the message

This week’s 500 Club offering is a two-fer. That’s right kids–I’ve taken on both prompts in one 500 word segment. I’ve done this because, (1) I missed last week and felt the need to offer up more the the writing gods this week; and, (2) because I’ve been wanting to write something that satisfied both prompts for a while and this week just felt like my week. But I stuck with the un-named assassin for yet another fictional jaunt. I kind of like him with no name. Perhaps I need to write more about  him.

the message

I got the message. There was no mistaking what I needed to do.

It was Tuesday after a busy weekend. Two marks. It’s ambitious, but it can be done. They were entirely unrelated but both happened to be in Chicago on the same weekend. Neither lived there. Both were Cubs fans. Really, no one should trust stadium food.

I slept late on Monday, something I rarely do, and then spent the day reading, drinking coffee and relaxing. A bottle of wine. Tuesday morning started out similarly except that I didn’t sleep late. I was just getting out of the shower when I noticed the missed call.

She had one of my numbers, but only for the most dire emergencies. All correspondence was typically done through email. She and I rarely had any reason for more personal contact than can be affected within a few lines of text.

She sounded mildly panicked. I spoke as though I did not notice.

“I require some assistance,” she said.

“Of what nature?”

She paused. One beat. “You know.”

I sighed. If I could just get her to say it…this could all go away.

“Perhaps,” I said. “Still, it would be nice to hear.”

In spite of the situation, I could imagine her smiling on the other end of the phone. Most assassins have never met their handlers. I used to sleep with mine. Bad form for a gay man, no argument there.

“The day I say that is the day your obligation to me ends,” she said.

It was a game we played. A delicate dance. I had walked out on her, walked away from the job, only months before. She would have said she knew I’d come back, but the fact is she had no more idea than I did. The obligation is more like a long tease. Foreplay. The prelude to an event that will never occur.

“You do, though.” I said. “Need me, I mean.”

She cleared her throat. “I desire your assistance. Professionally. And I believe my host wishes to speak to you.”

Play time was done.

“Ten million, unmarked, in cash or the bitch dies.”

I yawned. “Yes, yes,” I said. “I’ve done this a few times before. Where shall I meet you?”

The gruff voice barked an address. “And come alone,” he said.

How else would an assassin come?, I wondered.

“Of course,” I said. “Let me speak to her again.”

There was some shuffling on the other end of the line, then she said my name and I smiled.

“Can they hear me?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Are you on a cell?”

“Oh, yeah. I guess that would work.” Perfect. They were standing right there but could not hear my end of the conversation.

“Four of them?”

“Maybe.”

“Five?”

“I think that’s where I put it.”

“I would assume armed. Are they as dumb and poorly organized as they sound?”

“Uh-huh.”

“They’ll be dead by this time tomorrow,” I said.

“I know.”

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