Hole in the ground

Joe stood in the alley and watched the empty street. Nothing to see in the orange-tinted gloom, all colour leached away by the sodium light. But he knew they were there: Tony, Earnie, Leo. The rest of the gang.

Fighting to control the tremors, he reached into a pocket and withdrew the bottle; it rattled like a snake in his hands. He prised off the lid, shook out a couple of pills.

“Hey Bill, what ya doin’?” A figure approached. Black hair and features lost in shadows; suit white as fresh paint. “You gonna swallow that junk?”

Without replying, Joe tipped the capsules into his mouth. He thought: Bill?

The guy grabbed him. “You wanna wind up in a hole in the ground? Lemme give ya a piece of advice. Don’t go screwin’ around with what ain’t yours!” Released, Joe staggered back against the wall.

Across the street, a car drew up. Doors swung open. A man and a girl emerged. Joe signalled.

Someone whistled, far off. The man turned. A shot rang out. He crumpled, like linen falling from a line: his story ended.

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