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Quick And Painless - 2021 Wild Atlantic Writers Award Top 10 Finalist for Flash Fiction

The rules of the contest were simple: flash fiction on any topic, as long as the title contained only three words. So I got to work...

This contest was sponsored by Ireland Writing Retreat

Quick And Painless

     “Are you sure you weren’t followed?”
    John Smith - his real name, used ironically for this transaction - peered past the beefy man beside him on the bench,
and then looked nervously in the other direction, scanning the entrance to the park. Dusk was upon them, the lights along the pathway having not yet flickered on.
    “You got the money?” No-names asked.
    That’s how Smith thought of him, ever since the first phone call when the stranger from the ad in the back of the magazine had growled down the line ‘No names.’

     "Of course." Even though Smith’s pulse was bounding and sweat beaded his forehead, he couldn’t help but feel a little frisson of excitement at the sheer coolness of what he was doing. He withdrew a fat envelope from his pocket, but hesitated before handing it over. “But, can I have your assurance…”
    The sentence died in his throat as he took in No-names’ flat expression. The man was a former military commando, or so his ad had read, and he looked every inch the part. He was a giant in a camo jacket, muscles bulging beneath it, chiseled jaw flexing with irritation, steely eyes pinning Smith to the bench.
    “I don’t want her to suffer,” Smith explained feebly. “I hope I made that clear. I don’t know how you decide on the…

method, but I imagine something quick and painless? She is my son’s mother, after all.”
    No-names said nothing.
    “Babs isn’t a terrible person, not really,” Smith went on. “It’s this new man she’s been carrying on with, he’s completely corrupted her. An affair I could handle, but she says she’ll take Brian away, and I’ll never see him again. I’ve pleaded with her, I really have-"
    “The money.”
    Smith’s fingers trembled as he handed over the envelope. He swallowed painfully, his mouth suddenly dry.
    “So you’ll text me when it’s done?” He asked, moistening his parched lips. “I got a burner phone, as you suggested.”
    No-names thumbed through the thick stack of bills in the envelope. Satisfied, he tucked it inside his jacket and stood.
    “So is this it?” Smith asked, and rose.
    “This is it,” No-names said.
    From his other pocket he produced a silenced 9mm Beretta, and shot once, then twice, into Smith’s chest. Smith’s face contorted in pain and shock, and he slumped to the pathway. A lamp above them flickered on, and then abruptly burnt out.
No-names returned the gun to his shoulder holster and retrieved a cell phone from his back pocket. His large thumbs worked the keypad as he texted his client.
    “It’s done, Babs.”
    He strode towards the entrance gate, waiting for the reply to come back. He smiled when a string of kiss emojis popped onto his screen.
    “We’re free, baby,” he texted back, pausing before his car. “I’ll meet you and Brian at the airport in an hour.”
    He crushed the phone beneath his heel, and drove away.