The Price You Pay

dollar sign

God, I felt bad about it. How could anyone stoop so low as to steal an old woman’s savings?

Someone who was gonna get their head kicked in…..

I’d had a bad run of luck on the horses, the rent was due and to top it all, Emma dropped the bombshell that she was pregnant. As if I didn’t have enough problems, the last thing we needed was another mouth to feed!
I didn’t have a choice. Emma kept asking for the rent money, how could I tell her that I’d put it all on a sure fire bet and lost?

She’d have my nuts in a vice if she ever found out.

As the days ticked by I began to panic. Sitting in a bar and drowning my sorrows, I saw Tony Benedetti saunter in with a couple of tarts on either side of him. Benedetti’s reputation was fierce, but he was also a loan shark. I needed money and I knew Benedetti would lend it to me – at a price.

The repayments were steep, but I didn’t have a choice. I’d borrowed the $500 for the rent six months ago, the balance of my account with Benedetti stood at twice that now. I was getting myself in deeper, until I could barely keep my head above water with the weekly payments. Emma kept asking for money for baby things, how could I tell her that we didn’t have any?

I came home from work one night and saw a couple of Benedetti’s thugs standing outside my house. The message was clear, Benedetti was getting impatient and wanted a return on his investment – sooner rather than later.
Emma was nearly due, I knew that Benedetti would have no problem with using her to get to me. Maybe that’s what drove me to do what I did.

Mrs Peters had been the last call on my route. She’d been having a problem with her TV aerial, she told me. She was old, nearly blind and definitely more than a little deaf. Her house was full of old trinkets, some worthless and others probably worth a small fortune.

I’d figured out the problem with her TV but told her that I’d need to get into the roof to fix the fault – I knew that was where she kept her savings, in an old toy box that used to be her son’s. He’d died years ago, hit by a car, and her husband had died shortly after. She was alone, she had no family.

But I did, and I had to keep them safe.

I found the stash, stuffing it into my toolbox before telling Mrs Peters that I’d fixed the fault.

She gave me an extra ten dollars, folding my fingers over the bill, telling me to spend it on the baby. She looked at me and smiled and I realised I’d turned into a monster.

I’d sold my soul to save my skin.

A debt I could never repay.

Written in response to Thain in Vain’s Week 30 prompt: A man steals a large sum of money to pay a debt to a loan shark. He saves his ass from a beating, but is haunted by the nature of what has done.



Filed under Flash Fiction 52 Challenge

18 responses to “The Price You Pay

  1. This is wonderfully written, Heather. Very snappy, moves along at a really good pace. You feel the vise of the protagonist’s economic problems choking him and forcing him to do something against his personal code of honor (such as it is). I liked the ending very much – as long as he can feel remorse, there is still hope for him. Well done!

    • Thanks, Kate! 🙂

      I wanted the protagonist to have at least one saving grace and his conscience seems to be it. Most thieves feel no remorse, but this guy does. Maybe there is hope for him 🙂

  2. This was incredible, and that opening line had me hooked!

  3. Great write, Heather! Kate pretty much summed it all up perfectly, so I’ll just say “ditto.”

  4. Wonderful piece, Heather and ditto on the opening line.

  5. Awesomely done…I can’t say anything more than has already been said!

  6. I like that he just steals from her rather than killing her brutally, which seems to be a growing trend in our culture. On the flip side, he seriously messed around an old lad, which is not cool! Great work, Heather! TiV

    • Thanks!

      I wanted my protagonist to not be a complete bad guy, more of a guy whose got himself into a tight spot and can’t see any other way out of it. His actions are unforgivable, but one can, to an extent, understand why he did it.

  7. Pingback: Flash Fiction Challenge – Week 30 Submissions | Thain in Vain

  8. Adan Ramie

    I came by to thank you for liking my post, and got caught up in reading this story.

    I really like the emotions you bring out in this tale. Emma’s husband is a real loser, but at least he still has a soul; maybe in the future he can stay away from the horse races and stop borrowing money from loan sharks.

    Very well told, Heather!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment on my post, and thank you also for following me on Twitter, it is all very much appreciated ❤

      I'm really glad that you enjoyed the story, taking part in the weekly FFC52 is a lot of fun! 🙂

  9. Hi Heather. It seems like it’s been so long since I’ve been on WordPress regularly. I’m finally back, after 5 weeks in Canada.
    Great story. Yoy can really tell the guy felt remorse for his actions. And all out of desperation.

    • So good to see you back, Staci. I hope you had a lovely time!

      Thanks so much for the kind words on my story, at least the guy felt guilty about what he did which I suppose makes him slightly less of a criminal than others who would steal an old woman’s money just for fun.

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