The Split

“Eighteen! Thirty-four! ‘Levendy-twelve!” Brucie shouted, following it with his irritating high-pitched giggle. Like he thought trying to mess Doc’s count up was the funniest thing since Chris Rock.

Doc ignored him and kept counting and dividing the bundles of cash. The other three of us glanced at each other and rolled our eyes at Brucie’s actions.

Brucie was a problem, but Doc said we needed five guys for the armored car job, and Tone vouched for Brucie. Said he was good with his fists and a decent shot. But he was also a pain in the ass from the jump. On everybody’s last nerve when we were together and causing us ten kinds of grief when he was acting on his own.

No thanks to Brucie the job was a success and we made it to our rendezvous at the warehouse without any major screw-ups. Now, to let Doc to finish counting and make the split so we could part ways with Brucie.

“Jeez Doc, you count slower than my four-year-old nephew,” Brucie said, pacing back and forth and practicing his quick-draw while gunning down imaginary cops with his chrome-plated revolver. The fact that Brucie hadn’t accidentally blown somebody away before now was miracle, the way he liked to wave his gun around.

Doc paused from the count and shot the rest of us a look that signaled his patience with Brucie was wearing thin. See, the thing Brucie never understood was that Doc was the lead dog on this sled team. Doc was the brains and we all did what he said. He didn’t talk a lot, or get loud, and because he was quiet Brucie treated Doc like he was weak and stupid. He was neither.

“Hey Brucie,” Tone said. “Why don’t you give it a rest? And maybe put that gun down.

Brucie shrugged and sat back down at the table with us.

“Sure, no problem,” he said, putting his gun on the table in front of him.

We watched as Doc continued to count and divide, but Brucie was like a big hyperactive kid. Couldn’t sit still for longer than a few seconds.

“I don’t understand what’s so hard about dividing some cash up five ways,” Brucie whined. “What’s the problem, Doc? Did you never learn to divide by five back in fourth grade? I guess it’s a good thing there aren’t six of us. We’d be here all week!”

That obnoxious giggle again as Doc paused his count and set the bundle of cash down.

“Actually, Brucie,” Doc said. “I’m pretty good at dividing by six. Take that revolver there for example.”

Doc reached over and picked up Brucie’s gun and pointed it at the tin ceiling of the warehouse.

“I know that there are six chambers in the cylinder. And, each one holds a bullet.”

BOOM!

Everybody except Doc flinched as the deafening shot echoed through the empty warehouse and a single pinpoint of light fell on the makeshift counting table.

“There’s one,” Doc said, grinning at Brucie who just sat there with his mouth hanging open.

BOOM!

“Two.”

BOOM!

“Three.”

BOOM!

“Four.” The tabletop was dotted with pinpoints of light.

BOOM!

“Five.”

Doc quickly lowered the revolver and leveled it at at Brucie’s face.

BOOM!

“And six,” Doc said, putting the pistol back down on the table and picking up the stack of cash he had been counting. He smiled and glanced around at the rest of us as the echoing gunshots faded.

“I guess he was right. I do have a problem dividing by five.”


Consequences

Some people look at the act of killing as something they could never do. Personally, I’ve always found killing to be fairly easy. You really don’t need much except the right tool and the opportunity. And, the willingness to live with the consequences. Consequences can be a bitch.

Most of the killing I’ve done was paid for by your tax dollars and took place while I was wearing desert camo. And, after I’d done eight years of that kind of killing, I did four more years of custom work sanctioned by people who paid me in cash and arranged free transportation to the job site on big green airplanes. 

My history and experience is why people like Eddie Bonnaire keep me on the payroll now. I’m able to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, without leaving a trace of my presence. I’ve developed my skills over the years and I’m proud of them. And, even though I don’t engage on a daily basis, I still like to keep my skills honed. That’s why I never hesitate when Eddie Bonnaire calls me.

I’ve never met Eddie face-to-face, it’s always by phone. The word on Eddie is that he’s an old-school organized crime guy—the kind that isn’t afraid to get a little dirty. He doesn’t overthink the consequences of getting personally involved. He always calls me directly to set something up, instead of having somebody else call. And, when Eddie calls, he always lays out the reasons for the job, like a prosecuting attorney in a capital murder case explaining the facts to the jury. At least he always did until he called about Tina Simmons.

It was the first time Eddie had ever asked me to kill a woman, but I still listened to his request. A target is a target. In the early years of my training I learned a tactic that made it easier to put my own opinions aside about whether or not a target should be eliminated. Once I knew who I was assigned to kill I just thought of them as “Target Alpha” instead of the multi-faceted human being they were.

After telling me that Tina Simmons was my target, instead of ticking off a list of what my assigned target had done wrong, Eddie just gave me her name and address and told me where she worked. Then, he said he wanted the work to be up close and personal.

“I want her to know what’s coming before it happens,” Eddie said. “Make it last long enough that she has plenty of time to understand that she’s dying.”

It wasn’t a big house, but it sat back off the road a bit, built on one of those bigger lots in an older section of the city. I watched it from some distance away and didn’t approach until it was completely dark and I knew it was safe. The backdoor lock was old and the door itself a thin veneer plywood thing that splintered without making too much noise.

At the top of the stairs I could already hear the deep, steady breathing of Target Alpha. I eased into the bedroom and stood over the bed a few seconds before kneeling and clamping a hand over my target’s mouth while pinching both nostrils tightly, cutting off any source of oxygen.

The bucking and kicking only lasted a few seconds before Target Alpha went limp. I removed my hand and turned on the bedside light, waiting for the fluttering eyes to open and focus on me. When they did, I waited until I saw the fear and the certainty of approaching death in them, then pulled my knife and drew it across Target Alpha’s throat. The cut wasn’t deep, but it opened the jugular and Target Alpha’s life drained quickly.

That was when the sound of footsteps running up the stairs told me that Eddie’s security man had returned from his smoke break much sooner than I anticipated. It was my time. Eddie Bonnaire had just faced his consequences, and now it was time for me to face mine.