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Rated: E · Short Story · Thriller/Suspense · #2125244
Two men meet in a car, but for very different reasons.
The Burning in Blackness

The flame shoots up into the darkness, looking like a tear of orange, illuminating the uniform gloom for a sparkling second, before being casually snuffed out, then buried in blackness.

"Sorry, Man. Didn't ask if i could smoke in here, don't usually have to, but i know you cool with it, you're a chilled dude, i can tell. I'm a good judge of character and i can tell, a man like you with a car like this, serious dude. So. What's the mystery? What do you want from me?" Said the younger man.

"You're Matt Johns? Matt the Bat?" The older man said.

The cigarette embers flared as Matt took a quick sharp drag and said "The very man. Though i got more names than that, but bat cos i only come out at night, not a bat bat. Anyway, i got things to do, why you want me, out here, in this freezing car park?"

The older man stared out into the deserted, dark lot. After a moment he turned slightly to look at Matt, eyes squinting, examining. " You can get things? You can get things.....done?"

Matt smirked. "Oh yea, man. I can get things done, get things sorted, What you have in mind? Blag someone? Competition out of business? I'm the go to guy for this, you ask around, you'll see, i got a lot of history."

The low evening sun glared brilliant orange in the sultry summer sky, Insolent cats languidly padded along the warm pavement, before dropping to the ground, stretching out, and sleeping an unmoving endless sleep. Darren was fixing his hair in the wing mirror, wanting to look his best before venturing out in the car. It had been an expensive present, but eighteen only comes around once. He was a good boy; he deserved it. Like he was riding a golden chariot, he imperiously drove off to wards the city, meeting his usual gang to show off. And some new friend i hadn't met yet, called Matt.

The intruding headlights of a passing car quickly blazed into the car, then, just as rapidly, was extinguished as it turned behind the tall, silent silhouetted buildings. The older man, looking far off into the distance, nodded his head slowly and thoughtfully.

"Yes. Yes you have" he said. "You also deal with problematic people, so i hear"

Matt smirked and said "Yea? Well sometimes you need to make an example, to make people see you're not a pussy to be messed around"

"I agree with you Matt. I'm not here to be messed around" The older man said.

"Really? Cos i wish you'd get to the point, cos sitting in this car park ain't my idea of fun, I got things to do." Matt barked.

The older man fixed Matt a hard stare and said "Oh, i'll get to the point soon enough. I need someone dealt with, but you've been sloppy before. You've drawn police attention."

Matt snorted a laugh and said "That damn kid and with the car? Just bad luck, man. Bad luck"

I remember being shocked by the phone. Like a tormentors white noise it alarmed and confused me; it's flashing screen blinding me with garish colours. The clock showed it was nearly 3 A.M. and my thoughts instantly went to Darren. Shamefully, i was fully expecting to hear how he'd run out of petrol or broke down, of how i'd have to get dressed and go and rescue him at this godforsaken hour. I impatiently answered the phone and was met with the words, "This is Brighton police, are you Mr Sheridan?"

Mr sheridan physically winced as he recalled the moment, the pain flaring inside, as raw now as it was that very night. In a strained voice he said "What happened? I need to know what happened."
"Like i said, bad luck. That's all you need to know" said Matt, impatiently.

Gathering himself, Mr Sheridan said purposely "Oh no. I'm the man with the money here. I'm calling the shots. You want this?"

He pulled out a thick brown envelope, notes teasing through the opening. "Then you start talking, i need to know if it really was bad luck."

Matt thought for a moment, then shrugged and said "OK, whatever. I'd spotted these kids in the club, been coming for a few weeks, looked like they had money. So, i told a few jokes, got a few drinks for them, they loved it. Said they'd be out again friday and i arranged to be picked up."

"Just like that?" Said Mr Sheridan, after a humourless laugh.

"Yea, man. Like i said, they liked me, and i promised i'd get them in Audio. They fell for that." said Matt, "Anyway this kid turns up in this spanking new car, straight out of the showroom, gleaming."

"And you saw your chance for an easy payday" said Mr Sheridan.

Grinning, Matt said "Oh yea! Opportunity like that, be a fool not to take it, fell into my lap. Dropped the other two off and got ...erm....Darren, to drive me up the behind the Marina. But this dumb kid, wouldn't give me the keys, kept hold like his life depended on them, took my boots to finally loosen him up, bought it on himself, how was i to know what would happen?"

My main recollection of that day was feeling like an observer. Like i was witnessing the miserable events through someone else's eyes. Familiar faces appeared before me, their mouths moving through a barely heard sentence of sympathy, then disappearing back into the black draped crowd. As we entered the crematorium a chill draining gust followed, causing a candle to flash bright for a brief second, before being erased, leaving only a thin stream of smoke slowly meandering up into the air.

Red hot talons clawed at his guts; burning beaks ripped his heart. The sudden memory overwhelming; the pain searing his eyes, causing his vision to momentary blur.

"So it was just chance he came by you? Just chance you were a stealing thug and he was an naive young boy?" Mr Sheridan barked.

Matt, slightly ruffled, said, "Yea, ok, whatever man. You think it was easy for me? I had to lay low for months, it cost -"

"Cost?!" Mr Sheridan, snapped, " You've got no idea what it cost, Matt. You've got no idea what you did. What you...", Mr Sheridan trailed off, hands gripping the wheel like his sanity depended on it.

After a moment of charged silence, Matt finally said "Ok, man. I had enough of this...this ...you got issues, you're a nutjob. I thought you were here or buisiness and i don't like being taken for a ride."

"Neither did Darren. I'm sure Darren didn't like being taken for a ride", said Mr Sheridan, "I sure he didn't like some punk he thought was his friend, stamping on his head, stamping out his life.

Matt reached out and grabbed Mr Sheridan's collar roughly and said "Screw you, man! You shut your mouth or i'll shut it for you. I don't know why you're so hung up on this kid-"

"Darren!" Mr Sheridan hissed. His face rigid; eyes wild and wide."His name was Darren Sheridan. He was my son!"

Matt's face drained of colour, looking like a cadaver, feeling even worse. Mr Sheridan swiftly reached inside his coat, now calm and purposeful. Matt made one last desperate attempt to escape the car, but Mr Sheridan was was like a rolling rock in motion. Unstoppable and deadly. His arm pulled out of his jacket like a snake, black death at it's end. The flame shoots up into the darkness, looking like a tear of orange, illuminating the uniform gloom for a sparkling second, before being casually snuffed out, then buried in blackness.

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