James Lasdun, winner of this year’s inaugural national short story prize wrote ‘It’s Beginning to Hurt’ in just 500 words.
we were set the challenge of borrowing one of his character’s and write their story within the same, or near to. time frame.
so this is Beginning to Hurt from Derrick’s view in 460 words.
It’s beginning to hurt
“Good lunch Mr Bryar?” she asked
“Excellent lunch” I heard him lie to Beth our office secretary
“Sorley’s?” I asked out of habit as my senior partner in our firm took his place at his polished walnut desk and I at my budget replica.
“No, some… Chinese place” he mumbled not even bothering to look at me.
“Your wife rang” I’d thrown that comment out into the air thoughtlessly. Inwardly I was cursing myself. She hadn’t just rung because I’d just had lunch with her secretly.
Panic at my stupidity caught the breath in my lungs and I gaged.
Bryar he was now on the phone to her. My heart beat guilty like a judge’s baton against my chest. I didn’t know how long it took for the taxi to take Penelope home from Metcalfe Hotel where we had been together.
Guilt had robbed me of the taste of the signature black and blue grill but not of Penelope’s lips on mine. Heat flushed my flesh at the thought of Bryar’s wife kissing me.
Would she be able to fool him once more?
This was a dangerous match neither Penelope nor I could afford for Bryar to divorce her. I needed his job and she needed his money.
My desk clock ticked as I went over tonight’s murder plan in my mind once more this had to go perfectly like a metronome if we were going to get away with it.
7pm; He takes his brandy in the library. Pea will open the kitchen window and leave Tom’s car keys out on the phone stand.
8pm I will hide behind the shed until the security lights turn off in the yard.
8.20 get into the kitchen and hide in the pantry.
9pm Bryar sets the alarm and goes to bed. Wait until I hear Pea call ‘Goodnight’ to Crème Custard.
Oh dam! I forgot 8.10 – feed Crème Custard AMITRIPTYLINE laced dog treats. That bloody Poodle would bark the place into an up roar if I don’t give him the sleeping pills.
Oh god, I’m going to end up in prison.
He’s not at his desk on the phone. Where has Bryar gone?
“Where are you heading Mr Bryar?” I called after him
“My wife needs a Salmon, see you tomorrow Derrick” came his distant reply
“Night sir? Hope you have a good evening.” I gave my best toadying voice. Did that sound too forced? Was it too obvious? Golly it’s so warm in this bloody office.
Maybe I should write the plan out in built points, then I can memorise it easier.
Hell no, stupid, stupid me.
Ahrr! Oh the door, yes of course it is. Where was I?