Write a Review

A Needle in the Eye

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 1

Friday morning

Ishmael Keyes sat parked with the engine running at the corner of 56th and Ada. The sun had just barely crawled across the horizon, adding a peach hue to otherwise gray skies. He sipped his coffee and checked the Omega Speedmaster strapped to his wrist. It was eight-thirty. His targets were due to pass by any minute.

The three young girls weren’t the reason he’d been paid to be in Chicago. The job he was scheduled to pull at Wynn Pharmaceuticals held that distinction. But even though those three little ladies weren’t his primary business, they were still important to him. They were part of a necessary distraction. To a man like Ishmael Keyes, those necessary distractions were critical. They helped him keep his edge. As he’d always said, a man that doesn’t challenge himself isn’t a man at all.

Keyes adjusted the temperature in the Ford Transit, driving the heat to seventy-five degrees to combat the winter winds swirling outside. He’d heard about Chicago winters, and the season had more than lived up to the reputation. All the same, he had run his customary six miles earlier in the morning. His heart rate barely crept up over sixty, even when he had to trudge through packed snow. Most of the streets had been cleared, but some remained covered even though the Department of Streets and Sanitation trucks worked through the night cleaning up after the most recent snowstorm dumped its load on the city.

It was important to stay in shape. Keyes had always believed so. In his line of work, and with his hobbies, physical fitness was a premium asset. He was a fit and trim two hundred five pounds, which his six-foot frame carried extremely well. His clean-shaven good looks put most people in a mind that he was in his early twenties, though his thirty-fifth birthday wasn’t far off.

After his run, he stopped off for breakfast before picking up the supplies needed for today’s excursion. His trip to the south side, in the white cargo van he’d borrowed days ago, was uneventful. There wasn’t much foot traffic that passed by after he parked. And Keyes attracted little attention from the few people that did see him. Dressed in blue Dickie’s coveralls, a bright orange safety vest, and yellow safety helmet, he seemed to blend into the cityscape as he setup orange traffic cones in front of his vehicle before returning to the driver’s seat.

Keyes’s eyes darted toward the intersection. There were no signs of his quarry yet, but after observing them over the past month, he was confident his targets would show. And once he got that ball rolling, there was no stopping it. This was one genie that would not go back into the bottle. The raised stakes also excited him.

Plenty of times as he’d worked around the world as a gun for hire, however difficult his assignment, Keyes would always find an additional challenge. A way to test himself both mentally and physically. It was his compulsive nature that drove him to do so, but rarely had he found an opportunity where he’d be so evenly matched. This go-round, he’d be dealing with men that were as smart and as deadly as himself. The possibilities sent a rush of adrenaline through him. He shuddered and cracked a smile. Keyes sipped more of his coffee and checked his watched again. Eight-thirty-three. Shouldn’t be more than another couple of minutes.

His cellphone rang. “Keyes,” he answered.

“I’m calling for an update,” a familiar female voice said in a heavy French accent.

“Tell your boss that everything is on schedule as expected. I’ve cultivated an asset that will get me access to Wynn Pharmaceuticals. I will acquire the package as discussed and deliver it upon receipt of the balance of my fee.” Keyes paused, sipped his coffee and said, “Has my travel out of Chicago been arranged?”

“I’m making the arrangements as we speak. You’ll be briefed closer to the date.”

“Excellent. Thank you, Sophie.”

“On another note, did you receive the dossiers you requested?”

“I did, Sophie. Very detailed. They were exactly what I needed.”

“I’m glad you’re pleased, Mr. Keyes. Also, as you’ve done such exceptional work for us in the past, my employer was hoping you’d be available for another assignment after your business in Chicago is completed.”

“No. I’ll be lying low for a while after this one.”

Sophie Bisset let out a heavy sigh. “This job should be rather easy for a man of your talents, Mr. Keyes. I can only assume it’s your other endeavor that will have you taking a sabbatical.”

“You know me so well,” Keyes said.

“My employer will be disappointed. What should I tell him?”

“You can say I’m sorry, if you like,” Keyes said sarcastically.

“With the money you’re paid, I don’t understand why you feel the need to—”

“That’s right, you don’t. And I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself. The job your employer is paying me for will be completed on schedule. Whatever else I do is my business.”

Movement in the intersection caught his eye. “Will that be all?”

Oui. I guess so,” Sophie answered.

“Good.” Keyes disconnected the call and eyed the three young black girls crossing the street. They were bundled up against the cold; big coats, hats, scarfs, the works. Each had a heavy book bag draped across their shoulders. His targets had arrived. While he had no particular desire to do them harm, that was a necessary evil. It was the only way to lure the prey he sought. The girls were…collateral damage. Besides, bad things happen to good people all the time. This wasn’t personal, they just so happened to fit the bill.

Keyes picked up a black ski mask from the passenger seat. He removed the plastic safety helmet and slid the mask over his head. Keyes drew his Glock 17, checked that a round was chambered, and then shoved it back inside the dark blue coveralls he was wearing. He picked up the Vipertek stun gun from the dash and clicked the power button. Blue sparks flew, and it cracked with power.

It was show time.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.