It was the Brit’s first US assignment,
He’d killed for money on five continents, but never before had been asked to eliminate a target in North America.
When the call came the Target was nothing special: a businessman in the Mason Building near Wall Street.
He’d checked out the architectural plans and knew the specification of the corner office window and extrapolated the weight of the bullet needed to shatter it. Not puncture it but demolish it, so he’d get a clear shot at the Target’s head.
The Savage Model 26 he’d chosen was an over-and-under: 12 gauge lower and 30-30 upper, with a Zeiss optic. He’d bought a box of Sierra .223 in self- discarding sabots and one of 12 gauge slugs.
The Savage would fold into a sports bag, with – a cheeky touch – a brace of racket handles in the barrels, sticking out of the end.
He’d found the ideal firing position in a suite closed for remodelling, overlooking the Target’s office 132 yards away. He zeroed the piece in the Connecticut woods and went back to NYC.
The Target was in his office until at least seven o’clock and the redecorating crew snuck off early for the weekend, so the coming Friday was The Day.
The Brit stood in the street outside the Mason Building reading a paper, checking once again the position of the Target’s office, remembering the Yankee habit of calling the Ground Floor the First Floor.
Then he collected his sports bag from the locker in the subway hall and at 5.15 pm and walked up the fire stairs to his firing point.
He pulled a heavy desk into the centre of the room, opened the window a touch to give him an unobstructed shot, set up his lightweight bipod and settled behind the Savage.
One hundred and thirty yards away the Target sat in his high-backed chair looking out over the financial district puffing on a large cigar.
The Brit loaded the Savage and got himself comfortable, steadying his breathing and reducing his heart rate.
Then the door to the Target’s office opened and his secretary walked in. The Brit exhaled gently and relaxed.
Less than a minute later she walked out again, but the Target didn’t swivel back into view.
The Brit watched the smoke wafting up and considered a shot through the chair back, but knew even he needed a clear shot.
Eventually, the smoke went out as the target finished his cigar and pivoted back into sight. The Brit went through his highly disciplined routine and once his breathing, pulse and vision conjoined in perfect harmony, the 12 gauge slug was on it’s way.
The huge corner window of the Target’s office disintegrated inwards and the man hardly had time to look surprised before the .223 bullet hit him.
It ripped into his left eye and out of his disintegrating skull before passing through two walls and lodging in the solid oak cocktail cabinet of a VP two offices away.
Ten minutes later the Brit was lost in the rush hour crowds on his way to the East River where he got rid of the sports bag and its contents.
That evening the channels were full of news that a prominent businessman had been assassinated by sniper. At noon next day, the Brit rang his client.
There was a long pause.
“The job is not done.”
“What are you talking about? It’s on the news!”
This time the pause was even longer.
“The job is not done. You shot the wrong guy.”
“Now, wait a minute!” He never made mistakes. “You must have given me the wrong information. Mason Tower, corner office, facing the intersection of Wall Street and East 6th. Fifteenth Floor. Correct? ”
“Yeah, but you killed the guy on the floor below. The Fourteenth.”
“That’s impossible. I counted the floors up from street level. Twice!”
This time the pause was almost interminable.
“You dumb limey bastard. Office blocks don’t have 13th floors. Some people think it’s bad luck.”
And the line went dead.