Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Leveraged Buyout

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This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's picture prompt was taken by Austrian photographer Ernst Haas. This is New York in 1952. 

Here's a link to the prompt image.

I went sort of semi-noir with this prompt. Miranda allows or 750 words; I used 472 of them. I decided to put this one on Blogger since I haven't posted much here lately. And I used an image from Unsplash for my post.

The ending may be ambiguous for some, but I'll let the reader fill that in as they like.

Leveraged Buyout

by K. R. Smith


Image of man in the city wearing a fedora.

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash            


As far as Malcom could see, there was only one other a man on the street. He sat in a chair on the sidewalk, his hat pulled down and his collar turned up against the chill of a January wind.

"How's it going?" Malcom asked.

The man on the chair looked up enough to show his eyes, but said nothing.

"I'm a friend of Charles. Are you James?"

"Maybe," the man said while glancing up and down the street. "And what does a friend of Charles want?"

"He said you might have some merchandise I'd be interested in."

"He did, did he?"

"Yeah, I'm redecorating. Thought I'd pick up some white stuff."

"Perhaps I can be of service."

"How much?"


"Fifteen bucks? I don't need it gold-plated. I was thinking half that, or a little more, at most."

"Maybe last year. This is nineteen and fifty-two, man. New year, new price. I got a lot of business expenses to cover."

"I'll bet."

The man shrugged. "That's the price."

"Well, I ain't got that kinda dough. I don't suppose you could spot me a few bucks?"

The man in the chair just gave him a stare that said no.

"Look, I need this bad," Malcom said through clenched teeth.

"You're free to shop around if you think you can get a better price."

"Yeah, sure. The cops have everyone else hiding in the sewers."

"Maybe you got a friend that could help out."

"Right—all my friends in their lofty social circles…"

The man in the chair turned away, unconcerned.

"Yeah, thanks," Malcom replied to his silence.

He walked away, his head bowed in disturbed thought. Others he passed along the street all seemed to have the same desperate look, their eyes following him, but saying nothing. Malcom ducked into a corner doorway to escape the wind's bite, shaking from the drug missing from his veins. A man passing by stopped in front of him.

"Malcom? Is that you?"


"Yeah, man. What are you doing 'round here?"

"I was hoping to do a little shopping, but it seems prices on this side of town are a bit steep. And, let me tell you, I need some stuff bad."

"Tell me about it. I know all your nasty habits. What are they asking?"


"Whoa! That's a jump. I guess all the cops performing their due diligence has scared away most of the competition."

"What am I going to do? I can't get that kind of dough. Not right away, at least. Any suggestions?"


"My supplier wasn't interested in negotiating."

"Everything's negotiable, man. What sorta leverage ya have?"

"Leverage? Nothing—unless being almost broke counts."

"Okay, then. Just how much cash do you have?"

"Twelve-fifty, total."

Shorty smiled. "That's plenty, Mal."

"How so?"

"I can sell you a revolver for ten."

Thanks for stopping by to read!


© 2021 K. R. Smith All rights reserved


  1. Noir indeed. Nicely done, thanks for joining.

  2. nice piece, not ambiguous at all ...

    1. Perhaps - though I do leave what happens next to the imagination of the reader! Thanks for reading and for commenting!


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