During the recent Cystic Fibrosis week I received much in the way of kind words and some in the way of kind donations for which I am most thankful. This lead me to believe that not only are words more affordable but that I should possibly draw more attention to the fantastic work of the Cystic Fibrosis trust and the information I posted on my charities page here.
The shameless nature of advertising aside I did receive one very kind donation from an individual who will remain nameless, simply referred to as ‘The Patron’ which was both most welcome but also far above the amount I suggested as a level of incentive where I would write a story on request. I know how busy said unnamed Patron can be however, reading the Daily Mail online and such, so it was with no great shock that the delight of my finely crafted and sometimes clichéd words were not requested. Needless to say that, much like my bad humour, I’ve decided to force them upon said person anyway.
This is the first part of a small, light hearted serial I shall simply and most imaginatively call ‘The Patron’. Enjoy.
THE PATRON – PART 1
In a dim room a twisted finger wraps around the length of a dark, thick cigar. A screen to one side rolls numbers in green and red, unwatched, as it spirals towards unseemly wealth. The Patron’s gaze is fixed though, his face illuminated in the light cast by the reflected numbers from the screen. His eyes stare unblinking out past the large glass window at the edge of the room. Beyond and far below lies the ocean, framed by a dark, rich red that fills the sky at sunset.
He watches for five minutes, still not blinking. His eyes track each ship that travels without seeming haste through the busy waters approaching Hong Kong harbour at dusk. A flicker of recognition crosses his face. A smile starts to argue with gravity and tug gently at his lips.
“At last,” he whispers.
The moment of pause is gone. He reaches down and picks up a cigar clipper from the desk at his side. A snip sounds like something brushing quickly past you and the end of a cigar tumbles to the floor. Another quick movement and a match is lit. The flame competes with the screen to take over from the darkness covering the room as it reveals the full grin now covering The Patron’s face. The match rises towards the cigar leaving a trail of pungent smoke in its wake which dances in the draught pumped out from the air conditioning. A flame touches the end of the cigar. A quick breath in and a sizzle like fat falling onto a grill. Red pulses at the end of the cigar, reflecting in the single diamond at the centre of a large gold ring. A breath out and the room is filled with the thick, spicy smell of expensive Cuban tobacco. It is filled with smoke, and that smile.
The Patron reaches up and takes off his top hat, throwing it to one side where it rolls to rest beside a half finished bottle of Cristal. He adjusts the top of his waist coat, checking the tailored shirt he wears beneath has not suffered from the long wait and short glasses of champagne that have kept him through it. One must always keep up appearances, even in the stifling heat of an Asian summer. At least in here he had air con, and champagne.
“Those idiots better not screw this up,” he says to himself.
“What was that Babe?” calls through from the other room, followed by a high pitched barking.
Bloody dogs he thought to himself. At least The Wife liked them. He turns to the half closed door that opened into the second dining room.
“Nothing darling, but I need to pop out,” he called back. “Business, you know.” He said the word business with emphasis, the letter z slipping into the centre of the word to let her know it was the second kind of business, not the one he went to work for all day. This was the one she shouldn’t ask questions about.
“Ok Babe, be safe and don’t be home too late,” she replied. The barking started up again. He suspected she was busy trying to match Feefee to the diamond collar she would wear for her walk tonight. Still, it kept her happy. Feefee and The Wife both.
He walked the length of his apartment over the dark oak floor, fifty metres to the front door. Stopping a moment he adjusted the original Dali that hung on the wall, lit by the crystal chandelier that dominated this side of the room.. He had picked the painting up recently, a rose hovering in the blue sky. He didn’t really like it, but certain things were expected. A trail of smoke followed his path back to the place of his vigil.
One last gasp on the cigar, that sizzle again. The red glowed one final time before he stuffed it into an elaborate ivory ash tray that curled up beside the front door. It ground out on the ivory like gravel crunching beneath a heavy boot. He reached out to take the jacket of his suit which hung on a stand at the entrance to the apartment. As he slipped it over his shoulder he checked the inside pocket. The pea shooter was still there, a comforting shape inside the smooth silk. Leaning down he took the cane from where it rested by the door. A twist on the handle, pure silver shaped into the head of a liver bird, and a blade emerged. It still gleamed like the day he first bought it. The smile grew a fraction wider on his face. The blade snapped back into the cane with a smooth swish like a sliding door closing behind, one you can’t ever go back through.
He reached out and took one of the phones from his pocket. It was a small, sleek, black object with carried more promise of menace than ever the cane could. A few clicks of his fingers before a deep voice answers at the other end.
“What?” it asks.
“I’m coming down now,” he says. “Be ready.”
They would know who it was.