The Hounds of Hell
His pace was level, his shoes clicked confidently as he strode into my office that day. The midnight-blue suit he wore was bespoke, and I could see the set of his strong shoulders under his starched shirt. This was a bull of a man and as he held out his right hand to shake mine, I saw subtle but perfectly manicured nails.
Had I been an average man, I would have been intimidated. But one does not get to where I am by being average. My motto, get the money get the job done, has served me well as a Practitioner of the Law. I had vowed not to let morality, or whatever it is religious fanatics call it these days, take precedence over my practice.
I am cocky and I brim with confidence. If a confessed serial murderer hired my expertise and paid well, I would get him off, lining my pockets with the skin of his teeth.
Neither of us dwelt on niceties, time was of the essence. This was a man on the run and his request involved sensitive state secrets. For two decades, he had been the President’s confidante and advisor. But on the eve of the elections he had switched allegiance, selling intelligence to the opposition for a great fortune.
He spoke of covert late-night meetings in underground bunkers, information being relayed in hushed voices. It was hard to believe that the man on the other side of my oak desk had overseen every decision the Sovereign made. But now he’s a marked man, charged with treason and lese-majesty.
He leaned low, picked his case off the floor and placed it on the table. I took a closer look – designer calfskin. He flipped the clasps, the top sprang open and I smelt it – new, crisp, freshly minted currency. My heartbeat rose, and my mouth watered.
“This, Advocate,’ he said, ‘is 10 Million Dollars. Neat. I have heard tales of your…abilities. Make this charge disappear, and I’ll double it.”
My ears rang, voices in my head clamoured. Take the case. Take the money. My eyes rested on the briefcase – money for that well-deserved vacation in Maui, models in bikinis all around me, bartenders on call, Cognac in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other. My eyes watered at the prospect of it all being within reach.
I cleared my throat and spoke. “I am the best litigator this side of heaven. I can make these bad people go away.”
The big man smiled and pushed the briefcase towards me and Handel’s Messiah played in my head as I leaned forward and reached out.
The door shattered, blasted off its hinges and four masked men marched in toting AK47’s. Their boots thudded and my heart skipped a million beats as I watched two of them manhandle my client out of his chair and throw him against the wall.
I stood up. Do I take the money and bolt? I looked towards the door: a man twice my size stood there, his gun trained at my chest. There was a window behind me, I thought of lunging at it. Blithering idiot that I was: we were on the 27th floor. Oh God! Why now? When my wildest dreams are a breath away? My gaze darted about wildly.
Cold steel pressed against my forehead. My blood turned to ice and the hair on the back of my neck rose as I looked into the masked face. He grinned wolfishly, “Make one sound, and I’ll plaster this place with your puny brains.”
“Kill me and who will defend you when you get caught, dumbass?” I snapped before I could stop myself.
The man growled through his mask and brought down the butt, smashing my nose with a sickening crunch.
I yelped in pain and clutched my face, blood spewed from my nose and onto my favourite shirt.
“Any other snide remarks, Mr. Big Shot Advocate?’ He laughed. “Didn’t think so.”
I watched in disbelief as he shut the briefcase, lifted it, and stalked out, his friends hard on his heels. Dogs!
My client was still cowering against the wall. I sat down heavily and waited for him to follow suit.
“Hounds of hell are snapping at your heels, eh?’
He held his head in his hands.
“So,” I said, leaning back in my seat and studying my bloody handkerchief. “ I think its electronic cash transfer from now on.”