by Anton Wills-Eve
From today I am posting a short story each day until December 1 when I shall start posting my latest novel, “John and Gemma” a chapter a day for a couple of weeks. Should any publishing house want to publish it just contact me and we can discuss terms. Ciao. Anton
My story for November 25th is called.
The Horses were already running when I placed my bet but the bookies accepted it. Boy did I need that money. The horse was 33 to 1 which meant £340 up if it won and another £75 as it placed in the first three. Just the £75 would have left me with enough hope to place a few more bets that afternoon. I needed to come out of the betting shop with at least £500 pounds in my pocket if I was to pay off my gambling debts at the Golden Goose pub that night.
My gee-gee came in first and I coolly put £415 in my pocket. I took out my phone and rang Jill. “Hi, sweetie. It’s me. Yes me! Okay, okay so I should have been there half an hour ago but I was held up. But I’ll be at the King’s Head pub in ten minutes. Please don’t stand me up.” All she said was
“You don’t deserve it, loser, but I’ll be there.”
As I walked into the King’s Head on the main shopping street I spotted her immediately, hunched over a glass with a long straw sticking out of it touching the tip of her long, blonde hair. She wasn’t drinking, just sitting awkwardly, half forward, to lessen what seemed to be a pain in her shoulder blade. She winced as I approached her table and almost drew back, but not quite, as I kissed her cheek. Then I did a really stupid thing. I was so pleased with myself that I took the fat roll out of my pocket and slapped it down on the table in front of her.
“Loser? It’s all yours, Jillie, count it, over four hundred there and all for my only little lover.” Her eyes almost popped out of her head as she counted the twenty twenty pound notes, a tenner and a fiver.”
“For heaven’s sake put that out of sight, Henry, wherever you knicked it from. Anyone may be watching us.”
“Jillie! Didn’t you hear me, it’s yours. I just won it on ‘All for love’ at 33-1 in the two o’clock at Kempton. It came in first, and I promised you all I won today didn’t I? Look, lover, you know I don’t win twice in a day so take it for God’s sake before I change my mind!”
“Are you serious Henry? You won all that, and you really want to give it to me?”
“Let me top up your drink and we’ll go through the whole situation again. Okay?” And I ordered a double Campari and Soda for myself and another Vodka and orange mixer for her. As I put them on the table she beckoned to me to sit next to her and awkwardly turned to face me. There was a hint of tears in her eyes as she held fast to my hand in a squeeze that said and meant more to me than anything else she could have done.
“Henry, you are a darling but please don’t. You need that for tonight and the other hundred which I’ve just managed to scrape together for you.” While speaking she took £15 out of the money I had given her and added five more twenty pound notes to the rest. “Look, when we meet again I want to see you as beautiful as you are, not with your face cut open by one of Roy’s goons because you couldn’t pay your debts. Please Henry,” and she pressed the money back into my hand. “If you really, really love me pay your debts tonight and we’ll talk about the future tomorrow. Henry, for me?”
“Oh you must love me a lot to trust me with five hundred quid when the racing’s still on. Are you sure?”
“Henry, I’m as sure as you are that you will go through all the temptations in heaven and hell until you put that money in Roy’s hand tonight, but when you do you have no idea what it will feel like! Believe me, I know!” I believed her and made a really firm promise to myself that the £500 in my hand was going to Roy at 7.00pm that evening and nowhere else. I zipped it into my inside waistcoat pocket and then noticed Jill still wasn’t drinking.
“You okay, love? You’re not drinking and your shoulder seems very painful. Let me take you back to the flat and have a look at it for you.”
She almost snatched her arm away from me in agony and then slumped forward the pain was so bad. I did not want to hear any more explanations. I just led her slowly out of the pub and then drove the ten minute journey to our flat by the common. She let me help her up the steps, but was about to pass out when I literally swept her off her feet, up the stairs and then laid her on her bed.
“Jill, darling, if you’ve suffered what I think you have I have only one thing I need to do now.” And before she could reply I undid the back of her dress and bared the four inch knife wound down her shoulder blade. My first priority was to wash it, disinfect it and bandage it up, my temper rising by the second. Finally I calmed down enough to speak sensibly.
“Was it Roy? Don’t lie to protect me. Jill was it?” She was crying now and nodded her head. “Oh Henry please don’t do anything silly. He said this was just to make sure you’d pay him somehow. He knows he and his mates could beat you to a pulp in seconds, so if you love me, please just give him the money Henry. Please. Then we’ll go away and start again. If you love me Henry, please.”
For the next half an hour I just held her close to me and kissed her. Not a word from either of us. Then I got up and smiled at my Jillie.
It was only four o’clock but I told her I needed some Dutch courage then added, “I’m off to pay Roy for you my love, you have my word of honour. I’ll be back at 7.30 as you asked. But don’t move out of this flat or open the door to anyone but me. Okay?” She smiled but did not look as though she believed me. She just wished me good luck.
The one precaution that any inveterate gambler should take once he knows how addicted he is is to set up a really good rain cheque that he can call in whenever he needs it. But the one thing he should never do is to make it a debt repayable in money. Well that is what I had done four years earlier when Micky Bowen lost a grand to me in a poker match. He couldn’t pay but I came to an agreement with him. If ever I needed two men to accompany me to pay a bet he’d provide them and no questions asked. We had remained good pals and now the time had come. I got him on his mobile and told him I had to meet Roy at the Golden Goose at 7.00pm. I asked if he and two others could meet me there at 6.55pm. He assured me he wouldn’t let me down.
I was shaking like a leaf when I entered the pub at six minutes to seven. Roy was at the bar and seemed genuinely surprised to see me. His grin stretched from ear to ugly ear.
“‘Ere look lads. The cowardly toff’ s turned up. Got the dosh, mate?”
I looked straight at him and said, “I don’t remember inviting you to address me. Kindly confine your remarks to those thick idiots you are too scared to go anywhere without to protect you.” The barman, Bill, just looked at me in despair.
“Now, now boys. No fighting inside. In the street if you must.”
“Bill I have no intention of fighting anyone so I presume you were speaking to that fat lump and his goons.”Then I did speak to Roy. “How much do you consider I owe you?”
“That’s better, sonny. Five hundred and quick.” I smiled and took a pink 500 dollar Monopoly game note out of my pocket and made it into a toy paper plane which I then floated at him.
All I said was, “Quits, I think,”and I turned on my heel to walk out. Immediately his two minders shot forward to grab me, but they were just too late. The two men who had walked up behind me each drew out a sawn off shot gun and aimed it straight at one of the heavies. They stopped where they stood before backing off. Then I went up to Roy and seeing the naked fear in his face I removed his wallet from his pocket and took £1,500 in notes out of it.
“That is the cost of the treatment my wife will have to pay to recover from the wound you gave her. Thank you. I owe you £500, so, being a man of honour, I shall return it to you. And putting the £500 Jillie had given me back in his wallet I pocketed the rest and slowly poured the remains of his pint of beer over his head.
My two friends still held their guns pointing at Roy’s goons as I walked to the door. Then as we were leaving they both fired at the same time. The water guns soaked Roy and his minders but before they had time to move we were all out the door and away in the car Micky had waiting for us. It sped away with no number plates. We picked up Jill and made London airport just in time to catch the Rome flight she had booked us on.
Micky and his heavies from Glasgow melted into thin air, Roy was never going to find them again. It all happened so fast Jill did not have time to ask for an explanation until we were airborne. “Well darling I was glad you had a passport at the flat. I always carry mine. I kept my word completely giving Roy the exact same notes you handed me. Then I kept £1,500 from his wallet.
“After texting you to collect your things and book the flights I had one last flutter on the 4.45 and 5.15 at Kempton and 5.00 and 5.30 at Haydock. A lovely little four horse accumulator that paid 9-1, 16-1, 25-1 and 40-1, all bet with the last £5 in my pocket. I won £906,100 which should keep us going for quite a while if we give up betting!”
She could hardly believe me.
“But Henry, Henry what did you do with all that money? Where is it? You couldn’t take it in cash and you’re bankrupt in England so it can’t be in a bank!”
I smiled lovingly at her. “Well £6,100 of it is in cash in my pocket with the other £1,500 from Roy, and the rest is in an account, €1,125,000 to be exact, in your name, in Geneva. I must show you how I wrote your signature.” And I did not forget to hand her her cheque book and withdrawal slips so she could set us up to use the money as we wanted to.
“The cash in my pocket, worth €9,500 euros, will see us through a couple of weeks or more until we straighten everything out.” But Jillie was looking rather pale.
“Henry what name did you open my account in? Not my real name I hope!”
“Why not, isn’t it your name?”
“Yes, my love, since we were married three weeks ago it is, but my passport back dates our wedding by some five years!”
I could hardly stop laughing. “I hoped it might, Jillie, that’s why I’ve got our wedding certificate with me. The account’s in your maiden name!”