Sometimes You Just Get Lazy
You don’t want to make the kill sexy. You just want to get it over with and head home and find a new Netflix series to watch.
So that’s why Mr. Z went down with a bullet to the back of his head.
I watched him for a week. I guess he took those, Stay Healthy Use The Stairs, signs seriously. So I just followed him up to his office, and when he opened the level 5 staircase door, the barrel of my suppressed Walter P22 Mosquito went against the back of his head, my left hand grabbed his black wool trench coat, pop pop, pop, then I stepped to the right and tossed his body onto the landing. I walked down the stairs to the third floor and took the elevator down to the first.
If I had wanted to make the kill sexy, I would have waited for him on the fifth-floor landing. Then, when I heard him coming up the stairs, I would have walked down, and, as they say, two ships passing in the night, I would have smiled hello—friendly and safe—and then, pop pop, pop, right between the eyes.
But anyway. It wasn’t sexy this time.
After I finished a job I would go to my safe house. I would be there for a few days depending on how high profile the mark was. At one time, I was a bottom feeder—my marks didn’t have profiles except for, turn to the right, now turn to the left—so I didn’t need a safe house. I went to Burger King or Chipotle for lunch. Then to a movie.
One time after a kill in the middle of December I went ice skating at the Fountain Park downtown and just skated in circles for an hour. Then I went to the concession stand and ordered hot chocolate and plain cinnamon donuts and watched everyone else skate in circles.
But now, it’s the safe house. I have furniture I never use except for the leather recliner in front of my 60” Flat screen. I have a Moka pot where I make the best espresso. So when I’m not working, I drink coffee and watch Netflix on my cousin’s account. But I was spending more time in the safehouse than I should have.
Two days later I saw the news about Mr. Z. They called it an execution-style murder because he was shot in the back of the head. I was embarrassed. I always thought that was a pussy move. If you can’t look someone straight in the eyes and kill them, you shouldn’t be killing anyone.
About a week later I was back in the safe house. I never did jobs that soon after another. This time the kill was sexy. So when I saw it on the news there was no mention of an execution-style murder. There was no mention at all about how he was killed. Just that an executive from the Scuzi Foundation was found dead in his brownstone on the upper east side.
The reason I was staying too long at the safe house was because the Coffee Bug was only two blocks away and Maggie was the best barista I ever had. She was quick, focused, knew all
the drink hacks, and never charged me for oat milk. I also liked her red hair and freckles, and how she always surprised me with different drinks every time I went in.
So the next time I saw her, she said I should try a Zippy Chip Caramel Mocha Latte, but then she looked upset.
“We’re out of oat milk.”
“What do you recommend instead,” I asked.
“Almond I guess will work, but it doesn’t froth as good as oat milk.”
“Well, you would know, you’re the professional.”
She froze for a minute. “No one has ever called me that before.” And she smiled at me, then said a quick goodbye and motioned for the next customer.
So there I was, standing for a few seconds halfway between the register and drink pick up not really sure what to do. The funny thing was that I started to reach for my P22 under my coat.
“Tommy, Tommy, the Zippy Chip…” I didn’t let him finish. I grabbed my drink and nodded goodbye.
This time it was about two months between kills which was more like my normal routine, but I was still in the safe house. I was Googling drink hacks. So between scrolling through Netflix movies and filling up my watch list, I had about five drinks I wanted to try.
But both times I went into the Coffee Bug, Maggie wasn’t there. So I just ordered a Grande Medium Roast. I wanted to ask about her, but then, I wouldn’t be acting like a professional.
The next kill I lined up was actually a bit of a bottom feeder gig. Not pro bono, but close. My cousin was my stockbroker, and the mother of one of his best clients was beaten up when two meth heads robbed her house. He didn’t know what I did for a living, but I felt obligated to help. And I was actually relieved—killing these assholes would be a lot less pressure. Profiles: zero.
It didn’t take long to find them: I know a guy who knows a girl, that knows another girl who knows them, and there you have it. I ended up with the two assholes, duct tape over their eyes and mouth, sitting in a chair in an abandoned building that another guy let me rent.
“Ok. Well, here we are. You broke into some old lady’s house and now because I get free Netflix and free financial advice you have to die.” And then I had to hear all that, “Mmm, mmm,” muffled pleading to spare their life. So annoying. That’s why I preferred the quick, sexy, pop, pop, pop.
“Ok. Shut up. Listen. Usually, I like to look my kills in the eyes before they die, but I’m pretty sure I would tear your eyebrows off when I pull that duct tape off, so guess what…
And I waited for the effect. And it went quiet. “I am just gonna shoot you as is.” And then all the, “Mmm, mmm,” for a few seconds.
And pop, one head snapped back.
Pop, then the next head.
And quiet again.
And what really upset me, was instead of concentrating on giving a last look around to make sure the place was clean, I wondered how impressed Maggie would be when I asked her to make me a Slapstick Matcha Chocolate Chip Frappuccino.
I decided I would spend a week in the safe house watching everything on my watch list and trying to put this Maggie thing into perspective.
I had her intel sheet. It was easier to have someone hack into her info than ask her about her life. Besides, even I know some people would think it was creepy if they thought this old guy was hitting on her.
I was surprised to learn she was thirty, had a BA in Materials Engineering from MIT, and worked at Coffee Bug for three years.
The question of course was begging, what’s going on here.
The next time I went in Maggie wasn’t at the register, but making drinks. So I asked Katherine to ask her if she knew how to make a Biscotti Grasshopper Mocha Latte.
Katherine looked annoyed. “I wish they’d give us a list of these stupid drink hack things.”
She went over to Maggie and I watched Maggie’s reaction. She frowned a bit, but then shook her head like she remembered.
Kathrine came over. “Yeah, she knows. She said you always order oat milk.”
“That’s right, thank you.”
I walked over and waited for my drink. “I thought I stumped you,” I said.
“To be honest, you did for a minute or two. It’s an old drink, but then I remembered.”
“Well, you’re good at this.”
“A professional, right, like you said.”
“Yeah, that, or like some kind of drink engineer.” When I said that she turned away.
And then that voice in my head I learned to always listen to said:asshole, I assumed I didn’t have to mention to you not to say anything like that. “Everything good,” I asked.
“Oh yes, I just had to think for a minute.”
“So I did stump you, I said. Trying to fix my mistake.
“Maybe you did.” She laughed a bit, feeling comfortable again.
“Next time I’ll let you surprise me with a drink.”
“Sounds good.” And she looked at me with a look that made the voice in my head say, she may want you to ask her out at some point. “Sure, that makes sense,” I said out loud to the voice.
“What,” she asked. Now looking at me like, no, hold on, maybe not.
“Noting. Sorry. I just remembered that I ordered take out from Sixpence, you know, that
Pub on 8th.”
“The fish and chips or the corned beef combo?”
Ok shithead, good recovery, said the voice. But it’s your serve again.
“I, well,” and in seconds I decided, “fish and chips.”
“Oh, I love them, but really I’m a corned beef kinda girl.”
And it just came out, “Well, I can always add to the order…”
When I got back to the safe house, I decided some time that week I would go to Sixpence and order the fish and chips, and the corned beef combo, and try them before my date with Maggie on Thursday. I sat down in my leather recliner. The voice didn’t even have to say it, this was a mistake. A really big one.
Thursday came too quickly. We decided to meet outside the Coffee Bug. Sixpence was only a block away. As I walked to meet her, without my P22, or a vest, but just my newly purchased Ka-Bar knife on my ankle, I looked up the street and realized date night was canceled.
Bingo, the biggest asshole in the business was on my side of the street walking toward me. And, if Bingo was on my side, Burner would be on the other side.
What to do was an easy decision: get back to the safe house.
As I got closer, it became clear why you shouldn’t spend so much time at a safe house—it ends up no longer being safe: a black, tinted window, Escalade was parked right in front.
I knew as I approached it, the doors would open, and some asshole holding a Heckler and Koch would step out, point it at me, and open fire.
And, because I knew that, I did something they wouldn’t expect, I sprinted right toward the Escalade where the side door was just starting to open. I grabbed it hard and pulled. The moment I saw a face I stuck my blad into an eye and grabbed the barrel of the Heckler, pushed it down, then pulled it out of the asshole’s hands.
Once I had the gun, I shot the driver in the back of the head, then shot the eye-less asshole at my feet in the head. I crouched down, slid alongside the Escalade, and surprised the other two assholes as they came around the back of the car. I shot them in the throat above their vests, then in the head when they were down.
I was looking at the safe house door as I heard the pings of bullets fired at me from up the street. The only good thing was the electric lock software on it.
I knew Burner was down the street, and Bingo was smart enough to try and flank me.
So, it was now, or dead.
I hit the unlock button on my phone. When I got the green light I sprinted toward the door. I felt a sharp sting on my left butt cheek as I dove through it. I turned so I was able to point the Heckler at the open door in case the two assholes tried to follow me in. I kicked it shut, laid behind it with both feet holding it, then yelled, “Lock.” And the door locked—another nice piece of software I had rigged up.
I laid in the foyer to catch my breath. Then turned on my left side and started feeling around my butt cheek for a bullet hole. There was blood, but no hole. I just thought, thank god these guys were amateurs.
By now, Bingo and Burner would be gone ahead of the police sirens I started to hear.
I laid there and started thinking: first, recon the street and see what’s what. Patch up my ass. Clean the blood. Then get out of the house and down two blocks to the parking garage where my, get-the-hell-out-of-here car was parked, and then to a real safe house across town where there were no Zippy Chip Caramel Mocha Lattes, no Slapstick Matcha Chocolate Chip Frappuccinos, no Coffee Bugs, and no Maggie.
I just had to figure out how to get some of these cops to leave so I could get out the back and through the yard to the street.
And then the voice offered me one of those, kill-two-birds-with-one stone, things. I smirked and shook my head yes.
So, on my burner, I called 911.
“Hi, my name is Tommy. I’m a white male, 5’8, black hair, and I have a bomb strapped to me. I’m going to blow up the Coffee Bug on Wilshire and 8th.
David Calogero Centorbi is a writer that in the 90’s earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Now, he is writing and working in Detroit, MI.
He is the author of AFTER FALLING INTO DISARRAY (Daily Drunk Press).
Published work in Schuylkill Valley Journal-Dispatches, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Daily Drunk, Drunk Monkeys, Horror Sleaze Trash, Punk Noir, and Tiny Molecules, and Versification.
He can be found here on Twitter: @DavidCaCentorbi.