Wednesday 28 October 2009

THE SINS OF THE PAST By Chris Allinotte

Halloween's a-coming, so here's a horror from new-comer Chris...

The Sins of the Past

Spencer stared at the screen. He looked away, and then back. Nothing had changed. He felt as if he’d swallowed a rubber ball. The chequing account was all that was left from his time as an employee of Leonard Dallas. He’d kept the thirteen dollar balance to remind himself that no amount of money was worth sacrificing his principles for … again. Today, however, the total read $1,013.
After a string of disastrous wagers on horses, basketball, and football, he’d owed the bookie forty thousand dollars. Seeing there was no way he was going to be able to pay and, loathe to waste a gifted financial wizard, a deal had been struck. Spencer had laundered money for five months, using every loophole and trick at his disposal to not only get the funds clean, but to grow them substantially on the way. At no time, however, did he forget that he was the last link in the chain of money, and the first to go if the cops started sniffing around.
At the end of five months, Leonard called him into the office, and released him from his “contract.” The man was huge. At six-foot-six he was like a transport truck wrapped in Armani. He’d offered to keep Spencer on the payroll, liking the way he kept the books clean and his mouth shut, but Spencer had read enough crime novels to know that if you’re ever offered a way out, you take it. Even then, the last ten years had passed, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Today it had, to the tune of one thousand dollars. Spencer reached for his coffee, and instead found himself groping the stamp-pad he’d left open.
“Shit.” Distracted with pulling handfuls of tissue out of the box, and trying to wipe his fingers off, the phone had gotten to its third ring by the time he noticed. The name on the display was “Ewing Investments.” Dallas. It was a terrible joke, but no one dared tell Leonard that. With trembling hands, Spencer snatched up the receiver, and bought a moment by spouting the script, “Good Morning, you’ve reached Wellington Investments, this is Spencer Davis speaking, how may I help you today?” Better. It was the mental equivalent of taking a deep breath; which he did next.
“Spence. How’s things?”
He winced at the uncomfortable familiarity, and shifted the now partially blue telephone under his shoulder, “Mr. Dallas?”
The voice on the other end came back brightly, “No, this is Gerard. You remember us though. I’m deeply touched. As you can see, we haven’t forgotten about you either.”
Spencer forced himself to take a moment, and sucked back half the steaming cup of coffee in one gulp. He grimaced at the heat. Gerard was not in a waiting mood, however “Spence? Still there?”
He spluttered on the dregs of his coffee, “Yes … I mean yes sir, I’m here. I had a tickle in my throat and didn’t want to cough in the phone.”
“Fine. Now, answer the question please. Did you take a look at your bank records?”
Spencer surprised himself, now that the moment he’d been quietly dreading for a decade was here, he found that he was remarkably calm. “I did. It goes without saying it was a surprise.”
“It wasn’t that hard finding your new information Spence. We wanted to re-introduce ourselves, as it were, with a gift. Something to show what we’re proposing is, at heart, mutually beneficial.
“And what’s that?”
“I’m in a car downstairs. Come down, and we’ll talk about it.” The connection ended. It hadn’t been a request.
Minutes later, Spencer was in the back of a limousine, facing the man himself. The heavy black car was leaning just perceptibly to the side which held the juggernaut. Dallas was currently smiling at him and sipping from a glass of scotch.
“Let me get to the point Spencer. You don’t like me. That’s okay. Very few people do. It won’t stop me from making you an offer. I need you to do some more work for us. One job.”
So it was exactly as he’d feared. He had to at least put up the pretense of refusal, though the bulge in Gerard’s suit coat indicated his options were far more restricted than they seemed. “Mr. Dallas, I really appreciate it, but I came so close to losing my license last time, I really couldn’t …”
“Stop right there Spencer. You can rest assured you won’t be going near our books this time.”
Before the banker could even breathe his sigh of relief however, the big man continued, “No, no, just a quick and easy homicide.”
Spencer fainted.
His face stung as he came awake. Gerard had been slapping him. Hard. He held up his hand, “Stop. Please.”
With the exception of the level of booze in Dallas’ glass, nothing else had changed. The boss continued.
“There now Spencer. We lost you for a minute there. I see this is a big surprise to you, but you have to know, we wouldn’t be asking you to do this if there was any other way.”
The thin young man rubbed his swelling cheek and mumbled, “I can’t kill anyone.”
In response, he now faced the unblinking eye of Gerard’s automatic. “Can’t allow you to leave then, Spence. You’ve heard us use the “m” word, after all.”
It had been made that simple then, take a life, or lose his own. When considered like that, Spencer Davis, who had succumbed to the allure of quick money at the track, who had turned to illegal means to repay his losses, who, in short, always took the easy way – the choice was no choice at all.
“Who is it you need … who’s the tar … who is it?”
Dallas produced a plain manila envelope, open at one end. He removed a picture, and handed it to Spencer. The woman was startlingly beautiful. If you took away all the gaudy jewelry, heavy eye-makeup, and kerchief, she could easily be the celebrity face of some women’s beauty product.
“Why her?” Dallas must have thought this was reasonable, because he answered.
“Fair enough Spencer, as it’s your first time. Maybe having a purpose will make it easier.”
He sat back, and continued, “Rosemary Dugati. Fortune teller. She has one of those little studios, you know the type, neon hand with an eye in it shining out of a shitty little second floor window? Ms Dugati not only overheard some sensitive business, but she also made a recording. Shame on us for using the adjoining apartment for something so important, but what’s done is done.”
Spencer was sipping a Perrier that Gerard had passed over as a low level peace-offering. He raised his eyebrows, offering no objection. Leonard continued.
“Though I reject any claim the woman may have to supernatural powers; I must admit that she has shown an infuriating knack for knowing when any of my men are near; and ensuring then, that she is not. In short, we can’t get close to her.”
Gerard pressed a nine-millimeter pistol into his hand. The gun felt heavy and foreign in Spencer’s grip. He detested the thing at once. The slender bodyguard watched his reaction and said, “It’s loaded. That little switch on the side is called a safety. Move it over before you need to fire, and remember to squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it – you’re liable to break your finger otherwise.”
Spencer swallowed, and Dallas went on. “You’re going to visit Ms Dugati as a client. Book a fortune telling. Do this yourself. If we do it, she’ll know. Go to your appointment, and let her do her thing. Then, when it’s time to pay, you take out the gun instead of your wallet, and presto; I’m happy, and you’re forty-thousand dollars to the black. That is, if things go right. If you miss this opportunity, we won’t get another, and I shall be displeased. I think it goes without saying that you don’t want me to be displeased with your performance.”
Gerard chimed in, “They’ll find your fucking head in the freezer.”
Dallas shot the man a look that could melt iron. “Gerard. A little decorum. Bear in mind that we’re asking this man to step outside his comfort zone; and I can see, by his expression, that he will be doing everything in his power to ensure things go as planned. Right Spencer?”
Spencer nodded, still looking down at the ugly black gun. A crazy notion flit through his mind then. What if he just opened fire right now? Took out both these madmen in one go? Sure, he thought, if I can figure out how to get the damned safety off before Gerard blows three holes in my skull. Instead he just kept nodding.
“Now then, the address is on the back of the photo.”
It was twenty minutes past eight when Spencer made his way up the yellowed stairway that smelled of age and long-dead cigarettes. The brown metal apartment door was adorned with the same hand and eye symbol he’d seen in the window. There wasn’t even a name.
The door was unlocked, but upon opening it, he found himself in a plain looking living room. There was no indication of any business being run out of this place. The result was an uncomfortable moment where he felt like he’d broken in. “Hello?”
“Sit down Mr. Davis.”
The voice came from somewhere behind a curtain of black beads. For the life of him, it made Spencer think of that old black and white movie about the Wolfman, "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a volf vhen the autumn moon is bright."
When the beads parted, however, he remembered that that was where any similarity to the old crone in the film left off. She was a petite, smoldering beauty, with huge dark eyes, and long auburn hair pulled into a ponytail at the nape of her neck. As she drew near the table, his senses were overwhelmed by her scent. It was feminine and wild at the same time, like a dream of making love in the forest.
Still staring, Spencer took a seat. She sat across from him, and bored into him with her black eyes, “Now then, Mr. Davis, let me tell you vhy you vill not shoot me.” She smiled then, and he saw that her lips curled oddly at the corners of her mouth, as if the teeth there were just a little bigger than they should be.
Sucker punched, Spencer could do nothing but continue to stare, except now his jaw was hanging open.
In the next forty minutes, Rosemary laid out an intricate spread of tarot cards that all foretold great misfortune, and with far more details than he would have thought possible. It distilled itself to one crystal clear outcome – he was going to die. Whether or not he took this woman’s life, Gerard would put a bullet in his head at the earliest opportunity.
His eyes felt dry and red, but no tears came. His survival instincts were all used up, and he was trying to come to terms with his own mortality.
“Mr. Davis … Spencer. Vhat if I told you this outcome could be avoided? Vhat if I could give you the power to reclaim your life. Vhat if I could make you young and strong for always?” She stopped talking then, and just looked at him. There was naked lust in her eyes, and despite his looming demise, Spencer was completely aroused.
Shifting in his seat, he said, “What are you talking about?”
She smiled wider, showing canines that no human should have, “I think you know.”
“Will it hurt?”
“A lot.”
“After, can we …”
“Yes, I’d like that.” Her grin was growing longer still, pulling back and back and back. He could see all her teeth now, but focused instead on her beautiful eyes.
“Alright. I agree.”
She pounced, and she was right.
It hurt.
A lot.
Several hours later Spencer emerged from beside the storefront, looking much the same as he went in, except now he smelled vaguely of sex and wet dog. He wore a huge grin, and an air of confidence that he’d never had before. The night was alive with the scents of twilight, and the sounds of night birds and insects. His senses were so overwhelmed with minutiae that he never noticed Gerard stepping out in front of him, squeezing the trigger.
Spencer crumpled to the ground, clutching at wounds that burned like fire. Their sting spread quickly throughout his body. He knew what it must mean. Spitting blood, he managed to cough, “Silver bullets? Why? How?”
Gerard sneered, “We heard rumors, and these things are best not left to chance. Besides, it would explain a lot about how she knew we were coming.” He checked the clip.
“Eight left for your new girlfriend. Better get on …” he was interrupted by a thick chuffing sound from his victim. “Why in Christ’s name are you laughing?”
“Behind you. I … might be dying … but looks like … you … you’re out of a job.” Spencer’s new nose had told him the whole story.
Gerard turned in time to see the black limo start rocking violently. There was a thick, bellowing scream and blood sprayed the back window with a splat.
He gaped. “Well son of a bitch.”
“Psst. Hey Gerry.” Spencer’s voice, sounding rough and raw, coming from behind him made him snap his head around.
“Silver bullets are bullshit.”
The werewolf lunged. Strictly speaking, Spencer shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much, but this was personal, and he did.
Later, in the woods, he met up with the fortune-teller.
“It vherked.” She smiled her wolfish grin.
“I guess they never saw it coming.”
She rolled her eyes, and threw her arms around him. “That vas terrible.”
“So are we. But I like it.”
The moon came from behind a cloud, and the two new lovers went to greet her.

© Copyright Chris Allinotte, 2009

Chris Allinotte lives in Toronto, Canada, and writes in whatever time he can manage to get. Some of his other work is online at MicroHorror, Static Movement (September), and The Oddville Press. His writing blog can be viewed at


  1. Great to see you around these parts Chris. Smooth piece. Nothing better than mixing the paranormal with noir.

  2. Lee - you stole my line! Horror and noir together - like a dark chocolate box of tasty crime.

    Really enjoyed the flips and melding between genres.

  3. Very nice. Smooth - an easy read. Thanks.

  4. Great piece of writing. Agree with the above horror n noir go great together, werewolves rock!
    Welcome to tk'n'c Chris.
    Regards, David.

  5. This is a really great story -- well-written, and I really like the voice. Also the twist at the end -- I totally didn't see that a were would pop up in here! Great job!

  6. Thanks everyone for the great comments. I'm a big fan of how the ending came out too!