The Debt Collectors
by Eric Beetner
Aaron waited with the lights out. In the dark the smells of the cheap hotel room were intensified. Stale overtones of sweat, mold and most pungent of all, desperation.
He wasn’t the first to sit alone in anticipation of a visit like the one that tightened his throat; the whiskey wouldn’t even go down anymore. He wasn’t the first unable to repay a debt. He wasn’t the first who came up blank about what to do next.
The room was cold, the radiator broken long ago. A long streak of rust ran down the side leading to a soggy spot on the avocado green carpet where the leak had been soaking for months. Even in the cold beads of sweat gathered on Aaron’s forehead, upper lip and soaked his armpits as damp as the carpet.
A knock on the door. No need to invite them in. Instead Aaron began to shake and the fifth of whiskey fell to the floor shattering against the leg of his chair. The acid alcohol smell overwhelmed the other scents briefly.
The door eased open, he hadn’t locked it. No point.
Silhouetted in the doorway were two men. Hats perched on their heads, hulking shoulders filling the door frame, guns by their sides. Here to collect what wasn’t there.
Empty space hung between them. The men were stone still. Aaron waited. He had nothing to give them. Nothing left. His life had lost all value. At least these two would be paid for their trouble.
(More of Eric’s writing as well as info about his novel, One Too Many Blows To The Head, co-written with JB Kohl, can be found at ericbeetner.blogspot.com.)