With my work behind me, I stipped off all my gear and tossed it in the incinerator bin along with all the extra clothing. I stood naked over the igniter and tried to figure out how to start the burning process. The unit was pristine and looked unused. To my delight, it fired right up after I read the instruction plate.
An open shower stood ready at the back corner of the room. I washed my face and hair before putting on a rebreather and sprayed down the room with solvent. I showered, letting some solvent mist land on my arms. Clean is an ambiguous word. I needed myself and the room stripped of all ties to the bodies I liquified.
My last step was to kill the power to the room and rinse the walls down with hot water to the center drain, followed by a bleach bomb in each sink and drain. By the time I was done, I could feel the dull blanket of exhaustion riding my shoulders. My clothes from earlier in the day still sat on the table outside the doorway. Jimmy sat guard outside the white room, waiting for me to finish.
“Dinner is set for seven, about thirty minutes.” He didn’t turn away at the sight of my bare skin. A common enough courtesy to extend, but I suspected Jimmy spent time inside.
“Thanks for the update. I am starving.” I put on my pants with no boxers. I never cared for the commando feel, but I torched the pair I was wearing, opting to be comfortable while I worked and uncomfortable while I walked to my room to change. I put on my undershirt and my dress shirt, but I didn’t tuck them inside my pants.
“You been at that one chore a long time,” Jimmy commented, pointing at the door to the room.
“It was only three bodies but enough mass for almost five. We need to starve our targets for a few weeks before we dispose of them next time.” I laughed, but Jimmy just looked at me and lit up a cigarette.
“You want one?” He offered me the pack shaking out a single cigarette.
“No, thanks. I can’t afford habits that leave behind a trail.” I pointed to the smoke. Jimmy nodded his head and looked around.
“So, you always use poison?”
“No, actually, it’s the method I know the least about. Truth be told, I like to use my bare hands, but most often, I need to use a gun with a silencer. The boss doesn’t pay me to be entertained just to get the job done fast and clean.”
“You like to look in their eyes, ha.”
“The feeling of their blood stopping under my hands intrigues me. Their veins are pumping away, and then that microtremor of life under their skin stops, and there’s nothing left. Look at me. I’m drooling just thinking about it.”
Jimmy looked at me wide-eyed and stiff postured. “Let’s get you a drink and some food. Manny made steak on skewers tonight. They are perfection.”
“Sounds good.” I took a bleach wipe from my clean bag and wiped down the table and the outside door nob.
“Gotta wipe down everything, ha?” Jimmy asked, pushing the elevator button.
“Yeah, if you slip up in my line you get retired early.” I put my fingers to my head like a gun and pulled the trigger.
“No, shit?” Jimmy asked, snuffing out his cigarette on the metal garbage can.
The door opened to a living room full of people. Ed and his girls were mingling before dinner. Several of his men were already seated at the table. Everyone stopped to look at me and Jimmy. I held my shoes in my hand and nodded to my host and flashed a smile to the room.
“Excuse me, I’m off to change before dinner.” Jimmy stopped to talk with Ed. Balle held a drink close to her chin. She watched me walk by with lazy indifference.
Once in my room I changed and fixed my hair. Checked my messages and folded my dirty clothes putting them in the laundry bag I started early this morning. On the outside flap was a note.
Brownies in my room later. We never got around to eating them.
It’s sheer stupidity to let yourself believe the stripper on the pole likes you or your hooker is in love with you but this girl wasn’t either of those things. I felt weak and foolish but I let that hot flutter in my chest live for a moment before I told myself not to be one of those idiots. They end up broke or dead and I am not a fool.
I calmed my mind and went out to mingle with Ed's troupe. I sat at the end of the long dinner table next to Ed. “You ever thought about where you would take this party if the bar closes down?”
Ed ran his fingers through his hair and let out an exaggerated breath.“How long you think I have left here?”
"Not up to me but if I were to guess. Months maybe weeks." Ed grabbed a highball glass from the sideboard and poured me a drink.
"Have a taste of that."
“She looks just like her mother you know." I pointed at Balle. "I don’t watch the news often but I've seen the Senator tell her sad story."
"No one is going to find her here." Ed shook his head and wrinkled his chin,
"I’m not that bright and I figured it out. The men who will be visiting soon. They are much smarter than I am.”
Ed sat back in his chair and watched Balle talk with another girl across the room. "I should have left her in Mexico, but I couldn't waste such a good product."
"I could buy her from you. Take her out of the country where no one will find her."
"Oh yeah, how much you willing to pay for a problem like that."
"How much you want for her?" I asked.
"I hear you like your women dead," Ed whispered leaning close to my wristwatch.
"Me? No, I have clients that pay well for quiet partners but I like my women breathing."
"She stays with me. Can't put a price on the trained ones. Well, you can but I don't need the money."
"She appeals to me too. Young and knows how our business is done. See we are too alike you and me." I washed back my desire to strangle the life out of Edwin with a fat measure of bourbon and a smile.
He responded as I expected. "We are that my friend. I hear you got three from the list processed today. How did it go?"
"Clean and smooth. The Irish are good allies but watch them close. They're looking for angles and not skilled at hiding it."
Edwin nodded and stared into my eyes. "I tell you what. If I need to raise some cash I'll give you Balle for a fair price."
"Thanks, Man. The family is sending me to Belize soon but I come and go every few months. You know, if you need work done, you can call me." I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my card listing only my private phone service number. Ed looked surprised. His boys missed a lot of things when they rifled through my stuff.
"New things, new angels, Central America is where it's all happening. Adapt or die." I winked and Ed nodded his head slowly in agreement. I dangled a morsel of new information in front of him hoping it burrowed deep into his brain.
Dinner was being served everyone followed behind Manny as he brought two plates to the table for me and Ed. Several girls shuttled plates to the table before seating themselves. It was all very civilized. Balle sat at the far end of the table from me and Ed carrying on a quiet conversation with Jimmy.
I ate and listened to the light conversations around me while plotting Ed's death. I was willing to pay for her and part as friends but I am more than willing to kill Ed and take Balle from him. Enemies retaliate and I poked the bear hard with three dead cartel associates. My next moves will set the stage for Ed's demise.
Ed pointed his finger at me."You know my father has a place in the city proper that might work. I don't know what shape it's in or if he has a mistress parked there, but I should ask to move right. Before being asked to leave."
"Gives you more control over the move. More time to do it right. Yeah, it might be a play that shows you are doing your part for the greater good."
"See you are a good man to have around. Your brain is good to pick. I don't have that kinda help here."
"Happy to help." I smiled and copied Ed by shoveling a fork full of rice into my mouth. He will move away from my father's property and when he is exposed I will end him.
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