An Unwelcome Journey.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Ashby was the sort of bloke that makes sure he finish the job.

I was standing before Nicholaus Ashby like a captured criminal. The sweat was pouring from me like a water fall. My whole body was shaking with fear. My eyes were fixed on the gun pointing at me. Ashby had his finger on the trigger, and his face was a sight I'd never seen before. I tried to move forward. He waved the gun. ''Don't do anything foolish,'' he warned me. I took his advice and stayed where I was. Ashby moved a little, keeping me covered, and pulled up a chair. He sat down, crossing his left leg over the right. ''I'm going to kill you,'' he said. ''Right where you are, I'm going to kill you. I don't have to tell you why I'm here, do I? You should know unless you have a bad memory.''
''But that's a long time ago.'' I told him. ''Things have changed now. Look, why don't we talk this thing over and come to a sensible solution?
''There's only one solution. I'm going to kill you. I'll get away with it too. Nobody else knows about this thing, but you and I. You really deserve what you are about to get.

It was pointless in trying to make Ashby change his mind. His mind was like a stone--hard to get through. He was seeking a deadly revenge. He wanted satisfaction, and that was to see me dead. I was now thinking fast. How could I overpower Ashby. To rush, it could be like going straight through an electric fence. I thought of every possible means of getting to Ashby, but my chances of getting at him was nil.
''Tell me something,'' I told him. ''How did you find me?''
''That was very easy. Before I kill you, I'll tell you exactly how I found you. You thought you were clever, didn't you?''
I smiled.
He continued, ''Let's recall that little Island in the West Indies.'' He stopped, twisted his face and said, ''St. Kitts, yes, that's the place. I had a little smuggling business going on from the other nearby Island. It was going perfectly, until you came along and dipped your nose smack in the middle. I had a nice steady income. Lots of customers. Another year and I would have had enough money to run a proper business here in Europe. Only one person stopped me from getting that far. It was you, you bastard. You threw everything down the drain for me. And turned me over to the cops. I served ten solid years in jail, hating your guts for doing this to me. Ten years was a long time and in those ten years I had enough time to plan a lot of things. Then I finally came out of prison with all my plans completed. I've caught up with you at last. It took me nearly two years, but I've caught up with you. Now, you're going to pay with your life, for all the things you've done to me.''

I listened to him and I hated myself for what i had done to him. I first met Ashby down the bay, from the Boys and Girls Senior School, in St. Kitts in the West Indies. It was November 1957. I wished now that meeting hadn't come about.
''Can I sit down?'' I asked. ''I'm getting tired of standing here.''
He said , ''Yes,'' and I got a chair and sat down still facing Ashby and the gun.
''I'll tell you why I spilled on you.'' I told him. ''Remember when you asked me to give you a hand with your boat? Well, you said that that little boat was a 'darling.' I asked you what you meant by that and you said it was the boat you made your bread from. Then it hit me, or so I thought. I took it that you were a fisherman. Later, I found out the truth. You wanted to know a lot about me. Where I was from? Where I worked? And di I need a few extra dollars? Could I keep a secret? Did I know anything about partnership?'' I gave you all the answers, and you chose me to be your partner. You did the smuggling, while I looked after the goods and the money. Three times a month you made trips to that little Dutch Island St. Eustacia. Every time you came back your boat was laden with rum, brandy, wine, cigarettes and all the cheap stuff. Then I had to get rid of them for you. The profit we made in the first month was extremely good. You gave me a rotten fee for all the work I carried out. You twisted me, Ashby, you did. It wasn't until a year later, the Government started clamping down heavily on smuggling. Remember Bertram  Caesar, and his boat? How the cops nabbed him in the early hours of the morning? Took away his boat, placed the stuff in the warehouse, and then flung him in prison for eight years plus a heavy fine? Well, I didn't want that to happen to me. I used my head. I had eight months smuggling money holding for you. Also an underground shed full of stuff.

Ashby sat and listened. He wasn't going to like the next part. He shifted some what uneasily and told me  to carry on.
I did.
''Yeah, the Government was capturing more and more smugglers. They were losing everything they had plus a long term in prison. I didn't want to end up like that. I had to think of the future, Ashby. I knew we were in this thing together. So I...''
''You took my money and turned me over to the cops.'' Asby cut in.
''Something like that.'' I told him ''Remember you told me once that you'd been in prison for shop breaking when you was seventeen? Well, I haven't been to prison. I had no plans of going there. I thought that it would do you no harm in going back, seeing that you were there before. So when you left the last time to St. Eustacia, I started my operation. I knew exactly at what hour you'd return, that was if  everything went as planned. I got rid of all the stuff, placed the money in a Dutch bank, then I waited for you to return right into the hands of the cops.''

Ashby levelled the gun at my head. ''I could kill you now, '' He said, ''but I want to hear some more, go on.''
''Well, '' I carried on, ''I booked a passage on a ship that was leaving for Southampton. By the time you told the cops about me. I was well on my way to England. Come to think of it, did you tell the cops about me?''
Ashby changed legs. ''I wasn't that stupid. I kept it all to myself. I knew I would catch up with you. Go on, tell me some more.''

I was still looking for the chance for me to jump Ashby, but he got wise to me. ''Okay, '' I said. ''I spent fourteen days on the seas, and finally the ship docked at Southampton. From there I went to Nottingham. I got a job there on the British Railways. All this time I knew the money was in a Dutch bank. After some time, I left the British Railways and I joined the Army. I was making it hard for you, but now I see it wasn't that hard. Well, after training in Yorkshire, I was posted to germany. That was good for me as well. The Netherlands was only next door. I visited the Netherlands a few times. Then I met a woman, got married, and settled down here.. I had completely forgotten about you, until you turned up a few minutes ago pointing that gun at me.''

''Where's the woman you married?'' Ashby asked.
''She's visiting her parents in Amsterdam, won't be back until tomorrow midday.''
Ashby grinned, ''That's just fine. Real fine. Now I'm going to tell you how I caught up with you from the day I got released. After the cops let me go. I roamed around Basseterre for some time. I was broke and a friend I knew there gave me a loan. It was a big loan. He gave me a long time to pay it back. I went down the waterfront, caught a bus to Sandy Point, then there I started asking questions about you. Many people said they hadn't seen you around for a long time. I went back to Basseterre, and I got onto the shipping and airline agencies. My luck was in. Lloyd agencies, told me you'd left on the S.S. Atlanta bound for England. You were playing it very clever, won't you? Well, anyway, I booked an airline passage to England. I went by jet, and that cost me well over four thousand dollars. When I got to London, my hunt for you seemed impossible. But I had faith. I paraded as your half brother, picking up information here and there. Finally, I went to the Army authorities. I told them it was very important for me to get in touch with you. A letter came back telling me exactly where you were. So I got a ticket from London to Dusseldorf.

When I arrived at your duty station, I got an interview with your Commanding Officer. I wasn't at all shocked when he told me, you had left the Army two days ago. He told me you bought yourself out. You told him you were going to settle down in the Netherlands, but you didn't leave an address.''
''You've done well for yourself,'' I said. ''And now that you've found me, you're going to kill me.?''
''Yes, but first, I want the money. All of it.''
''How do you expect to get the money, if you're going to kill me now? You wouldn't be able to draw it, would you?''
Ashby looked me. He knew I had a point there. I wish I knew what he was thinking now. Suddenly, he jumped up from the chair. He advanced slowly towards me. The hand holding the gun was shaking a little. He stopped a few feet away from me. ''How much of that money is in the bank?'' He asked me.
I didn't answer him.
''Okay, '' he said, ''you don't want to tell me. Well tomorrow, you're going to draw it out and hand it over to me.''
''You're crazy Ashby. That money is going to stay right where it is. If you kill me now, you still won't get it. My wife is the one who'll get it.''
He laughed for the first time. You're a joker, Daniel. A big lousy joker. I didn't come all this way for nothing. I came for my money, and I'm not going back without it. You'll get that money from the bank. Have it ready for me by midday. And here's a little warning for you. Don't try to be too clever. I'm sure you wouldn't like anything to happen to your beloved wife.''

A funny feeling ran through my body when he mentioned my wife. Ashby would do anything to get even with me. I had to do something quick. I wasn't thinking in terms of getting rid of Ashby. No, that was out the question. I sat there looking up at Ashby and the gun, and suddenly, the idea came into my head. I said, ''You've got me licked, Ashby. There's no other way out for me. Tomorrow midday, I'll have the money here ready for you. You're the winner by a great margin.''
There was a smile on his face. ''I'm glad you've seen it my way. Once I have that money, you won't see my face again.''

He backed away from me, moving sideways keeping me covered, he reached the door. His hand found the knob, and he turned it and pushed the door half open. ''I'll be back tomorrow midday,'' he said, and slipped through the door. I got up from my chair, rushed to the door, opened it and looked outside.. Ashby was just closing the gate behind him. I closed the door, and locked it. I placed both my hands over my face, and stood there for a moment thinking desperately. The Idea I had was a good one. It had to be carried out with precise timing. This was the vital moment I had so long waited for. I walked away from the door, rushed to the ice box, and got myself a cold drink. I walked back to the living room, looked at the phone for what seemed ages, then my mind was made up. Walking over I sat down next to the phone. Taking the handset and dialled the operator. I asked for her to put me through an Amsterdam number. There was a few seconds, then I heard the lovely soothing voice.
''Eunice,'' I spoke in the mouthpiece. ''It's Daniel here...!...''
''Darling, it's nice of you to phone me so unexpectedly. You miss me?''
''Very much, my love.''
''Mum and Dad sends their regards. They want us to come together sometime. Has everything been alright?''
''Oh, fine. Except, ah! Never mind.''
''Except what, darling?''
''There's a little something I wanted to tell you, think I'll wait until you come home. I hope you're having a good time there!''
''It would have been a much better time if you were here. Anyway, I'm enjoying it.''
I looked over to the door. There was something else I wanted to tell her.
''Are you still there, darling?'' She asked.
"'Ýes. I was just thinking. How would you like to spend another day there?''
''Why? What's going on there? Why should I spend another day here? Aren't you glad I'm coming home tomorrow?''
''Please, darling,'' I spoke softly. ''It's very important. I... well...''
''Why should it be so important  for you?''
''Darling, you won't understand. Stay another day, then when your eturn, I'll tell you everything you want to know.''
''Alright, darling. I'll do as you ask. When are you going to phone me again?''
''Tomorrow, same time.'' I told her.
''Take care,'' she said, ''and remember that I still love you.'' There was a pause, then she said. ''With all of my heart.''
''You're the finest woman there is.'' I told her. ''I love you, too.''
''I'll be waiting for your call same time tomorrow. Bye darling. All my love.''
''Bye, darling,'' I said, and then I hung up.
 


Submitted: July 20, 2021

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