The room spun around him as he lurched to the bottom of the staircase. He swore it had been straight the last time he had been here, now it spiraled upwards, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
With one hand he gripped the banister, the other held his side, failing to stem the flow of oozing blood. Dammit, this never happened to Bogie in the movies, bullets always managed to miss him. Just my luck, he thought, my dirty rotten luck.
If only he had been out the day she first darkened his office door. He could have been outside, enjoying the sunshine like the rest of California, strolling along Venice Beach, looking at any number of beautiful woman. Instead he was stuck with this one, the platinum blonde he would have run through walls to save.
Was it her dazzling looks that had made him blind? Would he have believed her cockamamie story of she had been a three hundred pound cross-eyed gent with a limp and bad body odour? He had always been a sucker for a blonde.
And yet here he was still trying to save her, despite all her lies. Daddy had never abused her, he’d never so much as smiled at her. His mistake was to threaten to write her out of his will, that was all it came down to – money, the universal truth. Why had she chosen him to be the poor schmuck that would do her dirty work for her and take the old man out? More of his dirty rotten luck.
Somehow he had managed to clamber halfway up the staircase. Sweat poured from his forehead with the effort. He heard no sound from the bedroom at the top of the stairs. Was she alive? Downstairs the body of the thug sent to kill her lay silent and dead. Had he got here in time? He pictured her lying on the bed, strangled, her seductive eyes lying wide open and lifeless.
He made it to the top of the stairs. As he let go of the banister the nausea and sickness rose again. He toppled forward, propelled towards the bedroom door. As he burst through he heard the bang of the gun. Before he fell to the ground he saw her standing behind the smoking gun. Of course she was, she never needed his help, his or anybody else’s. She could look after herself just fine.
His face lying on the plush red carpet he saw the gun land next to him. He heard her whisper in his ear, ‘I’m sorry.’ That sweet perfume intoxicated his mind as he heard her footsteps descending the stairs.
Just before he slipped out of consciousness he heard the sirens. At least she had the decency to call the ambulance before she left.
During April, I participated in the A – Z Challenge, with a selection of short stories inspired by the countries of the European Union. you can read them here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.