How to Kill a Body Dead
Smoke. Too thick to see, it was. A deplorable situation, really, with me down to my last trick at whist. Sweaty fingers gripped what remained in my hand.
A sodding lot of nothing, and a juicy slice of New World land on the line.
I wiped my hands on my red brocade jacket. In any situation, it is essential to look the part, you see.
My father was out there somewhere. Blowing smoke with his naked native, most likely. A swindling pair. We were that.
Six or seven other men materialized in the shifting fog. A black voodoo chap kept our tumblers filled, mumbling about haints. Twice, he tried to slip a rotten square of cloth into my hand. “Da root. Take da root. Haints be everwhere in dis place.”
The barkeep brushed past and laughed. “Ghosts. He sees them so often that I suspect he is one. Convenient for me. I am not required to compensate the dead. Isn’t that right, Vicar?”
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The Vicar slurred it just prior to crashing his head into the table. The drink put him out of our game of diminishing contract whist first.
“Si, hombres. The Vicar is – how you say? – predictable.” The Spaniard flashed his good eye in my direction. Perhaps his eye patch was responsible for his unfortunate second place folding in our game of chance. He yawned and leaned closer to me. “The time, it is moving, yes? Amigo, the last card. Play it. I must away.”
My red-faced, balding nemesis spat on the floor. “Yes. Yes, Manuel. We know what you get up to this time of night.” Clive Read. Wealthy bugger.
The Spaniard’s good eye wrinkled around the edges. “Ah yes, hombre. But the important thing is that I get up, si?”
“If you are implying that I am impotent, Pig…….” Read pushed back from the table.
It was the trick I needed. With a flick of my fingers, I let my last card fall.
“I believe you owe me the title to a certain tract of land. Middlesex, Mr Read. Give it to me.”
A Charleston series. The first post in the series is here, the second post is here, the third post is here, the fourth post is here, the fifth post is here, the sixth post is here, the seventh post is here, the eighth post is here and the ninth post is here. Thank you for reading.