Chapter 5

Written by: Ray Stone

Tom walked into ‘Bennies’ and brushed rain from his lanky black hair. The small snack bar was full of cigarette smoke. Steam coughed out of the large coffee machine and a wash monkey in the kitchen slammed crockery around in the dish washer. The place was alive with rock music and loud mouthed kids throwing fries at each other while a quiet little street man dressed in dirty jacket and jeans sat in a corner nursing a coffee.

After nodding to ‘Fat Bennie’ for a coffee, Tom squeezed past the kids and joined the small man. His decision to contact Ned on the anniversary of Emily’s death turned out to be a good one although the outcome of their meeting did not please him. Despite reassuring Ned that there was already an investigation going on into the cold case, Ned had his own.

On the way over he had thought back to that night and what it must have been like for Emily to leave the man she had just married. He also blamed himself for her death. He sat and nodded to the old man as his mind went back twenty two years.

The night had started on a high. Emily  was in high spirits, and challenged him to a race up the mountain and across the pass to Drennan Forks.

“Ya gotta message from a suit. Looks like he was from the city,” yawned Bennie, interrupting Tom’s thoughts. He placed a mug in front of Tom and blew smoke from between lips that still held a dangling Marlborough from the corner of his mouth. “Ya gotta meet him downtown tomorrow. He had cop stamped on his butt. Said you’d know.” He raised his eyebrows and sauntered away wiping his big hands on a dirty T towel that hung from the waist.

Tom pushed his fingers through his hair. Ned must have been talking. He knew his hang out.

He sipped the black coffee. Emily had taken the bend too fast that night and the car coming the other way crashed as the driver tried avoiding her. The driver was dead and there beside her was the case. Money and dope. Against Emily’s warning he took it.

She left him for Ned after a row and they agreed to not talk about the accident with anyone. A reward for information had reached the streets and the police were warning that the mob were involved.

He warned Emily to keep quiet but after she married a few months later a snitch had put their names forward. It did not take long for them to be followed. After that she had run out on Ned and threatened to go to the cops. He had anonymously called the mob hotline and she died shortly after as she drove to the station.

The little man raised his head. He rubbed his grizzled chin with a yellow nicotine finger.

“So who am I toppin’?”

Tom pushed Ned’s picture across the table.

 

Comments

I really like the change in locations and the interaction of the characters. Very nice indeed. I hope we'll get an answer to who he is topping or maybe we don't need to know.
I really liked the description 'he rubbed his grizzled chin...'
Ned is supposedly getting topped.