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Easy Money

"You need to disappear," she said. "Drop off the radar." You'd be surprised how soon the homeless become invisible. Office workers march like automatons, stone-eyed, blanking out dark doorways, anything to avoid seeing a grimy knee protruding through ripped Levis. Their fear? How close street life is. I trudged East End back streets, slept under arches and begged. If a stranger offers food beware: It'll be a vegan nut job; and the food itself? It'll be a vegan nut job. Not a hot slab of steak or a fat juicy sausage. It'll be a sesame seed bar. It'll crack your fillings horizontal. Tell them to fuck off and get you a Maccy D.

She's reported me missing. She's got a new mobile waiting for my two calls. I've memorized the number like a mantra as I've searched for the right guy. Then Bingo! He's Asberger's, street-sore, hope-drained and alone and crucially? My height and build. Killing him was a piece of cake, two deep thrusts of a rusty blade. He didn't even fight. The first call? To tell her I killed a man as we planned, and for her to identify the dead guy as me and claim my life insurance. The second call three months later? For her to pick me up and take me home to a new place after the insurance money is safely banked.

The phone booth reeks of piss. I ring the number, my heart pounding with relief. The charade's finally over. I long for a hot shower, new clothes, clean teeth, a bed. And a robotic voice announces: "Sorry this number's no longer in service".

Story by:

Alex Fender

alexcouttsfender@gmail.com

26 December 2013