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Supply & Demand

by hopper2607 

Posted: 27 May 2008
Word Count: 599
Summary: I'm trying out various ideas for a thriller, set in Amsterdam, about a low-level drug dealer unwittingly caught up in a nuclear smuggling operation.

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The two goons, Lansing and Raymer, brought Kamal through for the audience with Van Zandt. They hadn't shown any undue care and attention, a bruise was beginning to colour below Kamal's right eye. His lip was cut.

'Aha. My erstwhile business associate.' Van Zandt was in his usual place, at a chair by a small rectangular dining table. Light had to fight its way through a curtain of nicotine stains coating the only window.

'I was on my way here,' said Kamal. He had never seen Van Zandt any place other than this room. Never seen him in daylight, never seen him without a halo of cigarette smoke - a man always lost in shadows. It was said that Van Zandt was afraid of open spaces.

'Of course you were.' Van Zandt held up his palms. Smoke billowed. His eyes weren't on Kamal when he spoke, he was studying the cigarette as though surprised to find it there. 'Where's my money?'

'I need more time.'

The neck and shoulder muscles that were supposed to support Van Zandt's head seemed to take a leave of absence. 'You're a disappointment.'

'A week. One more week.'

In the kitchenette corner Lansing kept his eyes fixed on Kamal with a kind of empty hunger. Raymer was using a penknife to slice up an apple. He worked with a delicate precision, a flap of pink tongue lolling from his mouth. After he sculpted each segment he would use the blade to bring it up to his mouth, throw his head back and swallow in the manner of an oyster connoisseur. Then the knife would go back to work.

'Listen. My friend, my friend, my disappointing friend. I am a businessman. There are two simple rules I try to observe. One - Profit Is Not Cash. Any idea on number two?'

'If you'll let me explain.'

'Hey. You two. Any guesses?'

Silence, apart from the knife cutting another slice.

'Their only skill is hurting people. Rule two - Cash Is King.' Van Zandt's next question came through a mouth muffled by his hands. He was a man in mourning. 'Where's my cash?'

'Next week. I promise.'

'Wrong answer.'

Lansing and Raymer separated from their perches as though they were a single organism. Van Zandt waved them back.

'Don't get excited, boys.' He laughed. 'You see, my friend, they get such job satisfaction. I ask myself, is it fair for me to deny them?' It was an eternity before he spoke again. 'To save you making up some fairy story, I know what happened. A couple of Danish hippies from Christiania. Man and a woman. Woman was pregnant. You paid high-grade heroin money for a suitcase full of sugar. My money.'

'Yes I got burned.' Kamal was talking quickly now. 'But I've got people who owe me too. I can get you your money back.'


Kamal checked the kitchenette again, but the goons were languid.

'I've got a better idea.' Van Zandt craned his neck right back and exhaled a column of smoke. 'I've got some errands that need running. You will run them for me, you will be my errand boy. Until I consider the debt cancelled.' He used his cigarette to point towards Lansing and Raymer. 'Or would you prefer me to...?'

'I can do that. What do you need me to do?'

'Firstly, drive to Hamburg. Tomorrow night. I've got a package I need you to collect and return here.'

'What kind of package?'

'Let's get this straight, my friend.' Van Zandt stood up and approached Kamal. 'Delivery boys don't ask questions.'

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Comments by other Members

hopper2607 at 20:48 on 18 July 2008  Report this post
Hi SunriseSunset,

Thanks a lot for your interesting comments.
You';ve given me some useful angles to think about there, which is just what I need for a story in an early stage of development.

Interesting about the ';cushy suburbs'; - I have got some ideas for a respectable ';pillar of the community'; type who';s involved in a violent pornography racket with Van Zandt. Kamal may well be involved in exposing this man. The red light district will feature strongly - the nuclear angle could unfold from a murder/suicide which takes place there.

The love interest is a trafficked East European woman. For the first time in his life Kamal cares for someone else more than himself, and possibly pays for this with his life. (Haven';t decided on that yet, but I love the ending of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold where the hero, Leamas, chooses death over life.)

It';s all very very loose at the moment, though.
All the above could be subject to change.

Cashflow is the working title for this chapter only. The working titles for the novel are ';Human Bait'; and ';Supply And Demand'; - it varies from day to day.

Thanks again!

hopper2607 at 11:19 on 22 July 2008  Report this post
Thank you!

It'll have to be a heroic (or semi-heroic) death to keep me motivated, though.
He starts off as the lowest of the low, a violent drug dealer who only thinks of himself, so he has to go through a big change by the end of the story.

Possibly a few last dying words as well, a challenge to do that without being corny.

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