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"Pronoun Trouble" by Tom Kreitzberg

Twist #298 - June 2015

Originally appeared Feb. 1999

(Page 1 of 3)

The thin, fair-haired man named McLean watched without expression as Barry Parrish explained to their boss, Mr. Parker, what happened to the twenty thousand dollars in cash Barry was to have delivered that afternoon.

"So I give Little Joey the money," Barry concluded, his shoulders hunched up in a frozen shrug. "Honest, Mr. Parker, I was just doing what Little Joey told me, sir."

Mr. Parker sat motionless behind his desk for more than a minute, his blank eyes staring past the big man who stood sweating in front of him. At last, he nodded his head once and said in a quiet but forceful voice, "Right. Go on back to work, Barry, and don't mention any of this to anyone."

Barry backed up to the door, with short, jerky bows and mumbled promises and thanks. When he had closed the door behind him, Mr. Parker turned to McLean and asked, "Believe him?"

McLean shrugged. "I did see Little Joey with the money this morning."

Mr. Parker shook his head. "My own nephew. If you hadn't seen him, he'd just say Barry was lying, and I'd never know where the money went." He fell silent for several minutes, during which McLean remained still, awaiting his decision.

Finally, Mr. Parker nodded once. "Kill him. Tonight. You alone."

"Yes, Mr. Parker." McLean turned and walked briskly out a side door, leaving his boss once again in silence.