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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A violent loan shark has to look back on his not so glorious life

"Bent, Elijah Bent, I want to talk to you, don't ignore me, Bent."
This was not the type of night Elijah Bent had anticipated. he had already had a bad day and was looking forward to a couple of quiet drinks with one of his many business acquaintances.
Stopping to see who had the affrontery to approach him,  en with out of hours business, he sees it is Gibson a regular customer of his money loan set up.
"Now, now, Mr Gibson, you know better than to talk business for all and sundry to hear. If you have a problem then make an appointment with my secretary."
"You keep ignoring me, you are not the only man in town with connections."
"Look you pathetic little man, threatening me is not the answer so I bid you goodnight, sort it out tomorrow when you have sobered up."
Talking to him like a child has enraged Gibson even more.
Foolishly he picks up a bottle and lunges at Bent.
Bent is no stranger to violence and quickly takes control of the situation.
A swift kick to the groin followed by a crunching elbow to Gibson`s nose followed by streams of mucus and blood.
The trouble is over but Bent is not going to let this go that easy.
He signals two of his burly doorman and instructs them to escort the offender out of the club and remind him of club etiquette.
The screams of women fill the club, "Help they are killing him."
Bent strolls into the car park to see club etiquette and discipline be explained to the unconscious Gibson.
"I said to teach him, not kill him, the police will have to sort this out now.
What did you do with the knife?"
"What knife boss?"
Bent forces Gibson to grip the handle of a knife and flick it into the nearby bushes. "That knife, you were acting in self-defence, get your stories right."
Bent scurries back into the club awaiting the inevitable chat with the visiting police.
The police are familiar with Bent`s strong-arm tactics but are forced to concede that Gibson is the main perpetrator. 
They will know more when Gibson recovers if he recovers from his hospital bed.
The doormen have got similar stories and the knife has been discovered near the scene.
It is looking bad for Gibson with attempted murder on the agenda.
Nothing can be achieved tonight so the police need to talk to Gibson soonest.
Another heavy night of drinking ensues and the session ends when most of the group are barely able to stand; a normal midweek session. 
Bent a serious violent man has spent many years as a loan shark and has heard every excuse ever made for non-payment.
To prove how mean and brutal he is he makes a point of visiting Gibson`s distraught wife.
"Hello Sue, I`m sorry to hear that your old man is in hospital but business continues. Where`s my money? three hundred pounds to be precise."
Breaking into a shaking angry tear-filled woman, she explains that there is no money, and her husband had attempted to convince the loan shark for an extension.
" Give me the keys to the Jaguar, I need some kind of payment."
She groans, "The jag, but that is worth £20.000 and he only owes you £6.000."
"No Sue with late fees and interest the amount is £13.000 and rising daily."
Reluctantly she hands him the keys.
"The car will be returned upon final payment. You should stop him from gambling." 
He knows there is no way they will muster up the money and he can see the house coming into his possession sooner or later.
Bent has been a widower for seven years and is still in mourning for his beloved wife, the answer, hit the bottle.
He cannot remember the last time he went to bed without the aid of alcohol and he fears it is only a matter of time before his vital organs have had enough.
Still, he will worry about that in the morning.

El, wake up, wake up.
Half asleep, Elijah stirs. Who the hell is calling him El?
Only one person called him El and she has been dead for many years.
El, for goodness sake dozey head, wake up.
A startled Elijah is awake and armed with his baseball bat.
"Who is it, who has the bottle to enter my house at this time of night?"
"It's me El, Liza."
His mind racing, he thinks that ten-year-old brandy is stronger than he thought.
His eyes focussing he sees that there is a familiar face before him.
"Liza, it can`t be, I buried you five years since."
"But it is me not in body but spirit. I have come to save you before it is too late."
It is too late, there is only the drink and bed that keeps him alive, barely.
"Elijah, there are always choices and you have been making the wrong ones."
"I don't care the sooner I die he sooner I can be by your side."
She angrily interrupts, "You will not be with me you will be in hell. You need to change."
He goes into a rant about, not being the only one in this business and not being the worst.
"Tomorrow, it will be clearer tomorrow."
His eyes wide open to the morning sun, he realises that he has had a nightmare.
Dreaming of his wife is a regular event but today is the seventh anniversary of her death.
Feeling a little guilty he decides to visit Gibson, not that he is in the mood for confrontation.
He has known Gibson for many years but friendship and business do not mix. Gibson`s problem is his addiction to gambling as Bent`s is to alcohol
On arrival at the hospital, he finds that Gibson is in Intensive Care.
He needs to instruct his employees on violence control; They are to prevent it, not implement it.
He sees the injured mans wife and needs be a bit more understanding than usual with irate customers.
She sees him and screams, "You did this Bent, and set him up with a knife attack, Is it not bad enough that he is on death's door?"
He explains that he is not involved in the knife but he will try to get any charges dropped; He has many connections to the police.
Realising, that he can do nothing, not that he is concerned he turns to walk away.
"Wait he wants to talk to you."
He puts his ear to Gibson`s mouth and hears him mumble, I will get even with you one day."
Shrugging off the threat he leaves the room.
Drowning out the memory of his lost love he starts his second bottle of scotch.
In a drunken stupor, his mind starts flashing back to his childhood.
He hears the voice of Liza but is in no fit state to answer.
Thinking, he has overdone the booze, he finds himself floating.
He knows where he is in an instant; He is back in his old schoolyard, the beginning of his nightmare years.
Close by several students are surrounding a gangly youth, slapping and kicking with the occasional spitting.
He knows this scenario, he has experienced it many times.
This time is different, the bullied youth he looks upon is himself.
Vividly he remembers the torment, the price of being the tall skinny kid.
The bullies need someone to pick on him and he has come over as the one least likely to fight back.
He recalls his mother`s wise words to "turn the other cheek."
He also remembers his father's way of dealing with it, "Grab the biggest one and get stuck in," This is all very well when there are only a couple of bullies but eight or nine is a different kettle of fish. If he goes home crying again he knows he will get a similar taste of violence from one who should be protecting him.
He wants to intervene but realises that is not possible, after all, it is only a dream; or is it?
To his amazement, another boy has joined the melee but is helping him.
The boys scatter and the rescuer announces himself.
"You should strike the first blow before they get you surrounded, they won`t pick on anybody who fights back."
Bent asks who is the mysterious hero.
"I`m Gibson or Gibbsy."
Deciding to do something about his lack of confidence, he later joins the local Karate club and finds Gibbsy is already a senior member and so starts an unlikely friendship.
A fog descends and it is now several years later and he has muscled out and fears nobody.
Being well over six feet tall he is a welcome member as a doorman who is very capable of dealing with rowdy customers.
The club he is security is where he meets up with his wife to be, Liza, after pulling her out of an altercation with the local bitches.
They both realise that they were destined to be with each other.

Liza is no angel and is quite handy when it comes to trouble, so a perfect match
Many years ago Liza had been in an accident and had been compensated with a lot of money.
Not a lady to miss an opportunity she had started a money lending business. Very profitable but very risky when the client cannot or will not pay on time.
A late payment had indeed been the reason for the fracas.
Bent enquires as to how much she is owed.
"Only £250 but she is a fortnight late so it is now £400."
Bent`s eyes light up and the cogs in his brain are going ten to the dozen.
"So how much did she borrow in the first place?"
"They know the rules, fifty per cent interest per week and no extensions."
"She hasn`t got the payment but is out nightclubbing, She is taking the piss."
He can sympathise with her predicament and offers to retrieve the money, for a price of course.
Reluctantly Liza agrees to twenty per cent commission.
Having got the debtor`s details Bent goes back to the club.
"£400 or your car keys." The lady in question puts up an argument but Bent is a big fellow.
Somehow she manages to scrape together £300 and promises to pay the remainder tomorrow, but he still takes the keys.
This is the start concerning a loan shark industry that will reign for many years.
It is not long before they become regular partners and marry to cement their business and love for each other.
Bent and Liza are meant for each other, both have a wicked mean streak and money is their main reason for living.
Both had been warned by their parents to never have anything on hire purchase, "If you can`t pay for it, don`t have it,"
Wise words indeed but this opened up their minds to be in the lending business.
Many customers did not have the finances and needed to borrow and many could not finance themselves through banking or financial institutions.
These were potential targets for the likes of the Bents.
Many did not realise how much finance cost from legitimate sources let alone the sharks they were now dealing with.
"You can borrow £1000 at only £25 per week."
This was acceptable to the normal man in the street but what was not specified was the length of the loan IE over four years and tied in so being unable to pay off the original sum.
Within a few years of their coming together, they had amassed a small fortune and would be raking in the money for years to come.
Delinquent payments were dealt with initially by Bent himself. A quick slapping or a nasty threat normally did the trick.
Now they were too big and a posse of hooligans and villains were at hand to sort out the poor late payers.
It did not take long for them to be noticed by the law and consequently the Inland revenue department.
Legally they were doing nothing wrong but morally who cares?
Many law officers were willing to turn a blind eye when money or holidays were flashed at them.
Sooner or later they knew they would have to face the courts on their tax issues.
The morality of Bent soon became apparent. Unbeknownst to his loving wife, he had been stashing money away and all the responsibilities of the company were tied up in Liza`s name only.
When the inevitable court case came about, Liza stood alone in the dock with Bent pleading his innocence and shock at her illegal behaviour.
Having had a previous conviction for both extortion and assault, the jury only needed thirty minutes to find her guilty.
Nobody came forward to assist the police in the prosecution of Bent.
His name was well known and his methods put fear into them.
Handed a seven-year custodial sentence she was taken down to rot away.
She did not have to serve long as medical examiners discovered she had ongoing cancer treatment was only expected to live for a few more months.
A very clever but mean ploy by both of them meant they could enjoy the proceeds of their business.
Bent put one of his trusted workers in charge while he took his beloved wife to see out her days in sunny Spain.
Plenty of sunshine, excessive alcohol and unlimited food sounds very inviting but the lure of money-making and associated violence is getting the better of them.
Unbelievably the are missing the adrenaline rush when forcing their clients into unrealistic agreements.
Christmas is on the horizon and Liza wants to have one final shot of reconciling with her estranged family.
A decision is made they will fly to Manchester and drive south meeting up with family en route.
It is a very difficult journey, it seems that most of the Spanish ex-pats have had the same idea.
First-class was not available and being crammed in with noisy families is not a good start to their last moments together.
The flight is delayed, the onboard food was atrocious and the laborious check out is putting an immense strain on a delicate wife.
To top it all their rental car is not available for several hours.
Bent realises that Liza is in a very stressed condition and decides to take a taxi back to his luxury West midlands home.
On the dreaded M6 motorway during rush hour Bent begins to show his frustration and decides it is all the taxi drivers fault.
Being a savvy driver he notifies he local constabulary that he has a very irate passenger.
Within minutes his cab is being pulled over by one of the interceptors that patrol the area.
The police driver realises that Liza is going into uncontrollable epileptic fit and instructs the taxi to follow him at high speed to the nearest hospital.
Although only five minutes down the road it seems like a lifetime.
She is rushed into intensive care with a warning she is in the final minutes of her lifetime.
Bent forces a large tip on the driver who tries to refuse it but bids him best of luck.
The couple now realises that it is only a matter of minutes and Liza pulls Bent close to her mouth and whispers, "It is time to change yourself and start helping people not terrorising them."
There ends the company`s main asset, She is gone.
Bent wakes with a start; That was some dream.
Although it has been several years since the demise of his wife, it is still very fresh in his mind and there is no consolation in his hard heart.
If anything he has become more of a menace and suffers nobody gladly least of all fools.
Today is just another day at the office, Low behold the person who gets on the wrong side of him today.
Arriving at work he is met by a baying crowd and a cordon of police.
Everyone knows he is responsible for the condition of Gibson and is demanding he be put to justice.
He should know better but gets involved with Gibson`s family.
The police see this as an opportunity to arrest Bent for disturbing the peace.
Gibson had many friends in high places, least of all the local plod.
He is bundled into a waiting police van and somehow sustains head and neck injuries, "resisting arrest" and is diverted to the local A and E.
Within his circle of villains, he must have anticipated this sort of reaction.
After treatment, he is fast-tracked through the magistrate's court and sentenced to three days imprisonment.
His head and liver have taken quite a beating the last few days so a few dry days may help him to get back on track.
With all the ensuing noise associated with prisons, it is difficult to sleep and he requests some kind of sleeping pill but he is laughed at.
"You are not on holiday, grin and bear it".
After a restless few hours, he manages to shut his eyes only to be rudely awakened by a ghostly figure at the cell door beckoning him to follow.
Not knowing the time he assumes it is some sort of exercise period.
He needs to stretch his leg so welcomes a short interlude.
He just can`t quite make out who the mysterious apparition is but follows him anyway.
He finds himself outside the prison and within the small town, he has terrorised for many years.
Hearing shouting his curiosity gets the better of him.
He follows the sound.
Horrified he sees many familiar faces abusing a bearded unkempt old man.
Tempted to intervene, he stops and figures, perhaps the old fellow is some sort of paedophile or wife-beater and deserves his rich rewards.
As he nears the melee he realises that the scruffy old man is himself.
He knows he cannot stop the abuse because he knows he is only looking on.
He turns to his companion, "What have I done to deserve this?"
"What have you done not to receive worse than this?"
He instantly recognises the stranger's voice.
"Gibson! is that you? The last time I saw you you were in the hospital on life support. So you survived then?"
Gibson removes his headgear and reveals he is but a battered skull.
"No, thanks to you, I needed special treatment in America to which I could not afford, I died and my darling wife heavily in debt with you killed herself."
"But, that`s not my fault, you should have stopped the gambling and paid your debts."
"I had won a large amount, enough to get you off my case, but I could not claim it and I could not tell my wife about it."
Gibson reflects on why Bent is in such a precarious situation.
"You became addicted to alcohol and drugs. You started abusing your employees who robbed you of all your assets to pay their wages. A sad case of, "What goes around comes around". Under the influence of your addictive substances, it was only a matter of time before you wound up in the gutter."
"All these people you see are customers who you robbed, extorted or made bankrupt. They all remember you and now are exacting revenge."
 "Bent bent, wake up it is time to go home you mongrel."
His three days are finished and he is still badly shaken by his nighttime visit.
Liza`s and Gibson`s words begin to haunt him.
He has plenty of money but realises he does not have friends, only freeloaders and scroungers.
First port of call, Mrs Gibson.
He tosses her the keys to the jaguar and asks about the condition of her battered husband.
"He is slowly dying because of an inoperable bleed on his brain. The only hope is to take him to America and a specialist will perform the necessary procedure on him but for £100.000 plus it is not going to happen."
Bent sees this as a way to do some good, what good is money if everybody hates you.
"My lawyer will organise for him to get this operation underway at my expense, here is his card."
"Just one thing, do not tell anyone including your husband that I am his benefactor."
He walks from the household feeling good, the best he has felt for many years.
He arranges a meet with all his creditors and informs them that the debt will be removed to the original loan figure and that price must be paid into any charity.
After instructing his accountants, lawyers and workforce that he is retiring and to put in their final bills to him.
He does not know if he will ever be regarded as a friend, but at least he is correcting a lot of his mistakes.
It is time to head back to Spain and put everything correct there.
He knows he won`t conquer the bottle but with help maybe the drugs.
He takes his one-way ticket and heads off to the sunshine and stress-free life.


Submitted: March 16, 2020

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