IN ABOUT FIFTY YEARS - B.R. STATEHAM
Dark eyes surveyed the room, a deadly little smile spilling out of his lips in the process. H found himself standing in the inner sanctum. The most secure place in the entire casino. The boss himself. To his right and sitting behind his desk was a fat little man with a shiny bald spot on the top of his head and three chins bobbling around like a turkey’s giblet. He was leaning over his desk counting out a wad of money–in hundred dollar bills–his lips moving as he counted. Behind the fat man was a troglodyte with heavy, thick arms, and the wired bristles of bushy eyebrows covering what little of a forehead he had above his dull eyes.
Smitty, a hand lifting up to unbutton the one button to his sport coat, turned his obsidian black eyes back toward the fat man and the money.
“Jesus, I’m glad you got that little bastard, Smitty. Can you believe it? They hired him...him of all people...to take me out. That little fucker! Tell you the truth, it’s freaking brilliant. I didn’t know the little guy was a killer. I thought he was a damn good bookie. Made me a ton of dough. A ton of dough. How did you know it was him?”
“You’re a cautions man, Gibbons. You don’t go out much. And when you do, you go out well protected. So if someone put a contract out on you and felt confident the hit was going to come down, it’d had to be someone who could get close to you.”
“The kid,” Elroy Gibbons growled, shaking his head angrily, then reaching for the fat stub of a cigar smoldering in a glass ash tray beside the money box setting on the desk. “But like I said, I wouldn’t have thought he’d be the guy in a thousand years. What tipped you off about the kid? He certainly doesn’t look like a killer to me. What was it? What was it that he did which told you he was the hired gun?”
“Like I said, fella, you’re a cautious man. You don’t take any unnecessary chances. If a gunman was going to kill you, he had to get up close to you. Really close to you. Like...say...as close as I am to you right now.”
There was something in the tall man’s soft whisper. Like a sudden gust of unexpected frigid cold. Just enough to make the fat man, cigar between thick lips, suddenly look up and at the man standing in front of the desk dressed in the gray slacks and gray sport coat and black buttoned collared shirt. There was a gun in Smitty’s hand. A nine millimeter Glock. The gun belched out fire and smoke. The sound of the gun going off deafening. Behind the fat guy the dull witted thug caught the bullet one button up and a half inch to the left of his sternum. The bullet slammed him back into the office wall and he slid down, lifeless, a look of shock on his face, leaving a smear of dark blood on the yellow painted wall.
“You!” shouted Gibbons, pushing himself back in his chair and leaping to his feet, fear as palatable as Chinese curry clearly written all over his face. “You’re the hit man! But...but...I hired you to protect me! Why did you kill the kid?”
“He was my ticket here. You needed to see someone dead. I said I’d take cash only in such transactions. Besides, the kid was hired to bump you off. The only thing was, the kid wasn’t up to it. Said he wasn’t going to do it and was gonna go to the cops. He became a liability. So he had to be dealt with.”
“Who? Who put the contract out on me? And...and...and come on, Smitty. We can make a deal here. I can give you money. Lots of money if you’ll forget your little deal and come to work for me.”
A deadly smear of malevolent amusement played across the dark eyed man’s lips. Behind him, on the other side of the office door, he heard men shouting and then the footsteps of several running down the hall toward the office door. But they would be too late. Gibbons had a door made to take the battering of a tank before it gave in.
“You want to know who want’s you dead? In about fifty years, when she joins you in Hell, talk to your wife.”
The second gunshot was equally deafening. The bullet yanked the fat guy off his feet and hurled him through the office window behind him. Smitty, holstering the Glock underneath his left arm, stepped around the desk, swiped a thick pile of one hundred dollar bills off the desk and smoothly leapt out of the window and disappeared into the night of the dark alley.
Yeah. About fifty years. It’d take about that long for a good looking...and suddenly very rich Ellen Gibbons...to finally shrivel up into an old bitter hag and eventually die of natural causes. That’s the way it usually worked with women like that.
BIO: B.R. Stateham is physically sixty-one years old. Mentally, who know how old he is. He writes noir, hard-boiled police-procedurals, and a little fantasy. And like most writers of his ilk, stone-cold broke from his efforts.
Launch: DECEMBER STORIES by Ian Sansom
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