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The Catch

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It had seemed easy enough; fake his death, get a new identity and start a new life away from his debtors. When she had suggested it to him, he had been convinced that doing something like this would cost a lot of money and was too simple. 

There had to have been a catch.

She had assured him that there was no catch and that it wasn’t too expensive. Just $200 and he could kiss away those gambling debts forever. 

Just $200.

There had to have been a catch.

It had started out easy enough. He had handed over the $200 to some shady looking guy along with his credentials; you know, passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate, anything that tied him to his old existence.  

He had then given him a new name, Tony Vitale. The name sounded vaguely familiar and he had told the shady guy as much, who assured him that it was just a really common name and that it’d be easy to remember. 

Easy to remember name. 

There had to have been a catch.

The guy had suggested that he head north to the Lightning Ridge in NSW because that’s where most fugitives went and the locals were smart enough not to ask too many questions about your past. He had also said that they always needed people to help out with opal mining and usually paid off the books.  He said it was easy to disappear. 

Easy to disappear.

There had to have been a catch.

So, there he was in Lightning Ridge with his new name. The locals all called him Tiny Tony because he was a big bloke and they enjoyed the irony of calling a big bloke Tiny. That was how they occupied themselves, giving each other stupid nicknames, opal mining and drinking beer; lots and lots of beer. Which was pleasant enough for a month, maybe two but the thought of staying in the Ridge indefinitely was enough to make his head throb with dread.

Maybe this was the catch; that he’d die of boredom or alcohol poisoning or both in the Ridge. 

So, he went back to the city with the hopes of finding the shady guy who given him the identity. He wouldn’t even ask for the money back, he’d just ask for his old identity and stop being Tiny Bloody Tony.

For days he walked the streets of Melbourne trying to find the shady guy, but with no name that was near impossible. Then he remember the chick who’d put him onto the shady guy, Cheryl the barmaid at the pub in Fitzroy. 

After 30 minutes on the tram, he finally reached the pub only to be told that Cheryl no longer worked there, even though he was positive he had seen her at the bar as he walked in. 

Maybe this was the catch, that he couldn’t get his old identity back. 

To drown his sorrows, Tiny Tony asked for a schooner and settled in for a long session. 

He had barely taken on sip of his beer when what seemed like the police SWAT team burst through the doors. 

With a gun pointed at his head, Tiny Tony politely inquired, “What seems to be the problem, officer?”

The guy holding the gun howled with laughter, while another slapped the back of his head. “Very funny, Vitale. You know we’ve been hunting you down for months now. The plastic surgery almost fooled us, but when we got the tip off we knew it was you.”

Tiny Tony followed the policeman’s gaze and saw Cheryl standing at the bar looking outraged. “You know I said I wouldn’t support you if you killed those people, Tony!” 

“See,” taunted the copper, “even your girlfriend has given up on you.”

And in that spilt second Tiny Tony almost believed that he saw guilt in her eyes. 

“You’re going away for a long time, Tony Vitale.” 

And there it was, at long last; the catch.

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