Author's note: This flash fiction was motivated by a news article about a machete attack in Scotland. My work is fictional and bears no resemblance to the facts of the Scottish attack.
Giles glanced out of his office and noticed Hamish Taylor pestering his secretary again.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Taylor, but Mr. McDonald is not available…”
“I see him sitting right there, not meeting with anyone, not on the phone! Don’t lie to me! I demand to see him now!” Mr. McDonald’s voice, escalating into a shout, got the attention of the security guard near the safe. He started towards them, but Giles, sighing, opted to deal with the problem directly. He walked out of his office.
“Please come in here, Mr. Taylor, provided you don’t mind lowering your voice a bit.” He ushered Hamish into the office and towards a comfortable chair facing his desk. He folded his hands on top of his desk and looked at Hamish with that practiced, serious look that made others feel they were the most important person in his world.
“Now then, how can I help you?”
But Hamish wasn’t fooled by the polite stare any longer. He tapped his hands on the arms of the chair and pursed his lips. “I’m behind on my mortgage. You know that.”
Giles nodded slowly.
“My wife left, and took my daughter.” His voice caught. He took a moment to clear his throat. “I haven’t worked for six months now, and the doctor’s sending me to a neurologist. He thinks I’ve got Parkinson’s disease, and if that’s true, then I’ll be bloody sacked, won’t I?”
Giles murmured, “I’m so sorry.”
“Right. But here’s the thing. If you’d just refinance my mortgage, extend it out a bit like, then I could manage the payments even if I was on the dole. Can’t you see that makes sense?”
Giles straightened up and rolled his shoulders back. He tilted his head and tossed a pen back and forth between his fingers.
“Mr. Taylor, your personal situation is most regrettable, and I wish there was something I could do, but banking regulations…”
“Sod banking regulations! I’m a human being, you bloody miser!” thundered Hamish, rising to his feet, his face scarlet.
The security guard, alerted by a gesture from Giles, opened the door. “Please come with me, sir, and there’ll be no trouble.”
Hamish glared at Giles, thumped on his desk, and left with the guard. Giles let out a long breath, then buzzed his secretary to get him some fresh coffee.
A few hours later, he left with his briefcase to catch the 6:10 train. Two blocks away, a man came at him, roaring, a machete in his hand. Giles just had time to recognize Hamish when the machete crashed into his skull and everything went dark. Hamish tossed the machete into the alley and headed home, running. When he paused, panting, outside a convenience store, he noticed the evening paper’s headlines: “Local Donor Honored.” He picked up a copy and paid the clerk. The article gushed about a local banker who had been extremely generous to three separate charities: Mental Health Counselling, The Neurological Disorders Centre, and Housing Help. Giles’ photo smiled out at him.