The figure in the trench coat dragged his feet down the alley. He glanced up: the sky was a black as a hearse. His aged, mottled hands were shielding something precious, varicose veins danced along them. His large hat obscured the bruises running down his face, even though it was a cool night beads of sweat dripped from his contoured face and his heart was thundering in chest. He took out his old brass pocket watch, with small, precise engravings. A present from a past lover. It read ten minutes past eleven. They were late.
But ‘they’ were not late. They were already there, but he did not know this. He did not notice the three figures silently slither through the smog. Nor did he notice the glinting of light from a steel switchblade. When they were very close, the man heard the sound of feet against the dirt path and turned.
“Thank God you’re here, I have had enough of this entire affair. I have what you want. Now leave me out of your matters. I need to get back to my life, my family.”
His voice voice was harsh and sad, and he choked at the last sentence. His eyes wondered to the blade and widened in horror. He tried to call out for help as he realised their treachery, but it was too late. The man’s plea for mercy was cast into the indifference of the wind.
The last thing the old man saw was the starless sky, offering no reconciliation as his life came to end. One of the hooded figures knelt down to pry the hidden object by the man’s hands. It was a small mahogany box, engraved with ornate patterns around the edges. They then turned round with box in tow and the man remained under the inky sky.
The brass pocket watch was left in the dust.