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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

88_ym_fashionstatement_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2021

Fashion Statement

 

by Bill Baber

 

I could give a rat’s ass if the client didn’t like my appearance. Things have changed in this business—in my opinion, for the better. It used to be you wore a suit to do this job. I had never owned one and had done pretty damn well. In fact, some considered me the best in the business.

Sure enough, I could tell he wasn’t impressed with what he saw. The longish hair, bushy beard, and sleeves on both arms. They were my pride and joy, done by the best tattoo artist in San Francisco.

He wanted his wife killed and started to explain why. Told him I didn’t need to hear that shit. Explained to him I charged fifty K.

When he grumbled about my fee, I should have just walked away. He wore a suit, let him hire a guy who wore one. Back in the day, everyone in my line of work wore a suit. But they started to stand out. These days, a guy like me looks more like the average man on the street. You had to adapt with the times.

He finally accepts the terms, but not until I tell him payment isn’t required until the job is done.

I got his address and a picture of his old lady. Not bad looking for a woman her age. Maybe I should have listened to his reasons for wanting her offed.

I’m on the job the next morning, my nondescript white Toyota sedan parked two houses up from his.

Shortly after ten, the garage door goes up and she backs out in a newer Mercedes.

I followed her to a supermarket a short distance away. The store doesn’t seem busy. She parks and exits the car. I pulled in the space next to her on the driver’s side and waited. Forty minutes later she comes out with a cart of groceries. She’s wearing black yoga pants and a sweatshirt. She has a nice figure. Blonde hair cut stylishly, blue eyes, and a touch of makeup. Again, I wonder why he wants her dead, but that’s none of my affairs.

She finishes loading the groceries into the trunk and walks toward the driver’s door. As she opens it, I roll down the passenger window of my Toyota and the silenced. 22 Colt Woodsman goes to work. I always use a .22 because it has enough kinetic energy to enter the skull but not enough to exit. It just bounces around a few times, turning your brain to mush. That’s what makes it so dangerous.

Three in the back of her head and she collapses between cars.

I’ll wait a few days to call her old man about collecting my fee. But the asshole will know she’s dead when she doesn’t put dinner on the table tonight.

Obviously, the story is on the news and in the papers the next day. No witnesses, no suspects. Since robbery wasn’t involved, the cops figure it for a thrill killing.

Three days later I’m leaving my apartment to go collect. Too late I see a guy in a dark gray suit approaching with a gun in his hand. I put two and two together—he hired a guy who charged less than I did.

And I let him get the drop on me—a son of a bitch who wore a suit.

 

 

Bill Baber’s writing has appeared at Crime sites across the web and in print anthologies-most notably from Shotgun Honey, Gutter Books, Dead Guns Press, Close to the Bone, and Authors on the Air Press—and has garnered a Derringer Award and Best of the Net nominations. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play, was published in 2011. He lives with his wife and a spoiled dog in Buckeye, AZ. on the edge of the desert and sometimes just on the edge.


Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021