Chapter 3

Written by: Ray Stone

Stevenson rested his free hand on top of the large envelope to stop his fingers trembling and half smiled as the cop handed his driving licence back. As he placed the licence back in his jacket pocket he felt the bulge of the Saturday night special against his chest and took a deep nervous breath before exhaling slowly. If necessary he would use the gun but knew if he did the plan was finished and ‘the man’ would be after getting his twenty thousand back instead of a key worth considerably more. He froze momentarily as the cop reached in and tapped his shoulder.

“Taillight needs fixing. Get it fixed buddy and drive carefully.”

 Stevenson nodded and cuffed rainwater from his face. With a cautious look in the driving mirror he wound up the window and drove slowly away. Six blocks later he pulled into the curb outside ‘Pinkies’ topless bar in the red light district. A plastic cup popped loudly as the van rolled over paper and plastic garbage and stopped. With the envelope wedged tightly beneath his coat Stevenson stepped off the curb and headed for the dilapidated block of apartments opposite. He fingered another piece of picture in his pocket and grinned. Max was in for a surprise.

Apartment 3742 was at the end of a long dirty first floor passage. One out of three overhead bare neons worked or flickered and flashed, illuminating graffiti on the walls and worn linoleum strewn with cigarette butts and the odd beer can. Stevenson looked disapprovingly at the filthy surroundings. The place stunk of the lowlife humanity it housed and he wanted out of it as soon as possible.

His knuckles rapped on the door. He looked with tired eyes at his watch. Time was short. He’d been up all through the previous night. Max had to be in, probably drunk and stone dead to the world. He knocked again. The sound of heavy footsteps and Max’s unmistakable rasping cough reassured him. The door opened and slammed backwards against the wall as Max staggered and fell in a tangled heap at Stevenson’s feet.

Stevenson dragged Max unceremoniously along the passage and into the sitting room. He let the large figure drop to the floor and stood for several moments gasping for air. A half bottle of JB stood on the coffee table next to Max’s arranged pictures. He laid his creased picture in place.

Stevenson poured the whiskey down the sink as Max stirred.

“Remember me, Max?” Stevenson sat on the worn couch and pulled the envelope out.

“What the hell do you want?” said Max, squinting.

Stevenson pointed to the table. “Another picture’s there. Take a look.”

Max’s eyes opened wide. It showed himself standing next to the girl. She wasn’t as he remembered her but he was sure it was Mia; much older. He hauled himself to his feet and slumped into the armchair. Something about her, the jetty and boatshed looked familiar but he couldn’t think straight.

Comments

Wow! You have packed so much story in just 500 words, Ray; the little bits of mystery like 'a key worth considerably more' and the photo of Max next to the girl. And with an ending that's exciting and could go anywhere.
Fantastic writing.
This is a tremendous chapter, Ray. The detail is fantastic. The plastic cup popping brings the scene to life and the description of the neon lights and lane really had me in there. Great ambiance and you moved the story forward as smoothly as a ship coming to a berth. Wow!