It was quite strange watching the blossom of blood on Mike’s shirt gathering up its petals and disappearing back down the small black hole. His knees rose from the ground dragging his body with them. His arms waving wildly, his torso twisted to the left, he resembled some madly talented break-dancer defying the laws of physics. The glazed expression on his face changed to one of pain, then shock, then terror, even as his mouth opened wide and closed again around his brief cry of denial.
I couldn’t see the bullet, but something drew the smoke and flame back into the muzzle of the gun, even as I felt and heard the report diminish in power. There was no recoil of course, but there was an inexplicable tugging at my wrist as my finger relaxed on the trigger and the barrel came down to the horizontal.
Mike was back on his feet now and his arms came round in front of him, his palms pushing towards me like a swimmer preparing for the next stroke. His face, creased and flushed dark-red was unfolding itself and his eyes squeezed shut up to this point began to relax and open.
His expression when my hand came out of my pocket, leaving the gun, suddenly cool, hidden there, rapidly reprised: welcome, hate, fear, and confusion. My right leg moved back behind me pulling my body away from him to face Angela who stood in the doorway of the bedroom, naked.
It seemed she stood there for a lifetime. Certainly long enough for me to say something that sounded like I was vomiting. The sound waves collected their frequencies from all over the room and carefully poured them back down my throat, hurrying to finish before my jaw could begin clenching.
Angela ducked her head as though in contrition and stepped back into the bedroom, closing the door before her. The handle twisted back to rest.
With the door closed I stepped back into the hall, my raincoat getting wetter by the moment before it leapt back into my hand from the hall chair. The coat flapped, then wrapped itself around me, the edges slipping into my hands as my arms moved across my body to twist the buttons back into their holes. A moment’s pause and my house keys jumped from the hall table and interlaced themselves with my fingers, nestling there. The sound of a Robbie Williams CD was sucked from my ears back into the living room along with the unmistakeable scent of Joop for Men, seconds before the click of the front door closing and then opening.
Outside once more, I pulled the front door key from the lock. Looked at it as it was jumbled with the rest of the bunch and then felt my hand carefully rearranging the keys under the coins in my pocket. Rainwater dripped up to my coat-hem, drying the tiles of the vestibule.
Behind me, cars hissed backwards along the street and the darkness lightened.
John Ritchie is a writer who is doing his bit to end global warming by publishing on the Net. His theory being that he is sparing trees even if he is putting people in the printing and related industries out of work. He has just realised that lumber-jacks and saw mill employees are going to suffer too and they are seriously big guys with muscles and stuff and they could all come a hootin’ and a hollerin’ outta the YMCA and drive around to John’s duplex and really stomp his ass. John is going to sleep over tonight with Salman Rushdie.