Chapter 2

Written by: Ray Stone

Art watched, mystified, as Clarke settled into the red leather armchair and crossed his long legs. As before, he was dressed in black – this time, a suit with the open-neck black shirt. His black hair, parted in the middle, turn of the century style, was clean cut and neatly combed. As he sunk back into the chair, he rested his elbows and steepled his fingers, focusing his green-hazel eyes directly at Art.  

They sat looking at each other for an embarrassing moment and yet Art felt nothing but calm. Clarke’s lips parted slightly in a faint smile. He remained silent, but Art could not look away from the mesmerising eyes that gazed steadily at him. 

Bemused, Art finally asked, “How did you find me and what do you want?”

Clarke breathed in deeply and exhaled silently as he collapsed the steeple and snapped his fingers. Avoiding the question, he said, “Just like that, Art…I can relieve you of your problem just like that.” He nodded toward the door. “Got thrown to the bottom of the pile, didn’t you? All because of Paul Watson.”

Irritated, Art began to rise from his chair. Clarke was starting to annoy him. More, he was also hinting at something sinister, maybe frightening. “I think you should go.” He pointed to the door.

Clarke remained seated. “Calm yourself, Art. It isn’t every day that I get the chance to not only help someone with difficulties like yours but meet them face to face as it were. You should be grateful that I was on the train. I knew as soon as we shook hands that you were in a terrible state of mind.  Someone was stopping you from realising your full potential at work. You must let me help.” He leaned forward and whispered, “Of course, I will need you to ask for my help. That’s how it works”.

‘How what works?”

Clarke’s face creased into a broad grin. “I’ve been checking up on Paul Watson. Did you know his father is a Preacher and that Paul goes to church every week? What a silly pastime. Religion sucks, don’t you think?” 

Art hesitated. Something about Clarke made him feel vulnerable. The man was easy-going and his voice created a strange calmness that was edged with an eagerness to force agreement. “What has religion got to do with anything?”

“Indeed, replied Clarke. “Religion is a crutch for the weak to lean on when things go wrong. So many vulnerable people in the world but some, like you, are very strong.” He waggled a finger in the air. “Now, you Art, have an open mind and deserve to be at the top of the game. I can get you there if you ask for my help.”

Art felt a glimmer of hope. He could listen. It wouldn’t do any harm. They agreed to meet over lunch.

“By the way,” said Art, “what’s your surname?”

Clarke nodded knowingly. “I have many surnames but ‘Abaddon’ I like the most.” 

 

Comments

You've done an excellent job of building the tension here, Ray. It reminds me of a Carlos Ruis Zafon novel. Great stuff!
Thanks. I wondered after writing this if I had gone to far into subject matter that involved the 'other side' of religion but maybe not. I think we should always push the literary envelope and explore. Your comment is very much appreciated. Thank you.