Friday 23 October 2009

A SPECK OF DUST - by David Barber

A Speck Of Dust

A mahogany table sat in the middle of the small room, coffee stains and scratches adorned the once polished surface. There was a chair on either side and I was seated in the one near the window, my rucksack on the floor by my feet. The one near the door was empty but would soon be filled by ‘Stilts’ the loan shark. His real name was Kelvin West, not a likeable character. He wasn’t a hard man either, but he was a nasty fucker and whatever he wanted doing got done by his two henchmen, ‘Shorty’ and ‘Titch’. You see though, and here’s the ironic part, ‘Shorty’ was six feet five and eighteen stone of pure muscle and ‘Titch’ was six feet three and twenty stone with fists like sledgehammers.

The door opened, a huge hand holding the tarnished brass door handle. The ugly, oversized head of Titch peered round the door.

“Stilts is on his way.” The door closed.

Wish he’d fucking hurry up, I thought to myself. The room stunk. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the smell was but it wasn’t pleasant.

The door opened again and closed shut. A shuffling of feet accompanied the top of the head I could see on the other side of the table. You guessed it, Stilts or Kelvin, was a midget. He climbed onto the chair opposite me, standing on it with his hands on the table and leaning forward. His suit was immaculate, Armani or Hugo Boss or something like that. The only good thing about sitting across from him was the welcome break from the stench in the room that his cologne masked.

“So, let’s get names out of the way. I’m Kelvin, more commonly known as Stilts.” His voice made me think of the times when I’d been at parties and sucked the helium out of the balloons on the tables.

“Erm, yeah I know, your reputation precedes you. I’m Dave, Dave Preston.”

“Ok Dave, now that’s out of the way. What can I do for you?”

“I was hoping to borrow ten grand for a bit of business I’ve got coming my way.”

“What business?”

“I’d rather not say.”

“Ok, ok,” Stilts said, waving his stubby hands in the air, “None of my business, I know, I know. Well I don’t know you and you’ve never had money from me before so here’s the deal. Ten grand, forty eight hour turn around and I get eleven back. If it’s business then you’ll be making a tidy profit yourself, Dave.”

“What if I can’t have it back for you in that time, it may take a few more days than that. Can’t you just give it me and I’ll have it back for you in a week or so. The deal’s not fully sorted yet.”

“Well that’s not my fucking problem is it you lanky bastard. Don’t fuck me around, Dave. Ten grand, two days I’ve said and that’s final!” Pointing a little stubby finger at me he continued, “You’re nothing to me. See that,” he pointed down at the table, “A speck of dust, you’re nothing but a speck of dust and I could have you wiped away as easy as that.” Stilts brushed his hand across the table then looked back at me, a smirk on his ugly face.

I stared at his oversized head sticking out of the starched, white shirt collar. How the fuck did he get away with all this bravado. I could kill the little shit with both arms tied behind my back, if it wasn’t for the two ‘apes’ outside the closed door behind him.

“Look, Stilts, you’ll just have to put some extra interest on what I lend off you.”

“Don’t tell me what I’ll have to fucking do. You want this money or not? It aint my problem that your ‘deal’ aint ready yet. I loan you, I want it back. I always get my money back, but when I don’t, I get little pieces of you until you pay up.”

Stilts opened the drawer on his side of the table and pulled out five wads of notes and a small box. He looked at me and then took the lid off the box and emptied the contents onto the table. Fingers fell onto the surface, one of which, I noticed, left a bloody mark as it bounced.

“Ok, Ok,” I said, “I’ll take the deal,” I leant down and picked up my rucksack, moving stuff around inside it.

“That’s better Dave. It makes sense to stay on my good side. I don’t want to have to hurt you: you seem a decent chap ‘n’ all. Let’s just get this sort…..”

I cut him short with the Glock I had in my hand.

“Don’t even think about shouting your gorillas. You know Kelvin, you are one piece of shit and you’ve threatened the wrong person. I guess it’s you who’s ‘a speck of dust’ now.”

Stilts put his hands up just as I pulled the trigger. The bullet went though his right hand and straight into his face. The back of his head exploded onto the door behind him, a fraction before the force of the shot threw him backwards off the chair. The door flew open, pushing Stilts dead body like it was a little rag doll, and I fired off two shots, hitting Titch in the chest with both. His enormous frame fell backwards into the hallway. I heard the sound of running and ran to the door just in time to get another three rounds out of the gun, hitting Shorty in the back of the head, blood and skull exploding forwards as he fell to the ground.

“All bravado, ‘n’ no balls.”

I walked back into the room and picked up the money and the bloodied finger from the table. I put the money in the rucksack: Stilts wouldn’t be needing that any more.

“Nobody fucks with my family,” I said, putting my uncle’s finger in my pocket.

Manchester born and bred, but now living in Crieff, Scotland with wife, Lisa, and our two daughters, Imogen & Melissa. Recently inspired to write again by an old and good friend (Col Bury) and the beauty that surrounds me up here. Always reading - when not entertaining my girls and working - crime and horror…and now writing. David blogs here.


  1. Belting redemptive tale, Dave, with a dobber of a ending.
    Nice one. Sound as. Sorted.
    Fellow Manc!

  2. Ha! Nice.

    Had a Twin Peaks feel about it.

  3. Thanks guys....Twin Peaks... is that an eighties porn star, or am I totally barking at the wrong moon? :)
    BTW...Sorry for the lack of swearing.

  4. A recipe for success
    Take one Willow Ufgood
    Mix with one Al Capone
    Stir in bullets and brains until there is a thick mixture on all the walls.
    Serve straight away on TKnC.

    Great piece Dave.

  5. Good stuff Dave, Stilts is a great character and I loved the bit when the chopped off fingers fell out of the box. Nice story.

  6. To all, thanks so much for your comments!!

  7. I liked the literal - 'I get little pieces of you' - when the fingers fell on to the table - gives you goose bumps! loved it - Diana

  8. Paul, as usual thanks very much.

    Diana, thanks for looking. You've joined a great group of people at TK'n'C. Thank you.

  9. Jeez, and another excellent story. I have only been reading here for a week or so and the quality is absolutely impressive. David, good work.

  10. Cormac, MRMacrum - thanks for looking and leaving your comments. Feel free to look at my other work... ;)