going down

To the casual observer, Margaret wouldn’t have looked all that different to any other businesswoman standing in the lobby of the Rialto that Monday morning. Scant makeup, spine erect, a resolute glint in her grey eyes. An attentive bystander might have detected the quiver in her lip as she gazed at the luminous screen scrolling share prices of the major companies. Possibly have noticed twitch in her left eye when the screen announced James Hardie’s profits were up 30%.

Electronic pings announced the incessant arrival and departure of elevators about the cavernous lobby. The rich aroma of fresh coffee percolated through the crowd, punctuated by the whine of milk steamed in spurts by the barista in the far corner. Margaret’s attention returned to the digital clock in the corner of the illuminated message board. ‘They’ll be here soon’, she reassured herself, before wincing at the awful creak ground out by her back teeth. Gingerly dabbing her tongue at her molars to check if she’d done any more damage to them this morning. She should have been getting emergency dental surgery, but her broken teeth weren’t the most pressing matter on Margaret’s mind this morning.

Margaret closed her eyes, praying for composure. Behind her reddened lids she listens to the sounds of big business. Voices lowered in “between you & me” discretion. The slap of leather soles on the polished marble floor. In every sense Rialto was a long way from the the former workplace where her husband Jimmy had commenced his demise.

Margaret remembered the photo they had showed in Court. Jimmy and his co-workers smothered in white asbestos fibres. They used to joke that it was always Christmas at Hardie’s, despite the long shifts and shit pay. Not to mention the malignant mesothelioma that had gnawed its way through his lungs and heart over the ensuing three decades. Hearing someone cough nearby, Margaret recalled the gurgling noise Jimmy made as blood spilled over his lips, his once burly frame finally disintegrating into Jimmy’s last coughing fit.

Another ping sounded close to Margaret, just behind her. She turned to witness its doors slide sideways to reveal those for whom she had been waiting.

The world folded in on itself.

The executives were screaming even before Margaret was aware that she had the old gun out. Her single shot reverberated off every gleaming edge of the lobby. The CEO’s such well-remunerated grey matter revealed itself to be just as red as the rest of ours after all, albeit spread considerably further about the brushed steel confines of the Rialto’s lift number 12.

The CEO’s entourage of executives were frozen, pressed flat against the wall of the lift well. A director who’d denied all knowledge of the risks at Jimmy’s hearing had wet his pants. A dark stain bloomed over the legs of his grey suit. A siren was wailing. Small mounds of office workers huddled about the lobby floor, cowering beneath their document holders and Fitness First backpacks. Security guards scampered around the peripheries of Margaret’s vision.

Margaret stared at the incredible volume of pulpy, viscous muck plastered across the walls and roof of the lift. ‘What wrongs they were capable of when inside that skull’, she pondered, stepping into the lift. There’d be no chance of escaping, not that it mattered anymore. She was on her way to join Jimmy. Her cracked lips smiled grimly as she pressed “Basement” with a blood spattered finger, waited for the doors to close then slipped the barrel between her lips.

going down


Joined October 2007

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