Published in the first anthology for Chesham Writers and Scribblers 2015. Look out for the second one this autumn
A Death in Autumn
As he stood on the platform that late September morning, Harold got ready to set in motion his plan for the death of the man in the smart overcoat. The mechanics of the plan had always been simple. But until now it was the means of avoiding discovery that had eluded him.
Not any more. His plan was now perfected. Today he would put it into action. Everything was right on this first day of autumn.
The platform was filling, as it always did, for the six thirty eight to London. This was the first wave of commuters, who always arrived in good time for the non-stop City train. Immaculately dressed, coffees in hand, perfectly groomed. Soon would come the last minute dressers. Women still applying their make-up, men reluctantly putting on their ties. Finally, at around six thirty two, the pushers and shovers would arrive. Delivered at the last minute by their spousal taxi services, they started at the back of the crowded platform, yet always got to the front as the train came to a halt and its doors opened.
The man in the smart overcoat was part of this last group. Today, Harold was ready for him.
He had rehearsed his moves many times. He needed to be just to the man’s side as the train doors opened. He would execute a swift jab to the man’s thigh as he moved forward and then Harold would pull back. The forward surge of the commuters would carry the man into the carriage. Even as the doors closed, the poison injected into his thigh would begin to act. By the time the train got to Moor Park, the man in the smart overcoat would be dead.
And good riddance. That man who had cost Harold his job, his marriage, maybe even his sanity. The man who Harold had seen on television, saying over and over: “There are always casualties in a recession”. The man who last Christmas received a bonus of three million pounds from his bank.
The imminent arrival of the six thirty eight was announced. It was on time. Harold looked over his right shoulder. As people gathered up their belongings and shuffled forward, he saw the smart overcoat. Harold stared straight ahead and drifted to his right as the commuters around him got ready to move. One further brief glance to his right confirmed that he was alongside the smart overcoat. Harold reached into his pocket and his fingers wrapped around the adapted hypodermic. The crowd surged as the train doors opened in front of him.
By lunchtime it had made the headlines on the television news.
“The twin brother of Global Bank’s deputy chairman Cedric Messeter was found dead on a crowded commuter train this morning. Angus Messeter, a director of the charity Poverty Action, apparently died from a heart attack. He was forty two. He was a vocal opponent of his banking brother’s hard line approach to struggling businesses during the recession.”