Victor stood up, still staring at the smouldering bomb site. “Yeah,” he said. “It’s all over.” He smiled.
From the billowing black cloud above, a bolt of lightning shot down to the mansion’s remains and hovered there a moment, growing brighter, before vanishing. “Whoa,” said the girl. “I’ve never seen lightning do that before.”
“Me neither,” said Victor. He looked up at the clouds. “See ya, Gary,” he said quietly.
Rain began to fall. Victor and the girl left the mansion grounds by the front gate. She pointed out his briefcase on the road; he collected it and came back to the girl. “How did you get out of there?” she asked, as raindrops trickled down her glasses.
Victor looked up at where the mansion had stood. He smiled and turned to the girl. “I had some help,” he said.
The girl pointed to Victor’s briefcase. “The boys were gonna open your case, but I told them not to.”
Victor stared at the case he was clutching at his side. His eyebrows screwed together for a moment, and then he smiled. He held the case out to the girl. “You want it?”
“Really?” she said. “But… don’t you need it?”
She took the briefcase. “Thanks mister. What’s in it?”
“A few unimportant papers… and a couple of metronomes.”
“Oh wow. You don’t want them?”
Victor looked sceptically at the girl. “No, I don’t want them… You know what a metronome is?”
“Yeah, it’s that thing that keeps tempo.”
A huge grin spread across Victor’s face. “Yeah, that’s it. They’re all yours. Now, you’d better get home, out of this rain.”
The girl nodded. She tucked the briefcase awkwardly under her arm. “I’m glad you got out of that house,” she said, and walked away down the hill.
Victor watched her go, and then looked up and let the rain tap against his face. He loosened his tie, then reached into his pocket and took out the parting gift Gary had given him: it was the water pistol. He chuckled and slipped the pistol back into his pocket, then turned and walked down the hill, back into the town of Stork.
It was a long walk, in the dark and in the pouring rain. The steely look of the determined salesman had left Victor’s face; instead there returned a contented smile that had long been missing. Through the quiet streets he trekked, until, drenched and tired and with a stinging in his injured hand, he reached the main street. It was dark apart from a single streetlight, the glow from the pub windows and the flickering neon sign above Victor’s motel. As he walked along, he noticed dozens of parked cars; the side streets, too, were lined with vehicles. Cheering and laughter echoed from the pub. “Busy night in Stork,” he said.
As he passed the pub on the way to his motel, he stopped at the open door and looked inside: over two hundred people in businesswear packed the humble establishment, and were, by the looks of things, drinking it dry. Music blared from the small stage in the corner, where a middle-aged woman in a pant suit whipped her hair about as she screeched a horrific yet well-received karaoke version of Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. At the bar, a row of young men in suits downed shots of tequila, and in another corner half a dozen heavy-set fellows sporting identical bushy moustaches bellowed at a television screen showing greyhound races. Lively discussions, hearty laughter and the clinking of glasses filled the air. “How about that?” said Victor. He noticed a sign in the window: Country Pub Owners Convention This Weekend.
© 2020 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED