Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Quid Pro Quo

If I’d known he’d be there again, I’d have brought the money.

Guess it’s bad manners to employ a professional killer then not pay him.

I’d see exactly how pissed off he was by what weapon he had brought. I reached for the switch.

“Don’t touch that. Some things are best in darkness. Just like your poor wife’s... accident.”

My shaky hand dropped away.

“Jon. About the money...”

“...I’ve been thinking about that. What would you say to a proposition?”


“You do something for me - and you don’t need to worry about the money again.”

“Do something?”

“Yes. I want you to kill someone.”


“Me. I want you to kill me.”

So, that’s why I’m wheeling a gurney out of the mortuary at 2am.

Oh, killing Jon? That was the easy part.

I phoned him. He became an emergency admission when I’m on call.

I told Geraldine, the night nurse, I’d attend to this patient. She was always looking for quiet time to write.

Jon shook my hand before I gave him the injection. By the time Geraldine heard the alarms and wandered in, Jon was dead.

She took his pulse and called me.

A massive myocardial infarction – a heart attack to the uninitiated – a quick squiggle on a death certificate, job done.

“Some people just live life too hard. Tough on a fairly young guy though.”

She peered at me.

We all pay for all our sins one day

For evil does not wash away

Though smooth the road for mile on mile

Beware the final Serpent’s Smile”

“Yeah, right. Nice one Gerry.”

I finished the paperwork and sketched a goodbye wave at Geraldine, still mumbling her gloomy, night-time poems

I had discovered the current admin password for the clinic computer system, and, once in the basement mortuary, swapped Jon’s records with another recent stiff. I pushed him out along the deserted corridor.

I checked the loading bay. Periodically we had to call the cops when some junkie remembered there were drugs inside, and figured this quiet place might be their way in.

I unzipped the body bag and gave Jon another shot.

He stirred, then sat up, stretching his recently paralysed muscles, before hopping onto the concrete floor.

I handed him the bag of new clothes.

Dressed, he reached out his hand.

“A black Dodge truck, just around the corner.” I flipped him the keys. The catch showed his reactions had recovered.

“The cops will buy it?”

“Trust me. You’re dead. Buried later this week.”

“Thanks Pal.”

He reached out his hand again.

As we shook, he pulled me towards him. Off balance, I slumped against him. His left hand snaked behind me. I felt a sharp jab in my neck.

Falling away, I saw him pocket the bloody scalpel.

“Just another attack by a junkie. Tragic. But no-one stiffs me on a contract.”

He smiled down.

“I’m a man of my word. I promised you’d never again worry about the money you owed me.”

500 words


This story was written for Alissa Leonard’s Finish That Thought #9 Flash Fiction Challenge

The judges challenge was that the tale must include four lines of original poetry. I forgot this until I had a finished tale ready to post. I had to re-work the whole story - as well as actually writing poetry - EEK!

Rebekah Postupak (one of the best writers going around the circuit) chose the story as Winner of the Judge's Challenge category AND Runner up in the overall contest.

About Judge's Challenge she said:-

Winner: Nick Johns. The poem delivered by the Goth nurse was smooth and haunting, reminding me strongly of the seer's warning to Julius Caesar so many ages ago. And of course, as the narrator ought to have known, in stories a seer is never wrong. This poem serves as the story's hinge--the reader knows the narrator's not going to get away with it--and of course Geraldine's foreboding words are echoed in the story's final lines. Nice job.

About the overall she said:-

Runner up: Nick Johns. Who doesn't love a good Faustian tale? In "Quid Pro Quo," you give us a character doing his darnedest to cheat his devil, but in the end we discover our narrator isn't Daniel Webster--he's the devil himself, trying to have his evil cake and eat it too. It's a marvelous spin on the old conflict, right up until the narrator narrates his own death. Wonderful comeuppance; wonderful storytelling.

Thanks for judging Rebekah!

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