Animals and Children Added£2.49
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(A long short story of 13268 words)

Animals and Children


by Paul Lahert

After a sealing a deal that is going to save his year, a salesman finds his good run continues during a boozy card game with colleagues. But the hangover is coming...

Craig Flynn knew a little something about being a prick. It wasn’t his default setting, and it wasn’t necessarily his go-to, but he undoubtedly had it in reserve for when the occasion required it. And though it could come in many forms, the one he was currently leaning into was a sensation he recognised from childhood, the quiet glee of having power over another. By way of example, exhibit A would be the way he used to torment his younger brother when they were kids, over-reacting to the slightest provocation and picking fights he knew he couldn’t lose. The death-throes of these tussles would invariably take on an aspect of ritual; the bigger boy sooner or later pinning down the smaller, channelling his weight through his knees into those skinny unformed biceps – every slight shift of his weight dialling the pain up or down. Usually up. And then would come the coup de grâce. He would dangle a long line of spit from his mouth, letting it stretch downward, zeroing in on the grimacing face below. His brother would twist and turn and even beg a little, but that only sealed his fate. As sure as night follows day, the spittle always found its target.
The bastard gene is what Flynn came to call this inclination, a seam of which ran through most everyone, to his mind. Playground bullies, street thugs, concentration camp guards, CEOs and despots – they were all carriers. Perhaps even the odd sales director too. Flynn, of course, had managed to control his own tendencies as the years passed. He had to; a mere mortal like him. It didn’t come easy, but most of the time he was just about smart enough to know when to fall in line and shut the fuck up. Yet, every now and then he'd remember that distant boy, and he felt more than a flicker of him now as he raised Mark Patterson again and saw that he really didn’t want to play anymore...

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