Cutting Room Floor: The Roundtable

Hey everybody, Flobo here!

2013 is here and not only have we survived the Mayan Apocalypse, we survived everybody talking about the Mayan Apocalypse. Everybody wins, right?

This year I do have a list of goals I would love to get accomplished and I will discuss them as the weeks go on, but I figure I share another short story with you today.

You see, sometimes when working on my last collection of short stories “The Indelible Silverstreek“, I realized I wanted to go out of short story writing with a bang. For the record I still love short stories, I just realize the market likes their tales longer is all. So with the objective of closing out some stories with sequels, I also wanted to present some of my finest work as well. The story you’re about to read now, “The Roundtable” was one which I liked in concept, but I could never make the whole piece “ring true”. Something was missing. Maybe the concept needed to be in longer form, or maybe it needed to be abandoned I wasn’t sure. What I was sure of is that it wasn’t right for the Silverstreek collection.

“Eh,” Flobo said while shrugging. “It happens.”

High-Flying. Soul Searching. His name is Eli St. Rose

High-Flying. Soul Searching. His name is Eli St. Rose

The Roundtable 

“So there I was standing over the guy,” Jack said laying back in his chair. His audience of another man and a woman were listening intently over drinks at the sole table in the room. “He’s begging, pleading for me not to pull the trigger. Poor bastard, the last thing he ever did was piss himself.”

Jack ended his story with a hearty laugh as he took a swig of his beer. He was a hulking man, who kept his physical appearance in tip top shape, despite being north of forty. His smile planted a patchwork of wrinkles on his face, his teeth were large and slightly crooked. The basement the trio were in was dark, with a sole lamp that hung from the ceiling. As Jack waited for words of admiration, he was a tad disappointed when his story was met with resounding silence.

“Aw come on,” Jack said. “That story was great. A grown ass man pissed himself. He went out like a bitch.”

“And you find that funny?” The voice of the other man spoke up.

“I do Devlin,” Jack said. “That a problem?”

Devlin, a gentleman clad in a suit and wearing a bowler hat, crossed his legs while he put the butt of a cigarette in an ashtray. He was commonly mistaken for being an Englishman—though he grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago—but he always took the label as a compliment. He spoke with a slow rumble, like a man who would be more at home at shareholder’s meeting rather than a dank basement.

“No no,” Devlin said. “It’s far from a problem. Although I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the only reason why the ‘poor bastard’ as you say only saw you was because you were sloppy. My targets almost never see me.”

Jack chortled as he took another sip of his beer. He shuffled his feet, the soles of his combat boots rubbing against the thin layer of grime that was on the cold stone floor. He swallowed hard, and slammed the bottle back on the table.

“Anybody can take someone out a rifle from a hundred yards away,” Jack said. “I prefer to do my job a little hands on. Like a real man. Then again, you wouldn’t know anything about that.”

“No need to be catty,” Devlin said, taking another drag of his cigarette. “I’ve gotten my hands dirty on many occasions. Although, I can say I don’t relish such situations.”

“You?” Jack couldn’t contain himself. “What happened? Somebody steal one of your fancy schmancy pocket squares? Give me a break.”

“You laugh,” Devlin said. “But allow me to tell you a story. That is, if you are willing to hear a tale that doesn’t involve urine.”

Jack gestured his open palm at Devlin in a motion that said “be my guest”. Looking over to the blonde woman to his right and getting a nod of approval, Devlin cleared his throat. He took off his bowler hat and placed it on the table, removing the harsh shadow that had been floating over his eyes.

“About three years ago, I was supposed to do a job in Detroit,” Devlin said. “The name was Curtis Dempster, the city councilman who was running for mayor at the time. He was leading the polls and there were a lot of people who thought he was a shoe-in for office. Now, I don’t have to tell you that you don’t become the frontrunner for anything by playing by the rules. Dempster made some enemies, most importantly my client. Long story short, by the time election day rolled around, there was supposed to be a dead man on the ballot.”

“How dramatic,” Jack cackled. “So let me guess. You were on a rooftop, looking down at your mark through the barrel of a sniper rifle.”

“Why yes. At least that was the plan at first,” Devlin said crossing his legs and fixing his tie. “Dempster was going to have a rally outside city hall. It was a bit of grandstanding to show the public how he would fit at city hall before he was elected officially. I don’t quite peg myself as a man a politics so the intent sailed over my head.”

Jack leaned back in the chair and folded his arms, “Get on with it. I don’t have all night.”

Devlin cleared his throat. “I assure you this tale isn’t terribly long but if you are going to carry on I might as well end this now.”

“No,” chipped in the blonde. “Keep going.”

“See, at least the lady has patience,” Devlin smiled. “I was on the rooftop while Dempster was giving his speech. Whatever rhetoric he was spewing might as well have been caviar to the crowd. His words came to a crescendo, and then there was the applause. Loud and boisterous, I almost succumbed to his charisma. He was that good. Anyway, knowing that seemingly the whole world was watching, I lined up my shot. Thing is, by the time I pull the trigger, Dempster was already on the way down. My bullet caught him in the leg. Not only did someone get to him first, I got to keep my bounty.”

“What happened?” Jack asked. “The client got cold feet and hired insurance?”

“You said Dempster had enemies,” the blonde quipped.

“Indeed,” Devlin said shifting his hat on his head. “I didn’t lose sleep at all that night quite frankly. A score is a score.”

Without hesitation the blond jumped to her feet, drew a semiautomatic pistol from her side holster and planted two bullets of her own into Devlin’s chest. Falling out of his chair, Devlin’s bowler rolled to a stop next to his body, sopping up the ever growing stream of blood. Jack staggered back into his seat, his usual even temperament gave way to heavy breathing, nervous shriek.

“What the hell was that for?” Jack yelled. “Jesus”.

“You heard him yourself,” the blonde said. “He didn’t do the job and he collected. He was wrong if he thought his client wouldn’t have found that out.”

“Because his client is your client?” Jack asked.

She nodded. Taking a step closer she fired once more into Jack’s leg. The force sent Jack of his chair as well, sending him to the ground. Clutching his wound, he writhed in pain.

“The guy in the suit was business,” she said, pointing the gun to Jack’s head. “This is pleasure.”

“What-what are you talking about?”

“I used to have a fiancée,” she said pulling the trigger. “They found him covered in his own piss.”

  ***

What do you think? Please comment below.

And if you’re n the mood, check out my book “The Indelible Silverstreek“, over at Amazon.com or your favorite E-tailer today!

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