#samplesunday SHORT Story ‘Sticky fingers’ by ML Poncelet

Sticky Fingers

Donnelly scanned the boats in the marina for a luxury yacht called ‘Money Maker’ owned by one of Bailey’s clients, Harrington. A large man in a loose plaid shirt over white pants stood in front of the yacht. Donnelly inquired if he was Harrington and the man responded by taking the heavy duffel bag and told Donnelly to follow him inside the yacht.

Donnelly had just started last week at Bailey Accountants. Nobody had told him he was supposed to be taking duffel bags around town as part of his job. He had an idea of what it contained but he was desperate for a job after three years of sporadic employment.

“All you have to do is hand over the duffel bag.” Bailey had told him. “It’s locked so Harrington knows it hasn’t been tampered with – he’s kind of fussy.”

The large guy left Donnelly in some kind of living room area with lots of leather furniture. About ten minutes later, he came back with the duffel bag. Following behind him was Harrington, carrying a bottle of liquor. Harrington was wearing a polo shirt and Bermuda shorts that did little to hide his paunch.

Donnelly glanced around at the opulent furnishings and figured Harrington to be a member of the newly rich.  Harrington inspected the label of a liquor bottle intently before putting it down.

“Let’s see the bag.” Harrington said. “If it’s any good then we’ll have a drink.”

Donnelly noticed the duffel bag had a different coloured tag than the one that was there previously but declined to say anything with the large guy hovering nearby. Harrington opened the lock with a plastic gadget and Donnelly observed as Harrington retrieved a money counter from one of the cabinets and plunked it on the table in front of Donnelly.

“You count the money and I’ll watch.”

It had been about ten years since Donnelly had used a money counter at one of his previous banking jobs but old habits returned as he went through the stacks. He hadn’t seen that much cash since he worked at a bank. Some people had warned him that Bailey had some shifty customers. Thoughts went through his mind: what was it for? Whose money was it? What the hell was he doing?

Harrington opened up a humidor and lit a cigar.  Blue smoke swirled above him as Donnelly tallied the total amount. “Two hundred and eighty nine thousand,” he said.

Harrington took the cigar out of his mouth. “Is that it? There’s supposed to be three hundred even.”

Donnelly scanned the numbers again.  “Let me do a re-count,” he said. This time he took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He cursed silently when the total amount came to the same as before – $289,000.

Harrington sat down at a table in the far room and used the phone. He could hear him talking on the phone, presumably to Bailey.

“I told him to meet us at the Lincoln Hotel.”

Donnelly said he’d drive himself but Harrington took him by the arm to where a car was idling. The large man walked behind carrying the duffel bag.  They drove to the Lincoln Hotel with Donnelly and Harrington in the back of the car and went up to the 10th floor. The hotel staff seemed to be expecting their group and no one questioned the duffel bag.

They entered a hotel room with a view of the bay and Donnelly sat down on a chair close to the door. As soon as Bailey walked in, Donnelly was going to leave. This was Bailey’s problem, not his.

A tense twenty minutes later, Bailey walked in looking red faced. Donnelly was the only person to stand up and acknowledge him, edging closer to the door as he did so.

Harrington called Donnelly over. “You tell Bailey what you found.”

Bailey shook his head as Donnelly explained the number. “I personally put three hundred in the bag myself before I handed the bag over to Donnelly.”

Donnelly frowned. Bailey didn’t look at him.

Harrington said nothing for about a minute. “It shows that you can’t trust people, you know that? I took your word Bailey that you would give me all the money and now you’re two days late and eleven thousand dollars short.”

Donnelly listened with half an ear as Harrington continued to rant, swearing as he did so. Finally he couldn’t take it any longer, he stood up.

“Listen Mr. Harrington, I don’t know how there is a mistake but can’t we move on? If it’s eleven thousand dollars I’m sure we can come up with the difference.” Donnelly looked at Bailey who had gone suddenly pale. Harrington looked stunned.

“Let’s count the money again and be done with it.” Donnelly grabbed the duffel bag and dumped out the cash.

Harrington sat there with an amused look on his face as Donnelly counted the pile into stacks, and piling them onto the coffee table. He felt his face going red as he reached the last round of bills.  Donnelly took a deep breath, “two hundred and eighty five!”

Bailey had one hand against the side of his face. Harrington and the large guy both had their arms crossed.

Harrington turned to Bailey, “now you owe me fifteen thousand dollars. What do you have to say?”

Bailey moved his lips but no sound came out.

“This is crazy,” Donnelly said. He felt like laughing but knew he would come across hysterical. All eyes turned to him.

“Someone here is pocketing the money. Bailey put three hundred in the duffel bag and after the large guy handled it, eleven went missing, then he’s handling it again and another four is missing. When is it going to stop? You talk about trusting people Harrington but you can’t even trust your own people. By the end of the day you’ll only have twenty left.”

Donnelly jumped over the couch just as the large guy swung his fist at him. He ran around the furniture and threw a heavy lamp at the large guy as he tried to reach over and grab him, nailing him in the shoulder.

“Hey!” Harrington pulled out his mobile and began to punch in some numbers. Donnelly ducked behind Bailey who was backing up towards the door using his briefcase as a shield.

Popping noises erupted behind him as Donnelly reached for the door and yanked it open. He ran along the hallway and down the stairs and out of the building. He didn’t stop.

 

 

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Writer, dreamer, pantser.

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2 comments on “#samplesunday SHORT Story ‘Sticky fingers’ by ML Poncelet
  1. Sibel Hodge says:

    Great sample. Really enjoyed it!

  2. M L Poncelet says:

    Thanks Sibel, glad you enjoyed it!

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