LIKE A DREAM:
I'd killed before, but never for money.
$20,000 for being innocuous, that's what it was.
My first public performance and they were offering pro rates.
And if I satisfied?
Five days work per year, maximum.
Easy money and plenty of good tension,
the kind that had you centered and anxious to play it again, say the word, no sweat.
$20,000 to Do.
They handled the details, set up the jobs, provided the props, the alibis, the protection... they did it all.
"If it's all like you say, I'll work for you any day."
And it was all like they said..
I felt clean.
The driver handed me a grey duffle.
A pair of smooth-bottomed size 10½ tennis shoes,
a bullet-proof vest,
an airport maintenance uniform (tailored, of course),
a pair of tight-fitting black leather driving gloves,
a visored Hertz Rent-A-Car cap,
a pair of black mirrored sunglasses,
a set of rubber ear-plugs,
a loaded .357 Magnum,
and a flask of cold Irish Mist to take the edge off.
I was willing and able, so I got ready.
As soon as he passed through the security gate
I reached out and pressed the cold steel donut of the barrel to his temple, pulled,
felt his life sucked out and kicked into my hand from a collapsed crimson star ringed in powder-grey,
and he disappeared.
Waved the guard flat to the floor, stooped for his gun, turned, and walked.
The crowd was dead silent, wide-eyed— shifting and wavering like some shocked thing
suddenly aware it was in the worst possible place.
It came alive slowly, gasping and choking with fear, and parted politely in front of me.
Halfway through the lobby and I saw the second guard round the corner of the ticket counter
and make the one move he'd have no time to regret.
I leveled off and opened him up.
The way the guard went down,
buckling and clapping shut on himself like a sprung folding-chair,
distracted me to no end.
I couldn't stop watching, and just before he heaved into death
he rolled his tongue out slow and languid and licked the cool tile floor.
A last taste of whatever he could get.
As he went still and out I felt someone punch me in the shoulder,
then the fire all in my veins, and I knew I'd been hit.
I spun on my heel scanning and found an elder grey-suited businessman
whose face told me he couldn't believe what he'd done.
My first retort scattered his open briefcase and sent his piece skimming across the floor like a lost nickel.
The second would've parted his hair if he'd had any,
but instead it drained the blood from his brain and blew a warm red kiss at an old woman directly behind him.
She blinked and blinked again, as if the sun were in her eyes,
but it was blood settling like a heavy fog on her brow.
Her forefinger came up and touched the bridge of her nose and it was then I knew I'd killed her too.
I headed for the glass doors now, time to go,
actually glanced back in time to see her take two steps backward,
actually said "sorry" to her as she fell,
actually meant it.
As I neared my exit it occurred to me that had I had the time and a hot iron
I'd've stopped and pressed the wrinkles from her ancient blood-misted face,
and this had me laughing as I walked head-first into the automatic doors that hadn't opened.
The crowd behind me finally caught on and set to roaring at one another,
a confused and fitful music which I had no desire to hear.
I locked my arms out straight and brought the barrel up in a mean arc through the glass,
ducked my head and walked through,
did the same to the last set of doors,
slid into the back seat,
and we were gone.
HARD BOIL was published anonymously in 1985 as Racket Squad #2,
a Ltd. Edition hand-sewn chapbook, by Kangaroo Court Publishing.
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