So I posted this little partial story I’d written because…well, the character I’d cooked up and his story just wouldn’t hush. I felt like I had to get it out there. I hadn’t really gone back to read in a critical mind, but I posted it here anyway. Then I had a magical moment where someone I knew read it. But, not only did she read it, she dove right in and tweaked it just a tad to make it better. I LOVE THAT 🙂 So, below is just an excerpt of what happened, how it’s better and I can’t wait for the moment I can visit Victor and his mystery lady and finish telling their story….
I shook my head at her. We’ve had many women owners come through here. It wasn’t that unusual, although most of them did slightly resemble their racing counterpart. I shuttered at the memory of races past. I just observed from a safe distance.
Normally I was the one who set up the line. I usually knew everything about every one of my race horses. What was their lineage, their pedigree? Who were their respective owners and how many years they’d been in the business? How many horses did they own? What was their experience with racing? Who did they hire to train the horse? How long ago had they hired the trainer? How long had he been working with horses or if any had won in the past? Who provided their veterinary care and what, if any, medication was the horse on? Who was the jockey?
So it left me a little uneasy that this latest addition was added without my seeing them first. I’d left this decision up to Frank because I’d had a client to take care of and there was a final slot that needed to be filled. I trusted him, but I hoped I wasn’t going to regret that decision.
I unlocked my office, flipped on the light and closed the door behind me. Walking to the far left corner of the room I picked up the remote control that sat on the edge of my desk top and clicked the power button. The mechanical whir of the forty-two inch monitor lowering from the ceiling filled the room. I sat down the remote on the rectangular, mahogany coffee table that sat a few feet away from my desk and planted myself on the dark brown leather love seat. I smiled when I noticed the piping hot cup of coffee sitting there on a coaster prepared just the way I liked it in my favorite mug.
I laughed and shook my head. Lois. I don’t know how she did it, but I didn’t really see a way I could get by without her. She thought of everything.
I picked up the mug just as the footage began. There wasn’t any sound. The microphones were never activated unless I ordered them to be. Having state of the art high definition color security cameras with fifty-two times optical zoom that could allow me to count each hair on your arm was okay, but apparently the law does not like it when you use the ultra-sonic microphones to record voices without people’s permission. I’d learned that firsthand, so it was used at my discretion.
I blew on the hot liquid and watched as two people walked in the stable with their horse; a man and a woman. The slightly overweight pot-bellied man with a thinning hairline, I deduced, was the trainer. The woman walked on the other side of the horse; only the top of her brunette head visible, hair pulled up into a ponytail that bobbed softly up and down. She held the reigns and every so often reached up to rub the horse’s neck.
My eyes fell to the horse momentarily while I patiently waited for a better angle. He was a beautiful steed, dark brown, tall. He had big round eyes, and a long flowing black mane and tail. He walked with magnificent purpose and I couldn’t wait to see him run on the track. It seemed Frank had done well.
The camera followed them to the stall and I finally got a view of her. Well, the backside of her and it wasn’t a half bad angle. She wore a yellow t-shirt that was like a second skin clinging to the inward curve from her rib cage to her hips that met with a tightly hugging pair of deep dark blue jeans that rocked back and forth with every step.
Interesting, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a young owner before that was female. Or, quite frankly, one with a body like that. All of the female owners I’d ever met before were older, middle aged, and were taking over for their husbands that had passed away. Not many were owners by choice and those that were, well, let’s just say that they wouldn’t have to ever worry about having husbands.
I watched as she disappeared into the stall guiding the horse inside with her suddenly anxious for her to return. I waited with bated breath on the edge of the couch for her to reappear unable to look away until I could see her. Why was the intensity of the need to see what she looked like more powerful than anything I’d ever felt before? Finally, the camera focused on her face as she reappeared, as if knowing I wanted a closer look.
The second I saw her face, the sip of coffee I’d just taken was blown all over the floor.
Flashbacks again. Evil flashes to a past that I couldn’t control, a way of life that was forced upon me. A day I was told to do something just as awful as being told I had to ‘get rid’ of my girl.
The California job. Or as I liked to call it, my first fuck up. I was in my early twenties. It was my first job alone after he’d ripped my girl from me, which is why I probably fucked it up. My father had been working with me for a few years trying to make me forget. He thought I was ready to go out on my own, he thought it would do me some good.
He thought wrong.
I still remember the tinge of regret I felt knowing I had to make her disappear. And I don’t mean disappear like in a new identity, a new life, like I do now. My Father did things very differently, he had been very clear that she was to NEVER be seen again, that NO part of her was to ever be found. I guess I didn’t pay very good attention the day he was telling me the rules because I didn’t stick around to make sure the job was complete. Maybe I couldn’t bring myself to believe that my first kill was actually a woman. A woman who unsettlingly reminded me of the one I had lost at his hands.
My Father was a sick, sick man.
Was it possible? Had she survived? If it was so important that she be taken out and made disappear, why hadn’t it come back to me that I was unsuccessful?
She smiled at the frumpy older man she’d come with and walked back over to him. I couldn’t control it, her smile made me smile. I wasn’t able to see who else was with them, but whomever it was, they were talking their ears off. It had to be my stable manager and for once I was grateful for him being so chatty because it meant I could see her that much longer.
I remember spending hours just looking at that face. Studying every mannerism. Devouring every expression. Burning every detail to memory. I couldn’t help comparing her to my girl. It was eerie how similar they were.
They both had were brunettes, although I think my girls hair was a few shades lighter.
They both had brown eyes, but my girls were deep dark pools that I could never stare into anymore.
They both had this infectious smile that could light up a room.
Maybe that’s why I’d had such a hard time with it.
I had to memorize everything about her before going. I wasn’t allowed to take the photo with me. So I took to memory every freckle that spotted her nose. I had to know by heart that her eyes were indeed brown, but lightened slightly sometimes to an almost greenish hue. Her height, date of birth, favorite food, favorite color, worst fear, schools she attended, all the details that could get me close if I needed to.
I drank in the musical sound of her laughter that I listened to on the tapes of conversations she had so I’d know who her friends were, what her plans were, what was her day to day schedule?
I studied her every move knowing she stopped at Starbucks at seven fifteen every morning on her way to work and ordered a vanilla iced Frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso and hold the whipping cream topping. Every Tuesday she came home thirty minutes early as to not get stuck in traffic and to catch her favorite television show. On Friday nights she went out to dinner with her boyfriend, usually an off the beaten path Mexican restaurant, and every Saturday afternoon was spent with her best friend. They’d get nails done, walk past jewelry stores, and checking out the latest sales at department stores trying on dresses or shirts or pants.
That’s when it all hit me. She was someone else’s girl. It was like everything coming full circle. Since I couldn’t get rid of my girl, he was to have me get rid of someone else’s girl. Did he want me to know how it felt?
I tried to stay focused because I did have a job to do, but it also made it that much more difficult knowing what I was doing. I had gotten too much information. So had I slipped and made a mistake? I thought I’d had a flawless plan so I wouldn’t have to be there first hand. By the looks of things in front of me now, I sure as hell had done something wrong.
I got up from the couch and took a few steps toward the television to get a closer look and at the same time, she glanced upward looking directly into the camera. I froze.
There was no doubt in my mind now that this was her. But, how could that be? What was she doing here? My hand reached for the screen and ghosted across her face in front of me as she turned away.
Without thinking and not knowing exactly how old this feed was I flew to the closet and changed from my suit into jeans and a grey t-shirt. I placed the black leather shoes I had worn in neatly on the lower shelf and slipped into some white sneakers I kept for the days I did go down to the stables. Considering they were still bright white, it was obvious I didn’t go down there often.
I glanced at my watch. I had exactly thirty minutes until my meetings were to begin. That should be enough time to go see her in the stables and formally introduce myself. And figure out what the fuck to do now. I knew who had ordered her hit those years ago and they still came around from time to time for the races. If they saw her, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Would they recognize her? I couldn’t take the chance that someone would pick up on it. Fallout for something like this wasn’t something I wanted to experience.
I opened up my office door only to be greeted by Lois who had her hand in the air as if she was about to knock. Her mouth fell open when she saw I’d changed and she quickly closed it.
“Your ten o’clock,” she started and I could hear a tone a lot like I was going to be scolded at.
“Yes, I know, I haven’t forgotten. I’ll be back in time,” I interrupted knowing exactly what she was going to say.
“But you never-”
“I know,” I stopped her mid-sentence again.
She cocked an eyebrow.
“We had a new arrival this morning.”
“Yes, Mr. Malone, that’s what I told you. Didn’t you get the video feed? I told them to send it right away,” she questioned.
“Yes, I did.”
“Was it not good quality? Something wrong with the camera? Should I have Lonnie check it out?”
“The feed was fine. You know how I am. I didn’t set this up so I’m curious.”
“And it has nothing to do with the fact that the owner is a rather pretty, younger woman whom might look vaguely familiar?” she asked crossing her arms across her chest giving me that look.
Shit, I felt like I was trying to get around my Mother. And what did she mean by vaguely familiar?
She swooshed her hand at me pointing into my office not giving me a chance to ask questions, “get back in there.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but she arched an eyebrow in challenge. She really was like my Mother. I turned, slumping my shoulders and went back into my office just as she was asking.
“Lois,” I started when we entered my office, but she cut me off shutting the door behind us.
“Uh, uh,” she said tisking at me. “What exactly were you going to say? Did you have a plan in mind?”
“No, but-” I started to try to argue.
“Don’t give me that.” She wasn’t going to let me get a word in edge wise so I sat down on the couch and simply listened. “I told you they were still here precisely because I did not want you going down there, not so that you could go make a fool of yourself.”
I buried my face in my hands, elbows on my knees. “I know who she is, Lois. But, how do you know?”
“No, you don’t know her. You know that she was a mark. You know you messed up that job for your Father. You know that going down there wasn’t going to do any good. She’s not going to know who you are. Were you going to go down there and tell her? What would that accomplish?”
I shook my head, my hands raking up through my hair. “Shit, Lois, you knew about that? I never talked about it.”