This is a short story I have been working on for a while. The full thing is going to have three narrative strands, woven into one another, but for the time being this is the only complete one. Enjoy!
EDIT: This is the amended version now. Muchos better. Hopefully.
Only a small percentage of people know what it is like to be truly hated. This is a privilege kept only for those special few people who are completely despicable and outwardly immoral. From the government to oil companies, bankers, drunk celebrities falling out of clubs, we do like a good witch-hunt.
For Max Req it was a day much like any other. The only difference was he had woken up this morning with a conscience. It was a shocking development in his life, and one he was not entirely ready for. Of course, it was an awkward scene: waking up in his Chelsea flat next to a prostitute he had hired for a large sum of money. After twenty years of marriage and three kids, the sex became less and less existent. A man has needs, and the night before they had been fulfilled the way only a high price call girl knows how. Dinner at a fancy restaurant, then ferried in a swish looking BMW limo back to his flat where she called him King as he fucked her. It was the sensation of power that got him off, not the sensation of a beautiful girl all over him.
You see: Mr Req held a high position at a leading bank, which cannot be named for legal reasons, of course. You have probably used their services though, just saying. And like most bankers, he was universally hated right now, and rightly so this humble narrator thinks. So it goes without saying that his ‘servicing’ required a fair degree of hush-hush.
Not that anybody would be surprised should this little truth come out. Public opinion of bankers was so low that eight out of ten people would not piss on them if they were on fire.
Like so many mornings, he lets the lady out, and tells her something like “I have an early business meeting, I hope to see you soon” (one of these things is true). A wave of guilt comes over him and he thinks of this wife. But today, tears come, then the spasms that accompany them and he sobs into Egyptian cotton bed sheets soiled by adultery. The feeling is strange, cathartic. With the feeling of unimaginable guilt, comes a moment of clarity.
He showers, dresses, has breakfast, leaves and says good morning to the doorman, who lets him out onto the street where a car is already waiting for him, his regular driver sat at the wheel. The driver knows the route, taking back alleys and shortcuts to avoid traffic. Better than getting a taxi or pubic transport like those plebs, Max normally thinks to himself, normally sipping on an Old Fashioned to help him start his day.
Today, however, he sits there in stony, sobering silence, reflecting on his life of late. He flicks through the paper. More wars, more murders, England still has not won anything worthwhile in international football championships and politicians are still lying.
“Stop here, please,” Max instructs the driver through the glass in between servant and businessman.
The black Mercedes stops outside a branch of his bank. Mr Req leaves the car and walks through the doors, moments after they have opened and strides with pride across the marble floor to the cashier.
“My dear, I would like to make a withdrawal,” he instructs the young lady behind the desk, with what he thinks is a nice balance of charm and authority. In reality, he sounds a little perverted and a little top heavy (if you know what I mean).
“Of course, sir. How much?”
“I would to withdraw £1 million if you would be so kind.”
The cashier is stunned by this request, as any body would be. She says she needs to check with her supervisor, but Mr Req insists it is okay. He more or less runs this company.
“One more request. I would like to have this partially in coins, partially in notes.
Mr Req left the building with three quarter of a million pounds in bank notes and the remaining quarter of a million in pound coins. As one can imagine, this is a large sum and took two large duffel bags full of £50 notes. His car then took him over to Trafalgar Square, where he stood there handing out the £50 notes to passers by. Anybody who would care to approach him was showered with money. Pigeons stood nervously around him, approaching him and he would shoo them away, making way for more Regular Joes like you and I.
Several phone calls asking why he was not in the office. Several reporters approaching through the crowd like sharks at the smell of blood. He runs to his car to escape them, but the London traffic stops them. The driver bolts the door as the flash of cameras surrounds the car. “MR REQ, WHY YOUR RECENT DISPLAY OF GENEROSITY MR REQ, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO ALLEGATIONS OF YOUR BANK INVESTING WITH OIL BARONS AND THE ARMS INDUSTRY” still ringing in his ears, in spite of the thick, dark glass.
“Going for some publicity, are we sir?” the driver sarcastically asks.
“Just keep on driving,” Max instructs, sweating heavily and biting his lip, “to London Bridge, please.”
This was all that remained of Mr Req’s bonus from the fiscal year 2010-2011 was this half million in pound coins. London Bridge approached and Mr Req started to cry. He stuffed the money into his pockets, His jacket pockets, his suit pockets, his trouser pockets. The car pulled to a stop at the start of the bridge, pulling to the side of the road amidst a symphony of car horns.
“Some help here, please.” The driver comes round and sees what Mr Req is doing. “Here,” Max says, holding a wodge of £20 notes. Twenty of them, in total, “do me this one favour.”
Next to him sits a roll of black gaffer tape, which he straps around his ankles, closing up the ends of the trousers. Then, he fills the legs of his (ridiculously expensive) trousers with more pound coins. By the time he has filled his trousers, the stitching is straining against the sheer volume of metal. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of a million pound in coins is quite bulky it turns out.
What coins he could not fit into his trousers remain in the duffel bag, now slung over his back as he struggles down the bridge. His trousers bulge out from his calves to his ankles like Aladdin’s trousers. Under the weight of the metal, he is struggling to move. His driver helps him along, one of Mr Req’s arms wrapped around the driver’s shoulder as the driver tries not to wretch from the smell of body odour coming from Max’s armpit. Exertion is something Mr Req is not exactly used to.
Pedestrians recognise him, one way or another. From either news headlines damning him and his profession for the cuts they took, from the companies they work for who were supported by the taxes of the people, or from the hour old headlines of him handing out £50 notes at a central London tourist hot spot.
He finally reaches the middle of the bridge, looking over to the deep of the Thames. With great ardour, he clambers up onto the railing, sweating, jangling and straining as he does so. And in a moment he is gone.
It was not as elegant as he planned. With one leg stepped off the edge, weighed down with metal, and he quickly plummeted downwards. It was 12:02 when he hit the grey-sky water. It was around 12:05 when he died.
He passed out from a lack of oxygen to the brain after about twenty seconds and died after a minute or two of struggle, as the money anchored him to the bottom of the river and water filling his lungs. A crowd gathered to see if he came back up.
A passerby claims to have heard his last words, but he refuses to tell the press for anything less than £100, 000. There have been reports of people planning to dive down to retrieve his fortune.