‘Offer a hundred K for it. Not a penny less. Do you hear?’ Simon Jefferies said to his car’s hands free, as he powered his new BMW down the highway.
‘But it’s worth twice that,’ said the whining voice from the speaker.
‘I won’t repeat myself. Just bloody do it!’ He hung-up, and smiled.
He drove over the city’s main bridge over the grey river. It was the height of the morning rush hour. Simon often dreamed of somehow being able to steam-roller his way through the traffic. It was people like him that kept the economy moving, for Christ’s sake, not leaching on it like ninety percent of the people holding him up.
An old ford was travelling painfully slow in front of him. ‘Get out the way you moron’ he said aloud, hoping the driver could read his lips in the rear-view mirror. When he got the end of the bridge a gap in the oncoming traffic emerged. He pressed the accelerator on his BMW 8 series and charged past the Ford, cutting it up as he pulled back into lane. The other driver beeped his horn . . . Simon smiled.
He drove through the city and pulled into the usual backstreet parking space that always seemed to be available when he needed it. Large bins filled the streets and litter blew from all to wall, but he didn’t care, he only had to endure it for a few minutes every time he came here, and in any case, it was especially handy for today’s scheduled breakfast meeting at a nearby cafe. He grabbed his cashmere overcoat from the passenger’s seat and got out the car, admiring the door’s heavy clunk as it closed. He carefully adorned his thousand-pound overcoat, making sure the collar was straight and any creasing had fallen out. He set off towards the main street, noticing a homeless man sitting with his legs crossed next to a large industrial bin. He wore thick green clothing, and had what looked like small blankets tied around his feet and ankles – the ridiculousness of which made Simon exhibit a wry smile and a small chuckle. A deerstalker hat completely hid the man’s features; and the way he looked into the ground in front of him gave the appearance he was meditating – or off his head on drugs, Simon guessed.
‘Can you spare some change, Sir?’ the homeless man said, continuing to look at the ground. But Simon shook his head, fully aware the man wouldn’t see, and walked passed. ‘Have a good day,’ the man added.
Bloody idiot, he thought, laughing at the picture in his head of the man. Then he remembered: Jane.
He got his mobile out and entered a number.
‘Hey, beautiful, what are you doing?’ he said.
He smiled as she spoke.
‘Can I see you this afternoon? Perhaps . . . two?’ he said. ‘Great. See you then.’ He hung-up.
He walked through the cafe door and looked for the man he was meeting with. A small, stout man dipped his head in recognition.
‘Nice seeing you again,’ Simon said, offering his hand.
‘I wish I could say the same, Simon. But business is business, and needs must,’ the man said.
Simon took away hand and sat down, and looked to make eye contact with any one of the prettier members of the cafe’s staff. ‘Fifty thousand,’ he said to the man, and waved at a girl that caught his eye.
‘What!’ the man said. ‘You said a hundred yesterday.’
‘Yes – but I didn’t know how desperate you were then.’
The man lowered his voice. ‘You’re a bastard!’
He smiled to the girl as she walked over to his table. ‘One cafe latte, and two poached eggs on lightly toasted bread, my dear . . . Oh and . . . what is it you are having Jim . . . a hernia by the looks of it?’ Simon laughed, looking at the girl. But his laughter faded quickly when he noticed to the side of the girl and through the cafe window, the homeless man he’d just seen was at the other side of the street, standing facing him and looking to the ground.
‘ . . . Sir, is that all?’ the girl asked. Simon realised he’d missed some of what she said.
‘Erm, yes, that’s all . . . thank you,’ he said.
‘You ok, Simon? Not going to have a heart attack are you? Heaven forbid.’ The man smiled in retaliation.
‘Erm, yes – I’m OK. Just thought I saw something . . . Anyway, Let me write you a cheque.’
‘God, you’re a piece of work. Nathan was right – you’re a filthy parasite just waiting to grab the easy stuff.’
‘Nathan . . . Williams, I take it? Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Do send him my regards.’ Simon winked.
After he had finished his business in the Cafe, he walked into the busy street and glanced around, curious to the whereabouts of the homeless man; but he was nowhere to be seen.
He took out his phone.
‘Hi darling,’ he said . . . ‘How do you fancy dinner tonight? Somewhere nice; something a bit special. What do you think?’ he continued.
‘Can you spare some change, Sir?’ It was the homeless man, standing right in front of him, and again with his head looking to the ground.
‘Jesus! You scared the . . . Sorry, Tina, some bloody beggar gave me a shock. Get lost . . . No, the beggar, not you.’ He laughed. He walked past the man and looked back; the man stood still for a few seconds, then walked in the direction Simon had just come from.
He looked at his watch; it was ten. He had a little time to kill before his next meeting. The Assembly Rooms pub would be open; a nice swift whiskey wouldn’t hurt anyone.
He entered the lavishly decorated pub, which looked more like in the inside of a stately home than a drinking establishment. Three smartly dressed barmaids were sauntering behind the square, central bar. He walked towards the most attractive.
‘A large single malt,’ he asked the her, while looking into her eyes slightly longer than she was comfortable with.
He took a sip and looked round the pub to see who was doing what, and if he knew anyone. It was busy, for the time of day, with people having informal business meetings and middle-aged men having a relaxing drink on their own.
‘Can you spare some change please Sir?’
Simon choked on a mouthful of whiskey as he turned to face the homeless man. ‘What the hell do you want?’
‘Some change please, sir.’
Simon looked around; people were looking – important people, people with money, people with status.
‘Here, get yourself a couple of pints.’ He gave the homeless man a five pound note.
‘Any more, sir?’ the man asked.
‘What?’ Simon couldn’t believe the man asked him that. People nearby were laughing. ‘No, it’s all I’ve got.’ He joined the surrounding people in laughing, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head.
He downed his whiskey with a grimace and walked past the man.
His next meeting was with ‘Curtis and Williams’, the brokers. He’d be a little early if he set off now, but the homeless man was making him feel lees comfortable. The quicker he got away from here, the better, he thought, and looked behind him to check the coast was clear.
He got to the street where his BMW was, and looked behind again. He pressed the central locking button on his car key.
‘Can you spare some change, sir?
‘Right you—’ but as turned around to face the voice, the homeless man slid a knife through the cashmere overcoat and into Simon’s heart, making a morbid crunching noise as it separated his ribs. The man took his hand off the knife and coolly helped Simon into the driver seat of the car and firmly closed the door.
Simon felt no pain, just disbelief. The man looked at him through the window. Who the hell . . . ? Simon thought. But the cold blue eyes and features of the man’s face weren’t remotely familiar. The man turned and shuffled down the street, remaining in Simon’s view, which was now diminishing.
His world became darker, and darker, until he no longer existed.
The homeless man walked into a park and behind a group of bushes. He took a black bin liner out of his coat pocket and one by one he took off his coat, hat, blanket-boots, trousers, hair, nose, coloured contact lenses, and placed them in the bin liner. The now smartly dressed man adjusted his tie and walked over the grass towards a car park. He reached a Mercedes, placed the bag in the boot and drove away.
Last edited by penbyrd
on Sat Aug 25, 2012 7:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.