Dear Readers – so sorry for the delay in posting! In the last 4 weeks, I’ve lived in 4 different houses. I’m definitely over this gypsy lifestyle but I hope to be settled soon.
In the meantime, here’s Part 5 of Karma. Enjoy!
KARMA – A SHORT STORY – PART 5
Celia threw the package of drugs onto the kitchen table as soon as Hamish walked in at 6:30. He took one look at it and turned to leave. Then, as though reconsidering, Hamish walked slowly into the kitchen and slumped in a chair at the table, dropping his head into his hands.
“Oh God…Celia…” Hamish groaned
Celia stayed silent, waiting.
Hamish looked at her. “Go on. Tell me what an arsehole I am. Tell me you should never have agreed to marry me. Tell me what an utter, unbelievable fuck-up I am.”
Celia felt a wall inside of her give way before a sudden rush of emotion. His misery was genuine. She sat next to him and put an awkward arm around his hunched shoulders. “Hamish—” she began, not knowing what she was going to say next.
Hamish was shaking his head from side to side. When he looked at her, his eyes were wet. He grabbed her hand. “Celia. I want to tell you everything. I’m so sorry I’ve kept this from you. I should never have done it in the first place but it was unforgivable getting you involved and not telling you. Oh God!” He broke off and put his head in his hands again, pulling his hair as though he wanted to yank it out from its roots for penance.
His words came out in a rush as though he was getting rid of a terrible burden. “I met Vincent Grant about a year and a half ago…Terry and I had just started the business…you remember? It was tough and we were feeling a bit desperate. I mean, for God’s sake, we had no clients. None.”
Celia looked away. “I remember,” she said softly.
Hamish ran his hand through his hair again. “Terry and I were having coffee…Grant joined us. He knew Terry from the gym. He seemed a nice guy – friendly, interested…especially when he heard we were just starting our practice. He said he might be able to send a few clients our way—”
“But surely you knew about his past…about that Russian crim he supposedly killed in self-defence—”
“I know, I know. Terry told me at the time. But he said Vincent was ok. I supposed deep down I always wondered…but Grant was as good as his word. The next week, we actually scored some clients…good ones too. It meant we could pay the next month’s rent—”
“But why didn’t you tell me any of this? I’m your fiancee! Why didn’t you share it with me?”
Hamish shrugged. “I was ashamed. I’d left (law firm) in a blaze of glory…I was the golden boy who was going to make it big on his own and never have to toe the corporate line or be somebody’s whipping boy. And Grant was actually making it possible.”
A sudden realisation hit her. Celia pulled her hand away. “You’re not saying the beach house is Grant’s too?”
Hamish shook his head vigorously. “No. No!”
“It is…admit it.”
“Damn you, no! I admit I found about it through one of the clients Grant put our way. But it was part of a marriage settlement. The guy’s wife had walked out on him right after her built it for her. He was determined that she wasn’t going to live in it with her new boyfriend so he did some creative accounting to sell the house at far less than it was worth. That’s how I heard about it. I just didn’t tell you how.”
“Why not though?”
“Because I know what you’re like. You’d have thought it was unfair on his wife. Karma or something you would have said and we wouldn’t have taken advantage of it.”
Celia shook her head. “But I still don’t understand what any of what you’ve told me has to do with that.” She pointed at the package on the table as though it was a poisonous snake.
Hamish dipped his head into his hands again. “Shit,” he said in a muffled voice.
“What are you talking about? Tell me for God’s sake!”
“Even with the extra clients, we still weren’t making enough money to cover our expenses. I was getting desperate. Oh God—” He ran his hand through his hair again. “Hearing me tell you…it sounds insane! How could I ever have agreed to do it? But at the time, it seemed like the only way.”
“Do what?” Celia asked, more gently this time.
Hamish turned to her, his eyes blazing. “Can’t you guess? Sell drugs for him! He wanted me to sell cocaine to all the bored, addicted housewives in the eastern suburbs. You wouldn’t believe how many of them there are and they’re the safest customers because they’ve got reputations to maintain…they’re very discreet.”
“So let me get this straight: Vincent Grant asked you to sell cocaine for him…in exchange for what?”
“What do you think? More money! I offloaded the drugs, paid him, he laundered the money and gave me my cut which I put back into the business.”
“Ok,” Celia said slowly. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing but you told me you were making money. What happened to change that?”
“Well that’s the thing. I had some drugs in the car. But it was broken into…someone broke into my car and stole the drugs! I owe Vincent Grant $50,000!”
It finally dawned on Celia. “That’s why we’re selling the house to him, aren’t we?”
Hamish nodded, looking stricken.
“So you’re selling the house I bought with the money left me by my father to a gangster because you owe this same gangster $50,000. We were never going to get that house by the beach were we? It was just a story so I’d agree to sell the house to Vincent Grant, wasn’t it?”
“No! It wasn’t! That house we fell in love with is real. I had every intention of buying it…for us. It was going to signify our new life…our new start… our marriage.”
Celia shook her head in disbelief. “And if that wasn’t bad enough, how could you sell drugs? Knowing what happened to my brother? You know how I feel about drugs.” She spat out the words. “Hamish…you’ve destroyed me…you’ve destroyed us! How could you?” Celia burst into noisy sobs and ran from the room, up the passageway and into the front garden, slamming the front door behind her. When she reached the end of the street, she stopped, out of breath from running and crying. Barely seeing where she was going, she stumbled on, stopping only when she reached a small memorial playground. An Indian mother wearing a cerise-coloured sari pushed two little girls on the swings and an older man supervised a small boy on the jungle jim. Celia fell onto the first bench she came to and stared at the scene before her without seeing it.
She was in shock. Not only had she found out their dream house of a lifetime was a cruel lie, she discovered the man she loved and trusted, the man she’d agreed to marry was a greedy liar and a drug dealer. How could this have happened to her? Celia, who had always tried to see the best in people; to ignore their faults and concentrate on their good points. And look where it had got her! She who had always believed that if you did the right thing by people, Karma looked after you and gave you good in return. What a joke the Universe had played on her. And now she was going to lose the house, humble though it was, that she had bought with her beloved father’s money…to a vicious, murdering gangster. Because if she didn’t, Hamish would surely be knee-capped or beaten up…or worse. What on earth had she done to deserve this?
Celia sat in the playground until the sun dipped and it was nearly dark. The children and their parents had left ages ago. When she finally stood up, Celia felt stronger. She knew what she had to do…