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Hand of Fate

by Watson 

Posted: 14 April 2004
Word Count: 1643
Summary: A short story. (Getting back into writing and having a bit of fun!)

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Hand of Fate

The door bell went just as I was fastening my coat. I was not in the best of moods as I was already running late and this added to my irritation.
‘Wait! Damn you!’ I yelled down the hallway.
I scanned the living room floor where my papers had been scattered from the drunken night before. I scooped them up quickly and rammed them into my briefcase. The door bell rang again just as I was taking one last check on my appearance in the hall mirror.
‘All right! Just a minute!’ I fumed, adding another layer of pink lipstick, then back-combing my fringe with my fingertips.
I grabbed my scarf from the hallstand then went for the door, half hoping that whoever it was had gone. However, I could see a dark silhouette through the glass as I yanked open the white double-glazed door.
‘Yes?’ I screeched releasing more frustration than I’d planned to. ‘What do you want?’
On the step stood a small hunched figure dressed in black. I was almost taken aback for a moment when I saw that it was a gypsy. This was a very high-class neighbourhood.
‘What the hell do you want?’ I managed to say in my outrage.
The old woman stood there, it seemed like an age, her yellowing eyes burning into mine, her pitiful wizened face making me feel almost sorry for her – but not quite. She opened her mouth, giving me a wide toothless grin.
‘You got a kind face lady. Cross me palm wiv silver an’ I’ll tell yer fortune.’
‘Really!’ I snapped. ‘I’m haven’t got time for this. Can’t you see I’m in a hurry?’
I slammed the door and made for my car; the red MG gleaming on the drive way. I brushed past the gypsy and hoped that would be an end to the delay. I had more important things on my mind. This morning there would be an opportunity to secure my succession to the board, if the meeting went to plan.
The gypsy grabbed my arm on the way past, she didn’t seem threatening but she was much stronger than I expected and I stopped in my tracks staring at the hand that had dared to touch me. It was dirty and unkempt in contrast to my soft moisturised fingers and immaculately painted, manicured nails.
‘Well what a downright liberty!’
The gypsy’s hand fell away almost immediately sensing my anger.
I gave her one of my haughty stares, then regaining a little more composure I marched onwards, towards my beautiful awaiting car.
‘Ah yes,’ said the gypsy in a high pitched voice, ‘you work in a very tall building, yer does – with a dark man. A bit special to ya, is he?’
‘I beg your pardon?’
The yellow eyes in the shrivelled face pierced into me. ‘You ‘eard me, dearie.’
I could feel my cheeks heating up slightly.
‘What nonsense are you talking about? Everybody works in a tall building around here. And half the men I work with are dark. If you’re trying to get money out of me….’
‘Ah yes it’s all there. Wealth an’ ‘appiness too, if ya get away with it, dearie,’ the gypsy said slowly, with more force than menace.
My heart began to hammer slightly. ‘Ok I’ll give you a fiver. It’s all I’ve got and you’d better be quick.’
Shaking her head, the old woman tutted. ‘Oh no, kind lady, that won’t do at all.’
‘How much then?’ I said barely disguising my fury.
The gypsy stood still, her head nodding rhythmically in thought. ‘It depends …’
‘On what?’
‘On you dearie. Now that I’ve seen.’
‘Seen what?’ I said, my voice now shaking.
‘What you and the dark man are planning to do.’
I swallowed hard. My thoughts becoming all of a jumble. ‘You don’t know anything,’ I stammered. No-one could see into the future, least of all this vagabond. Still my heart was hammering in my chest.
‘Wanna be rich don’t ya, dearie? I think ya might just get away with it too.’ Her voice was sickly like syrup.
Now I was horrified, her words were beginning to get too close to the bone. I began to wonder what she knew about me and Steve? Or if Steve himself might have something to do with this? I took a deep breath to try and calm my thoughts.
‘I think you’d better come inside,’ I said reluctantly.
The gypsy followed me in, like a faithful puppy. ‘Goin’ to kill ‘im, aren’t ya? And make it look like a robbery?’
Now she was really hitting the mark, and the old crone knew it. My voice became high-pitched. Still, I tried to sound surprised.
‘Who, for God’s sake?’
‘Oh you know who, dearie. But I’ll tell you if you like.’ She smiled, a gloating smile.
I stared at her, speech beyond me. She was onto us, there was no doubt about it.
‘Oh it’s all right, dearie,’ the gypsy continued grinning. ‘You don’t ‘ave to say anything. Anyways I’ve seen now. An’ Rosie Boswell ain’t never wrong.’
I gritted my teeth. I came to what seemed the only possible solution.
‘So how much do you want?’
‘Oh no my lovely,’ the old woman said aghast. ‘I can’t take money. What I wants is silver. We gypsies can do anything wiv silver. Melt it down yer see.’ She fingered a silver charm around her neck. ‘An’ make trinkets.’
Then she opened up the large shopping bag she had been carrying over her arm.
‘Pop in all yer silver, dearie – ornaments, jewellery, anything ya got. There’s a good girl.’
Almost without thinking, I did as she said. I even gave her the silver letter opener and charm bracelet that Steve had bought me for my birthday. He was going to go ballistic about this when I told him. But we were in trouble, big trouble.
When I finally arrived at work, fifteen minutes late, I was in a terrible state. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking, I couldn’t think straight. I was desperate to see Steve, to talk to him, but to my despair, he was no-where to be found. I was on the periphery of hysteria.
Eventually the telephone rang on my desk, I jumped out of my skin. But it was Steve. I was so relieved.
‘Thank God!’ I almost screamed into the receiver. ‘I have to talk to you urgently.’
‘No.’ Steve interrupted firmly, ‘Not on the telephone.’
I sensed immediately that he too knew something was wrong.
‘Get yourself over to my place quick as you can.’
‘Steve, we’ve got a problem.’
‘I know honey, just get here quickly. Tell Rosemary you’re going on an urgent errand for me, okay? Please Christie?’
‘Okay give me ten minutes’, I said. My heart was pounding as I slowly replaced the receiver, trying to make everything look as normal as possible.
I arrived at Steve’s luxury detached house in Fulchester and banged on the door. It opened so suddenly that I almost fell through.
‘Christie! Thank God!’ Steve said in a panic. ‘I don’t know what to do. I…it’s dad, he’s in the lounge.’
He grabbed my arm and pulled me down the hallway. I followed him willingly, he was clearly very upset.
‘Something terrible has happened.’
I know, I wanted to tell him. I reached for the doorway and froze. Mr Horrocks was lying face down on the carpet with a knife between his shoulder-blades, a bright wet patch of blood starting to sink into the plush carpet.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I turned to Steve sobbing.
‘Wh…what’s happened? Surely you haven’t killed him? What
about the plan? How are we ever going to get away with it now?’
Steve looked at me as if I’d gone mad.
‘We?’ he asked coldly. ‘We aren’t going to get away with anything.’ Then he paused. ‘But I will. As for the plan, it’s gone perfectly.’
He let me digest his words of betrayal. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I stared at him with horror.
‘You see I didn’t kill him, you did!’
‘What?’ My head was beginning to spin. He wouldn’t do this to me? Not my Steve, my beloved Steve. My heart sank deeper into despair.
‘Yes, you killed him,’ Steve said pushing me coldly away.
‘He was going to fire you. He found out about us - about our sordid little affair. You argued, then you became quite hysterical – rather threatening. He tried to phone the police and you went for him, with the letter opener you picked up off the bureau.’
Steve pointed to his father’s corpse.
‘Death was instantaneous.’
‘No-one will believe you!’ I gasped. ‘I could never…..I mean murder? No-one would believe that I could do anything so bad.’
‘But the letter opener has your fingerprints all over it!’ Steve said smugly.
The letter opener? I stared at the corpse. My vision was blurred but when it focused I recognised the silver murder weapon. ‘That’s the one I gave the gypsy…’
At that moment a voice behind me said; ‘Allo dearie. Cross me palm wiv silver and I’ll tell ya yer fortune.’
I couldn’t believe it, the gypsy was here. I turned slowly, as if compelled. I really didn’t want to know who was behind. As I turned, I faced a beautiful young woman with long silky hair and tanned smooth skin.
‘You never met my wife, Sophie did you Christie?’ Steve said with a grin of satisfaction across his face.
‘ Before we married she was a make-up artist, you know.’
And in her hands Steve’s wife was holding up a thin latex mask, that was all dried and wrinkled, like wizened skin. I watched hopelessly as she carefully placed it on the open fire.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 21:24 on 14 April 2004  Report this post
Goodness, she really got her comeuppance - can't say she didn't deserve it but I almost felt sorry for her at the end. Couple of typos:

I brushed passed = past


Well what a damn right liberty!= Not sure but isn't it downright?

I also wondered about this: sensing my sudden anger.= as she was already pretty worked up, the anger wasn't so sudden.


Watson at 21:33 on 14 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for the typos Elspeth - I shouldn't type faster than my thoughts (I learned to touch type many years ago and find it difficult to slow down).
As always, thanks for reading,

old friend at 23:11 on 14 April 2004  Report this post

A nice little story... improbable but I think it should be read with tongue in cheek.

You missed out 'with' in the sentence '...we aren't going to get away anything.'

Christie comes across as a really dumb character, but, with just the fingerprints on the letter opener it will be difficult to prove she 'done' it.


Watson at 00:40 on 15 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for reading Len and taking the time to comment. Tongue in cheek is right, it's just a light-hearted twist in the tale story. Thanks for pointing out the typo. And you are probably right about Christie, a dumb blonde - and the evidence against her is very flimsy.

scottwil at 02:00 on 15 April 2004  Report this post
Great little tale, Susan.
Loads of fun and a good twist.

ShayBoston at 09:58 on 15 April 2004  Report this post
Very enjoyable tale, Susan. Yes it's tongue in cheek, but that doesn't stop it being a good 'un. The twist is very good and I think it could be adapted as a more serious short tale, like an old Tales Of The Unexpected episode.


Watson at 11:30 on 15 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for reading Sion and Shay and for your feedback. I remember Tales of the Unexpected - Roald Dahl was the master of the twist in the tale. I might try another one, something a bit darker.

Nell at 06:54 on 16 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Susan, I like the way this pulled me in and raced towards the unexpected ending. It feels as though you really enjoyed writing it. The gypsy's speech hit just the right note - I felt there was something slightly wrong about her but couldn't imagine what that was. Just one small suggestion - I think you could allow the speech of your characters to work for you, and trust the reader to understand rather than to describe how they spoke or be explicit in how the narrator is feeling. This would tighten the writing up and make the writer invisible. eg.

"'What the hell do you want?’ I managed to say in my outrage."

"I swallowed hard. My thoughts becoming all of a jumble."

I don't think you need the words in brackets - see what you think.

A great little tale though - and like the others I did feel slightly sorry for her in the end.

Best, Nell.

Watson at 11:56 on 16 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for your feedback and comments Nell, always appreciated. I will bear in mind your suggestions in the future, they are very helpful.
All the best,

glenn at 19:30 on 16 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Susan,

I enjoyed this and I thought the ending was unexpected. It was definitely reminiscent of a Tales Of The Unexpected story. I used to love those as a child.

If you do decide to make it a bit darker I think, for me, you'd need to work up the character of Steve a bit more, so that when the twist at the end happens it's not quite so out of the blue. You wouldn't need to do much, just a little suggestion of what's to come - a clue that you could read afterwards that would give you that 'aha - I should of seen it coming!' moment. A bit like the film Sixth Sense a second time, where you realise all the clues the director gave you the first time, but didn't notice.

When I first started reading it reminded me of another story that features a gypsy in it. Have you read 'Thinner' by Stephen King?

Anyway, I enjoyed this, Susan. And here's to some more darker tales...

Happy writing,


Watson at 20:49 on 16 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for your feedback Glenn, you gave me lots of food for thought. I think I might try and write a tale of the unexpected, a Roald Dahl type one.
I haven't read Thinner but I do enjoy a good Stephen King novel.
Many thanks,

roger at 07:05 on 17 April 2004  Report this post
Great Story, Susan....my spine was very chilly as I approached the end! Lovely stuff - that'll teach her to mix with the bad guys. eh?

Spotted the following -

line 18 from the top - needs 'my' between 'on' and 'mind'?
Line 34 from the top - needs 'at' between 'do' and 'all'?
Line 18 from the bottom - needs a comma after 'him'?

A really good story, very well told.

Watson at 13:25 on 17 April 2004  Report this post
Roger, thanks for reading and for your feedback. I will go back and correct the typos - counting the lines must have took you some time! I realised recently that you can copy and paste them into your comments, which is much quicker.
All the best,

Dee at 16:45 on 17 April 2004  Report this post

Susan, I know you said this was a bit of fun to get you back into writing but, even so, it has a lot of potential.

I didn’t spot any typos but a few places where you could trim:

scooped them up quickly and practically rammed them into my briefcase you don’t need ‘practically’.

I was almost taken aback for a moment you don’t need ‘almost’. The fact is, she was taken aback.

I exhaled, aghast. I was fuming beyond belief I don’t think you need this either. Her anger comes through in the dialogue. You should, as Nell said, let the dialogue work for you.

I have to say, the plot to entrap her is a bit too tenuous but all this story needs is a little tightening up and a thorough edit and you’ve got yourself something marketable.

Good luck,


Watson at 19:30 on 17 April 2004  Report this post
Dee, thanks for the feeback and encouragement. I re-read it and I agree with both you and Nell about trimming some of it. I'll redraft my original. Not sure about placing it somewhere as I don't know where this sort of thing would fit. But it doesn't matter, it was only an exercise I set myself and I have learned many things from the feedback.
Many thanks,

Flash at 12:19 on 18 April 2004  Report this post
It did remind me of the classic 'Roald Dahl,' school of work. It was interesting and fast paced.


haunted at 13:40 on 18 April 2004  Report this post
I agree that it has the feel of Roald Dahl (one of the best writers to ever live). Great twist.

Wonderful short,


Watson at 13:40 on 18 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks Flash, that's a really nice compliment. I hope to do some more in the future.

Watson at 19:26 on 18 April 2004  Report this post
Thanks for reading and for your feedback, Louise. I wanted to write comedy and funny stories but I'm starting to think I have a better feel for darker stories and twist in the tale.
Many thanks,

Zigeroon at 22:17 on 20 April 2004  Report this post

Nice twist in the tale. The story kept moving forward and held my interest. This business about improbability is a difficult one. As long as the story is consistent within its own reality, and it works, then it doesn't have to be 'real' in an everyday sense. That's probably why my stories aren't published! Still, it's fun writing them, as you rightly say.

Watson at 19:49 on 21 April 2004  Report this post
Zigarooon, many thanks for reading and for your coomments. I think you have a good point.
All the best,

Ralph at 18:53 on 29 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Susan,

I was utterly hooked by this. The strange confrontation between hectic office life and ethereal gypsy at the start sets the scene for the weird and wonderful... and you really don't disappoint.

I really enjoyed the exchange between these two women, and the joy the gypsy seemed to take in stringing out Christie's scheme... Her voice was strong, very well written, and the blend of humour and the macabre worked brilliantly.

Looking forward to more of these... and I love the idea that Tales of the Unexpected didn't end with Roald Dahl... Long may they live!

All the very best with them



Watson at 17:13 on 30 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Ralph, thanks for the lovely feedback and for reading. I think I might stick with tales of the unexpected and see where it gets me. I think I'l try a serious one next. Thanks for the encouragement,

Jumbo at 23:36 on 24 June 2004  Report this post

Very nice - and very creepy. It certainly keeps the reader focussed on the page. I almost read it in one breath!

And a nice gentle twist that leads us up to the ending.

Good one!


Christian Drake at 16:50 on 27 June 2004  Report this post

i really enjoyed the story, especially the twist (as did everyone else!) but the only thing i would say is that i got the sense that you aren't feeling quite right writing humourous stuff. That is not to say that it wasn't funny, because it definitely was. But there was, i thought, an underlying feeling of sinister seriousness that was very powerful.
My advice: try writing something that will engulf anyone who reads it because of its frankness and stern nature. However if that doesn't sound right to you then totally ignore what i've said because 'Hand of Fate' is brilliant,



silent_witness at 20:59 on 01 December 2005  Report this post
that's a great story. Forgive me, I'm pretty young so I haven't heard many great tales. You should really consider publishing!

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