Moonshine was first published in Insight magazine on the Costa del Sol, and subsequently in More Andalucían Mysteries.

It is the shortest story I have written, as Insight wanted no more than 1000 words, and I managed it in 1072. Most of my stories are between 4000 and 7000 words. It is a lighthearted humorous story and not dark at all, unlike many of my other stories. Most of them however do have some humour in them, and most have either a twist in the tail or an ambiguous ending.

Two of my books of short stories, Andalucían Mysteries and More Andalucían Mysteries (also compounded into one volume, Malaga Mysteries) are set on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. A third book, East Side Stories, is set down the east side of England, from Hadrian’s Wall to the Thames. A 4th book, Twisted Tales, is set partly in Spain, the UK and other locations. Malaga Mysteries can be obtained from UK bookshops (ISBN 9781784622756).

All of the books are available from all Amazon platforms, as EBooks or paperbacks.  Details of them all, together with several free short stories, can be found on my website, www.johnhardybooks.com

I hope you enjoy this story.

MOONSHINE

Nerja was booming, full of holidaymakers from all over Europe. High summer: sun, sangria, sand, sea and sex. It was the height of the boom, fed by bankers, property agents and other respectable sober suited men and women, but mainly men. Just before the bust, when over-mortgaged American house owners brought about the collapse. Started the ball rolling downhill, allowing the same bankers to pay themselves high bonuses, to permit the taxpayers to save their institutions. Moonshine expansion followed by the three card trick, all spun by supposed financial experts on a gullible and willing general public. Without penalty.

There were other less respectable purveyors of moonshine, peddling their magic on selected targets. Quick easy money to be made but risky, and if caught with a price to a pay.

The scam was simple and often repeated in different locations with success. Now the pair of confidence tricksters had arrived in Nerja. ‘Suzy Bright’ aka June Wilson and her partner Miranda. Suzy, mid fifties but still attractive, glamorous even, and Miranda, really Betty, her plainer, younger and efficient companion and secretary. Suzy was a born actor and Miranda the brains behind the swindle. The problem this time was that their resources were running low. Their capital was 150,000€, a good wardrobe and a necklace worth several thousand pounds inherited from Suzy’s mother; this they never touched or depleted. This, added to Miranda’s brains and Suzy’s talent, was the basis of their operations. Their money for working expenses was running dangerously low, a quick kill was necessary.

They needed, and found, a good hotel in which to stay, that had a quiet bar with a barman whose English did not run beyond that needed to serve drinks. This Miranda found on her reconnaissance trip, the fact that they could not afford to stay there was irrelevant. They never paid hotel bills being experts in doing runners, the management unconcerned as they thought the pair had deposited a valuable necklace in the hotel safe, the jewellery box being found however to be empty after their departure.

Carlos was the ideal barman, quiet, efficient and competent at his job, but any request more than the ordering of a drink being met by “Que?”

Their arrival was dramatic. “That’s Suzy Bright, you know the ex film star. What was she in now…. er was it Genevieve? Passport to Pimlico? … Some British films then Hollywood for a bit…. er Psycho? Some Hitchcock ones I think.”

The gossip was that she was looking to invest some capital into the flourishing local property boom. All rumours put about by Miranda.

The other pair on the lookout for gullible mugs was Adam Fairweather and his Spanish partner Mario. Their real names are not important. Unlike the two women they worked alone, supposedly with no connection between them. Suzy Bright’s arrival and investment plans became known to them within a day of her entering Nerja.

Two other facts need to be established. Miranda spoke Spanish and let it be known she did, whilst Adam also did but feigned not to.  Adam and Mario knew the bar well, as they knew nearly every other likely bar in Nerja, which they had trawled during their two weeks in the town looking for a suitable mark.

The play went like this. Adam came into the bar where Suzy and Miranda were the only customers. He was in a foul temper, that was plain to see. He slapped a fist on the bar and rattled off a long sentence in English. “Que?” from Carlos. More from Adam, followed by more “Que’s?” Miranda came over, “Can I help?” and then translated for him.

He joined them and they all chatted. It became apparent that his client, Adam being a developer, had pulled out leaving a development hanging in mid air.

“I have 120,000€, in cash, in my flat. The developer Mario only deals in cash, typical Spaniard. My client who was supplying the other 120,000 has just pulled out and Mario won’t wait. Ah well, I’ll just have to write it off to experience.”

Suzy quickly came to his rescue.

During the next two days it was arranged, over drinks in the bar. They both bought lockable briefcases from a shop nearby and each put 120,000€ in their own. Suzy unbeknown to Adam bought two more which she filled with newspaper.  Adam in his turn bought two more which he also filled with paper. The shopkeeper had never sold so many bags before in so short a time. They deposited the two locked bags with Carlos, promising him a fine tip if he would hold them for a few hours.

Mario came by arrangement, to agree to the deal. He, supposedly, didn’t speak English so Miranda translated. He produced plans, estimates and contracts. All were approved and signed. Carlos had put the bags in a cupboard behind the bar. He of course did not know what was in them or what the arrangements were, all that had been done in English before Mario arrived.

“Right,” announced Adam. “Now we’ll all go and see one of the sites, and then when we return, if we’re still agreed, Mario can take the cash and we’ll have dinner together when he’s gone.”

Mario then left to get his car for the journey to the site, and Adam said he would go outside with him, and ring his wife to tell her he’d be late home.

“We’ll go up and change,” said Suzy. “Ten minutes ok?”

The bar emptied.

Then things moved rapidly and to two different plans. When the women went upstairs, Adam and Mario retrieved the bags from Carlos and gave him the two filled with newspaper, then left in a hurry, drove out of the car park and didn’t stop until they reached Seville.

After a brief time, Suzy and Miranda returned and seeing the two men still absent, also took two bags from Carlos and handed him theirs filled with paper. They also left quickly in a pre-ordered taxi with all their belongings and the briefcases, and were on the next flight to London.

That evening Carlos, who spoke English perfectly, sat in his room drinking brandy, counting the 240,000€. He had also bought two briefcases from the shop, more profit for the shopkeeper, and filled them with newspaper.

Those who sell moonlight sometimes get moonlight in return.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]