In til the end.
|# ¿ Apr 29, 2014 20:10|
|# ¿ Oct 4, 2023 17:15|
One Last Job
Two people sit at the window of a coffee shop in silence. One is focused on a set of meticulous papers resting upon a manila envelope. She wears a white blouse with slim cut blue jeans. Buddy Holly frames rest at the edge of her nose. The soft sound of papers shuffling melds with the bubbling conversation around them.
The other person, a man in a charcoal pinstripe, looks out on the rain drenched streets of the city. There a parade of black umbrellas trickle back and forth accompanied here and there by a soaked dog or waterlogged bag.
The man takes a sip of his coffee and sets the cup down on the table. The mellow thunk of porcelain against wood pierces the soft murmur of the room. The woman looks up over the edges of her frames and arches her eyebrows.
He leans back and folds his arms, looking her in the eye. “I think it’s time for a change.” Her lips draw tight. She takes off her glasses and glances around the shop, then out the window.
“I suppose this is the fourth time in a row we’ve used this shop for business. It’s possible someone might have started putting two and two together. Perhaps one on the west side of town would be better? I think the bakery that makes those chocolate croissants has a cafe attached to it.”
He shakes his head and leans in, a hushed tone edging in. “Not the shop, the business. I’m thinking about getting out. I used to feel a rush when I finished a job. Now all I feel is this vague unease, like everything I’ve done is about to catch up to me in this instant.”
The woman frowns and looks down at the portfolio in front of her. “Well, do you think you can find it in yourself to do one last job? Maybe you’ll change your mind after you’re finished...”
One man stands at the front door of a six story walkup on the south side of the city. He still wears the charcoal pinstripe but now carries an umbrella and bag. He glances between the paper in his hand and the rows of mailboxes. “S. Palliano, S. Palliano… ah apartment 402…” he mutters to himself. His gloved hands carefully fold the sheet before placing it into the bottom of his bag.
He turns the handle on the door, just in case, but of course it’s locked. No problem, as after his first job he has learned to always carry a set of lockpicks.
Setting the bag down he glances over his shoulders, then leans in towards the doorknob. He inserts the picks, then checks his watch. 5.3 seconds later there’s a soft click and the door swings inward. A full second and half short of his personal best.
He frowns to himself and makes a soft toneless rumble at the back of his throat. Picking up his bag he makes his way into the foyer of the building. A light clicks on as he crosses the threshold, illuminating the winding stairwell.
His mind wanders to that first job, when he had taken similar stairs to the fifth floor, two at a time. There was no bag at that point, just a snub nose in his right pocket. He had arrived breathless and full of adrenaline on the landing. But that was so long ago, and this is now. Now he takes the stairs one at a time at an even pace. Once done as a matter of professional tact, now it’s to avoid the dull pain in his knees. Arthritis his doctor says.
He crests the last stair and pauses at the top of the landing. It is a dim hallway carpeted in what was once green shag. Time and feet have transformed it into a compacted grey path. A small directory points him to the right.
This is the first time in years he has gone straight from the brief to the job. There’s a ticket for Mexico in his front pocket for a flight that leaves in a few hours. He can feel each second pass and his stomach tightens. He quickens his steps towards the door at the end of the hallway.
Reaching into the bag he pulls out a silenced handgun. “No need to cause a scene…” he mutters to himself. He breaks into a full run and kicks down the door. Looking down the sights of his gun, sweeping it across the apartment. Clean countertops and fresh paint. The sound of a child crying erupts from the back. He hesitates. Nothing in the profile mentioned a kid.
In that moment there is a sound of rushing air to his right. His vision blurs and he hits the hardwood floor. Someone kicks his hand and the sound of the gun scuttling away echoes in his ears. Another kick, this one to his head. Blood begins to drip into his eyes.
He hears the target muttering to herself as she disappears into the back. He tries to sit up but his body threatens to blackout if he does. The woman returns carrying a child and a suitcase. She steps over him and into the hallway. “I knew that stronzo would send one of his thugs…”
A woman stands with her crying child and suitcase in front of a six story walkup. The rain has stopped a few pillars of light pierce the cloud cover. A cab pulls up to the curb and the driver rolls down the window. “Where too ma’am?”
|# ¿ May 5, 2014 03:07|