Pretty straightforward

This is a short story I wrote in September 2014:

You glance away from the bright interior of the carriage to the night sky through the window, to the shadowy trees flashing past, and the points of light sliding slowly along the horizon. Above the rattle of the wheels on the tracks you can hear a conversation. Someone is talking to their mobile phone.

“Hi. Can you put me through to Carl?”

“OK. Can you tell him to put his secretary down and take the call?”

“Thanks. Sorry.”

“Carl. It’s Mark. I’m on a train.”

”We need to talk.”

“Yeah, I know, but we still need to talk.”

“Well here’s the thing. I need to up the price.”

“No, it was all pretty straightforward.”

“Well it’s the lads. And you know: expenses.”

“Yeah. Some of the, shall we say, ‘necessary ingredients’ came to more than I reckoned.”

“Well, I was thinking forty. Yeah, forty would be fair.”

“I understand that, but as I see it, you don’t have a lot of choice.”

“OK! OK! Calm down. Think it over.”

“Come on, It’s got to be worth half a mill! Forty grand isn’t going to make much of a dent.”

“Yeah, I’ve got it with me.”

“Yeah, I’m on the train.”

“It doesn’t matter what train – I’m on a train, alright?”



“OK but…”

Your phone vibrates against your thigh. You take it out and glance down at the screen. You look up to where you can see the back of Mark’s head a few rows down the carriage, phone pressed to his ear. You take the leather gloves out of your pocket and pull them onto your hands. From the other pocket you take out and uncoil a length of wire. The carriage is almost empty. The train is slowing into the next station. It will take less than a minute. By the time anyone notices, you’ll be gone. As you stand you catch sight of Mark’s briefcase, lying on the seat next to him. It all looks pretty straightforward.

Sam’s story →