The younger man’s chest expanded as he uncoiled his spine, stretched tall. He took a pleased breath, felt in control, pointed to a scatter of blank paper lying on the desk. Time to set things in motion. It was growing dark.
“Write down what I told you before you forget.” He stroked his upper lip, waited.
Green scowled, shuffled the blank pages, tapped them into a neat stack, and laid it aside. With effort he pulled a four inch thick ledger toward himself. He patted the saddle brown leather cover. Gnarled arthritic fingers fumbled as he opened it.
“These old books talk to me.”
“Write the letter.” The younger man flexed, admired the thickness of his forearms. The muscles rippled beneath the tawny skin of his jacket as he made fists of his hands. He wouldn’t mind a little physical persuasion exercise. It would relieve the growing tension teasing his mind.
Green frowned, straightened, shook his head; his brows shoved a trench between his eyes.
“No, I’ll straighten things out. Point of honor. Need to give people a chance to right their wrongs.” He leaned back in his leather chair, swiveled, shoved the ledger onto a shelf. “That’s not why I called you here. We’ve known each other how long?” His hand cut the air in a sharp impatient stroke. “Never mind, not important. Been doing some research myself.”
The younger man tensed as Green picked up a folder. The old man drummed his fingers on its top.
Ba-du-rum, ba-da-rum, the sound hammered against the younger man’s brain. He gulped from his drink. Surely, the folder contents didn’t concern him. The old geezer didn’t have the tools or the brains to follow his trail. Blood pulsed up his neck, heated his face. He felt jumpy, slammed his fist against the desk.
“Watch out.” Green moved a porcelain horse. “You’re restless as a hound after a bitch. Come back when you’re under control.”
The old man was right, he admitted to himself. He needed to leave before he lost control, blew the whole deal.
“Sure thing boss.” The perspiring glass he held hit the desk with a bang. Liquor sloshed out, spilled upon the polished mahogany surface. An insolent nod, a sneering curl to his lip followed the bang. He felt a slight ease in the tension that gripped him like hands around his throat; he coiled his arm around his briefcase, pulled it to his side. The invisible hands loosened even more. A few more days, then he’d strike.
Green, he noticed, narrowed his eyes, lowered his chin, and scowled. He shouldn’t have slammed the glass down, but had been unable to control the impulse. He realized it was a mistake, and mistakes could be dangerous. He backed away, pivoted on his heel. Control. It was becoming his mantra. He thought of what he would soon do. His muscles relaxed, his breathing slowed, his mood improved. Time to leave. He’d be back soon enough, finish the job he’d started.
He pushed through the door, back in control, no old man or two-bit artist could stop him now. The sound of ice rattling in a glass followed him as he left the room. He thought of the old man wiping up the mess he’d left behind and allowed a cruel twist of amusement to play across his lips. Thunder rolled as he walked; he glanced up, the sky was like a dark shroud overhead, as if it was painted black.
His chest expanded, exploded as the lightning struck. The last thing he heard was an old man’s crackling laugh.