750 words: hay bales, part 7, the last part
I nearly didn’t write this today. After the late writing last night and an intensive physio session today I wanted to ignore the challenge and write this tomorrow. But I want to get started on writing a story I’ve had in mind for a while (since alt.fiction 2010 actually) and use the impetus of the last week’s writing to get it going. Not writing today would not be a good start. So, here is the final episode. There is no real climax but I can see enough that if I were to rewrite, it should be an interesting story.
on the day after sending the message, james had watched kat’s office from a high floor in a building opposite. the creep arrived late as if being boss meant he was above petty timekeeping. he was carrying the bag.
james drove to marsha’s office and waited until he could see her. ‘what brings you here?’ she asked when he was shown in to her office.
james said it was serious and private, asked that they not be disturbed and wiated until the secretary had left the office.
‘what’s wrong?’ marsha asked. ‘is it kat?’
james’ mouth was dry. he had thought this moment through a hundred times and still did not know what to say. that marsha was concerned about kat made it even worse. nothing else for it, he decided.
‘she and colin are having an affair, or they were up until a couple of weeks ago.’ marsha just stared at him so he explained about the hay bales shoot and how he came to see them in the car. he then sat silent while marsha absorbed it all.
‘you were…’ she began. ‘did you…’ she tried to ask. james nodded; he had photographed them together. he had a copy of the photograph with him but did not offer it.
‘i don’t want to see it, do i?’ no, james indicated. ‘not now,’ he said. you may want it later. it is up to you.’
‘oh,’ she said. ‘oh, yes.’
‘did you suspect before hand?’ she asked him. ‘no, nothing. you?’
marsh nodded. tears began to leak from her eyes. she blinked them away. ‘i’m so sorry, james. he did this before at least once that i know of and i’ve always suspected he was still screwing around. but i didn’t want to know. if i’d stopped him before, maybe…’
‘don’t go there, marsha. what they did is their fault, not ours. not ours at all. i don’t blame you in any way. and nor should you.’
she nodded then looked puzzled. ‘if this happened weeks ago, what made you come and see me now? were you planning not to tell me? has something else happened?’
james sighed. this would be even harder. ‘now,’ he said, ‘there is something for blame. for you to blame me, that is. i’ve been blackmailing colin. i threatened that i would show you the photograph unless he paid me a hundred thousand pounds.’
‘what?! and i suppose he refused to pay and that’s why you’re here.’ marsha was furious now. from sympathising with james and feeling joined with him in a joint misery, she felt strangely betrayed even more than she felt by her husband’s affair.
james shook his head. ‘no. sorry, i’m getting this wrong.’ marsha glared at him, still fuming. ‘as far as i know,’ james continued, ‘he has paid the money. i’ve not looked in the locker to find out.’
james took a deep breath and told marsha the whole story of the blackmail, his reason for carrying it out, his changes of heart and the resolution with james now carrying the bag and phone from the locker.
‘so that was why he had that tatty bag with him the last couple of days. i asked about it and he nearly bit my head off. you had him well rattled.’
‘i’m sorry,’ said james. ‘it was a stupid …’
marsha burst out laughing, shaking her head and holding up her hand to stop james. when she had caught her breath, she said, ‘it was brilliant. i only wish you’d told me about it so i could have been in on it as well. though i’m not sure i could have carried it off. how did you go on living with kat?’
‘i guess it was easier because she was so distracted anyway,’ he said. ‘i guess you’re not angry, then.’ this set marsha off laughing again. she had a really dirty laugh when she let go, james thought.
she looked puzzled again. ‘i wonder where he got the money from.’
‘if he did,’ said james. ‘for all i know, his bag has a bomb that’ll blow up as soon as i open the locker.’
‘ha! he couldn’t wire a fuse, let alone a bomb. and, even if he could find someone to make him a bomb, which i know he couldn’t, it’d cost him almost as much as you asked for anyway.’
she explained how closely drawn the creep was on his personal accounts and that she had refused to shift any money from her own accounts over to his when he had asked a few days ago.
‘i think it is time for the auditors to go in.’ she picked up her phone and made a quick call to her finance director, telling him what she wanted without explaining anything.
‘won’t he wonder what’s up?’ asked james.
‘he worked for my father,’ said marsha, ‘and never did like or trust colin. he’ll be up there doing a little happy dance, which, given that he is 78, would be something to see.’
‘i was going to talk to kat when she got home and spend the next few nights in a hotel, until i get somewhere to live. but, if you don’t want to confront colin, yet, i can hold off.’
‘oh, i want to confront him all right. in fact…’
james dialled the blackmail phone, hoping the battery had held out. the creep answered.
‘i thought i wasn’t going to hear from you again. what do you want now.’
‘hello, colin. james here.’
there was a silence at the other end. then, ‘i knew it was you, you bastard. you’ve got the money,’ james nodded at marsha, ‘so piss off back to your whore of a wife. you deserve each other. i’m going to fire her and you can see where how far the money gets you. i hope it chokes you.’
james swallowed, his throat aching from holding back on his own tirade. ‘where did you get the money from, colin?’ he said calmly.
‘what? go to hell. i’m not telling you anything.’
‘ok,’ said james and handed the phone to marsha.
‘so, ‘darling’, why don’t you tell me where you got it?’
Well, at least I finished this lot today (just). Going across midnight messed up the 750words stats.
Will see tomorrow how well I can write without editing as I go along on something that really matters. But that won’t be appearing up here. You’ll just have to wait to buy the book when it comes out.