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Running on bloody floors by Malcolm Mackay

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A short man, chubby, sweating. Dark brown hair that he might have cut himself and a coat made with someone else in mind. He’s nodding at Tom, wide eyes gushing nerves out into the empty bar.

“Doug, is it?” Tom’s asking.

“You’re David’s man, yes?” Every word holding a crackle, a whining tone that belongs either side of a good cry.

Tom’s moving his hands in front of him, the gun in his right. “No, I’m not. You let Mr Currie down; you have to pay for that.”

The rookie on stage for the first time, desperate to deliver his lines. Every word a warning, giving the target a chance.

Doug’s had these stumpy little legs all his life, the thought of running

on them has never occurred to him. Remove that option and there’s only one left.

He’s lunging. He stumbled on the first step, ducking unintentionally on the second. Tom raising the gun, shooting over Doug’s shoulder. Nervous, sweaty hands gripping the gun too tightly. Doug’s second hapless step carries the crown of his head into Tom’s chest.

Doug was going over anyway; he hasn’t had his legs under meaningful control since he started moving them. Tom’s falling with him, suddenly terrified of the gun that was supposed to make this easy.

They hit the wooden floor hard, Tom on his back, Doug on top of him. The gun between them, loosely gripped in those damned sweaty hands. Pulling at it. A shot. Loud and hot, Doug jumping back, rolling on the floor.

The gun’s lying on Tom’s still chest, pointing up at his chin like it’s proud of what it’s done. Doug’s nailed to the spot by fear. Telling himself he already had to flee the city.

This changes nothing. Not true. Killing a man changes everything.

The Necessary Death Of Lewis Winter and How A Gunman Says Goodbye by Malcolm Mackay, out now. To get both for £15, call 01256-302699 and quote ‘9MI’

(Image: Rex)

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