silence returned, with the steady drip the sole player once more.
Nobody moved.
Once again it was the nervous one who broke the silence. This was the moment he had been expecting. The moment he could make a little speech, to impress his men that they were no longer small-time fraudsters. They were up in the super league now, where millions counted as mere pocket money.
“And if I may say… ” He coughed nervously.
“We all feel… ”
The white silk handkerchief came out again.
“As you will be leaving tomorrow… ”
Suddenly all his lines were lost. The silent mountain in front of him unnerved him. His carefully prepared speech seemed futile, and a sudden inexplicable rage against this figure welled up inside him. The words were out before he could stop himself.
“Dammit, man, I just hope you know how much is riding on this… ”
There was no response, and he plunged on recklessly:
“My clients are not men to be trifled with! We’re talking millions of dollars here! Just remember… ”
His voice trailed away, as the head in front of him moved very slightly. The light fell clearly on the granite jaw, and the grotesquely broken nose. The nervous one stopped in his tracks, and watched, transfixed, as the solid jaw moved, and the thin lips pulled back into a mirthless smile. The lips parted, and white teeth flashed for an instant. But there was no warmth.
The voice, when it came, was soft, almost sibilant.
“Goodnight, gentlemen… ”

The two newcomers left quietly, leaving the room in silence. The steady drip seemed louder.

“My word! “, the nervous one sighed at last.
He shivered, vaguely aware that he had failed to come across anywhere near as tough as he would have liked.
He looked at the others, as if for support.

“He’s actually looking forward to it. I swear. He’s going to kill twelve men and enjoy every second of it… ”

F.M.
(c)

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on December 25, 2008, 11:07 am


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