A light fog blanketed his brain making it hard to concentrate. An indistinct barrage of accusations assailed him, throwing him off balance and he clasped the arms of his office chair. He squinted at the red, contorted face bellowing at him from across the desk and a spray of spittle pricked at his face. A laugh tickled at his throat.
Dragging himself up, he carefully moved to the front of the desk. A wave of nausea lodged in his throat accompanied by the taste of scotch. He stumbled and stifled a curse as the tic in his forehead spasmed. How he yearned for quiet.
“So, you don’t deny it?” the visitor’s voice boomed.
“I don’t admit or deny anything,” he replied still firmly holding on to the desk. “You don’t get it, do you? It’s called progress. Sometimes there are losers, but they are…” He scrambled in the recesses of his mind to find the elusive words he was searching for. “…collateral damage!” He smiled, “I’d have preferred not to have so many losers but…it’s out of my hands.”
The response, a sarcastic laugh, surprised him.
“Collateral damage! That’s what you call it? We're not at war.” The visitor’s face leaned close and stale hot breath flooded his nostrils. “You love power. You think you’re untouchable. Well, you have to be stopped.”
The pulse in his temple throbbed more insistently bringing with it a sharp pain. He peered at the hard set mouth opposite, his thoughts too slippery to form a witty retort. He was bored with the bleeding hearts. They just complained endlessly. No matter what he did, there was always someone ready to criticise or disagree. It was just self-interest.
“I’m not quitting! Not for you or anybody else. Now piss off and leave me alone.” He pulled himself up taller. “I don’t answer to you…or anyone else for that matter. People will applaud my time in office. They’ll see I was revolutionary…visionary…taking this country to bigger and better things…taking it forward.” He threw his head back for emphasis and immediately regretted it.
“You’re out of control. Someone has to fucking stop you!”
Spittle landed on his face again and he slowly wiped it off with the back of his shaking hand. His head ached and the rest of that bottle of Scotch beckoned. He stepped forward but stumbled and again grabbed the front of the desk.
“I’ll make you pay, now fuck off!”
“You will be stopped…”
The visitor lunged at him. His chest tightened as steely hands dug into his shoulders and shook him violently.
“I’ll make you pay, you bastard.” The word ‘bastard’ repeated over and over like a chant.
He tried to pull away but couldn’t move. He laughed at the absurdity of this scuffle.
“Get out now. You’ll suffer for this…you, you…”
He shoved his visitor towards the door but he didn’t budge. Instead, he was enclosed in a rough but clamp-like embrace. They tussled and fell against the desk. He twisted and pushed but couldn’t break free. In the enclosed space he pummelled his opponent with his fists but it made no impact.
“I’m not quitting,” he croaked into his attacker’s ear.
As the hold on him weakened slightly something glinted at the corner of his eye. Suddenly a sharp stab seared through his neck. He grasped at the pain and his hand touched cold metal. A sticky wetness pulsed from its base down onto his collar. His legs buckled and he slumped to the floor.
A moan and an oath, “Oh my god!” floated through the darkness, followed by retreating footsteps and the thud of a closing door. Silence. At last, he was alone. The pounding in his ears softened, his strength oozed onto the carpet in a steady rhythm. He tried to shout but only a hoarse gurgle passed his lips. He’d get that bastard after he’d rested.