A short story by Neil Smith for the oil painting Time & Tide by Theo Michael

A Betrayal Of The Worst Kind...

Time & Tide an oil painting by Theo Michael featuring the Larnaca pier

They met on the pier, where the sound of the waves on the beach drowned out their voices from anyone who may be passing. Jim Fourier liked this particular spot, he could see most of the town from here and, if anyone approached, he would have plenty of time to get rid of any evidence.

“I take it you have been given the target?” asked the man who had joined him. Jim didn’t know his name but they had met many times before.

“Of course,” he replied stoically, “you have my money?”

The man pulled a manila envelope from his inside pocket and passed it to Jim, who didn’t take the time to check it, just pushed it deep into his own pocket, it felt a little heavier than the last one.

‘’He told me to let you know, he added a little extra, you would know why.’’ The man continued. “He also wants to know if you have a problem with the job?’’

Jim didn’t answer, a solemn look passed across his face. It was his son-in-law who was to be taken out. He turned and walked away. The man waited, looking along the shoreline and into the town. Jim checked nobody could see him, ‘‘Actually I do have a problem with that ‘‘and pulled his silenced pistol from its holster. He raised his gun, aiming at the man’s head.

He hesitated for a second - he knew that this was a betrayal of the worst kind and that his own life was at risk if he continued down this path, but he didn’t have a choice.

He gently squeezed the trigger and the gun fired, the sound muffled to a dull crack. The man slumped forwards, over the rail, his feet lost traction and he fell into the sea.

Jim turned, replacing the gun quickly; he walked back to dry land, along the coast, away from town. A long walk to clear his head, but he was never off-guard. He looked in every window, checking the reflection, though never looking back over his shoulder, just in case.

He paused at one kiosk and bought a drink. He wasn’t thirsty, but it afforded him the chance to casually look around. He was clear, for sure.

He cut off the main drag and down a small road, where his car was parked, one quick look around and he climbed in, into the safety of his tinted windows. Now he counted the money. The man hadn’t lied, there was an extra five thousand in the envelope, Jim hadn’t wanted this mark, but he knew if he didn’t take it, someone else would.

He shook the thoughts from his head, rammed the key into the ignition and pulled out, headed for the airport. Still paranoid, he did three circuits of the airport road before pulling up next to a young lady wearing a flowery headscarf, wrapped around her head to hide her face. She looked around nervously and then jumped into the passenger seat.

She pulled away the scarf and her sunglasses, revealing her beautiful face to Jim, he smiled at her and they hugged.

As they separated, he handed her the envelope, she felt the weight of it and looked surprised.

 “It’s the only way,” he said, his voice catching. He handed her a second envelope, with false passports that he’d had a friend work up.

Her fingers tightened around the envelope and she leaned across and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said.

He couldn’t find the words, so just nodded.

She took one last look at his face, wrapped the scarf around her head and climbed out of the car.

“Goodbye,” he called after her.

She turned, “Bye, Dad.” Tears formed in the corner of her eyes as she closed the door and headed for the entrance and her husband who was waiting, nervously, inside.

Jim sighed deeply – his daughter and son in law would be safe now. His own life? That was still to be decided.

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