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.
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.
the job the next morning, my nondescript
white Toyota sedan parked two houses up from his.
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.
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.
in the back of her head
and she collapses between cars.
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.
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.
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.
I let him get the drop on
me—a son of a bitch who wore a suit.
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.
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 Easy, Thuggish
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