Anthony Self’s New Short Story – Sunrise Over Cappadocia

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Anthony Self

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There was a pop. Something crimson coloured and soggy flew out of the back of George’s head, and he crumpled onto the ceramic tiling of the balcony. Felix stood dumbfounded. His terror was glue…he couldn’t move an inch. He released his grip on the railing and shook his head as his stunned retinas recovered from what they had just witnessed. The job had meant to be straightforward and simple. Travel to Turkey, find George and retrieve what was stolen. Discovering George’s hideout had been fairly simple; George was five four and when he moved he had the prissy speed seemingly exclusive to all short, plump men. He was also an Irish man and as white as the porcelain bowl in the toilet. He stood out like a sore thumb, and showing his picture to locals had given him the location. His legs were beginning to feel less rubbery. He glanced at the pistol lying in the forming pool of blood. George’s eyes were wide open and he stared heavenward. Felix followed his gaze. A bloated, black shape swept across the scorched sky. Some kind of monolithic bird. A vulture, perhaps. He looked back at George and for a moment thought that his lips had curled into a smile. His senses were returning. First things first, he thought. Witnesses. He checked over the balcony; it was early evening and there may have been people below…kids, even. Lady luck seemed to be in his favour, as the bottlenecked alley way below was empty. His shark-like eyes darted across to the building adjacent to George’s villa. There were a few windows open, but if anyone on the other side had heard the explosion of the gun they weren’t seemingly bothered by it. Felix moved with purpose. He went into George’s bedroom and made a swift, calculated grab for the duvet. He found another couple of quilts inside the wardrobe. Wrapping the body was fairly simple; it was the amount of blood on the tiles of the balcony that concerned him. Disposing of the body wouldn’t be too much of a chore; it wouldn’t have been his first time. What troubled him however, were George’s prevalent tendencies to make friends wherever he went. Gift of the gab, his boss had said. Who knew who would be coming to the villa for dinner this evening? And then there was the ring. The item that Felix had been tasked with retrieving. An hour later, he had mopped the area clean. The sun was beginning to go down and Turkey was starting to lose its novelty. He checked the common hiding places – searched for loose panels in the flooring and sideboards, ransacked the jewellery boxes, pots and pans, unearthed all the flora and fauna dotted around and rechecked every nook and cranny. It was dark outside before Felix admitted defeat. Why had he done it? He’d been on jobs before where he’d threatened people; he’d even been on some jobs where he had to resort to violence, but in the end they always gave what they owed. Willingly or unwillingly. Officious little cunt. Baffled, Felix went back to the balcony. He absentmindedly sat on the garden chair that George had been perched on before he pulled the pistol out. Before he had stood up and slid the nozzle between his lips. Felix had an abrupt sensation of shame. Thinking about it now, George had just been sitting there. He hadn’t attempted to fight him, or even seemed startled to see him when he crept through the balcony doors. He just simply sat there. He looked at the building opposite George’s villa. Lights were on in the windows now. But there was something else that caught his attention. Someone else. A dark silhouette stood immobile opposite Felix. At first he thought it was a mannequin, or some sort of human shaped coat stand. But as he squinted harder, he could make out imperceptible movements from the person inside one of the rooms in the building opposite. Felix knew that the person was watching him. The question was, how long had he been watching? In the daylight, he could have been standing there the whole time and Felix wouldn’t have been any the wiser. He could have seen George shoot himself and observed him clear up the mess. If that had been the case though, why hadn’t he called the police? He should have fled then. He should have picked himself up and left the villa. But he was unable to. It was like anchors had dropped and dug into the earth, every sinew of his body rooted to the spot. Moreover, the dark silhouette was strangely hypnotic. If the person hadn’t called the police, then maybe there was a message here…maybe the person wanted to communicate something. Maybe, if he stayed here long enough, he could work out what the person wanted. In a few hours the sun would be rising. Felix sank back into the chair, into the same position he had found George. He briefly wondered how long George had been sitting there when he had arrived at the villa, but he swiped the thought away like a bothersome fly. He needed to know. He’d stay here forever if that’s what it took.

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