Price of Doing Business (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: July 20, 2015 in Fiction
Tags: , , , , , ,

Right, so this week’s challenge: click on a link, get a random phrase, incorporate that into a 1000 or so words. This piece could definitely be part of something longer, but I’m already over word count AND in the middle (3.5k words or so) of a longer piece I’m trying to develop. The phrase I was assigned is in bold within the story.

That said, I like Ewan, and, in fact have used him before. He’s the kind of character I really should do more with. Probably didn’t help (or hurt) that I’ve recently finished reading CASINO ROYALE.

As always, comments are welcome.

Tied to a chair frame, wrists bound tight behind his back and ankles shackled to the legs of the chair, Ewan couldn’t do much but stare up at the impassive faces of his captors.

Ewan cursed himself for being clumsy. He’d left Gert’s, a bar popular with expats and the international business community in Hong Kong, a bit after midnight. He’d picked up the tail almost immediately, three dark suited Chinese moving with the grace of sharks in deep water. He blamed the drinks and his age, not as sharp as he once was. Ewan claimed to be retired, but the simple truth he enjoyed keeping his hand in the game too much. And now it looked like he might get it cut off for his trouble.

“We are not interested in torturing you, Mr. Doyle,” a voice, female and venomous, said from the shadows. A figure emerged, stepping into Ewan’s line of sight. “But you are proving most inconvenient. An unfortunate turn for a servant of the British Empire with such a distinguished record.”

“I am afraid you have me at a disadvantage, miss. I’m in the restaurant business, though I’m mostly retired these days.” Ewan forced a smile. “I’m afraid you have me mistaken for someone else.”

The woman tsked, drawing one long jade nail across Ewan’s cheek. “I bet you were handsome in your youth, Mr. Doyle. Ever the charming spy? Why continue with this deception?”

Ewan jerked his face away from the woman’s finger. “Spy? Me?” He chuckled. “Hardly.”

Ewan rocked back when the woman slapped him, cheek burning from the backhand. He tasted copper. “I never will understand why the Americans framed torturing as an effective way to gather information. Odds are good I’ll simply tell you what you wish to know, and you’ll have no way of knowing if I’m telling the truth or not.” He spat blood onto the concrete floor.

“Do you ever regret it, Mr. Doyle? Never seeing home?”

Ewan narrowed his eyes at the woman. “I’ve lived here for the past thirty years. This is my home. I have business interests here. Not sure who you are though, or what I might have done to offend. I’m sure if you let me go we can let bygones be bygones, hmmm?”

The woman smiled, but her eyes remained cold and hooded. A snake in human skin. “The same way you treated Roman Andreyvich, perhaps? Or all the others whose bodies you’ve left in your wake? Please, Mr. Doyle. Do not insult me. Your actions have… impeded those of my employer.”

Ewan cocked an eyebrow. “I knew the restaurant business was cutthroat, but don’t you think this is a bit much?” He rattled his handcuffs.

The woman sniffed. “I’m impressed at the length you go to maintain your cover story. No, I maintain certain elements here in Hong Kong that your actions have impeded.”

Ewan forced a smile. “Well tell me who these elements are and I’ll be sure to draft a very sincere sounding apology. Seeing as I don’t have the foggiest idea as to who you are, who you represent, or what I might have done to offend. I’m sure this is all just a big misunderstanding.” The smile dropped. “Uncuff me and I won’t even press charges.”

The woman laughed. One of the guards pulled over a table. Ewan recognized his belongings on it. A slim semiautomatic handgun. A cell phone. The knife he kept in an ankle sheath. His wallet. A set of keys.

“Quite the collection for someone in the restaurant business, Mr. Doyle.”

“What can I say? I’m a cautious man.”

A buzzing noise filled the air, and the woman screwed her face up in distaste as she pulled her phone out of her clutch. “You’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Doyle. I must take this.” She moved out of his line of sight. He heard a door open and close, then nothing other than the breathing of the guards, the beating of his own heart.

Ewan took the opportunity to adjust his hands. He fiddled with his cufflink, drawing out a thin, stiff pin. He kept his head down, his eyes half-closed, the very picture of defeat. He felt the pin slide into place.

“Would one of you gents be so kind as to get me a drink of water?” Neither man moved. “Oh come on now. I’m an old man. Give me some water. You don’t want me to die here before your boss gets finished with me. Just think what she’ll do to you if I croak.”

The two guards exchanged a long look, then one moved to a cooler. He pulled out a plastic bottle of water and brought it over to Ewan. Ewan tipped his head back, guzzling the water, feeling it splash over his clothes and down on to the seat. The lock on the handcuffs clicked. Ewan saw the man’s eyes go wide, right before he jammed part of the cuff into his neck, opening a wide cut. The other  guard fell back, scrambling for his gun. Ewan threw his weight forward, his head clipping the table, but his hand closing on the handle of his knife.

The guard pulled his gun free, then stumbled back, Ewan’s knife stuck through his neck.

Ewan pulled himself painfully up to the table, grabbed his gun. Checking it, he realized they hadn’t bothered to unload it. Stupid blighters. Listening, Ewan didn’t hear any more guards coming, didn’t hear the voice of the woman yelling.

He worked at the knots holding his legs, numb fingers not working as fast as he’d like. Finally, he had both legs free. He touched his scalp, felt the matted hair, sticky with blood. He collected the rest of his belongings, then searched the two guards. They carried no identifying marks, but both had tattoos on their wrists marking them as part of the Jade Lotus Triad.

Ewan eased the door open, gun held close to his body. The corridor was empty except for a single neon sign blinking toward an exit.

Time enough for questions later. Ewan made for the exit, working on the details of his revenge.

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