FISHNET STOCKINGS, AND AN OLD MASTER
“It’s the same guy,” Emily Russo said to
herself as she saw a man approaching her on the otherwise deserted street.
Emily was a courier who
high risk packages. Most often, she had
no idea what was in the packages she picked up from her supervisor and
delivered to the clients.
Though she couldn’t
see his face
because the brim of his black fedora was pulled low, she knew it was him. She
had only seen men wearing that kind of
hat in old movies. In addition to the
hat, he wore a long trench coat, completing the other-era ensemble.
She’d gotten out of
the cab a
few blocks early to stop at a greasy spoon near her employer-provided
Emily now pulled the briefcase
that was handcuffed to her wrist to her chest and took her Glock from its
holster. “Let him try,” she whispered.
He was now only a half-block
away and still walking toward her. When
she switched to the left side of the sidewalk, he did too, keeping them on a
Now three feet from her,
stopped and lunged at her with a knife.
From out of nowhere, a woman dressed like a streetwalker, complete with
red fishnet stockings and very heavy make-up, stepped between them and took the
knife thrust in her abdomen.
she said. “We’ve got this.”
Another woman dressed in
same garb had grabbed the man with the fedora from behind in a chokehold and
now pulled him away from the first woman.
“I could have handled
Emily, showing the second woman her pistol.
“Go!” the woman
Emily then left the scene,
heading to her apartment.
After throwing the deadbolt,
went to the window to look down to where the altercation had taken place. No
one was there. She was hardly surprised.
She unlocked the handcuff
her wrist and put the briefcase under the bed.
She then lay down fully clothed with her Glock in hand.
Tomorrow would be an interesting
In the morning she decided
have breakfast and coffee in, avoiding any unnecessary stops.
After breakfast, she put the pistol in its
shoulder holster under her sport coat.
She decided she wasn’t going to let anyone get as close to her today as
the guy in the hat and those two women had last night.
“The sooner I can
get rid of
this damn case, the better,” she said as she snapped the handcuff to her
wrist. “There’s something in it somebody
other than the client is very interested in.”
After some back and forth
herself, she decided to call her supervisor and fill her in as to what had
occurred last night.
“Hi, Andrea; just
There was an intake of breath
followed by a moment of silence.
“Emily? You’re alive?”
“Yeah, I’m alive.
wrong with that?”
“It’s just that
I expected that
last night — ”
“So you know about
What was that all about? Did you send somebody to kill me?”
“Oh, no, no,”
said Andrea. “There are some things I can tell you, but I
think we should talk about them after you deliver the package; not over the
“No, we are going to talk about this over the phone,” said Emily. “You’re
going to talk or I’m going to throw
the case in the Hudson and disappear.”
“Okay, okay. Give me a minute. You know you’re
the best, right? We’d really hate to lose you, but in this
business if the customer has the cash, the customer is always right.”
“Cut to the chase,
I’m outta here,” said Emily.
Emily listened while Andrea
her about the contents of the briefcase.
It contained a small but very valuable old painting. It was done by one
of the Old Masters, and
the client, a famous mystery writer, had won it in an auction in Brussels.
“I’m sure you’d
name,” said Andrea.
Andrea went on to say that
client got it in his head that he wanted his painting to have a history like in
some of the novels he
wrote. Andrea had set up a sequence of
the package going from Brussels to New York by way of a number of couriers.
“Any of those other
still alive?” asked Emily.
we love you, Emily—you’re
always so quick.”
“How many are dead?”
Andrea stalled for a bit,
knowing no matter what she said Emily was probably through with the
company. “Two,” she finally said
quietly. “There were two.”
“And those three in
get-ups last night?” said Emily. “They
were willing participants in this author’s fantasy? Unless that knife
was a stage prop, one or
two of them might be dead. Must be a
helluva lot of money involved here.”
“There is a lot of money involved, Emily,” said Andrea. “And we
can see that a lot of it can still be
right,” said Emily.
“Ya know, I rub elbows with a lot of different folks on my courier runs.
A couple of times contract killers have offered to introduce me to their
bosses. Right now I’m thinkin’ of two people I could take out to have something
on my résumé for the interview.”
Emily had been sitting on
couch facing the door while talking to Andrea.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the movement of the doorknob
Andrea had been keeping
the phone, buying time.
Emily set the phone on the couch and trained
her silencer-equipped Glock on the center of the door.
When the door was kicked
Emily squeezed off four quick shots into the first guy to enter and three more
into his partner. It took a few seconds for the apartment to go to silence.
Emily waited to see if she could hear a third party out in the hall.
When no one else stepped
the door, she picked up the phone.
“Still alive, Andrea.
comin’ for ya. Ya may wanna tell that sicko author I’m comin’ for him too.”
Emily ended the call and
down at the two assassins. Both were in trench coats and had been wearing black
fedoras. The first one looked like the knife-wieldier from last night. The legs
of the second showed red fishnet stockings under the trench coat and she may
have been one of the women who played a role in last night’s one-act play.
“The script called
for me to get
away last night,” Emily thought. “But not this morning.”
Emily took a minute to collect
her personal stuff. She’d only been there overnight, so a quick wipe for prints
was all that was needed. She then went out into the hallway with the briefcase.
No need to try and lock the door; it was pretty messed up.
On the way down the stairs,
Emily was thinking ahead to her new apartment, possibly in London or Rome, and
how she’d have an Old Master on the living room wall.
“And it’ll be
an Old Master with
Roy Dorman is retired from the
University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and is the submissions editor
of Yahara Prairie Lights. He has had poetry and flash fiction
published in One Sentence Poems, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow
Mama, Shotgun Honey, Theme of Absence, Drunk Monkeys, The
Flash Fiction Press, Black Petals, and a number of other online