A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

Oh, To Have A Choice!

“You’ve got it all. Why look so miserable?” asked Micky.

“I’ve got a lot on my mind.” 

“You’re worried one girl will find out about the other,” laughed Micky.

“Yeah, I guess it could be worse,” said Jones.

The two men had been friends since junior school. Both unmarried and set for life financially. Micky earns a packet on the stock market. His Cockney accent is no handicap, no one hears him buy or sell. Jones, has a relaxed life, he has told no one where his money comes from, nobody asks, even Micky.

“Oi, son, send us another bottle of champers,” shouted Jones.

“You love this bar don’t you?”

“Yeah, I love the way the snooty uni guys cringe when they hear us talk.”

The friends laughed loudly as they crashed their hands together as they briefly jumped from their barstools.

The bar was full of men in tailor-made suits and silk ties. Their female partners wore Paul Smith frocks or tiny mini-skirts. Micky had slung his jacket and tie into the back of his Aston Martin before he entered the building. He had rolled up his sleeves as he came through the door, and looked anything but business-like. More like a prizefighter. Jones wore jeans and a plain black t-shirt. The all too perfect women glanced his way every few minutes. The bar staff gave them full attention.

“So, come on mate, what’s the problem?” asked Micky.

“I’ve reached a stage in my life. I must decide. Chumpoo or Jilly?”

“What a dilemma, a beautiful Thai restaurant owner or a gorgeous English lass whose family own half of Buckinghamshire?”

“It’s difficult.” 

He almost said, “Tough at the top,” but refrained.

“You mean, not letting them know they do not have 100 per cent of your passion?”

“Yeah, eventually I’ll be caught out.”

“You’ve done pretty well. What is it? Three years enjoying Thai food and luxury holidays to Bangkok and all the delights that offer. And, on the other hand, what? Three and a half years of free tickets to Ascot and Lords? Tough decision I agree.” He snorted.

The men were enjoying their talk and the humour that went with it. As the champagne flowed, the talk became more serious.

Jones pulled his friend closer, slung an arm around his shoulder and whispered.

“I have shares in the London restaurant, plus a chunk of a hotel in Thailand. Chumpoo has signed documents giving me the rights of ownership to some of her businesses. Jilly’s father wants her to settle down with a hard-working fellow like myself.” He smirked, and Micky couldn’t keep a straight face.

Jones carried on, “I am beneficiary on her life insurance policies plus a percentage of her endowment, which becomes due any day now. Hence my imminent problem, I must decide. I can’t go on like this.”

“Why the hell not? You’ve done all right up to now,” said Micky.

“My dilemma is not which one to dump. It is how to get rid of both without losing out financially!”

He had said too much. He shook his head and turned, realising he had quite enough talking and booze. He waved a hasty goodbye and flagged a black taxi as he tripped on the step.

At home, he guzzled a pot of coffee and began thinking.

The next morning he called Jilly, “Hi, babe. Fancy a trip to the Big Smoke? Come for lunch at my flat? I’m cooking.”

His next call was answered in Thai, “Sawasdee, ka.”

“It’s me. I still haven’t mastered your language,” he laughed.

“Oh, Jonsey, I’m sorry, I thought it was a customer,” she giggled the only way she could, shielding her mouth with her delicate slim fingers, even though no one could see her.

“How are you fixed this afternoon?”

“I’m always free to see you, Tilak.”

Jones knew enough Thai to understand the word for darling.

He went shopping. There were things he needed to progress his plan. Cocaine was first on his list. The girls didn’t use it, but they would today. Also, the dealer handed across a bottle of chloroform. The ageing hippy promised the liquid would knock out a bull. Jones sniggered to himself, as he imagined all three of them suddenly becoming braver thanks to the powder. Then he saw in his mind the girls both passed out thanks to the liquid. He paid cash to his regular dealer and left happy. Then he made his next purchase, two razor blades for cutting the drug. If his plan worked, they would also be weapons. He stopped at the chemist for strong pain killers. Last, food shopping, he wanted his guests to feel at home. He embarrassed himself by laughing out loud in the grocers. Looking around at the other customers gawking at him, head down, he quickly studied his handmade shoes.

Back at his flat he prepared tasty snacks and put the white wine on ice. The pain medicine was added to the trendy green bottle. As always, he would drink red. The girls preferred crisp white. He opened the floor to ceiling glass doors onto his balcony. It was warm and bright. He pulled up a third chair and puffed cushions. A mother hen would be proud.

A doorbell rang. 

“Chumpoo, darling, come in.”

He led her through and presented her with a glass of wine.

“What’s the occasion?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing, I wanted to see your gorgeous smile.”

“Normally you have only two chairs here. Today there are three. Are you expecting someone else?” 

“Is that the bell?” he asked, leaning back indoors.

“Jilly, lovely to see you, come through, I’ll get your wine.” He ducked into the kitchen and left Jilly at the balcony door.

“Someone is here?” she queried.

“Cheers,” Jones said, as he clinked glasses with her’s.

“Who is that?” asked Jilly.

She walked forward. “Hello, I’m Jilly, Jones’ fiancé, pleased to meet you.”

“Hello, I’m Chumpoo, his fiancé too.” 

She stood too quickly and disturbed the table decoration.

The girls glared at each other. Their host smirked. As the ladies moved within scratching distance.

“I thought it time for you girls to meet each other.”

He had made a mess of his timing, Chumpoo had only sipped her drink, Jilly had slammed her glass untouched on the table. There was no way he could offer the girls a line of coke, he would love one. This was not the time. Or, maybe it was. He hoped they would start fighting? He could then administer the chloroform by pretending to break them up.

The girls started pushing each other.

“He is mine!”

“No, we are going on honeymoon soon.”

They stopped, turned, and both lunged for him. Knocking him to the ground, like a helpless kitten.

Chumpoo pulled a hidden blade from her blouse sleeve and poked the point into his Adam’s apple.

“You must think we are idiots?” she breathed.

Jilly got up from her knees, smiled at her comrade, and searched. First, his pockets, then the kitchen.

“Look what I’ve found,” she smiled. Sniffing the brown bottle top. 

“You are more stupid than we imagined. Chloroform only works in movies, unless you expect your victim to lay still for ages.” She huffed.

“Neither of us uses drugs. How on earth did you expect us to snort cocaine?” asked Chumpoo.

“I eh,” started Jones. It hurt too much to talk as the point dug deeper.

“Shall we kill him?” asked Jilly innocently.

“Please pass the cocaine,” asked Chumpoo. “I’ll hold him, you make him breathe the coke in.” Her hand clamped across his mouth. As Jilly tipped the powder up his nose, he tried snorting, which made the girls laugh. He could only just breathe in as the powder worked its way into his pipes.

“Now drink,” said Jilly, as the white wine bottle was forced into his mouth. With every mouthful, Chumpoo’s blade dug deeper. Finally, the wine was gone, some spilt, most downed. Jones’ eyes clouded.

“Let’s move him to his bedroom,” said Chumpoo.

They lifted him by his underarms and dragged him inside.

“What now?” asked Jilly.

“Do we want to kill him?” asked Chumpoo.

“What do you suggest?”

“He had powder all over him, he looks and is, totally wasted. Why don’t we stage him?”

“How do you mean?”

“Would any girl date a failed suicide?”

“I wouldn’t.”

“Exactly, if we posted pictures all over social media, nor would anyone else.”

“Especially if we use his phone to do it.” Clapped Jilly.

The girls placed a razor blade in each of his hands nicked the skin of each wrist. As a final touch, Jilly tipped some talc down his front.

“It’s not cocaine, but who would know?” she laughed.

“Shall we call the police, or leave him?” asked Chumpoo.

“Leave him. Oh, wait, one last thing.”

She undid his trousers, pulled them to his ankles, and used the blade once more before replacing it in his right hand.

The girls walked off as best of friends, in search of an untampered bottle of crisp sparkling wine.