A KILLER’S KILLER - B.R. STATEHAM
Confetti rained down from the arena’s rafters in a white Wyoming blizzard. People were dancing in the aisles, blowing cheap toy kazoos, their faces painted with various portraits of bliss and ecstasy. The crowd was wild, raucous, and jubilant. Banners of their candidate littered the arena from rafters to restrooms, along with hundreds of balloons and tons of paper ribbons. Women, men, small kids kept breaking out into spontaneous cheering as they waved their handheld signs up that said:
Adam Goldstein Is Our Man
Goldstein Will Clean Corruption Out Of City Hall
Joyous delight. A fresh breath of air.
In a tightly contested race for mayor Goldstein won. Won...somehow, against a politician bought and paid for by the mob. An honest man winning a rigged race the city’s biggest crime boss had paid millions to lock up. Goldstein was as the placards indicated—an honest man determined to cleanse City Hall of all the graft and corruption which infested its polished marble floors like a pandemic infection.
And because he was honest—because he was going to keep his word—he was going to die for it. Die tonight. In the midst of this crowd. At the pinnacle point of his triumph.
Already the killer was in place and approaching the salubrious politician.
A good man was going to die tonight. Die in front of his fans, his family, and millions of people watching on television. Unless...unless...
Coal black eyes, as black as a madman’s nightmare, spied his intended target standing on the podium. Around him the candidate’s family members and friends waved and danced to the music blaring through the auditorium’s speakers. In the faces of everyone were the portraits of unbridled happiness.
On the face of Smitty, a beaming smile worthy of a front-page spread in the local newspapers.
Quietly, with the efficiency of a pro, he made his way through the bumptious crowd and climbed the steps of the podium. Effortlessly, he slipped past family members and political party bosses and approached his target. As he neared he slipped a hand into his sports coat and pulled out the heavy metal ring and slipped it on his finger.
Ice for blood running in his veins he stepped up to his victim’s right side and threw a hand over the man’s shoulders. With a violent jerk, he pulled the man in close in a vice-grip of a bear hug.
Grinning and shouting like the others, a big button on his lapel saying I’M FOR ’STEIN, he leaned forward and shouted in the man’s ear. “This is not your lucky day, buddy!”
No sooner had he finished giving the hit man his greeting when the hand with the deadly ring slipped from the man’s shoulder and slid up to the killer’s exposed neck. The noise of the crowd drowned out the man’s sudden yelp of pain as the needle bit deep into flesh.
Stepping back, Smitty watched his victim turn, a hand holding his neck, his eyes filled with unmingled disbelief. Even as he watched the poison was taking its effect. The man staggered, tried to reach out and grab his killer, color draining from his face. But it was too late. Too late. The man collapsed to the floor dead before his heat hit the podium’s wooden planking.
At the top of the podium stairs, Smitty turned and looked at the newly-elected mayor standing alone in the single bright Klieg light beaming down from the rafters. The crowd was roaring with applause and love at the man.
Smiling, both hands above his head, Goldstein waved and mouthed ‘Thank You!’ to the crowd.
A killer killing a killer. An evil little smile played across Smitty’s lips as he turned and descended the stairs. Yes, he thought to himself pleasantly, there is justice in this world after all. Sometimes an honest man can beat the odds. But only with help. Only with help.
BIO: B.R. Stateham writes noir and a few other genres just for the hell of it. At sixty-one, the author thinks someday his ship will arrive and he’ll actually make some money writing about killers, cops, bad men and bad luck. But he’s not going to hold his breath.
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