Roy woke up blearily around noon. At least it’s in my own bed, he thought to himself with some relief. There have been mornings after a long night when he would wake up in an unfamiliar in a house/apartment/hotel room with some chick he had hooked up with the night before. There would be that awkward moment for her when she wasn’t sure what to say to get him to leave not knowing nothing needed to be said. He got, they both got what they wanted and there was no point lingering. Which, reminded him, is she still …?
He got out of bed not bothering to put anything on (“it’s my apartment, dammit.”) and started walking around exploring starting with the bathroom. Seeing no one there he went over to raise the lid to the toilet and began to relieve himself (“ah, that’s good.”). When he finished he turned and walk out into the hallway slowly meandering into the large living room-kitchen that made up the rest of his studio picking up a packet of cigarettes and lighter front a small table in one leisurely pass. He stopped behind the couch in the middle of the room, took a cigarette out with his lips, lit it and survey the scene.
There were the most drank wine bottle and the two empty glasses on the coffee table (“check”). His dark pants (“check”), a dark shirt, his, (“check”), his t-shirt (“check”), his underwear (“check”), his tie…(“-Oh, yeah, last night”) was not there, but that wasn’t troubling (“check”) and …no girl (“what-ever-her-name-was”). He cleared his throat with approval and put out the cigarette in the ashtray on the coffee table. Circling around he picked his clothes and started to put them on. He looked suspiciously around the room feeling like at any moment “what-ever-her-name-was” would pop out of somewhere and take him by surprise. When she didn’t Roy was finally convinced that she indeed had left. Then it hit him. His phone! He stopped without his pants on and start looking for it.
It was not under the coffee table, the couch, the lounge chair, the cushions. He knew it wasn’t in the bedroom because he didn’t want any interruptions. Maybe? He walked to the counter that separates the kitchen area from the living room and there, sitting so benignly was his phone “Did I leave it there? I had to have?”). He picked it up and looked at the screen. No calls and one text and he recognized the text. It wasn’t from her (“Now I’m beginning to resent this.”) but it was important enough. It was a job.
“There’s a good Charles Bronson marathon at the Civic”
Roy smiled. This was going to be a good payoff.
Roy was a specialist. If someone wanted a person knocked off and was willing to pay it was his job to make it happen. He got the jobs through text from an unknown phone with instructions to go particular spots in town, like the Civic Theater, where he would find a manilla envelope with the details, money, and picture. How he did it was left entirely to him just so that it was done within the time allotted. His favorite was this long-distance sniper, a bit more difficult to set up and a bit stressful because the timing was everything, but the effect was spectacular. It gave him the chance to play with his Mk 12 and watching through the scope at his target always gave him a thrill. He felt like God. One squeeze and in almost an instant you see the target jolt, blood beginning to spurt out, they fall down with that dumb expression of confusion on his face and those around him. The best ones were the headshots. Bone, blood, and brain flying all over spraying bits and pieces to the surrounding crowd. Yeah, like God! But, that didn’t mean he’d avoid the simple hit. His most common was the casual walk up with his Smith & Wesson and silencer, one quick pop, and the job is done. Yeah, they lack finesse but they paid the bills.
“The Civic?”, he thought to himself, “at least I wouldn’t have to go far.”
The Civic Theater was only a few blocks from his studio apartment and down by the university. It was a popular hangout for the “college artsy types” he disliked so much but being still early enough, most don’t come out until late, the place will be empty.
He put the phone down, went to the frig for V-8 (“No time for a kale and carrot.”) and headed back to his bedroom. After a shave, shower, and a change of clothes he made his way to the matinee on foot (“Blue sky, birds singing, and a job to do. It’s a gorgeous day!”).
In fifteen minutes he was at the ticket window and bought his pass (“Yeah, big Bronson fan. What? ‘The Mechanic’ is playing now? Love that Bishop guy.”). As always he walked four rows from the right door and sat eight seats from the aisle. The movie was about an aging hitman, Bronson befriending a young man, Jan-Michael Vincent, who wants to be a professional killer. Later in the movie, Bronson suspects that someone has betrayed him. Roy wishes he could sit and watch it because of it really one of his favorites. It was this movie that inspired him to go into specializing in his craft after his tour in Afganistan but business came first. He reaches down under the seat and found the envelope he was sure would be there. Just then, with that sudden move, he felt the inner rumblings of something not waiting its time to exit. Roy stood and with an envelope in hand, he made for the men’s restroom.
He had made it just in time to the second stall for after pulling down his pants and sat it felt as if his entire internal organs were evacuating his body. Someone walked in and conscious of his own reek he gave a courtesy flush. He then bends forward to pick up the manilla enveloped from where he had dropped it in his rush. To Roy, it seemed unaccustomedly light, as if it only had a sheet of paper in it and nothing more. He opened it and sure enough, that’s what was in it, a folded over sheet of paper. He took it out, opened it up, and there, in words written with a marker were the words,
The door to the stall was suddenly kicked open. The message on the sheet had disrupted his concentration and he had forgotten about the person who had walked into the restroom. There, in front of him, holding a very nasty 9 mm was “what-ever-her-name-was”. Staring directly at him, she gave a little shrug before squeezing two slugs into his brain.
-A. M. Holmes