“I left the back door unlocked,” said Barney. “As if things aren’t bad enough already. I fucking hate myself sometimes.”
“Don’t say that,” said Chris.
Chris was sick of this. He knew how coming down felt. They both knew there was no chance of finding the drugs now. But Barney is mourning as well, he thought. That must be hell. Barney, however, was about to drag Chris deeper into his mire.
“It was a jogger off the estate. Runs over the hill. Can’t miss him. You’ll get the usual sum.”
Nodding, Chris reached over the inexplicably placed bottle of glue, inhaling the acrid fumes, and took the gun. “I’m sorry about your dad,” he said. “I liked him”.
Barney held up a silencing hand, gazing down.
Well, thought Chris. I tried. Barney had better pull himself together and lay off the drugs, otherwise someone will take his place.
“Let’s get it over with,” Chris said.
“Yeah,” Barney mumbled. “Let’s.”
On a hillside road, a black hoody covering his face, Chris shadowboxed to smother the fear.
What Jogger? Chris thought. I know that estate like the back of my hand. Who could break into Barney’s house and steal a load of drugs, right from the heart of his living room? Something isn’t right. Well… it’s only murder…
If he kept doing what he’d done before- keep schtump and claim ignorance- the police wouldn’t find him. Barney had always made sure of that.
A heavy figure stomped up the hill. Although distant, amidst the birdsong from the adjacent field, the man’s wheezing was already audible.
Chris jumped back into the tall, cloaking roadside grass. Inhaling deeply, he pulled out the Beretta. It seemed heavier than when he’d first picked it up.
A full minute crawled around his watch before the panting man, soon to be nothing but a carcass, passed in front of his vision.
Without hesitation Chris lifted his arm out straight and pulled the trigger.
The blast destroyed the countryside silence, and a hole appeared momentarily in the jogger’s hood. The body was thrown sideways to the ground, as if tackled by an invisible rugby player. A geyser of blood deflected off the inside of the hood, like a man holding his thumb over a tap. Spraying forth into the blinding sunlight, it landed with a smatter on the wide rural road.
Chris released his breath. Another point of no return.
He had to know.
The rule is, you don’t go near them after the deed- but who was this jogger? Who had the balls?
The blood hadn’t quite reached the corpse’s shoulder yet, so Chris toed over the weighty torso.
Barney’s fear-etched mask grimaced back up at him.
Chris collapsed backwards and vomited on the asphalt.