By Bradford Middleton

Jack had grown weary of the most unforgiving city in the world and one day simply decided that his time had to come to an end.  He had to escape New York City; the place that started as a dream, a place where anything could happen and anyone could make it if they were only willing to go the extra mile.  It had all got too much; the drinking, the gambling, the excessive cost of living.  He could handle it no longer and decided he would head to Atlantic City.  He was sure he could get some work up there and raise enough money to really put some distance between himself and the people he owed money to.  They were the kind of people who, ideally, you didn’t really want to get on the wrong side of and if you did it was best to get as far away as possible.  As a result Jack knew he would be willing to do anything and from what he had learnt from a barfly at one of his local hang-outs he knew the perfect place to start his look upon arrival in Atlantic City. 

His time in New York ended in the course of half an hour; he went to his landlady and told her he was moving out and that she wasn’t going to get the rent he owed her before heading out her front-door towards the Greyhound bus station on 8th Avenue.  There he paid for his one-way ticket with cash and once on board it suddenly occurred to him that this was possibly the last time he would ever be leaving the greatest city on earth.

The journey was short but Jack had worked out the easiest way to get to a motel he had heard was within his price range by the time they pulled in to their station.  Atlantic City struck him as being a bit of a boring dump but then after living in New York for five years where wouldn’t seem boring?  The town just seemed full of bars, hotels and casinos which he supposed offered the chance of finding some easy work but would they really pay enough to get him far enough away; he doubted it.

 Upon arriving at the motel he walked in to the reception and instructed the man behind the desk that he would like to stay for at least a week but could only pay for the first couple of nights up-front.  The receptionist looked at Jack and grunted as Jack began to take in his surroundings.  Down the hall he saw a couple, a young sexy woman with a much, much older man grappling at a door and each other.  He looked at the receptionist again and noticed behind his head a price list which ranged from one-week stays to stays of an hour.  Jack knew the place was going to be a tip but a brothel as well?

‘Ok, I’ve stayed in worse I’m sure’ he thought to himself as he was led to his room.  The concierge opened the door and Jack was pleased to discover that he had stayed in worse.  He lay down on the bed and flicking off his shoes pulled a cigarette from a packet he’d found on the bus journey.  He began smoking, thinking about how his life had seemingly changed for the better in one day.  That night he knew it was going to be changing even more when he visited the bar across town he’d been told about back in New York.

 He walked out the motel in a fresh set of clothes with the intention of finding a place to eat some food.  Twenty-five minutes later he was sat in a diner awaiting the feast he had ordered for only two bucks; hash brownies, fried egg, sausage, bacon, toast and beans.  He hadn’t had much luck finding good cheap places in New York to eat so he was pleased to be able to find such a place; afterwards, whilst he sat around finishing off a beer and smoking a cigarette, he realised that this must be the place for visitors who were down on their luck after a bad run at the casinos; ‘either that or they had a much better class of bum’ he thought chuckling to himself.

Despite the beer he was pleased to finally arrive at the bar he had heard so much about from his old friend.  He got down to the drinking pretty quickly and the bar-keep seemed to be able to keep up with Jack’s demands for more alcohol.  After a few had loosened him up he leant in close and asked for another beer and if it were possible for him to see the boss.

The bar-keep told Jack the boss wasn’t in yet, he didn’t generally show his face until around two, sometimes three a.m., but he was welcome to stay.  The hours flew by and eventually, at just after three, the boss finally arrived.  Jack leant in to the bar-keep one last time and asked if he could have a coffee now and then a whisky for when his meeting was done.  He supped at the mug and could feel its caffeine waking his brain from its drink-addled state; he was finally ready to talk business.

Fifteen minutes later he was out with his jeans pocket crammed full of ten notes and a job to be done with even more money to come once it was.  This was the break he had needed and it meant that within two weeks he would be safely over the border and in to Canada; away from the prying eyes of big brother and he hoped with enough money to support him for a long while.  He knew he deserved it, how many other fools could the boss have found to murder the Chief of Police at their annual Ceremonial Ball?  None, that’s why he deserved it, every last cent.

Bradford Middleton was born in south-east London in 1971 and spent the next thirty years trying to escape.  He now lives in Brighton and has been trying to escape from there since about 2008.  He has won a few local competitions, has been published widely online and recently completed his debut novel DIVE.

Copyright 2015 Bradford Middleton. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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