Flash Fiction: Time and Money

A young woman in a trendy raincoat is rushing down the street, swerving to avoid puddles.

“Excuse me, do you have the time?” she asks of a suited, briefcase-toting man with whom she crosses paths.

“Spare some change?”

“I beg your pardon?” She’s taken aback. Surely a man in a suit has plenty of money.

“Could you spare a bit of change? I’ve only got fifties, and I need to catch a bus.”

“Oh, well poor you!” she exclaims. “How about you pop into the cafe and break your fifties on a cup of tea?”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, ma’am. I need to catch my bus.” He has a Texan drawl, and his eyes are shifting from side to side.

“Well, if you’d tell me what time it is, I’ll see what I can scrounge up. There’re always pound coins rolling around the bottom of my purse.” Her accent is clipped and proper.

“That’s a knock-off Burberry coat you got there,” observes the man suddenly. “Who you tryin’ t’ fool?”

She clutches the coat tightly around her. “That’s none of your—I mean no one! Look, if you can’t give me the time then I’ll just be on my way. I’m running late for an appointment and I’ve forgotten my watch and phone!” She turns to leave.

“Wait!” calls the man. “Could you at least see if you’ve got any change?”

She bites her lip.

“Maybe I am trying to fool someone. The truth is, all the change I have, I need. I need it for the tea and sausage roll I’ll eat for today’s meal, and for the bus fare back to my threadbare apartment after this job interview!” She is losing her temper. “But I can see you’re wearing a watch! Just tell me what time it is!”

She grasps at his wrist, the hand that is holding the briefcase, and her blood runs cold. It isn’t a watch: it’s a handcuff. He’s attached to the case.

He smiles at her sadly.

“You wanted the time, I wanted a bit of spare change, but turns out I’m the one with the money and you’re the one buyin’ me time.” Her eyes grew wide. “Tell me more about this job interview of yours, and hopefully I won’t have to go through with this drop.”

“I don’t underst—”

“Hell, maybe Interpol will even reward you for aidin’ in the interception of £250,000 pounds worth of drug money. This is my last day in the business, y’see, and I’m waitin’ for the police to lock onto my location and whisk me outta here.”

In a rush of madness, suddenly there are people everywhere, SWAT men with rifles seemingly falling out of the sky. She breaks away from the man and is jostled to the side.

“We’ve got him!” shouts a pair of sunglasses in a bulletproof vest. “I repeat, Informant Three is secure!”

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