|CHANCE by Dave Ludford|
“Well look, as I said, if I’ve at all offended or upset you, then I apologize.”
Cain jabbed the button on his mobile which ended the call and turned from the balcony, deep lines of anxiety furrowing his brow. He stood, unmoving, lost in thought while staring into the middle distance, all the while going over the rather fractious conversation he’d just had with Chance. Surely she could see that murdering the old man was the only option? Any moral considerations were redundant. The old man had money, plenty of it, and Cain was determined to get his hands on it, would go to any lengths. And Chance was either with him or she wasn’t. That money would set them both up for life. She was too soft, that was her trouble; let her laughable morals win out every time.
“Chance, is my lunch ready yet?”
“Almost, Mr Dawson. Ten more minutes and then it will be chow time. Sorry for the delay; had to take an urgent call.”
“Very well, I suppose these things can’t be helped. Only please hurry, it’s been a long time since breakfast.”
“Yes, Mr Dawson, will do. Coming right up.”
Chance turned back to the kitchen table where she’d been preparing a tuna and pasta salad while Dawson manoeuvred his wheelchair out of the doorway and into the garden. It was such a warm, fine day he’d decided to eat outside, better there to enjoy the intoxicating scent of his beloved roses. Cain, his gardener, had done a fine job with them this summer. He’d been a real find, transforming the extensive garden into a paradise that was a sheer joy to behold; so different to the barren wilderness it had become since the death two years ago of his beloved wife, Melanie. She had been an enthusiastic gardener and Dawson had had no inclination or enthusiasm to do anything with it since she’d passed away. Too many painful memories. Until now, when guilt at how badly he’d let things go in general had motivated him into action. Melanie would be so pleased.
He sat, hands clasped in his lap, reminiscing over the high points of his fifty-year marriage to the girl he’d fallen in love with at university. Those were good, happy days, he thought, days I’ll never experience again. He sighed heavily then heard a sound behind him: Chance bringing out his lunch. Such a good, sensible girl, he thought, an excellent carer; she’s looked after me with absolute devotion since Melanie died. Having no children of his own to leave his vast fortune to (Melanie, unfortunately, having been unable to conceive), or any surviving family, he knew he’d made the right decision to bequeath his entire estate to Chance.
“Here you go, Mr Dawson,” Chance said, placing the old man’s lunch plate on the small patio table next to him. “Again, sorry for the delay. Enjoy!”
“Thank you, Chance. I’m sure I will. I was just thinking that I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Chance, embarrassed, looked down at her feet. “Thanks, Mr Dawson, for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. With my unstable family background things haven’t been easy. But this job has given me security and stability.”
As Dawson lifted his knife and fork, Chance took a few steps backward so that she was standing right behind the old man. She reached inside her jacket pocket and pulled out a large carving knife, and leaning forward, quickly jerked Dawson’s head backwards. She slit his throat swiftly with a long, deep stroke, wincing slightly as she did so. As the bewildered old man frantically clutched at his throat in a vain attempt to staunch the projectile blood spurt, gurgling horribly and spluttering for breath, Chance said:
“Thanks for remembering me in your will, Mr D. Although you must understand, I can’t wait. I need that money now.”
Cain was pacing furiously, intermittently wiping sweat from his brow. What was it with that silly bitch Chance? She was as desperate as he was, how the hell else was she going to finance her crack habit? At least she didn’t have the £50,000 gambling debts that he had that kept him awake for large parts of the night. He’d outlined the most perfect plot to murder Dawson, so subtle and ingenious that no blame could ever be placed on either of them. It would be made to look like the work of a random, opportunist housebreaker who had been disturbed in his activities. If he didn’t come up with some cash soon, he was dead meat. Best do the old man in now, for fuck’s sake; he could live for years yet. He picked up his mobile and pressed Chance’s number again, but it went straight to voicemail. “Bitch!” he screamed, and threw the phone at the wall.
Three months later, Chance was sitting on a train heading towards Paris. She had just eaten a rather splendid breakfast, and was now perusing the English newspapers. She was reading about the murder of Roy Cain, gardener to the wealthy and respected (but also recently murdered) Sir Robert Dawson, millionaire industrialist. He had been heavily in debt, and it was suspected that Cain had been the victim of a shady syndicate to whom he owed a considerable amount of money. She threw the newspaper onto the empty seat opposite, and stared out of the window at the passing countryside, looking so beautiful bathed in early autumn sunshine.
Men were so gullible, she thought, and smiled.