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Thriller – Part six

Entry by Mike Day (May 2008)

Alex reached the door and turned the brass handle, it had a high polish in places and a dark patina in others. Used a lot but never cleaned, he reasoned. Inside, the room smelt of stale sweat, harsh Russian cigarettes and even cheaper spirits.

The Garish coloured walls downstairs should have given it away but he had been too distracted by his recent escape; this was a… he searched his memory for that quaint English term, a house of ill repute.

The wallpaper was peeling from the walls like the skin of a sunburnt whale, revealing grey concrete beneath. The bed was covered in a big red faux satin duvet, stains and cigarette burns littered its surface giving it a foul appearance to match the stench.

He slipped the latch on the door behind him and glanced around, there might well be eyes on him from peep holes but he didn’t care. All he wanted was a place to change his clothes and rake a comb through his hair. If the old woman wanted a cheep thrill she was welcome.

He was down to his underwear when a knock came at the door. Alex slipped the stolen pistol under the pair of dress trousers he held in his left hand, with his right he flicked back the catch.

If the door had burst open he would have squeezed the trigger and slotted whoever came through. Fortunately for the young girl sent to enquire if he wanted any “Extras” she had pushed the door open slowly enough to avoid alarm.

She was somewhere between fifteen and twenty five, thin to the point that her elbows stood out like carbuncles on her reed like arms. Her hair was something close to blond, or it would be if she washed it. But what Alex found the most repellent was the vacant calculation in her eyes. She reached up and tugged at the shoulder strap of her loose fitting slip, tilting her head to ask a question with out words.

This sort of lost child made Alex’s blood boil, behind her somewhere there would be a gang of men getting rich off of these girls. He shook his head and gestured with his free hand for her to get out.

She turned as she headed back towards the corridor and looked at him quizzically.

Had she seen the gun, he wondered or was it simply that a man who came here usually only wanted one thing? He didn’t intend finding out, he finished dressing quickly and threw his things into the bag, covering the painting.

At the foot of the stairs the diminutive madam was waiting for him. “You have best girl. You pay me now!” She folded her arms and placed her feet wide apart, daring him to argue.

“I didn’t touch her. Now get out of my way.” Alex said pushing passed her.

“Ay Yah!” she cried out, wailing at her unfair treatment.

From a room near the door a heavy set man with a shaven head stepped into the hallway.

“Are you trying to leave without paying?” growled the thug.

“Paying for what? I just used the room to get changed in. I’m happy to pay for that but I didn’t touch the girl.” Alex spat.

“They both say otherwise.” He said without asking either woman.

Alex let the tension slip from his shoulders, the last thing he needed now was more bodies and the police back on his tail. “Ok, how much?”

The madam looked him up and down, noting the smart evening suit and silk tie. “One hundred US” she said as if this was quiet reasonable.

Alex reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his wallet. He pulled out twenty Euros and placed it on the occasional table next to him. As the woman began to protest he held open his jacket and displayed the gun tucked into his waistband.

The thug showed a glimmer of intelligence by nodding and stepping out of Alex’s way.

“No Taxi?” Alex asked as he headed for the door. He didn’t need a translator to guess what the little woman said in reply.

Out on the street the bitter wind cut through the thin jacket and shirt. He braced his shoulders against its chill and began walking along the road towards the centre of town.

A passing Soviet era truck, more cast iron than carbon fibre, mounted the curb in front of him and pulled to a wheezing stop. As he approached, its passenger side door swung open.

“Do you want a lift?” asked the driver, a great bear of a man, wrapped in bark blue overalls.

“You’re a life saver” Alex said clambering up into the fug of the cabin.

“Petri” he said sticking a paw out towards Alex.

“Alex”

“So where are you heading” Petri asked.

“The town centre”

“Hot date?”

“More like a cold shoulder” Alex grinned as he pulled the heavy steel door shut.

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