Accessory, to Murder
Fifteen minutes. Not good.
The subway? No.
He palmed sweat off his brow, and jammed a moist hand into his pocket. Felt the reassuring weight of it, again.
The moisture wouldn't affect it. Because of the leather pouch.
That was what had drawn him, in the first place. The little sleeve, tooled in genuine cowhide. Tiny metal studs set into the surface. They gleamed like silver; could have been stainless steel, for all he knew.
Looked valuable, though.
An iPod, in a case like that? Should be worth something, on the street.
So, he'd palmed it off the desk. And waved a cheery goodbye to the receptionist - who was already gnawing her third slice.
He'd slung the pizza satchel over his shoulder, as he left the building. Got on his bike. And blazed.
He bought an hour at a cybercafe, up the street. Just to have a quiet corner, to check out the iPod. Make sure it was working, maybe see if there were any juicy videos on it.
Understatement of the decade.
He'd had to Google a little, and visit some of the major news sites. Just to confirm.
On the iPod. Enough evidence to blow one of the biggest corruption cases in living memory out of the water.
So, he'd made some calls. Negotiated a price. And set up a meet.
He was going to be late, though. Crosstown traffic was murder. He'd been weaving in and out of stationary vehicles, for the better part of an hour. Had to pause, for breath.
That's when he considered taking the subway, but, no.
There were some heavy hitters involved in this thing. Wouldn't do to be stuck in a confined space, lot of strangers around. Not cool.
He set the kickstand down, and got off the bicycle. Just to rest. For a minute.
A flood of pedestrians pushed past him. Surly and agitated, for the most part. It was the heat.
Mid-twenties, bleached blonde. Pancake make-up and blood red lipstick. All this up close and personal, as she stumbled into him, then pawed him as she straightened up.
A cracked leather jacket, zippers and studs all over. The studs, they looked like stainless steel, now. Must have been one of those, that jabbed him.
She flashed him a grin, as she sashayed into the distance. Leather micro-skirt and fishnets. Hot.
It suddenly occurred to him that --
He'd pulled the exact same move to lift the cellphone off that executive babe, last week.
He checked his pocket. Gone.
When he looked up again, the blonde had vanished. Blocked from view by an unremarkable-looking guy, in a lightweight suit.
Guy was looking straight at him. He'd be the observer.
They wouldn't want a scene. They'd want it to be discreet, so...
His vision swam, and his head began to spin.
The stuff the blonde injected him with. It would be untraceable. Like the guy in the suit.
A brain embolism, or, no. Heart attack. Or, heart failure. They knew he was on the bike. And, with the heat and all...
He was dead, before he hit the ground.