Finish the Job

Mrs. Devonshire was sitting on the edge of the sofa, straight, her hands flat on her thighs. She was shaking. That was understandable, considering the gun pointed at her chest. I was sitting opposite her in the comfortable armchair. My hand wasn’t shaking. I wouldn’t be able to do my job properly if I couldn’t manage the stress.

“I tell you the truth, Mrs. Devonshire,” I said. “This isn’t a robbery. Though it will look like one after I finish here.”

I could see in her eyes that she slowly processed what I had said. She was beautiful despite some crow’s feet. Her blue eyes resembled sapphires. It made me sad to destroy such a beauty, but I had a job to do.

“I’m here because your husband hired me to kill you.”

Her eyes widened in shock. She covered her mouth with her hand and shook her head in disbelief. Having many years of experience, I can tell what’s going on in their heads. First comes the surprise with a real shock. What? How is it possible? Why? Why me? I guess Mrs. Devonshire found it unbelievable that her husband could be so cold-blooded to hurt her. Then comes the doubt. What if… You can finish the sentence by adding any malevolent reason. It can be money, jealousy, power, hate. Mostly money.

“No. No, no, no. Not possible!” her voice came out muffled from behind her hand.

“It will take only a moment. You won’t feel anything. It will be also silent. Nobody will hear anything.” I pointed at the silencer mounted on the gun.

She dropped her hand into her lap and her eyes were jumping from my face to the gun, then to her hands, and all over again. She came to the phase of doubt. I waited. Gave her time to think through the things going on between her and Mr. Devonshire. To find out that there could be indeed a reason his husband wanted her dead. From her eyes, I could see that she found it. I let her think some more. I had the time.

It’s amazing how many solutions human can find to protect their pitiful lives. I was sure Mrs. Devonshire’s mind was racing like a wild horse to think of something which can make me abandon my plan. I hoped she wouldn’t go for the option of running. I expected more sophisticated ideas from her. She didn’t run.

“I double your payment if…” she gulped, but continued, “… if you kill my husband.”

I pretended to think it over.

“Mr. Devonshire pays me one million,” I lied.

“I pay two,” she blurted.

“Hmm …” I said, pretending to think it through. “We can make a deal, I think. Is this amount available to you right now?”

“I have it on my account. I can transfer it immediately.”

“It’s agreed, then.”

She stood up, went to the table, and she sat at her laptop. I followed her and stood behind her, pointing my gun at her head.

“Please don’t try anything stupid. I’m quite familiar with computers.”

She didn’t answer, but logged into her home bank application. I gave her my Cayman Islands account number, and she made the transfer.

“Please, put your hands on the table, and stay put. We are waiting for the confirmation.”

I pulled my mobile out of my pocket and dialed the number. The bank clerk got on the line right away, and after giving my code, he confirmed that the amount has been transferred. I hang up.

“Very well, Mrs. Devonshire, it’s a pleasure making business with you. Now you are free to go.”

I stepped back and lowered my gun. First, she didn’t move. Maybe she couldn’t believe she had made it. Then she slowly stood up, and keeping an eye on me, walked carefully towards the door. When nothing happened, she run. She almost reached the door when I shot her in the back. The bullet went through her heart. I’m a fine shooter. It comes with the job.

She collapsed and stayed motionless on the ground. I checked her pulse to be sure. No pulse. Job accomplished. I dialed the number I memorized before.

“Yes,” said Mr. Devonshire at the other end of the line.

“It’s done.”

There was a brief silence. “I transfer the money now,” said Mr. Devonshire. I hung up without answering. It took a little while, but according to the bank agent, the transfer was OK.

I sighed. Now came the hard part: it had to look like a robbery. So I searched the house for jewelry. I must admit, the Devonshires ‘ collection of golden and pearl necklaces, earrings and watches impressed me. They all went into a plastic bag I found in the kitchen. Then I threw some ornaments on the floor, shattering them, and pulled out drawers scattering clothes all over the place. It really looked like a robbery.

Satisfied, I sat down and waited for Mr. Devonshire. I always finish the job I hired for, even if the client died meanwhile. He supposed to arrive home in a few hours. I pulled out a thriller from my pocket and got to reading. I had some time to kill.

This Means War! by John Locke

“Anything yet?” Bronson asks.

I shake my head.

“All silent. Our guy is still asleep.”

I follow my routine of checking the camera feeds. The laptop’s screen is split into six windows, each shows a distinct part of the apartment we are watching. In the top right corner, our guy is sprawled in his bed, heavily snoring. Even though I exactly know where the guy is, I check all the feeds one by one.

Bronson sighs, gets up from the couch and walks to the desk where I’m sitting. He bends over to see the screen better.

“Lucky bastard,” he says. “I wish I had the time to finally have enough sleep.”

I notice the book in his hand he was reading. There is a silhouette of a woman on the cover, and the title says This Means War!

“Is it any good?” I nod towards the book.

“Certainly more interesting than watching this guy sleep, eat, take a shit and go back to sleep.”

“That’s surveillance for you.”

I check six feeds. The guy is still sleeping.

“What is it about?” I ask.

Bronson looks at the book as if the answer was written on the book cover.

“There is this guy, Donovan Creed, ex spy, now head of a security company, counsellor of the White House. He is obsessed with security threats and working out countermeasures. The White House didn’t act on his report on potential threats, so he makes an example–“

I lift my hand, stopping him.

“Don’t spoil it. I might give it a shot. Tell me what did you like.”

“Well, it’s fast-paced. You can hardly can come up for breath as you follow the story. Locke doesn’t really bother with descriptions.”

“How do you know how the characters look like, then?”

“Of course, there is some description, but minimal. For example, you are told that Callie is a beautiful blond and has grey eyes, but not ouch more.”

“Hm…,” I say.

“Actually, I don’t mind.”

“How do you know how the places look like?”

“If I tell you a guy walks into a bar, you already have a picture in your mind about a bar. Maybe I throw in some details like glass and mirrors and shining chrome. Do I need more?”

“I can picture it.” I do another round of checking the feeds on the laptop. The guy is still snoring.

“Right. I don’t say I would mind some more details here and there, but I can live without it.”

“What else?”

“The characters are crazy.”

“In what way?”

“Mentally. Not asylum-crazy, but not normal like you or me.”

“We are normal?”

“Compared to Creed or Callie? For sure. We don’t kill people because we don’t like them, for one. We don’t kill people to achieve some higher purpose, either.”

“But Creed does.”

“Callie too. And a bunch of others.”

“It supposed to be a trait?”

“It sure makes it interesting. I wouldn’t read a book about six days of sheer surveillance boredom.”

“You have a point.” After almost a week of sitting on my ass and watching this guy, I want to kill someone myself.

“Is the story interesting?” I ask.

“Yeah, man. It keeps you guessing until the end. And when you think you don’t have loose ends, there comes the twist.”

“I like twists.”

“Sometimes the plot seems too complicated, but in the end everything comes together.”

Another round of video feeds, and I still got snores.

“I think I give it a shot,” I say.

“Start with the first one in the series. You need the backstory to understand everything. But you will go through them real fast, I promise.”

I nod, but before I can say anything, one feed catches my eye. I pick up the radio.

“Bravo team, this is Eagle nest. I need immediate intervention! Over.”

Bronson drops his book. “Son of a bitch,” he says, staring at the screen.

“This is Bravo team, copy Eagle nest. What is the situation? Over.”

“Intruder in the hall. Six feet, male, armed with a handgun, slowly advancing towards the bedroom. Over.”

“Twenty seconds until intervention. Bravo Team out.”

In less than a minute, the Bravo Team breaks into the apartment, and after some shooting, catches the intruder, wounded but alive. Our guy wakes and he is visibly shaken but unharmed. I save the recording for the report. Then I stand, stretch a bit to work out the kinks.

“We are done here,” I tell Bronson. He is already disconnecting the cables to pack the equipment.

“What is the title of the first book?”

It takes a moment for him to register that I’m not talking about the operation.

“Oh,” he says, “Lethal People.”

Sounds good. Let’s see what this Creed guy is up to.