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WordPlay - June 2012

29 May 2012

5.  CONSPIRACY

by Rose Mercer and Susan Wells

“Before you so rudely bundled me out, Kate, you should know I came here purely at Tom’s behest to give you an appraisal for selling your apartment.” Simon raises his hands, palms facing the huffy woman before him, his expression conciliatory.

“Don’t play games with me, Simon. Here’s the thing: Tom can’t know I was at the casino. I was supposed to be working overtime.”

“Oooh …”

Understanding dawns on Simon, but before he can say anything, Kate reaches into her loose top and pulls out a wad of money held together by a bank-type band.  She fans it in Simon’s face watching with satisfaction as he licks his lips and his eyes widen.

“This can be yours, Simon and more, much, much more.  See, I promised Tom no more gambling, but you can help me.” Kate has forgotten her unattractiveness. She’s looking at Simon in a most promising way as the doors to the downward-bound lift shhhp closed.

“Help you how?  What can I do?”

Kate grabs his arm urgently while breathing stale alcohol fumes on the fastidious man. He turns his head away, nose wrinkling.

“Listen to me, Simon King, and listen carefully.  Tom was doing some renovations recently and …”  

“Ah, that explains that badly-patched wall I saw,” Simon cuts her off, facing the doors but eyes peeking at the wad of money still close to his face.  

“Shut up and listen.”  Kate’s tone brooks no nonsense.  “Yes, he was opening up the wall to expand our closet and found it stuffed chock-a-block full of bundles like these.  The whole bloody wall is full of money. See? Like the bank hands out.  I nicked this before he freaked out. 

I want to keep it and I can cut you in.  Here, take this as your down-payment,” Kate shoves the bundle into his hand.  “But first, you have to do just what I tell you.”

The atmosphere in the lift becomes palpably icy as Simon’s well-tanned face blanches. This surprises Kate and she unexpectedly sees a dead man walking.

“What now?” she asks.

Simon’s eyes are glued to the bundle of notes in his hand – horror obvious on his face as he stares fixedly at the Maltese Cross and Egyptian hieroglyph symbol on the band.  A barely perceptible groan escapes his bloodless lips.  “Oh no, no, no, not again.”

Meanwhile, Tom, now alone with his thoughts, leans back on the sofa and closes his eyes, trying to make sense of the morning. Once Kate had left to guide Simon King downstairs, he had allowed himself to feel the confusion and anger lurking beneath his seemingly composed exterior.  Kate had somehow managed to change the playing field and the closure he needed on the sale of the unit now seemed uncertain.

“Where the hell was she anyway?” He felt a sudden sense of panic.

Memories came flooding back:  his father’s grandparents who had emigrated from Malta and apparently been quite well-to-do in their home country; Tom’s own family who seemed far better off than all of his school friends and their families; his father’s mysterious occupation which had never been explained; that odd ring he always wore with the symbols matching those on the money in the wall; and finally the knowledge he was expected to follow in the family tradition to take his place in the secret cabal …

Disconcerted, Tom opened his eyes in the empty apartment, gazing out the large lounge window with its breath-taking vista over Victoria Harbour.  No, he shook his head. They are in danger if they remain here. This situation must be resolved urgently.

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