Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Write - Bob Clay

The Night of the Dying E

Somewhere off to his left, a dog barked in the distance. A tired bark that echoed down the dark canyon-like city streets, whose deep shadows were only broken by the orange glare of sodium street lights that speared the night. Wet pavements glistened inside these stark sallow spheres of light, but this was one battle the dark of the night was always going to win.

Parker’s listened intently as the distant canine gave up the effort of barking, the sound replaced by the remote clatter of a railway yard, a long way off, down town maybe. He pressed back further into the shadow of the doorway, just the two gleaming points of his eyes visible in the black.

Silence descended, 3 am silence, even a city has a dead zone at this time of the morning. Parker unconsciously slid the fingers of his left hand along the top of the Colt and pushed the slide back slightly so he could feel the round in the chamber, he’d done it a dozen times in the last hour and knew full well it was loaded and ready to fire, but old habits die hard.

He watched the bar across the road, a neon sign in the window spelt out Ned’s Bar in flickering purple light, but the e was dying, and was darker than the other letters. Parker smiled grimly in the dark, a dying e in Ned, now that was irony.

A distant humming grew closer and became a Mercedes taxi pulling into the street, sliding in and out of existence as it cruised slowly past the streetlights. As it grew closer Parker pressed hard into the door well, trying to become as thin as a razor blade. His right arm dropped to his side as he gently slid down the safety catch with his right thumb.

The taxi stopped outside the bar, the engine still running. Two men got out, big featureless men in overcoats, they moved across the pavement and disappeared into Ned’s Bar with the dying e. The taxi pulled away slowly, its back lights leaving glistening red streaks on the wet road. Parker waited until it had turned out of the street and the sound of the engine had faded into the night.

He crossed the street and stood outside the bar, breathing deeply to flood his lungs with oxygen. He slid the .45 into his coat pocket then pushed the door open. Inside was nearly as dark as the street, the gloomy light broken only by the sputtering neon sign with the dying e and a few dull fly specked lights that hung down from the ceiling on old twisted wire pairs.

There were half a dozen or so patrons, sitting silently in booths that lined one side of a thin railway carriage like room, the other side being the bar, running the whole length and disappearing off into the gloom. A row of empty stools stood off the bar like abandoned pawns in a chess game.

Parker waited, one hand on the bar, the other wrapped around the gun in his coat pocket, he hoped this made the message clear to the drinkers. A barman emerged out of the shadows and stared at him with questioning eyes.

“Parker?” he asked and Parker nodded. The barman pointed down the room,

“They’re waiting for you in the end booth.”
Parker moved off feeling the barman’s eyes on his back. The other customers paid him no heed as he moved beneath the tired lights to the bottom of the bar where the two big overcoats sat waiting patiently, their hats on the table.

“Sit,” said one, dark sallow eyes and beard. He shuffled up the seat to let Parker in. “Envelope,” he continued, nodding to his partner. The other man slid a fat brown envelope between the hats toward Parker.

“Let’s not have any melodramatics,” said the beard pointing toward Parker’s right arm buried in his coat pocket. “We’re just here to deliver the envelope. Delivery boys only. Whatever other shit is going down here is not our business.” He smiled yellowing teeth; “We were told to make sure that you looked at the contents, and that’s all. Once we’ve seen that, we’re done.”

Parker nodded. With his left hand he flipped the envelope over and shook it, a fan of dollar bills partially slid out, thousand dollar bills. The beard and his partner stared at it with wide surprised eyes.

“Jesus that’s a lot of money,” said the beard’s partner. “If I’d known I was carrying that I might have kept on going,” he laughed a dark dry laugh.”

“You probably should have,” said Parker, picking up the envelope and tapping it on the table to slide the money back in. He stood up and slid it into his left coat pocket, his right hand sliding out with the big black Colt.

“What the fuck…. ?” said the beard but whatever question was coming was drowned out by the blast of the gun, the bullet going through his left eye and out through the back of his head with a sizable portion of his brain in front of it. His partner merely gaped as Parker but a bullet into his forehead and another into his throat. Both men were dead before they could slump back into their own blood.

Parker swung around, gun held high, but the barman was pressed against the back wall, arms held out straight gripping the bottle filled shelves. As Parker walked up the bar, the other drinkers were bowed down, their ears still ringing from the gunfire. There seemed little doubt that when questioned later, nobody had seen anything. If you were drinking this late, in this part of town, it did not do to see things.

Outside Parker took a deep breath of the cold air and spat the taste of gun smoke onto the sidewalk. He pocketed the gun, his hand remaining on its warm, re-assuring presence in his pocket. The other hand gripped the envelope full of money as he wondered about the mind of the man who had hired him to kill, and then sent the victims to pay their own nemesis. Not a man he wanted to do business with again, but there was no doubting he paid well.

Parker shrugged and moved off into the shadows, behind him the e in Ned’s Bar finally flickered out.

A man of many crafts, but of one craft I'm certain he's excellent at is Writing. His work has been known to make me laugh, and cry. You can see some of his work on 6 Sentences where he does a fairly regular bit of scribbling. Bob Clay (ex seafarer, GCHQ spook, pole climber and window cleaner. Advanced layabout). View more of his work Here.


  1. A really thrilling & gripping drama, so full of suspense & intrigue right to the last line, with a tinge of ruthless violence for added stimulation - great.

  2. I was glued to this all the way up to-- Outside Parker took a deep breath of the cold air and spat the taste of gun smoke onto the sidewalk. Then I knew it was perfect.
    This is a great job,Bob. Thanks for the entertainment.

  3. i enjoyed reading this post..
    the story flowed brilliantly...i liked the way you have described the darker side...
    the description was fantastic..i just went completely into the story and i can imagine the orange glare of sodium street lights that speared the night