Old Acquaintances Be Forgot


Seven minutes to midnight.  The champagne waited patiently for Tanner to finish up cleaning after himself, nestled gently in a bucket of half-molten ice.  He sidestepped the pool of blood coming from the large man’s head wound.  The two other men were sprawled in their own bodily waste, turning the hardwood floor of this exquisite apartment a dark red.  While Tanner wiped away his fingerprints from any surface he might’ve touched, he passed by the balcony, taking a peek from the side.

Down there, in the streets of the greatest city in the world, were the people getting ready for the countdown.  A new year was upon

them, and they were partying down in Time Square like there was no tomorrow.

He turned around, seeing the result of the skirmish that ruined his own New Year’s celebration.  The bodies of three men sent to kill him and failed to do so.  Beatrice, the girl who got killed instead, sat at the end of the table.  Bits of brie stuck to what was left of her face.  Poor girl.  Of all the people in this apartment tonight, she was the least deserving of being shot to pieces fifteen minutes before midnight.  Hell of a way to ring in the new year.

A cough escaped from one of the men on the floor.  The bloodied mess of a man slowly inched his way toward his Desert Eagle.  Tanner pulled and cocked his gun.  It served no point other than making a loud ‘clack’ noise, and wouldn’t help his shot in any way, but he found it an effective way to deter people from going for their weapon.

“I’ll say this once.  Do not pick that up.”

The man coughed, then slowly turned himself onto his back.  Tanner remember the guy as the one whose gun jammed earlier.  His blue vest and jacket turned a dark purple as the blood seeped into the fabric.  Tanner had no illusions about the guy’s chances.

“You know, if you’re gonna kill a guy, get a gun that’s not a piece of shit that looks cool in the movies,” he said.

“Oh, fuck…I’m dying, aren’t I?” the man asked.

Tanner nodded.  No sense in sugarcoating the truth.  He looked

at the clock.  Three minutes to midnight.  The people in the street grew rowdier.  It was then, looking over the carnage that was the remains of his New Year dinner with Beatrice, he was hit by something he’d never allowed himself to feel before; a spark of sympathy.

He kneeled down to the man in blue.  “Can you get up?” he asked.  The man nodded weakly, which Tanner took as a no.  Still, despite the stain it would leave on his own suit, he helped his would-be killer into a chair.  He waltzed over to the bucket and popped the cork on the champagne bottle, pouring two glasses.

“Why…why are you doing this?” the man muttered.  “We…I tried to ice you…”

Tanner shrugged.  “It’s new years, innit?  ‘Old acquaintance be forgot’ and all, right?  Drink with me as we close out a shit end to a shit year, and toast to a better one.”

“You’re a weird son-of-a-bitch, Tanner,” the man said between coughs of blood.

Tanner handed the man his glass.  He asked; “Got any resolutions?”

“Fuck you, man,” chuckled the man dryly.

They both looked at the clock.  Thirty seconds.  Were it any other circumstances, Tanner would’ve used this time to question his ‘guest’ about who sent them and why they came to kill him, then blow his brains out.  His sentimental side just got the better of him.  Twenty seconds.  More cheering from the streets below.  The two men

watched the clock tick down to twelve.  Ten seconds.  Five.  Four.  Three.  Two.  One.  Then, an explosion of fireworks and music.

“Happy New Year,” said Tanner.

A glass fell to the ground, spilling champagne into a puddle of blood.  Tanner drank from his own glass, then shut the man’s eyes.  It was a new year, and there were bits of the old one to clean up.

~ fin ~

Joachim Heijndermans writes, draws and paints nearly every waking hour.  His work has been published with Fictionmagazines.com, OMNI, Kraxon, Stinger and 365 Tomorrows.  Check out his other work at www.joachimheijndermans.com