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The price of betrayal

Every action has an equal and opposite consequence

The Price of Betrayal


God, it’s cold tonight, he thought, his breath hanging in the air in front of his face as he exhaled. He remembered a time when, as a child, he would puff out on cold days like these, trying to make smoke rings, like his Grandfather used to amuse him with. Of course, Grandfather had been smoking a cigar at the time.

He stood in the darkened doorway of a small electrical store which was deep enough to allow him to hide from the view of anyone in the street, but open enough that he could watch the doorway of the office building opposite. It also provided shelter from the freezing rain that had been forecast for that evening and was now falling.

The offices opposite were where Ashley, worked, and he was waiting to see when she came out.

Just like a stakeout.

The single lamp on this side of the street, at the pavements’ edge, threw a dull glow across the wet tarmac of the road and enhanced the sheen of the flagstone pavement. He could see the water in the gutter gather and divert around debris and continue on its route to the drain. It sparkled briefly when it changed from flowing horizontally to going down as if to hell.

Much like my marriage.

This was the fourth night in a row she’d worked overtime. That would make over thirty nights in the last few months.

“It’s an important contract,” she had explained. “The takeover has to be completed by the year’s end, so time is critical. The partners are expecting me to bring it home for the company. It will mean a big bonus.”

She had caressed the side of my face gently as she said this.

I raised my hand and touched the same spot as if in remembrance of a sweet kiss.

“It will all be over soon, and I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

“I know,” I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel bad but I hardly see you now since your promotion.”

That had been this morning when she left for work. I was determined to confirm my suspicions.

A movement across the street brought me back to the present.

I watched as my wife stepped from the doorway carrying an umbrella. She raised it against the rain and turned to hold it over the head of the man who followed her.

I recognised him as Ashley’s boss, John Fletcher.

He was tall and angular, some might even say thin but he had a powerful presence. I had met him at a company barbeque a year or so previously. He had shaken my hand firmly and told me how proud of Ashley I should be. How she was a great asset to the company and that she was on the fast track to greater things.

I agreed with him, of course. I was proud of her success.

I, however, mentioned nothing of my efforts that had contributed to that success. How I endured a never-ending stream of minimum wage jobs to enable us to live together while she studied for her degree in business school.

What I saw next took my breath away.

An ice-cold wave flowed through me and my heart felt like it had stopped. Like plunging into an unheated swimming pool, I was fighting to breathe through the shock.

This feeling lasted for the full two minutes that they held their kiss. His hands held her close and he explored her body as intimately as he could, limited only by the fact that she was wearing a coat and that they were standing on a public street. His exploration, however, said to me that he knew much of the body beneath the coat. More than he should, given she was married to me.

I moved from my place in the doorway, striding quickly across the street. Taking the Glock automatic from my coat pocket, I raised it as I moved towards them. They were both so absorbed with each other that they didn’t see my advance. I was so close when I fired that I could not miss despite my lack of skill with firearms.

The first bullet hit Ashley in her back and she sagged against her boss. The second hit her in the back of the head. I remember thinking, thank God, she died without knowing that it was me who killed her.

Fletcher dropped her body. It fell to the wet pavement in an inanimate heap. He ran back to the doorway. The exit door was set to close automatically and he fumbled in a panic to type in the correct code to open the lock. He gave up trying as I approached.

He turned to face me as I pointed the gun at him.

“Why?” I said, “just tell me why. You could have any woman you like, why take mine?”

“Why?” He drew himself up arrogantly, “A woman like her will always be prey to men like me. She knew that. She had worked her way through all the partners and senior associates. She was the company slut you dumb fuck.”

His sneer started at the side of his mouth but finished on the wall behind him as I shot him in the face.

He slid down the wall with a sigh.

Blood, bone and brains were his only companions in death.

I looked down at his body, “That’s for calling my wife a slut.”

I turned and looked at Ashley’s body, lying on the pavement where her lover had dropped her. She was now soaked with the rain, her blood washing across the pavement and into the gutter.

I tried to cry, to feel something, anything. I failed. My mind was as chilled as the rain that continued to fall.

I walked away thinking that even the chalk markings around those bodies would soon be washed away, leaving nothing.




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