Victor Malone

Yea, yea, yea…I know.  I’ve posted this story already.  Mind you it was in two parts before.  AND…I hadn’t had the talented Miss K take a look at it yet until it was posted here.  Something to keep in mind for future reference….send to her via email first and ALWAYS.  😉  This is my case in point, having someone who can read over your work with an open mind can do wonders to it.  I know what’s in my head…I know where I want the characters to eventually go, but am I portraying that?  Does it speak clearly?  Did I get from point A to point B with you not getting lost?  That is what I want to make sure I’m doing.  This is going to help greatly with many future works.  I just wanted to show the benefit of having this.  If you don’t have someone in your life (as a writer) who can look at your work and say, ‘if you just did this it would be so much better’ than you need to find that someone.  You may not notice at first, but pay attention.  Notice Victor’s attention to detail.  Notice the simple fixes that make it a better read:

‘Mr. Malone’

 I knew my Father acted insane at times, he had to in order to do what he did, but this was beyond anything I’d ever seen or heard before.  How could he be even thinking such a thing?

“If you don’t have it in you to do it, I will,” he stated coolly.

“What…how… why now,” I stammered realization slowly sinking in, “no, wait, I can’t, you can’t…”

He was not listening.  How could he even be talking about doing this to her?  Could he not see what she meant to me?

“Someone has to.  No one can know.  I tell you this, yet you choose not to listen.  You chose to bring her into this situation.  Now we have to take care of it. If you can’t, I will.”

“No,” I yelled, “I love her, you can’t!  I won’t let you!”

“Son, you’re young.  You don’t know what you are talking about.  You don’t know love, you don’t know what’s best for you.”

“I’m eighteen!  I’m old enough!”

“You’re young!”  He barked slamming his fist to the table, “and foolish and irresponsible!”

My blood was boiling.  All I could see was red.  How dare he suggest we do anything to hurt my girl.  He thinks he knows what’s best for me?

“You have no idea what love is yet.”

My teeth ground together with each of his words, my nostrils flared with each violent breath I took.

“She.  Has.  To.  Go.”

I couldn’t take it anymore.  My mind shut down allowing my body to just take over.  This person in front of me was threating someone I cared about.  He was no longer my Father, he was the enemy.  My hands balled into tight fists and without another word I took a swing.  I was going to nail this fucker right square on the nose.  Lay him out and buy us enough time that we could escape.  We could leave and never look back.  I knew enough to get us by.

I was so ready to feel the satisfaction of my knuckles meeting his face.  I just wanted the joy of seeing him fall to the ground.  My plan was foiled when an inch from slamming my fist into his worthless face, I was stopped.  A huge dark mitt wrapped around my wrist and in one fluid motion, I was face first on the floor, hands behind my back, a boot in my shoulders.

“You do not have to like what we have to do,” my Father said into my ear as I struggled to breathe against the pressure on my chest, “but you do have to respect the decisions that I make because they are only made with your best interests at heart.  I wish you could see that.  I expect you to break all ties with her and you are NEVER to see her again, understood?”

“No,” I squeaked out.

I felt the boot push harder as I fought to say the word he was waiting to hear.  I wasn’t willing to give in, not yet.

“How hard are you going to make this, son?”

The boot pushed harder.  Shit if he pushed anymore he’d step right through me.  And knowing what he was about to do, I really didn’t give a rat’s ass if he did.

“Until his foot fucking stomps through my God-damned chest and stops my beating heart, cause, that’s what this fucking feels like,” I choked out writhing in one final attempt to escape, which of course got me nowhere.

My Father sighed, “fine, have it your way, you stay here and I’ll take care of it.  Greg, make sure he doesn’t leave this room until I return.”

Greg’s deep baritone simply answered, “yes, sir.”

~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~

I felt the car slow and come to a stop.  I’d been so lost in my memories I hadn’t noticed that we had arrived.  Looking down, I saw my fingers mindlessly rubbing the charm I still wore around my neck.  Not even ten years had passed and yet, it seemed like a lifetime ago.  Whoever said time heals is a fucking liar.

Justin, my new driver, cleared his throat.  I’m sure he was wondering if he should interrupt or not.  I missed having Troy as my driver.  He wasn’t afraid to speak up.  It was always so difficult to get the new staff adjusted to the way I liked things around here, but I owed Troy a great deal and giving his little brother a home seemed like a small price to pay.  So I used every ounce of patience I could muster.

I looked up seeing he was watching me through the rear view mirror and I forced a smile for him as I let the charm fall back to my chest.  I really was trying to make him feel comfortable, I wanted him to feel as if he had a home here, but I couldn’t baby him forever.  I don’t have time for that kind of bull shit.

“Justin, why don’t you go ahead and take the car back to my place.  I’ll be here all day today and there’s no sense in you hanging around when I’ve got your brother here.  I’ll just have him drive me home today.  I’ll be fine.”

“Yes, sir.”

I sighed and placed a hand on his line-backer sized shoulder, “Justin, I know you’ve only been here for a few weeks, but, when we not in the presence of clients or patrons I don’t want the formalities.  I insist you call me by my first name.”

“Yes, si-,” he let out an exasperated sigh, “sorry, I mean, yes … Victor… I’ll get the car home and await further instructions.”

“You will do no such thing.  You go back to my place and stand down soldier,” I smiled at him and squeezed his over-sized shoulder, “I am around you fuckers twenty-four seven so I don’t want to start thinking my name is ‘sir’ and I have to give ‘further instructions.’  Go relax, read a book, take a nap, play some video games. Hell, jerk off for all I care.  Maybe it will help you relax.”

I exited the vehicle poking my head back into the window, “but, if you do the latter, please, just not on my couch.”

He chuckled, “you got it, Victor.”

Because of the extensive military back ground of the men I hired it was hard for them to shake what had been pounded into them during their training.  Not that I was trying to make them soft, I just couldn’t stand the sound of being called ‘sir.’  My Father was ‘sir’ and I was most definitely not like that bastard.

I entered the secret pin and placed my thumb on the print scanner that was needed to open the door to my second home, Malone Stables.  Before my father had passed away I’d never believed that it actually existed.  He’d talked about it here and there, but doing what we do, sometimes the lines of reality get blurred and I was never sure exactly what was fact and what was fiction.

At the time I figured that it was another one of his fake companies, a front for his other life.  After a few months of going through the books and experiencing a few seasons here it was obvious he’d been trying to change for me.  And I stress trying.  Who knew he was capable of running a legitimate business.  Well, about as legitimate as my Father could be.

Too bad it was too little, too late.  It took me a few years, but I finally got the place cleaned up more or less and got the books straightened out somewhat.  Most bets that took place now were from real people off the street, the way it should be.  Not the mob bosses and biker gangs dirty money.  It was tough, but most respected my decision based on the past they had with my Father.  I still had a few I had to deal with.  Hence the reason for the men I hired and the backgrounds that I demanded they have.

“Mr. Malone, good morning,” my ever eager to please Secretary greeted me with a smile from behind a small desk in the corner of the quaint lobby area, “I do hope you’re doing well this morning.”

“Good morning, Lois,” I greeted back stopping for a moment before I went to my office, “thank you, I am doing as well as can be expected on three hours of sleep.”

“Another long night?”

I sighed, “sometimes I wish I could just turn my phone off.  How is it that there is trouble nearly every night this week?”  I asked not really searching for an answer and tried to duck away into the hallway down to my office.

I was not going to get away so easily, I could hear the quick click of her heels on the tile floor behind me as she struggled to keep up.  My schedule was in hand, I was sure.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Malone.  I hope your day gets better.  Um, your final competitor for this weekend’s race arrived this morning at eight and is settling in at the North stables, stall number fourteen.  At ten is the final meeting with the advertisers for race day.  You’ll need to make your decision on the banners and the possibility of air advertising.  They have to know by the end of your meeting because today is the deadline to get them signed, you know.  At noon is your lunch with Frank and then you have a two o’clock with Tidwell Industries about the design of the trophy and the inking of the photographer.”

I stopped abruptly and turned around to find her glasses on the edge of her nose, her face buried in my appointment book.  She had a pen in her left hand and a pencil tucked behind her right ear.  So obviously she was not paying attention and didn’t see that I had stopped causing her to crash into me and bounce off of my chest.  Her glasses fell crooked on her face and a strand of grey hair fell across her eye.  She reached up to straighten them without missing a beat.

“How do you do that?” I asked the corner of my mouth turned upward slightly in amusement.

Lois smoothed down her light pink blouse and answered her tone stone cold serious, “it’s what you pay me to do, Mr. Malone.  I keep track of your day to day and-”

“No not that,” I interrupted waiving my hand in front of me for her to stop.  I tried not to laugh at her serious tone.  I pointed to the appointment book, “my whole schedule came out without a single breath.  How do you do that?”  I asked laughing slightly.

Lois had apparently enjoyed the late sixties and early seventies as she failed to realize that fashion changed in the later decades.  It was apparent in the knee length polyester skirts she wore on a daily basis with blouses that buttoned snug to the top.  Her hair also was stuck in a decade long ago, but was now sprinkled with silver strands.  She had been my father’s eyes and ears when he was unable to be at the stables in person.  I pondered for a moment wondering if her coldness was due to the fact that she was now old enough to be the bosses Mother?  Did that bother her?  Or was my Father that callous that he’d made her this way?

There really was no need for Lois to act as she did.  I’d never asked for anything different than I expected from the rest of the staff.  In fact, if anything else, I did more to make sure she was well taken care of, especially after all she had to put up with my Father all those years.  I didn’t approve of his way of running such a cold place to work.  He’d turned these people into robots that show no emotion.

Everyone seemed to cower when I first walked in like I was my Father’s boy coming in to pick up where he left off.  As if I didn’t already think he was a prick.  I didn’t need anyone keeping track of my daily schedule or running off for my coffee or any of the other millions of things she did around here that I didn’t really know she did.  But, this place ran smooth as silk and, I had to admit, it did ease my mind slightly that Lois was handling things so I could attend to more pressing business.  Besides, she wouldn’t hear of it when I suggested anything otherwise.

“I hadn’t noticed, Mr. Malone,” she answered straight-faced, “I’ll try to be more aware next time.”

I sighed, “no, Lois, that’s not … I didn’t mean … Oh, never mind,” I gave up, “just, tell security to send me this mornings feed.  I want to see who our final competitor is.”

“Yes, Mr. Malone,” she stated, “and, just so you know, she, I mean they, are still here.”

“Thank you, Lois.  I’ll have a look at that feed, see just what Frank considers to be a decent competitor.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Malone,” she said and spun around on her heels heading back to the reception area.

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.”

“I knew all of your Father’s jobs.  I had to take care of the details for him.  Who do you think booked flights, had rentals ready, got hotel rooms.  Your Father most certainly didn’t.  All he knew how to do well was what he was paid to do: get rid of evidence, do away with those who needed to be dealt with.”

I sighed looking up at her.  “You never said anything before.”

She shrugged, “why should I?  It never came up before.  I figured you knew considering how I handle things for you now.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that.  She did handle everything.  I don’t remember the last time I booked a flight, made a reservation, or went looking for anything.  Everything I ever needed was taken care of.  And I never questioned things, until now.

“Okay, Lois, you’re right, once again,” I stood up and walked back to the closet. “Could I get a little privacy so I can get ready for my meeting?”

“Absolutely, Mr. Malone, I’ll see you in ten minutes to go over what you need to know.”

~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~

Meetings went on all morning long keeping me busy.  Advertisement was set, banners being printed as we speak.  T-shirts, ball caps, stuffed horses with each of their individual names and numbers printed on their saddles were being mass produced.  Things like that sold fast and made tons of money for the track.

I didn’t think of her again until I met up with Frank at lunch.  He was the one who had set all this up, I figured he’d be the best bet to find out where they came from.

“So, d’you see the final horse I got for Saturday?” he asked innocently, his nasally Boston drawl not hidden one bit, as we waited for our lunch to arrive.

“Saw the feed today,” I stated.

“And,” he fished.

“You know what I want to know.  I need to know where you found them.”

“A contact of mine.”

I took a deep breath, “you know that’s not good enough, Frankie.  I need to know, is your contact a man or a woman?”

“Look, Vic, I can’t give you any info, but I know the horse is all good.  I got the paperwork, its pedigreed and shit,” he proceeded to pull out an inch thick manila folder, “so, that’s the one we’ll use, yea?”

My phone vibrated in my pocket, “you know I hate it when you’re all secretive and shit, makes me nervous.  Besides, I gotta look this over before I know if we’re good,” I told Frank and answered the call, “hello.”

I listened for a moment.  “Understood,” and hung up.

Our lunch arrived and I stood up.

“Gotta go now?” Frank asked as the plates were set down on the table.  “But the food just got here.”

I removed a hundred dollar bill from my pocket and sat it on the table.  “Sorry, Frank.  And I’ll need you to go back to the stables for a two-o’clock meeting with Tidwell.  We need to finalize everything for Saturday & Sunday.”

“You got it.  Consider it handled.”

I nodded at him before leaving.  The best thing about Frank was his loyalty and the fact that I could count on him whenever I needed.

I reached the address I had written down screeching my black Audi R8 to a stop.  I glanced out the passenger window to the one-story nineteen fifties style house.  Yellow paint was peeling off the eves, the grass was patchy some spots brown from lack of water.  Overgrown bushes partially hid the raised porch which was a good thing considering the screen door was barely hanging on.  Weeds freely protruding from the cracks of the driveway; for sale sign wavered in the breeze, taunting prospective buyers to take a chance and realize it’s potential.

Potential?  In this shit-hole called suburbia?  Just picture that god-damned annoying male enhancement commercial and you’ll know exactly what kind of hell I’m talking about.

I grabbed the backpack I had sitting in the seat next to me, thanks to Lois it had been ready and waiting for me at the office.  I shook my head and smiled, I really don’t know what I’d do without her.

Placing a ball cap on my head, brim forward, I pulled it down slightly as I got out of the car.  Glancing up and down the road as I stood, I noticed that there wasn’t a soul in sight.  Not even a parked car in the street.  It was always kind of odd when I came through neighborhoods on a week day when the drones were off at work.  Still, I couldn’t take the wayward chance that some nosey fucking housewife might be looking out a window trying to catch the latest neighborhood gossip.

Throwing the backpack over my shoulder, I walked up the driveway of the house heading straight into the backyard.  Directly to the back of the property was what used to be a six-foot chain link fence that separated this residence from an empty field.  It was sagging now and I easily scaled it and turned to the left carefully counting the houses as I passed.  I reached house number twenty-three and climbed over walking up to the back door.

I knocked twice on the glass window and a man, probably in his thirties answered the door, a flimsy chain keeping it from opening more than a few inches.  I stifled a laugh.  Did he really think that the people he was trying to get away from would bother to knock?  Or be deterred by the archaic security device?

His eyes were wide and they darted back and forth over my shoulder.  Satisfied I was alone, he moved aside, removing the chain for me to enter quickly; shutting, locking it and replacing the chain as I walked past.  Eyeing one last time through the curtain, he turned to follow me through the kitchen to the dining room table.

“You’re flight has been booked,” I informed him as I sat my backpack on the rectangular butcher block dining room table pulling out a laptop, photo printer and manila envelope.  Opening the envelope I pulled out a pair of gloves and put them on.  Reaching back into the backpack I withdrew and expanded a black felt backdrop attached to a stand.

“Stand here, and try not to look so frightened,” I ordered.

He walked over standing right where I had instructed.  After snapping the picture, I tossed him another shirt.

“Go put that on and go shave or something.”

He stared at me for a moment, his hand reaching up rubbing over the stubble on his jaw.  Stupid fucker wasn’t going to listen then I wasn’t going to waste my time.  Neither one of us had the time for his hesitation.  I wasn’t here because I wanted to be, I was here because I was asked to be.

He turned and left the room as my mouth opened to verbalize my thoughts.  He was lucky I heard him start the water.

I plugged the camera into the laptop and downloaded the picture I had taken.  It printed quickly and I carefully cut it down to size.  Gently placing the picture in the square box on the blank driver’s license and making sure it was sufficiently in place, I peeled off the backing of the laminate placing it carefully over the top.  Now it looked legitimate having the state seal hologram plastered all over the front of it.

“How’s this,” he asked returning to the room.

I paused from my work and looked over at him.  He’d not only shaved his face but he had slicked his blond hair down and to the side.

“That’ll work,” I simply said gesturing for him to stand in position again to snap the final picture.

Finishing up with both sets of identification I handed him his new driver’s license and passport.  He looked them over and seemed satisfied.

“Now, just one more thing,” I said pulling out a small black device, “I need your hands.”

He looked at me skeptically and stuttered, “Wha, wha- why?  Wha, wha- what- what is that?”

“Look,” I sighed allowing every bit of annoyance I was feeling to show through, “I thought you wanted my help.  But, it’s obvious that you would rather those,” I stopped short of saying how I really felt, “people that are looking for you to actually find you.  So, why don’t I just leave now since that’s what you want and I’ll just take my work with me?  I don’t do shit half-assed.  I don’t get fucking questioned.  You don’t like what I’m doing then you go figure this shit out for yourself!”

My Father had tried to teach me that you didn’t lose your temper with the client.  You didn’t disrespect them with foul language when you were in their house.  They were frightened and half the time didn’t know if what they were choosing to do was the right way to follow through with things.  They were counting on me to steer them in the right direction, to be the voice of reason because right now, their thoughts were clouded with the speculation of what would happen to them with either of their choices.  I was supposed to reassure them that all would be fine if they just calmed down, listened and did as I instructed.

But sometimes they didn’t listen.  Sometimes they didn’t pay any attention until they realized that if they didn’t do what I was telling them to, they would be figuring all this out on their own.  The choice was simple, you either wanted my help or you didn’t.  To prove my point I started gathering my things and putting them back into the back pack.  I reached for the ID in his hands and panic flooded his face.

“Here,” he said placing his shaky hand out to me, “here, just … just do what you have to do.”

Shaking my head I grabbed his hand and explained to him what to do.  I only hoped he was paying attention.

“Now, forget about who you were.  He doesn’t exist anymore, you understand?  You’d better be paying attention to what I’m telling you because one wrong move on your part will ruin everything I’ve doing here for you today.”

I paused and looked at his face, he nodded vigorously.

I worked each one of his fingers across the scanner as I continued, “You’re going to take the cab that will be outside shortly.  It will take you to the airport.  You will have a ticket waiting for you there under your new name.  Inside this backpack,” I instructed and turned to pull out a smaller backpack from the one I had carried, “is everything you will need for a couple of days.  After that, you are on your own.  Absolutely, under no circumstances are you to contact anyone back here in the states at any time, you understand?  If I need to get a hold of you for any reason I know how to contact you.”

He nodded quickly.

“The information on the hotel you are to check into, your new account information, your new social security card, who you are, where you came from, it’s all in here and you follow it all as I have written it – no variations.  I’ve transferred all your funds into a new account, but for a while it will look as if you haven’t moved a penny.  I will send you that new account information in a couple of days.  Try not to bring attention to yourself for at least a few months, maybe longer.  Let this thing over here blow over.  You understand?”

He nodded again.

“I’ll let you know when it’s safe for you.  I don’t do shit twice.  You fuck this up … you’re on your own.”

A horn blared outside.

“You’re taxi is here.  Go and don’t forget what I told you.”

He scrambled for the front door throwing the back pack over his shoulder.  Pausing before walking out he looked back at me, “thank you.”

I waved him off and quickly started gathering my equipment making sure not to leave anything behind.  I couldn’t miss so much as a scrap of paper.  A wayward chair or an askew curtain could signal someone had fled in a hurry.  My Father always said anything you left behind was like leaving a piece of a puzzle.  The more pieces there were, the better the chance for solving it.

I walked into the bathroom and picked up the towel that he’d left lying on the counter top.  I wiped down the mirror, sink and the faucet where water had splashed.  I picked up the bottle of shaving cream and wiped it with the towel as well placing it back into the medicine cabinet.  I cleaned the razor and put it away.  Opening up the cabinet below, I took a fresh towel and neatly placed it in the ringlet of the holder on the wall.  I found the hamper in the bedroom and tossed the used towel into it.

Remove all traces of urgency.

Placing the ball cap back onto my head, I pushed in the chair at the table and threw my back pack over my shoulder walking to the back door.  I peeked out the window before opening it.  Removing the gloves, I walked away shoving them into my pocket.  Quickly retracing my steps back to the car, I made my way out of this hell hole and headed back toward home.

Things were so different when my Father was around.

~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~                         ~*~

“Yea, okay, I understand,” I said into my phone, my voice thick with sleep.  I blinked my eyes to try and focus and realized darkness was surrounding me indicating it was still the middle of the goddamned night.  Not that my Father ever gave a shit what time it was when he called.

“I am up, I’m going, Jesus fucking Christ!” The sleep in my voice now replaced with annoyance.  “Whatever, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

Fuck!  I hated doing this shit.  This middle of the night bull shit was getting ridiculous.  Just because I was his fucking son meant he was expecting me to just jump out of bed the second he called.  I was an adult now, just turned eighteen, but yet I didn’t seem to have the balls to tell my Father ‘no.’

Bullshit. This was going to have to change fucking fast, ‘cause I needed my goddamned sleep.

I looked at the time on my phone as I closed it.  Holy shit, it was just after two in the morning?  Two in the motherfucking morning?!  Just an hour ago I’d finally fallen the fuck asleep.

Yet, here I was pulling on my boxers and jeans that were balled up by the night stand and grabbing the shirt that had been thrown over the back of the chair.   I didn’t usually leave my clothes all over the room so careless and shit.  The sheets rustled and movement from my bed caught my attention.  I turned to see the reason for the mess.

“You’re leaving?”  She asked sleepily yawning.  Her long, brown hair cascaded over her shoulders as she sat up propped on an elbow.  Her other hand modestly covering herself.  “Was that your Father calling again?”

“Yea, I’m sorry Mo Chuisle, I’ll be back soon.  I promise,” I apologized as I pulled my shirt over my head.

I couldn’t help myself, I leaned in for a kiss good bye before I left.  She tilted her head upward as our lips met softly at first.  Nothing with my girl was simple, there was a hunger that neither one of us could deny.  She let go of the sheet, her bare breasts exposed, as she wrapped an arm around my neck raking her fingers up through my hair.  Our tongues intertwined, her sweet strawberry flavor momentarily making me forget just why I was leaving.

She moaned and I felt myself react, my pants suddenly tighter.  “You have no idea what you do to me.”

She smiled against my lips and said, “I bet I could take a wild guess,” and kissed me again.  “Go, and get back soon.”

“I’ll get back faster if I’m thinking about you lying in my bed…naked,” I teased as I pulled away and walked from the bedroom.

 Grabbing my keys and my wallet, I walked into the garage to the Buick.  There wasn’t any way I ever took the Audi on these calls.  Anytime my Father requested me it was gonna be messy.

I pulled up to the house my Father had said to meet him at seeing his Victory parked at the front steps.  Why he drove his bike and not his car drove me insane.  If he’d driven his car, I wouldn’t need to be here in the middle of the night.  I was sure that he did this shit on purpose.  I pulled up to the curb and took out the supplies from the trunk of the Buick that my Father had instructed me to collect from his supply room.  Walking up to the house I could hear the muffled sounds of frantic blubbering about how things didn’t mean to go so far and how she thought the shit wasn’t loaded. 

Great, some bitch was freaking out.

Walking around to the back of the house I opened the unlocked back door and let myself in.  I set the bucket full of supplies on the counter top and went to see why the fuck I was here. 

“Make her shut the fuck up,” I heard my Father say his voice calm and collected.

“Tess, baby, please be quiet so he can do his job,” a male voice responded to my father’s request.

Her rambling ceased, but her sobbing didn’t and I rounded the corner from the kitchen to the living room.  My Father was standing by a God-awful floral printed couch over the slouched body of a brunette.  Blood was oozing from the perfect circular hole in the middle of her forehead.  A hand gun sat on the wood coffee table, an empty casing resting beside it.  Tess, the dumb blond bitch that pulled the trigger stood with her head buried in the shoulder of an older man.  His graying beard did not hide the frown creased deeply into his leathery face.  It was obvious he was not happy about the situation she’d put him in.

“Good you’re here,” my Father said his when he’d noticed I’d entered the room, “I need you to back your car up the driveway.  I’ll meet you out back.  You brought the supplies I asked for?”

I nodded.

“You bring everything I asked?”

I nodded once again.

“Good.”

Without another word I walked back out to my car.  I’d been through this enough times to know when he was done with me.  Throwing it into reverse, I maneuvered it up the driveway as close to the back door as I could get it.  My Father met me with the body in his arms wrapped in a plain white sheet.  Fuck, why did he always make me do this part?  Our eyes met as I opened the trunk.  I leaned in and pulled up the carpeted lining revealing a compartment just big enough to place the body.  He placed her in it and closed the trunk.

“I’ll stay and clean up.  You go back to my house.  Take care of this and I’ll meet you there when I am through,” he said quietly.

__________________________________________________________________

Till next time…Live Every Moment….Laugh Every Day…..Love Beyond Words!

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