Tommy Hill walked back into Manchester on the back of a thunderstorm.
Joe had been stretching his tail- compositing another image for sale as prints and mousemats- but had stepped out to get some textures. After the downpour, with the clouds still overhead, everything was desaturated and grainy. He was snatching images of wet tarmac and brickwork with phonecam and digital camera, not knowing or caring when he’d use them.
Cropping an image of his reflection in a puddle, ready to Flickr it, Joe turned into his street. He looked up, stopped and stepped back around the corner. Even facing away the figure at his front door was obviously Hill. Something about the body language.
Joe looked around for a weapon. The justifiable desire to beat his former friend subsided rapidly, but the chill of anger remained. He glanced around the corner, got a profile view that confirmed his suspicions.
Rain began to fall again. There was a big black cloud heading their way. Joe headed off to get some lunch.
The cafe had been a butchers when Joe had last lived in the area. As his income had slowly risen he had become something of a regular. The girl who made the sandwiches, whose name he still hadn’t learnt, bantered with him as she customised his sandwich. By now he was certain it was all show, but he flirted back dutifully. He sat under one of his own pictures and watched the rain.
It wasn’t as heavy as the thunderstorm, but would soak Hill if there was any justice. There was no-one else in the house, so he couldn’t play the poor bedraggled long lost friend for anyone. When the clouds cleared and his sandwich was finished, Joe headed back.
Disappointingly, Hill wasn’t soaked through. But he was damp enough to be uncomfortable, and that was a good start. Joe got to within two houses before being spotted. “What are you doing here?” He had decided to keep Hill on the defensive.
“Dude. I am so glad to see you. I’ve got a way to get you your money back.”
Just for the briefest of moments Joe was optimistic that this might be true. Then he remembered all the other such promises, both before and after Hills flight from the law, and how little had come of them. “You’ve got it with you?”
“Well….. No, not on me. But I’m into something big. A guaranteed payout.”
“And what do you need from me?”
“It’s a sure thing. Because of what I owe you I wanted to give you the chance to be in on it.”
“So I’d need some front money, because the guy you’re dealing with, he trusts you but he’s not so sure about me. Is that it?”
“No, man. You’d just need to hold some collateral while the deal goes down. Be a guarantor, like.”
“Really. At least this time it’s not me you’re trying to steal money from. What are you planning, they come to get the shit from me and you’ve switched bags and done a bunk? Is that it?”
“No. No way dude. This is legit.”
“As legit as crime ever gets. The only reason I’m not in prison is because I didn’t trust you last time. And then you still managed to steal all my money. Now, walk away, because I have phone numbers for a couple of Police who’d love to have words with you.” Joe walked past Hill to the front door and turned his back on his former friend. It didn’t work. Hill stood there, confusion sliding into anger.
“Don’t you want your fucking money?”
“I don’t want any part of one of your schemes.” Joe fished his mobile out and worked his way through the contacts list. “The money you stole from me. You return it, you don’t try to scam me out of any more or make me a patsy. Hello. Is Constable Wood there? No, that’s okay, I can wait.”
Hill couldn’t hide the fear of being caught. After consideration he walked away.
“Constable Wood definitely isn’t here.” Pete announced. “What the hell was that about?”
“You’ll never guess who’s back in town.” Joe had watched Hill until he’d left the street. Now he closed the door and brought Pete up to speed.
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