by John Thornquist
“You know, Dodson, I believe you,” Duffy was saying. “Me? I don’t think you ever crossed Eddie.” He shifted his bulk in the chair. The man was a mess: sweat-stained collar, fat gut spilling over his trouser tops, pasty complexion. Dodson watched him light another cigarette and inhale the smoke deeply. Duffy looked like a pig trained to walk on two legs. Dodson would have told him so too, but for the duct tape.
“You’re lucky he gave you this chance,” Duffy continued. Then he glanced at the clock, a wind-up Baby Ben. “Uh oh,” he said with a snorting laugh. “Tick, tock, tick, tock.”
Duffy took another long pull from his cigarette and regarded Dodson through squinted eyes. A minute passed. Finally he said, “See those telephone wires outside the window?” Dodson pulled at the chair’s leather restraints to spy a telephone pole pierced through by cables, rigid as a crucifix against a murky sky. “Sound travels very quickly through those things. Dial a number, make a connection, and . . . salvation!” whispering the last word with outspread hands, like a
conjurer. “If your friend dials that number.” Pause. “And tells us what you say happened, happened.”
Suddenly the alarm clock shattered the air with its bell. Duffy reached over and cut it off.
Then he picked up the pistol.
“I am truly sorry, Dodson,” he said.
Duffy fired once, a loud, banging shot that momentarily impaired his hearing.
But he heard the telephone ring afterward all the same.