Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blood Money

Previous Flash Fiction

On the third day of the sixth month of his fifty-seventh year, Randall Bass woke up knowing exactly what to do.

For most of his previous thirty-five years, three months, and four days, life had been much the same, punctuated by occasional major events: job in his twenty-second year, marriage in the twenty-fifth, children in the twenty-eight and thirty-first.

Every morning, he had dressed in a blue or gray or brown suit, with a white shirt and a tie striped in shades of brown or blue or gray. Coffee and two slices of white toast, morning bus at seven fifty-three, evening bus at five-fifteen. Home by six, and dinner with the family. At some point, it became dinner with only Gladys. And then dinner alone.

In his fifty-fifth year, Gladys had been diagnosed with cancer.

He’d spent months arguing and pleading and threatening the insurance company as all the claims were denied, excluded from coverage, or considered experimental treatment.
For five months, he’d watched her suffer and die as debt depleted their modest savings and retirement, leaving sixty-six thousand, three hundred twenty nine dollars and fifteen cents in medical bills not paid by insurance.

A month ago, on the four-hundredth day following the funeral, his boss had called him in and explained the corporation had outsourced accounting to the Philippines, then handed him his walking papers. No severance, no benefits, no gold watch. Thirty-five years with the same corporation and nothing to show for it.

Following his termination, he’d endured a month of coffee and toast and dressing in khakis and T-shirts, of sitting in front of the TV, of uncertainty.

A month of foreclosure, repossession, and shame, courtesy of the greedy insurance company and their lack of coverage.

But this morning Randall awoke knowing exactly what to do.

At seven fifty-three, he caught the bus, and transferred downtown. He walked into the bank at nine twenty-six. At nine-thirty, he greeted the teller and made his request, knowing she would have to act.

He had the patrons, the tellers, and the guard on the floor by nine thirty-two, a result of producing his Beretta.

Sirens cut the air ten minutes later, but Randall was long gone.

For twenty days, he thrilled to his new career. Four banks, sixty-six thousand, three hundred twenty nine dollars. He kicked in the fifteen cents himself, from the tray on his dresser.

On the twenty-third day of the sixth month of his fifty-seventh year, Randall dressed in a blue suit with a gray tie, grabbed the duffel, and caught the seven fifty-three bus. He transferred uptown and carried his bundle into the lobby of Advent Insurance. At eight-forty Randall greeted the receptionist and asked for the claims examiner, knowing she would have to act, and she acceded to his request.

Mr. Wilson strode into the lobby at eight forty-three, dressed in a black suit, hands on hips, brows drawn down into a sharp vee and ready to argue, a payment pugilist.
Randall pulled out the Beretta and urged the patrons and the guard onto the floor, and Mr. Wilson front and center.

Randall smiled as he emptied the cash on the floor and stepped into the heap, topping it with two nickels and five pennies and inviting Mr. Wilson to join him.

“My wife is dead. I’m bankrupt. Here's the funds to pay the claims. Now you have your blood money,” Randall announced to the patrons and the claims examiner. He dropped the gun onto the cash.

On the granite floor, the patrons looked at each other but didn’t move. The receptionist peeked around the side of her desk.

At eight forty-five, sirens screeched and red and blue lights flashed in the street outside. Seven cops stormed the lobby, guns drawn. They approached the two men standing in the pile of money.

“Which one’s the thief?” said the lead cop.

“The one in the black suit,” said the receptionist.

Kelly Whitley
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Look for more flash fiction in the October edition

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Copyright © 2011 Kelly Whitley
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

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