Vika is three blocks from the club, it's ten o'clock. Valeria is back in the shadows. The prostitute makes an appearance, shows the cash.
"I gotta find a place to stash it, Titus finds it on me, he takes it."
"I will hold it. Better anyway. Once man is dead, you don't want to be around."
"How do I know you don't just leave?"
Vika shows the gun, "I am back, like I said. Here is gun. What is name?"
"You have phone?"
"I will call when job is done, just say finished. If you want to go in business, we will meet someplace. If not, okay, Titus fucker is dead, you are free. Give me number."
"You got something to write with?"
"I gotta get to rehab, my habit is under control, but I'm losing it, wanting just a little more. I'm gonna go under if I keep doing it. Junkies never think they're junkies until it too late."
"Then go, nobody can prevent after tonight. Even earn your thousand dollars back."
"Simple things. Legal, no risk. We will talk tomorrow. Go now, be seen someplace away from here for a few hours."
She moves off, the twins walk the few blocks to the club. Navigator parked in the same spot as last night. It's ten thirty, they settle in the dark edges to wait. It's a weeknight. A few people leave, it's getting late for new arrivals.
Titus appears at quarter to one, there's a man with him. They have a short conversation, the second man turns, heads back to the club. Titus is getting into the SUV, Valeria steps into the light.
"Who wants to know?"
"Valeria. I'm looking for work, and a line on some coke."
She steps closer, still a few feet away to his left. He can see she's young, obviously not a narc unless they've started recruiting kids. He can also see she's pretty.
He steps forward, "Yeah, I'm Titus, maybe you come to the right place, who sent you?"
"Penny, she has something for you."
Vika is behind the pimp. The gun pops, back of his head implodes.
As soon as he hits the asphalt, Valeria is in his pockets. Fat rolls of cash in his jacket and pants. She stuffs them in her bag, the twins disappear into the shadows, out a side street. Music in the club masked the gunshot, nobody stumbles on Titus for an hour.
Next afternoon, Vika meets Penny in a small park, public place, quiet during the weekday.
"You did it. Jesus, you're a kid."
It's only Vika, Penny doesn't know from twins, Titus doesn't know from anything anymore.
"Too young to get apartment, bank account, even internet, no credit card. You can make money if you arrange."
Penny, "I guess. I'm not going to be able to turn tricks for a while. Like I said, I need rehab. I seen girls get strung out, start doing anything. Whoring is one thing, what the real strung out junkies get into I gotta stay out of."
"I will give you money for helping. Rehabbing is anyway free."
"Well, yeah, I gotta move on after thirty days though. They'll give me methadone or some shit. But I wanna get done, not a different habit."
"You have apartment?"
"Yeah, but two other girls live there."
"I already find a place. Nice old lady owner, clean, quiet. Make arrangement. Then get bank account. Hook up internet. I will give you money for bank account. Then you go to rehab, call me when finished. You have driving papers?"
"Driver's license, yes. Yeah, and a debit card, no credit card."
"Good. I will give you money for bank account, different bank. You get debit card, give it to me. I will make deposit."
Penny, "I don't understand why you're doing this. You seem to have money, you a runaway?"
"Yes, runaway. Parents abuse, want to sell me to child prostitute people, I run away."
"How do you live? Where do you sleep?"
"Not your problem. What about other business?"
Penny, "I don't know, maybe after rehab. I'm no good to you anyway, not until that's done. I can get this other stuff first, then I got to get clean."
"Good. How long?"
"Three, four days."
"I will call. Here is your thousand, plus five hundred. When you have the other, I will pay more, you will make deposit in bank."
From Penny's perspective, this is a gift from out of the blue. One day she's a punching bag for a pimp, the next she's getting a shot at cleaning up. She doesn't know if she wants to get in the hit for hire business, but she knows people who want people dead. Maybe it's okay, after all, she's not killing anyone, right?
Walking home, Penny thinks it over, the girls that worked for Titus are celebrating. Penny shrugs, it's only a matter of time before a new pimp decides he's taking over Titus' string. Celebration is not only premature, it’s pointless. It's a whore's view of the world, if I'm not getting hurt right now, everything is great. The future is the next hour.
The next day Penny gets the bank account, arranges to rent the house.
“I got your card and the key to the house, need a ride over or anything?”
“No, get drug problem fixed, we will talk after.”
“I gotta rent myself a place, get away from the other two girls. Theys gonna be whoring for somebody else soon enough. I’m done with it. I’ll call when I bust out of rehab.”
As far as Penny knows, there is only one girl. While she's in rehab, Vika and Valeria are surfing the internet. They have an Amazon account, Netflix and basic cable. They have one buy and fly phone, contemplate an IPhone or android, decide to stick with the simple one they have.
The landlady gets cash right on time, lives across town, which in Houston is forty miles. It's a place she inherited from her deceased sister, she has no use for it. A friend told her to try for a rental, showed her how to Craigslist it, now she has fifteen hundred a month coming in to drip out to the casino slots.
The twins buy two Vespa scooters online, they can get around town without waiting on buses. There’s an attached garage, the bikes stay inside. And they don't have to dig up their weapons anymore. Stored in a much better safe now, cleaned and oiled regularly. A workwoman is worthy of her tools.
Vika, "We need good knife."
Valeria finds a Benchmade Contego Axis, nine inches long, four inch blade.
"Benchmade ees good rating, sharp, also serrated cutting edge."
By the time Penny gets out of rehab, the twins have collected several thousand from break ins. They can pick a common door lock in thirty seconds. The Vespas allow them to roam far away from their neighborhood for home shopping trips. They've added three 38 revolvers, a couple of twenty two automatics and two nine millimeters to their weapons collection. Also stole a Remington twelve gauge and one house yielded two Ruger mini-mags and several boxes of .223 ammo.
Our young ladies are amassing quite a little arsenal.
Trips out to the wasteland off the interstate and down state roads to dirt roads, leads to isolated target practice spots. At home they learn the details of the guns, how accurate at distance, they sight the rifles, carefully clean and lubricate, break them down and reassemble. They need a second safe, big enough for rifles and a growing stock of ammunition.
Vika, "The police can sometimes tell what gun bullet is from, but if bullet breaks up, is almost impossible. Load with rubber glove, no fingerprint. We shoot with rubber glove and throw away. Hair must be covered with cap or scarf. I am learning about DNA. We must leave nothing behind."
Valeria, "Da, okay, I am remembering. You meet Penny today?"
"Yes, she may have work."
They leave to meet their new associate. Valeria will be invisible, Vika will do the meeting. It's at a mall food court, people milling around, vapid music over the speakers, people in zombie shopper mode. Nobody pays attention to jack. Vika spots Penny at a table.
Penny, "I got coffee, you want something?"
"Nothing for now."
"I'm recovering, I keep enough caffeine in me to fuel a basketball team. Have trouble getting to sleep. Better than going back to smack. I think I have a....job?... lined up for you."
Vika says nothing, Valeria is in her head, "Why ees American always haf to talk about nothing before something?"
"Too much everything....including words."
Penny, "There's a woman, wants her husband gone."
Vika, "You did not say anything."
"No, I remember what you told me, nobody I know. Don't meet face to face, name, location, photo of the contract and payment to a drop box."
"How does she know to call you?"
"Dixon, bar owner I've known for a while. I don't think he did, um, this kind of work, more like drug deals, maybe guns. I'm sure he could kill someone, but it would have to be personal, not for hire. For whatever reason, he bought the bar and as far as I know quit the other stuff. Anyway, he mentioned it, just talking over the bar. I gave him a number, in case whoever wanted to find a guy. I figure he don't need to know it ain't a guy, and wouldn't think it's me either. She called yesterday, I said I knew someone. I check the box the next few days, see if anything shows up."
Vika, "Okay, good. Next time, you call me when the job is set, money collected, not before."
Penny, "Sorry, I was kind of excited."
"Not a big deal., only to keep things simple. One trip to get information, not two. How much?"
"Like you told me. Ten thousand, five in advance."
"You are doing good. If money shows up, call. I get package from you only. You get half for risk of collecting money, I get half to do job. If we get more work, see about charging more, cannot hurt to say fifteen or twenty. For now, ten is okay. If job is out of town, twice as much."
Penny, "How do you get out of town, I mean, like fly, you have picture ID and shit?"
"Yes. Drive lessons also. Now I will buy car."
"You have a license?"
"Yes, it says I am twenty one also. I have my own bank account now."
"Have a hard time looking twenty one."
"Makeup, besides, if ID says twenty one, people believe what they see on official document. Close other account in your name."
"You don't waste time."
Vika skips the part about the accounts also being a fresh new identity. She applied for, and got, social security numbers. Created a driver's license, hologram, plus a birth certificate all from the magic of the internet. She made two sets, used the names Katya and Katja Kazakova.
Penny, "You know, I don't even know your name."
“Vika,” she has no reason to reveal her new identity to Penny.
**Reader note: The twins will go by the new names, Katya and Katja from now on.**
Katya leaves, Katja is waiting down the block, they hop on the Vespas and ride home.
Katja cooks, Katya does the technology. While she digs into hacking, Katja digs into recipes online. On one of their housebreaking forays, they didn't find money or guns, but they did find a full set of Cruset cookware still in the box. Now Katja is into pot roast with vegetables, varied soups and bean dishes with chicken or pork sausage. She likes a full breakfast, bacon, or ham and eggs, with biscuits or pancakes. If they are home all day, dinner is at lunch, they rest in the afternoon. Sandwiches or soup for dinner, preceded by vodka , they're Russian after all.
What are our twin assassins? Let’s check the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria for anti-social personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder is the new catchall for what used to be psychopath and sociopath. It is true, the twins have no empathy, and don't care what other people think. Let’s checklist the criterion from the DSM V:
1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):
a. Identity: Ego-centrism; self-esteem derived from personal gain, power, or pleasure. (check)
b. Self-direction: Goal-setting based on personal gratification; absence of prosocial internal standards associated with failure to conform to lawful or culturally normative ethical behavior. (check)
2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
a. Empathy: Lack of concern for feelings, needs, or suffering of others; lack of remorse after hurting or mistreating another.
b. Intimacy: Incapacity for mutually intimate relationships, as exploitation is a primary means of relating to others, including by deceit and coercion; use of dominance or intimidation to control others. (? Jury is out)
B. Pathological personality traits in the following domains:
1. Antagonism, characterized by:
a. Manipulativeness: Frequent use of subterfuge to influence or control others; use of seduction, charm, glibness, or ingratiation to achieve one’s ends. (unknown)
b. Deceitfulness: Dishonesty and fraudulence; misrepresentation of self; embellishment or fabrication when relating events. (sort of)
c. Callousness: Lack of concern for feelings or problems of others; lack of guilt or remorse about the negative or harmful effects of one’s actions on others; aggression; sadism. (check)
d. Hostility: Persistent or frequent angry feelings; anger or irritability in response to minor slights and insults; mean, nasty, or vengeful behavior. (they aren’t hostile)
2. Disinhibition, characterized by:
a. Irresponsibility: Disregard for – and failure to honor – financial and other obligations or commitments; lack of respect for – and lack of follow through on – agreements and promises. (nope, they fulfill their obligations and promises)
b. Impulsivity: Acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli; acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes; difficulty establishing and following plans. (not this either, they plan well)
c. Risk taking: Engagement in dangerous, risky, and potentially self-damaging activities, unnecessarily and without regard for consequences; boredom
proneness and thoughtless initiation of activities to counter boredom; lack of concern for ones limitations and denial of the reality of personal
danger. (partially, they take risks, not bored or thoughtless)
C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations. (check)
D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment. (have no idea what this means, sounds like psychobabble)
E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head
trauma). (they don’t do drugs or have medical issues.)
F. The individual is at least age 18 years. (not yet, perhaps they're sociopath prodigies.)
In any case, they clear the bar, our dear hearts are officially anti-social. They don't care if you call them sociopaths or psychopaths, just don't fuck with them.
Katya, "We need a job. Something to make a cover, but not always have to be there every day."
Katja, "Restaurant ees too much trouble. What about bakery, or just donut shop? Open early, close maybe three or four. Hire bakers, maybe someone for counter. I will go in, you can find something else to do."
"Nyet. I will work counter, you will learn baking from bakers."
They tour Houston's donut shops. Some are fair, some are crap, some do a good job, primarily those run by Koreans and Cambodians. The quality is defined by the ingredients, best flour, best cooking oil, the donut has to be light, fluffy inside, not thick or greasy, not smothered in sugar like Krispy Kreme Krap.
They spend three months scoping out locations, lease a space, hire Hispanic bakers. Katya found a great spot, in between a primarily Latin neighborhood and an upper middle class one, with the bonus of being two blocks from a K-12 school. It's guaranteed success. Katya Donut opens without fanfare, not the twins’ style, the place takes a couple of weeks to get traction, after that, they need more counter help
Katja learns how to make donuts, apply the glazes. Best quality everything, including fillings and chocolate. They also make filled croissants, ham and cheese, the ones with jalapeno are popular. Katja wants to know the details of everything and she has her own ideas. In her donut research, she came across the website for Donut Plant in New York. Flavored icing, not just chocolate, vanilla or sugar, but raspberry, pistachio, almond, cherry, orange, blueberry. Fillings of chocolate hazelnut, crème brûlée, tres leches cake, triple chocolate, peanut butter. A hit, the new varieties sell out by nine or ten.
Katja decided no specialty coffee. They sell Starbucks chilled items, along with milk, sodas and the energy drinks kids suck down by the gallon. The coffee is Lavazza, high quality Arabica, in attractive and sturdy insulated cups. The logo for Katya Donut is on the cup and the bags and boxes. A pretty girl, head shot profile, about to take bite.
Katya operates the register and fills orders along with one Hispanic girl and one Caucasian student, both attractive, she knows what brings in male customers.
Aside from the employees, customers mostly don't know about twins. Katja prefers the kitchen and it's not open from the counter. They don’t dress alike, hair is under hats, Katja decided black Fedoras look cool, so she and the others wear those.
The store is packed in the morning, they add a drive through and another employee.
A year later, they have a second shop and a manager, the original Latino girl, Maria. Aside from the bakers, the face of the shops are high school girls. They are paid fifteen dollars an hour, there are no tip jars. The twins have a competitive advantage, the shops are a cover to demonstrate a source of income, not intended to make a profit. Turns out they do, not huge, but more cash than Katya expected. Katya does the accounting, hires a bookkeeper for payroll. Saves her the grunt work, she handles the banking and knows exactly what they make and what things cost. A lot of business is cash. Some of it makes the business bank account, more than half makes their safe at home. They are part of the proud American tradition of tax avoidance.
Health department comes around, Katja doesn't allow for out of date, or dirt. The inspector says he's going to get in trouble because he's got nothing to report.
Katja, "Tell them I bribe wiz donuts. Or they can get off ass and come see for themselves. Too lazy to leaf office?"
Inspector, "That's actually a good idea. If they give me grief, I'll ask them to join me next trip."
"Good, I will give donut bribe, only after they eenspect and find nothing."
He laughs, goes to the front and buys a peanut butter raspberry filled and a cup of coffee, "See you next time ladies."
If the food inspector buys your stuff three times a week, it must be okay.
The girls have done two jobs in last twelve months. One was driving distance, Victoria Texas, a nothing spot with a couple of chemical and plastics companies and a small port inland from the Gulf of Mexico. The target a fiftyish pharmacist. Why someone paid twenty grand to have him dead, they don't know. They waited until he closed shop for the night and popped him in his car. Two days later, Penny gave Katya half of the second payment.
Penny, "I may have to raise the price. This contract asked how much, I said twenty, he didn't bat an eye. At least he didn't hesitate, it was on the phone, I don’t see clients."
Katya, "Good. Forty for out of town, forty for a name, person well known, like local politician. No famous name at any price. Too much trouble. We will have good business getting rid of bad business partner, bad husband, wife abuser."
They actually don't know the target is the bad guy, he or she could be the good one. It doesn't matter, contract killers kill who they are paid to kill. Like soldiers, except soldiers kill other people too, they call it collateral damage.
The second was in Dallas. For reasons unknown, someone wanted a fat man dead.
Katja asks later, "Why pay to keel, he ees dead soon anyway?"
"We do not want to know, make an example maybe."
Katja came on him from behind, Katya around but invisible. He was in a park looking down at something on an android phone when Katja placed the gun at the base of his skull, he flopped face forward, flaccid fat rolled in waves. She relieved him of cash, picked up the phone. A slide show of child porn. She laid the phone next to him, cops won't look hard for the killer.
A five hour drive from Houston to Dallas, target acquired at seven thirty, drive back to Houston. Satellite radio helped the time pass. They listened to news for a bit, then electronica for most of the ride. If they had to listen to pop, rap or country, one of them would have shot the radio.
Katya, "We will have a workshop. I need to make better silencer for gun. Maybe also make own bullet, specialty load. Revolver is better, no eject cartridge case, but harder to silence revolver. We will use revolver when noise does not matter, silencer for automatic."
Katja listens, this is Katya's area, but her sister likes to run her thoughts past her twin. It's the same mind, sort of like self talk, with the benefit of a second brain to spot contradictions or problems. In this case, there's nothing to spot. Katya is telling her they need to go shopping for a bench, vise grips, lathe, welding equipment, all the fun accessories to help them safely and effectively kill people. Drug companies call it efficacy, the ability to produce a desired result.
Katya is waiting on the influx of morning customers, including students that pack the place on school days.
"Come on Toby, you haf same every day, triple chocolate, I have no time to waste while you look at everything, here is donut, you will have Monster like always. Three fifty, now get out of the way, bye, go to school, learn something, do not be stupid boy."
Toby's friends laugh, "She's right, now move so I can order doofus. You just want to look at Olivia and Ellen."
Olivia, smooth Hispanic coffee and cream, dark eyes, is in snug jeans and form fitting t-shirt. Ellen a perky blond in short shorts for the influx of gawking high school boys, cops, delivery guys and most of the male teachers from the school down the street. They don't wear uniforms at Katya Donut. No paper hats or ball caps, not even a standard polo shirt. Besides, Katya likes Ellen's shorts as much as the men do. Not the shorts exactly, the excellent athletic legs they so pleasantly reveal.
Our twins are not into men. They have a more...complicated orientation.
It's a slack time, just after lunch, ham and cheese croissants sold out, all the specialty donuts with the exception of one lone pistachio cake.
Ellen is bent over, cleaning the interior of the display case, Katya is off to the side admiring the view. Ellen looks over her shoulder, she smiles to herself, Katya's eyes are right where she wants them.
She turns, leans against the case, "I like your...attention."
Katya, "You are beautiful girl, best legs ever, you exercise."
"Yeah, I get to the gym, try to keep toned and tight."
"You like girls for sex?"
Ellen giggles, the twins are the most direct people she knows, "I might."
"Maybe I will harass you."
Ellen laughs, "No need to harass, just tell me when."
"You will have two girls."
Ellen grins, "Lucky me."
The weekend comes, Ellen is at the twins' place, Katja is making dinner, grilled trout with lemon butter, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables in garlic sauce. The twins drink vodka neat, Ellen has one on the rocks with cranberry.
Ellen, "I never saw girls drink vodka neat, I'm feeling all international."
Katya, "You are going to college after high school?"
"Maybe, have to be part time, I have to pay for it myself, mom just makes enough to pay the rent and groceries. I don't mind, working at the shop is fun, I have time to hit the gym three times a week. Got to finish high school first. Besides, work, the gym and school get me out of the house."
"House is problem?"
"My mother isn't a bad mother, she’s the worst. She has an unlimited capacity to find lousy boyfriends. I have no clue who my father is. The boyfriend of the month usually takes it in his head that I find him irresistible. Better to be gone."
"Mother kicks out boyfriend."
"Sometimes, if they're drunks or druggies. Mostly she gets tired of them. It isn't because they hit on me. She would never admit it, but I think she sees me as a kind of draw for the younger men she likes. If I had sex with them, she would ignore it as long as they stuck around."
"But they don't stick around because you don't have sex with them."
"Everybody gets tired of everybody."
After dinner, they're on the couch, Ellen surrounded by the twins. Katya is stroking one sleek thigh, Katja the other. Ellen leans in to kiss one, then the other.
"This is girl heaven, hot twins."
They move to the bedroom, the play intensifies. Clothing free, Katya is busy with Ellen's lips, Katja with taut legs, slowly spreads, acquires the target, Ellen moans seductively.
Tongued by two delicious duplicates, Ellen's near levitating. Squirms her way through a quivery orgasm and settles back on the pillow with a long sigh.
"Unreal. Since I started working for you, I have a persistent fantasy about twins, now I don't have to fantasize anymore. Except I'll probably have even more twin fantasies now," she giggles to herself.
Ellen starts working her way down Katja's neck, chest, pit stop at small breasts, resume trip to tummy then kneeling between her legs. Katya is behind her, kisses down her back, then tongue teasing analstim. Ellen groans her pleasure at the softness on her lips, tongue tingling her tush. Katja vibes a climax, Ellen goes off with her.
A break for breath, then Ellen is doing a repeat on Katya, delivers another shimmery orgasm, "Amazing."
Ellen's in the middle, alternating kisses.
"I hope you harass me again soon, this isn't a one night deal is it?"
Katya, "You come over whenever. Just say. We will invite but you don't have to wait for invitation."
"Cool. It's Saturday, what's up, say, Sunday a week?"
Katja, "Good, you don't work Sunday anyway, we close at one. Anytime after."
Ellen, "Okay then, it's a double date for me. Um, can I bring a toy?"
"If you wish, we have also toy here."
Ellen, "Well, yeah, but I was thinking of the kind you put on and fuck me with. I want to be fucked by both of you."
Katja, "We haf fucking kind," she rolls to her side, opens the drawer in the night table and pulls out a strap on.
Ellen, "We need two."
"We have already. But if you have something you like, bring it."
Ellen is doing the math, she starts to ask a question, hesitates.
Ellen, "You must have lots of girlfriends, or some anyway."
"Not until now."
Ellen stares at the ceiling, processing, sly smile spreads, "Can I tell you about my top twin fantasy?"
Katya, "Better reality," she crawls over Ellen, lays on top of Katja, they kiss.
Katya slides lower, Ellen is absorbed in the vision, self stimulating while she watches. When Katja climaxes, Ellen ultra-maxes.
"Oh God, that is the most erotic thing I've ever seen, much better than my fantasy, I'm still vibrating. No fucking wonder you don't have girlfriends, already got the best girlfriend."
"You can be also best girlfriend. We will fuck Sunday."
Ellen, "If that's not a damn reason to live, nothing is."