This is for CAKE.Short and Sweet’s Wednesday Write-in
The prompts were sniffle :: font :: northern :: powdered :: pick a card
“‘Pick a card,’ he had said. ‘Any card.’
I had thought it a trick, a con-artists game but then he had looked me in the eye and said again, quietly this time in his lilting northern accent, ‘Pick any card.’
And of course, like a fool, I did.”
I glance up at my audience. Hooked. Good.
I spread my palms and shrug my shoulders, conveying, I hope, the sense of inevitability I had felt at the time.
“It didn’t feel like there was anyone watching us. It was just him, playing a stupid card trick, and me. It wasn’t until the gimmick unfolded and I was shown to be a mug did I remember we were standing on a grimy street corner with the gritty London light fading. The crowd laughed, paid their tips and dispersed, leaving me alone with him. He was packing away his table and tricks but I loitered, wanted to stay close to him, to prolong the feeling of magic.
He finished packing up and started strolling away. That’s that then, I thought to myself. But no, miraculously he stopped. He turned around and said; ‘you coming Lass, or what?’
Of course I went. You can guess the rest”
Groans from the other women. Mumblings of unrest.
“I’m a lady, I will not divulge such information. Anyway, we became close. I followed him and the other con artists around, became skilled in their games. I suppose I even became one of them.”
“Then how did you end up in here? This isn’t the type of place for no con-artist and such like,” piped up a listener.
“Well, there you have it. My sly little con man from the north forgot to mention exactly what he had left up there. And what he had left up there eventually came down south looking for him. Along with their two babes, one of them not even on solids yet.”
Gasps from the audience. I smiled.
“Yes, his own missus! Can you believe it?”
Disgruntled shakes of the heads surround me. We have our pride in this place.
“So, no sooner had she arrived than she set up home and turfed me out. I begged for him to tell her that it was me now. That I was the one. He shut the door in my face. But I couldn’t let anyone else have him, if I couldn’t.
Guns are easy to get hold of, if you know where to go. I knew where to go.”
Again, nods of agreement. We’re a sisterhood in here.
“I went to their cosy little home and I shot him dead. I shot her too, for good measure. I had planned to kill the children too, but when it came to it, I couldn’t. Innocent little things. And knowing what I know now, I’m glad I didn’t.”
I stroke my huge belly, feeling for the next lively kick from my child.
“I couldn’t bring this baby into the world, knowing I had killed his brothers.”
I spot the guards heading towards us to break up my party. They don’t like gatherings of more than three women at a time. Stupid really, I mean, we’re only women, what are we going to do to them?