Stealth while tailing the ignorant putz a safe distance away was difficult to retain with the sweat soaked tourists shoulder to shoulder seeking sand and sun, their stench chasing away the salt of the ocean. My sunglass covered eyes scanned beach combers to my right, the thrill seekers screams from the rollercoaster to my left a welcome sound.
Casual observance reduced the chances my white-collared prey would get skittish. My nonchalance for extortion no surprise for the badges parked outside the station up ahead on the boardwalk. They didn’t refer to me as Mr. Clean for nothing. Besides my bald head gleaming in the sun, they never pinned me to anything worth a jail cell. Suspicions some of the badges next to them were dirty truer than they cared to admit, and a detail my mouse, Parker, was too ignorant to contemplate, as evidence in how he paused twenty feet away from the station.
“Try it, buddy,” I said aloud, earning me snap attention from a guy in front of me I ignored. When the shoulders of my mouse steeled and took a left towards the thrill seekers, I failed to contain a sinister smile.
This game was too easy.
I cut left behind a hat stand and pinched a fedora to cover my dome and flanked Parker as he weaved through the crowd towards the Ferris wheel, an obvious target, as was Travis who waited for our mouse.
“Everything there?” Travis asked when Parker approached.
I stood against a pillar doing my best ‘lost tourist’ face as I peered at an unfolded map from my pocket. My head was bowed, but my eyes never left the men, every word siphoned to my ear piece connected to the phone on speaker in Travis’s breast pocket.
“Every dime.” Parker’s voice tightened with underlining fear too thick to hide.
My sinister smile resurged so quick I raised the map to shield my face, nearly forgetting to tip off the Ferris wheel conductor stalling for direction. I gave it and he restarted the ride, having fixed the problem stalling the Ferris wheel for the last ten minutes.
“Good,” Travis went on. “Now give me your code.” Parker looked confused, a shitty liar. “Your code to the account you and your four flunkies set up. I have the other four, give me yours.”
“B-but, you’ve got your money.”
“And your family, in a vicarious position,” he pointed up, “in car 127, rigged to explode without confirmation of your code.”
Parker laughed. “You wouldn’t.” If getting the code wasn’t essential I would have shot him in the back of the head right then.
I folded the map, signaling the conductor to encounter sudden issues again, stopping the car with Parker’s family just after they rounded the apex of their sight-seeing adventure.
“This is bullshit. I’m outta here.”
A few steps into Parker’s path and I grabbed his wrist with a squeeze, loosening his grip on the briefcase handle, delivering it to me as I used the other to shake his hand, everything calm and in control. With my shades and the fedora in place, this was the closest Parker would ever get to identifying me.
Our mouse realized he was trapped. “No, you won’t kill me or my family. I’ll give you more money.”
Denial, anger, and bargaining. Nice try but it won’t save you, I thought.
“I want all their money, not just yours. Try calling your pals to see how I got their codes. Most can’t answer. In case that’s not incentive enough, I’m sure this will be.”
I didn’t blame him for being confused since I pulled out a simple cell phone.
“Remember, Richard,” Travis called me by a fake name, “it’s car 127.”
I typed in the number one, the action setting off a tone the mouse and his over-vigilant ears heard, paused, then pressed the next number, again, the tone a hammer above the unsuspecting crowd.
“Stop!” He touched my forearm, the muscles beneath clenching. He pulled his hand away, his dark eyes filled with terror willing me not to hit the last digit, making assumptions of the result. “Fine,” his voice shook as he spouted off a nine-digit code of letters and numbers I memorized immediately.
Travis made the call, waiting until monies were transferred to an account I set up.
Once confirmed, I pressed the seven to complete the car number. The crowd screamed as an explosion pierced through their joyous afternoon. I flinched and ducked so I wouldn’t stand out, wiped my prints, and slid the thin phone into Parker’s back pocket before getting lost in the surging, panicked crowd. Parker’s tormented screams lost.
Without losing sight of him, I followed Travis into a vacated public washroom, his breath quick inside a stall where he waited for someone to pick up the phone. My bullet through the flimsy metal ended his distress call before the conversation started, the undercover cop dropping to piss-stained tile. I knew what he was early in the game. Travis’s purpose as the operations front man was outlived, all evidence traced back to him and Parker and a story no one would believe, especially after I created the insurance policy on the wife and kid in Parker’s name. Motive enough in any judge’s eyes.
Turning my shirt inside out, sticking on the short wig and ball cap, and stuffing the money into the backpack stashed earlier, I blended back into the crowd, bypassing badges losing control over the panicked patrons, handing off a brick of cash to my inside officer as I walked by him, the thank you in his eyes the only communication between us.
I may be a bastard, but I was a rich bastard. If Hell penciled in my reservation, I was making sure to earn it, far away where the news of a dead mother and son by the ill-fated attempts of a man and shady cop wouldn’t reach my news feed.
S.J. Cairns is a Southern Canadian, born and raised in St. Catharines Ontario, where she lives with her bug-killing, video game playing husband of near 15 years, her spunky mother-in-law, and their three snorting Pugs.
During days off from true chaos working as a Women’s Advocate at a busy downtown Women’s Shelter, you can find S.J. in her writerly lair dipped in all things creepy, plotting against her lifetime nemesis, those deadly evil-doers; balloons, and giving some perspective on The Fictionistas YouTube Channel each Monday.
S.J. will add her own works of fiction to her overly crammed shelves this year as she focuses on a 6 novel Urban Fantasy series called “Evolution of a Soul Seer”.
Visit S.J. at https://sjcairns.wordpress.com.