straight down the line

The Killers by Ernest Hemingway, an alternate ending.

“Nick walked up the dark street to the corner under the arc-light, and then along the car-tracks to Henry’s eating-house. George was inside, back of the counter.” (Hemingway)
“Did you see him?” asked George
“Yes, he looks  so defeated” replied Nick
“Nothing we can do, I’m sure he must have done something to deserve it.”
“I know, but I can’t get the picture of him lying on that bed, fully clothed with no hope to survive the night.”
“What can you do about it, what can any of us do about it?”
“I don’t know” stated Nick wearily “But, I have to do something.”
Nick quickly walked out of the diner and  back to Hirsh’s rooming house and went back up to Anderson’s room.  When he got there he opened the door and was sad to see Anderson still huddled on the bed.
“You were a prize fighter in your day weren’t you?” Nick asked the figure huddled on the bed.  “I used to watch you, you never gave up on a fight, how can you do it now when you have so much at stake?”
Anderson shifted on the bed and looked up at Nick.  “Nick, this isn’t your fight” he whispered.
“It is your life you are fighting for.” yelled Nick  “Don’t just give up.”
Anderson wasn’t even phased, he just looked up at Nick and said” I did what I did and now I’m going to pay the price, that is how things work in my business.  I know that and you know that.  Now get out of here before you end up dead too.”
Nick turned and left the room, he knew that Anderson would die soon, but he also knew he had done what he could to get the big man to fight.
On his way out he passed Al and Max and could see the shotgun sticking out from  Max’s overcoat. He ducked his head and hoped the two would not recognize him.   He knew that there was nothing he could do now.  As he walked out out onto the street he heard a loud shotgun blast behind him.  Nick quickly walked back under the arc- light and off into the night.

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