Baker was also checking his watch. If Lansard had any ideas of putting one over on him he was sadly mistaken. He wanted to be rid of the solicitor. The man repulsed him for reasons which he did not completely understand. There were times when the man’s skin had a shiny unnatural sheen to it. The way he looked at the people around him as if he was measuring them up for the cooking pot was, at times quite unnerving.
He told his wife he would see her at home and to make sure everything was locked up. She assured him that everything would be done correctly and watched him leave the office. As the door closed, she, like all the other staff in the office of Baker Employment breathed a sigh of relief. There was a silent but shared dislike of the man and a few of the staff had seen the bruises on her arms on several occasions.
Lansard and Baker met at the appointed place precisely at 6:00 pm. The one common trait both men enjoyed was punctuality.
Lansard explained that he wanted Baker to meet someone, someone special, and he was sure that any arrangement they came to with regard to the outstanding fees would be perfectly acceptable. Baker had thought that Lansard was talking about a portion of the fees, but now he was talking about the entire amount. He was a happy man and he followed the solicitor quite willingly. He did ask about the person they were meeting but Lansard either ignored him or appeared not to have heard the question.
Soon they were at the entrance to an old walk-up tenement building.
“It’s better if I go first,” he said. “The stairs have seen better days so watch your step.”
Baker followed Lansard up the stairs, five flights, until they arrived at a landing. He could see that originally there had been two apartments on the floor but one of the doorways had been closed up implying that they had been knocked into one single flat. He thought it strange that Lansard opened the door with a set of keys which he took from his pocket.
Lansard stood back to allow Baker to enter first. The man did so reluctantly, regretting now that he had not insisted that they conduct their business somewhere more public. He found himself in an apartment that was surprisingly well appointed. The vases and pieces of artwork were obviously original and must, therefore, be expensive.
“Who is it we’re meeting,” he asked. But Lansard merely offered him a seat.
“You’ll meet him shortly,” he said.
“What exactly is the nature of the deal you have in mind?” Asked Baker. He was seriously regretting his acceptance of the offer now and was wondering whether to try and bluff his way out or produce his chequebook. Then he noticed that Lansard had removed his tie and jacket, the man obviously felt at home here.
“Here, let me take your jacket for you, please relax.”
Baker was afraid now. “It’s OK, I’m quite comfortable.” He said. Then, trying to keep the fear out of his voice, said, “Look, I’m sorry I delayed the settlement. The money is not a problem……”
Lansard made a soothing gesture with his hands and it was anything but soothing because Baker noticed the disfiguration of the fingers on his right hand. They were elongated, greyish in colour and the nails were claw-like.
“You’ve come all this way,” he said. “At least meet my companion. “It will save you a great deal of money, and give me a great deal of satisfaction.” He grinned at his own humour. There was a noise from one of the rooms.
“Ah, there he is now.”
Baker assumed there was a rear staircase to the apartment. He tried to pull himself together. He had not arrived at where he was today by being intimidated. He would bluster his way through this and come out ahead. And tonight he would beat the living hell out of his wife for good measure.
Lansard was enjoying Baker’s fear, even feeding off it, but the time had come. His father would have sensed Baker by now. His hunger would be growing to the point of insatiability. Within moments he would be uncontrollable.
“I think it’s time. Why don’t we go in?” Said Lansard.
“No! I’ve changed my mind.” Baker’s nerve had broken. “You’ll receive full payment tomorrow, I promise.” He started to rise.
“Too late.” Said Lansard.
And the door of his father’s room opened…
(c) Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2017 – Not for Distribution
The Featured photo is by Mark Dumont – Flickr: There Be Dragons, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25935468