Clem tossed the case, winding me. I opened it while he lit up. I wiped my palm on my thigh and reached inside. There was no money, just an envelope.
‘Look,’ I said, ‘I didn’t know anything about-’
Clem was pointing a gun at me. I took a step back as he climbed out of the grave. I raised my hands.
‘It’s Franks, isn’t it?’ he said.
My heart pounded. There was a roaring in my ears.
‘I didn’t do this,’ I said.
Clem waved the gun at me. ‘Read it.’
‘Who’s Franks?’ I said.
Clem smiled, picking at his teeth. He waved me into the coffin. He shoved me, kneeing me in the back. I stumbled in jarring my knee on the lid. I’d dropped the envelope, so he scooped it up and tossed it into the coffin. I opened it, fumbling.
‘Read it Franks. Read the letter.’
I read the words aloud.
There’s always a debt to be paid. Did you not think we’d find you?
‘I’m not Franks,’ I said. ‘Look, if this is one of Crawford’s wind-ups-’
My guts tightened. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking-’
He squeezed the trigger and shot me in the chest. There was a searing heat. He stood over me as I lay gasping, blood bubbling in my throat. He grinned and fired a shot into my head.
When I was dead Clem sat at my graveside smoking. He flicked the butts at my corpse and pulled a note from his pocket. He squinted at it taking time to understand. He climbed down to tug at my shirt. The sleeve was drenched in blood. Clem tore it free with his sheath knife and poured water from a flask, sluicing the blood away. On my bicep there was a mole. There should have been a tattoo that said Sharon, but there wasn’t, because I wasn’t Gerald Franks.
Clem dusted the soil from his hands and lit another cigarette. He buried me, stamping down the peat and throwing what he couldn’t flatten into the nettles. He tossed the gravel on top, levelling it with his boots. Finally he sat against my grave, lit up, and got to wondering who he’d killed.