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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 03, 2016

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Submitted: June 03, 2016

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He stubbed out his cigarette on the No Smoking sign, shook another out of the pack, and lit it.

Countdown now stands at two cigarettes.

The cheap, somber-looking hotel room had been preregistered under the alias, “Wendell Manson.” Just about two hours ago, he walked up to the front desk and simply stated, “Wendell Manson, 305.” The elderly hotel clerk gave him a portentous glance, and then produced a key card from his front shirt pocket.

Upstairs in room 305, an almost empty pack of cigarettes sat on the ledge in front of the open window, a book of matches on top. As per the given instructions, after the last cigarette was smoked, he was to take the elevator back down to the lobby, leave the key card at the front desk, drive across the Harbor Bridge, and do what he had been paid to do. The countdown would commence with the first cigarette lit. 

Countdown stands at two cigarettes.

He leaned back in the chair, his feet propped up on the ledge of the open window. The smell of warm, salty air rose up from the harbor into the room along with the monotonous hum of the late night traffic. He took long drags off the cigarette as he watch the mesmerizing cascade of angelic white lights and devilish red lights flow flawlessly in opposite directions across the Harbor Bridge. 

He stubbed out the cigarette and stared hard at the two that remained.

He rose from the chair and walked across the dimly lit room to the bathroom. He turned on the light, looked into the mirror, and considered the tragedy that stared back at him. Dark circles under bloodshot eyes, a heavily creased forehead, multiple open sores, and a recently broken nose all told of a hellacious decent fraught with venomous women, unforgiving bookies, developing addictions and, by daybreak, murder for hire. 

A thought arose in his mind. At present, the money will run dry in a month. But diligent investments, by way of casinos, race tracks, even scratch offs could guarantee the money covering the following year. And, in that instant, he pictured himself leaving those last two cigarettes sitting on the ledge of the open window, taking the elevator down to the lobby, leaving the key card for room 305 at the front desk, and falling in line with those saintly white lights in the direction of a new existence.

He turned the light off in the bathroom, and walked back to the window.

“Many a fool has vigilantly dug their own grave with calculated precision only to have it unexpectedly collapse in on them.”

He shook another cigarette out of the pack and lit it. 

Countdown now stands at one cigarette.


© Copyright 2017 DougHebert. All rights reserved.

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