Forty Nine

Katya’s phone dings, “It’s Janah. When can you come up?”
Katya, “Mid October good?”
“Sure, weather should be great, we’ll do some tourist light, visit Ultra Violet. The girls who didn’t make St. Martin’s are looking forward to meeting your tribe. We didn’t discuss specifics of our personal intimacies other than to say none of you are inhibited.”
“ Not one of our flaws. I will check with Sarah. She’s in college and may have to work around class schedule. I will call when I have a flight, Blue Sky uses Teterboro.”
“Perfect, a twenty five minute drive. We’ll visit the temple, meet the parents, Chan and Ning, Black and Sonia. We won’t overwhelm you with our friends, probably a dinner or lunch at the condo. I do hope for one night alone with you.”
“Of course, Ellen is already anticipating Daphne.”
Janah laughs, “Same thing Daphne said.”
“Sarah had encounter with a Shadow.”
Janah, “What? She must have handled it, can you give me a few details? We learn a little more each time we deal with one.”
“We were hired to resolve a conflict. In that business, we normally do not know why there is a conflict, only that there is one. Sarah likes the work, she asked for the job and was to go with Mani as backup. I had a feeling about it, so I told Ellen to go along. Without unnecessary detail, Sarah came up with an ingenious plan once they determined the target was a Shadow. The point is, the woman attempted to steal Sarah’s mind, Sarah said she could feel it. But she was unable to succeed. Now, the Shadow is no more.”
Janah, “Good, one more down. Sarah has psychopathic tendencies, all Shadows are psychopaths and they have little capacity to control another one. For our Shadow hunting sideline, Sarah is a perfect candidate. So are you and Katja, but Ellen and Mani are less so, don’t let them face down Shadows alone. You are all still susceptible to the best ones using telekinesis, knives or other hard objects will seem to fly on their own. But they’ll have a devil of a time taking your mind.”
Katya, “We did not know if Sarah was a special case or if the Shadow was not so talented.”
“I didn’t tell you the psychopath thing for a reason, better not to assume. Your people go after a Shadow that doesn’t fit the profile, you go in overconfident. That leads to problems. Always be cautious, there are Shadows far more talented, I’ve dealt with a couple. It’s why we started using drones, to keep our distance. You didn’t know you were dealing with a Shadow though.”
“No, and sister and I were on another project. Sarah did perfectly, Mani and Ellen were around, but Sarah handled it on her own.”
“On a less pleasant note, got time to travel?”
“I’ll send the file.”
Click, gone, Janah sends the details via encrypted e-mail routed through a server in Calcutta. 
“One more thing. Daphne, Nikko and I were the first to merge, become one another. Something in our protein gave us a special gift, we do not age. We should all be in our mid thirties, but biologically we’re early twenties. Our pharmacologists, a brother and sister, discovered the protein markers and were able to capture them from blood serum. The others were injected, and they quit aging. Only Sloane and Cassandra age, Sloane wants to get to eighteen first, Cassie is ten and needs to get to puberty first. My offer is to supply the serum to any of you who want it. Talk it over, you can let me know when you get here.”
Katya, “Amazing. You do not age at all?”
“Not so far, it’s been well over ten years for Nikko, Daphne and me, and we live in a house full of perpetual teenagers. They serum has nothing to do with maturity, they don’t do teenager, they just look fifteen or sixteen. Anyway, up to you guys.”
“I can’t think of why not, but I will talk to them. A remarkable offer, spasibo.”
Janah covers a few more details then, “See you soon,” they click off.
Daphne comes in the office, Janah says, “Sarah offed a Shadow, on her own.”
“Dang, good girl, I’ll have to reward her, which means rewarding myself, how’s leggy Ellen?”
“According to Katya, anticipating an evening alone with you.”
“It’s good to be me, she’s scrumptious. I may have to fight Amaya for her. Or more likely, once she sees Amaya I may be ignored completely.”
“Katja or Sarah or Mani will re-inflate your collapsed ego.”
“Lovely thought. I think you and I should have a foursome, like golf, except with different toys and more holes on every green.”
Janah giggles, “You are a bizarre person. The twins will like the idea, they do their best work together.”
In New Orleans, Katya opens the e-mail, types in a password to unencrypt, and reads. Safely tucked in her eidetic memory, she re-encrypts and deletes with a multi-pass cleaner. She goes to the main room.
“We will go to New York in October, maybe second week.”
Sarah, “If we go Wednesday after my eleven o’clock, I only miss one Friday class and don’t have to be back until Tuesday.”
“Five nights if we return on Monday, long enough for one visit. There is another matter, but Katja and I will handle it. We are going to Denver for stalker, domestic abuse. Man has restraining order, ignores, woman is terrified, child has been threatened. Janah want us to change his behavior.”
Ellen, “I can go.”
“Sarah is in school, you must look after her and Mani. It isn’t a job that takes three anyway, one man only.”
Ellen, “Hear that girls, you gotta do everything I say.”
Mani, “We do everything you say already.”
“True, so when the twins are gone, you can double up on me.”
Sarah, “Yay, can we have fried fish too? Fried seafood makes me horny.”
“Waking up makes you horny. I’ll make it tomorrow, no, we’ll go to Bon Ton.”
Katya, “One more thing,” she relates Janah’s offer.
Ellen, “Good God, who’s gonna turn down that?”
Sarah, “I can be eighteen forever?”
Katya, “Janah says there is no guarantee of forever. They haven’t aged in ten years, the rest stopped at different ages, all younger than Janah. Only Sloane and Cassandra have not taken the serum, Sloane has one year to eighteen, the youngest, Cassie, can’t do anything until puberty.”
Ellen, “When do you leave? I assume tomorrow.”
Katya, “Yes, nine. No hotel yet, we will find something when we arrive. Society has a quiet spot for us to work on the subject, they call it refocusing, to rearrange his priorities. She sent photo of his wife, black eyes, broken nose, he bashed her face into kitchen counter while he fucked her from behind. Made child watch.”
Ellen, “Sheeyt, wish I could make it.”
“Next one maybe. Sarah is more important than beating up asshole.”


The girls’ target is Les Fontaine, a former NFL linebacker who got in a few seasons bouncing around the league after a too rich contract made him a salary cap liability. The curse of many players, a knee retired him. He was never nice, but football at least gave him an aggression outlet. His wife, former college cheerleader, thought it was just the bomb to have a strong protective man in her life.
She saw his too frequently aggressive behavior as a kind of jealously and possessiveness. She was his hot personal property, and the big bucks, big house Mercedes lifestyle was her idea of heaven. Her warrior loved her so much, he’d challenge any man who gave her too long of a look.
After his career crashed, he decided she was flirting with other men, despite the fact that she did nothing different. Years of  being tossed in the air showing off tight legs and panties morphed post college into snug short skirts and a job peddling pharmaceuticals to docs. Apparently doctors are too stupid to read the pamphlets and require a hot girl with a chemistry class on her transcripts to explain what the drug does and why the new one is better. This despite the fact that the company only changed a couple of molecules in the old formula, creating essentially the same pill with a new name and a higher price tag.
It wasn’t that she needed to work, Les had money. She liked the attention, flirting, flying off to meetings in first class hotels and charming the medical professionals. She danced with them, listened to their complaints about Medicare and insurance companies, their boasts about the size of their practice and innuendos about the size of their personals. It didn’t take, she’d do everything but sex. Les was projecting, he’d fuck a doorknob, away games had been particularly efficient. Fangirls were like fleas, and threesomes were a Les Fontaine favorite.
Easy to see how his actual behavior becomes his fantasy about his wife’s. If he’s doing it, then she’s doing it. People see the world they way they are, not the way it is.
From a catered-to life, he’s downsized to another slob hanging out and killing time on the golf course, poker in the clubhouse afterwards. The only thing that grew for him was his gut, beer all day and eating like you’re still training can do that. Les spends his days pouting and angry.
Katya is in the passer seat, Katja is driving a panel van. No side or rear windows, rear door only.
“Drive to the refocusing site, we will see if things are in order. Surveillance says Fontaine is on the course, then he will play cards, usually leaves between six thirty and seven. After we see the site, we will go to the country club, put a tracker on his car and release the Surveillance team. Someplace between the club and his home, we dart him.”
“Good, and good for Janah to send us tranquilizer. Fontaine ees beeg person and we are not allowed to just shoot him. I do not know why, Janah haf rules so we anyway follow, but he ees person who should be dead.”
“You know why. Janah told us the policy was in place before she became head of the Society, she supports it for a good reason. If they start killing people, the network of contacts will pull back, the Society cannot function without contacts. Agencies, social workers, doctors who feed in the cases do not have the stomach for assassination.”
Katja, “Refocusing site is down this block someplace.”
So it is, a ramshackle former house bereft of neighbors. They could deal with Les on the front stretch of dirt and nobody would know. Front door is locked, back open. Inside Katya flicks a light switch, power’s on, Katja turns the faucet in the tiny kitchen, water runs.
“Good enough, single chair with arms, picture wire for restraint, bag for his head. Let’s go find him.”
While Katja drives, Katya checks the drone, loads the syringe with tranquilizer and inserts it in the barrel. She returns to the passenger seat and they ride silently another half hour.
“There ees country club, nice place. Expensive cars, must be for reech persons only.”
They drive around the lot, find Fontaine’s car. Katja pulls directly behind, Katya hops out, squats down and the tracker clicks onto the metal strut under the car.
The van pulls away, Katya checks the signal, blue dot blinks on the map at the right location.
“We will find lunch someplace.”
The club isn’t far from downtown Denver, they come across Hamburger Mary’s.
“Big place, lots of people even at one thirty. Just wait here.”
Fifteen minutes later Katya returns with a couple of boxes. A burger and a spicy chicken sandwich on a brioche, chips and salsa. Stop long enough to get a couple of Coke Zeros and drive to a park they passed going in. They eat sitting on the rear end of the van, nice day, doors open. Katya had the sandwiches cut in two, they take halves, crack the Cokes and crunch chips.
“Burger ees good.”
“Chicken also, I see why the place is popular, not expensive either, sandwiches are ten bucks, half pound burger, plenty of chicken, bread is too filling, enough with burger,” she picks the chicken off the bun.
When they finish Katja takes the boxes and bottles to the litter bin. Then a walk around the park, not empty of people but empty of kids, school is in session. A few younger moms with infants in strollers and toddlers plopped on blankets. A Denver cop car rolls by on patrol.
“Eef cop person could read our minds, he might want to have a talk.”
“Maybe he would be glad someone is handling a problem. Anyway, it is not a crime to think about beating someone up.”
After a couple of miles in a big circle, they drive around town killing time. The car hasn’t moved, nothing to do until there’s something to do.
At four thirty, they stop at a Starbucks for tea, then to a Homewood Suites and take an Urban Studio with views of the mountains. Katya goes to the bathroom to offload processed tea.
Katja says to no one, “Full keechen wiz big refrigerating, we do not cook anything,” she puts a bottle of Russian Standard in the freezer, “anyway good to haf freezer for vodka.”
Katya comes out, “View is nice.”
She clicks on the radio, finds a jazz station and turns the volume to just audible. Unpack toiletries, floss and brush, then sit on the sofa, hold hands and stare at the mountains.
The sat phone dings, “Da.”
“It’s Janah, suppose you figured that out.”
“They have the number at home, could have been one of the girls.”
“How’s Denver?”
“We have the tracker in place, right now sitting in hotel room waiting. The country club is no place to take him. We also went to the site, good spot, nothing there. Lights on, water works.”
“Transportation is good at what they do, they usually find some kind of standalone warehouse, we’ve occasionally used cheap motels but then we have to get a room on the end and rent the one next door. Noise can be a problem when we get active. I won’t keep you, need anything?”
“Nyet, we released Surveillance, tracker is good enough.”
“Good, give us a call when the work is complete. Oh, the woman is gone, you may have been able to do it at his house but it’s risky. A friend shows up and you have to lay low, interrupt the process.”
“Good to know wife is gone, we can get him at home maybe, then take him to the site.”
“He’s a large individual, six four and two twenty when he played, heavier now.”
“We will get him in the van, at the site all we have to do is roll him out.”
Janah laughs, “Be careful, he’s used to violence.”
“Da,” she doesn’t mention Glocks. They won’t fire them, but they will have Fontaine’s full attention.
Janah, “Bye honey, talk soon,” she disconnects.
Katja, “Janah ees nice girl, she ees not psycho, neither ees Daphne.”
“No, of the ones we met, only twins, they are like us.”

Fifty One

The phone beeps, Fontaine’s car is on the move. The twins collect the van and head in his direction.
“He is going home, we have him.”
Fontaine’s Mercedes rolls down his drive, the garage door opens, he pulls in and the door reverses. He’s going in from the garage entrance.
They slip on latex gloves, Katja launches the drone, she circles the house high above, the camera zooms the front, down one side and around the back. Nothing happens for a few minutes.
Katya, “I will knock on the door, dart him when he answers,” she opens the door and goes to step out.
As Katja starts to relocate the drone, the patio door opens, “Wait, he ees out on patio,” she taps the screen, sights the laser, taps again.
When they get to his frozen body, they drag him by his feet through the house to the garage entrance. Katya clicks the button and the second garage door opens. She retrieves the van and backs it up to the open door. They slide him along, his head bangs the concrete as they clear the doorway.
Propped up against the back of the van, Katja hops in and loops her arms under his and gets a good hold on his chest. Years of tumbling has created strong legs and shoulders, it comes in handy lugging two hundred sixty five pounds of slug.
Katya pushes and Katja pulls, when his butt clears the edge, Katya picks up his feet and extends his bulky legs, Katja yanks him in. Katya closes up the house, gets in the van and a half hour later they push him out, he thumps hard to the dirt. Now drag him inside the abandoned house. He’s already starting to come around.
“Fuck’s this? Whaaa…,” his train of thought is still on the slow track, but physical sensation is returning rapidly.
He blinks at Katja, Katya is behind him and he is unaware of her.
He lunges toward Katja, bad move, her foot connects hard with his balls. She and her sister are wearing steel toe sneakers, black and ugly, beautiful when you need them to make a point. He groans and bends over grimacing, as he raises his head, he’s staring down the barrel of a Glock 19. It gives him pause. A black bag slips over his head, the gun rests against his forehead. 
A chair slides against the back of his legs, Glock pressed against his forehead, “Sit, be still or I pull the trigger, nine millimeter hollow point is not intimidated by football player.”
He plops down heavily, the chair creaks. Picture wire wraps his ankles together, Katja holsters the weapon, takes him by the wrist to wire him to the arm of the chair. He resists, yanks his hand away. 
The point of a six inch serrated blade pokes him in the neck, “Be still or bleed out, all the same to me.”
She finishes the job. Now he’s wired by the wrists to the arms of the chair, wired tight, a line of blood appears. Katja sets the halogen light in front of him and clicks it on, Katya turns off the lights in the warehouse. The windows are blacked out, it’s dark as death except for his brightly lit oversized head.
Katya pulls the bag off, Fontaine blinks, twists his head to get the focused light out of his eyes.
The girls are wearing hoodies and nondescript loose jeans, nothing memorable, and he hasn’t even seen Katya.
“What’s the deal? My fucking nuts are a mess, what you want?”
“Cocktail, but first I have matters to discuss with your abusive ass.”
Katja’s accent is no more.
“My wife hire you? She wasn’t home, bitch supposed to be home when I get there.”
“Bitch won’t ever be home again.”
“Do you know your net worth?”
Katja slides on brass knuckles and crushes his nose, he yowls, blood drips, a serious dent in the middle. She lets him bleed for a minute.
“Do you know your net worth?”
“Uh…fuck that hurts…yeah, more or less.”
“The house is maybe two million, sixty grand car for you, forty for wife. Former wife, you’re divorced.”
“I’m what? Impossible.”
“The papers are on the dining room table. Better get there soon, house has been sold.”
“This is stupid, I don’t believe any of this shit.”
“You had twelve million in a brokerage account, it has runaway to a new home. Your bank account, another two million, is empty as Kardashian’s head. You made a donation to ISIS, the feds will be looking for you. And don’t trouble yourself about the safe at home. Gold is a pain, I never know why people keep gold, it’s a fake store of value. If the currency collapses, you have to have it assayed every time you try to buy stuff . And it’s impossible to make change, what do you do with a half ounce of gold dust? It’s messy.”
Fontaine is baffled, he can only try to blink away the blinding light and bleed. She knew about the accounts and the gold, maybe the bitch told her.
“To the matter at hand. You will never lay a hand on anyone, ever. Woman, man, dog, doesn’t matter. If you do, things will be much worse.”
“Even if I believe your crap, how would you know?”
“You have been monitored for the last few weeks, you will be monitored until I am convinced you are redeemed. Think of me as your own personal Jesus. I have endless resources to keep an eye on you, and you will be reminded that we are watching.”
“What do you mean much worse, you gonna kill me?”
“Nope, Instead of missing a thumb, you’ll be missing a hand.”
“I’m not missing a…” reality dawns, “hey…wait now, don’t…..” 
She zips the blade, his thumb hits the floor next to his foot.
It takes a while for him to stop screaming.
“Do you see how serious I am?”
He’s near hyperventilating, gasps, “I…see,” gasp, gasp, “how fucking insane you are.”
“Seriously insane, which is your problem. I thought of shooting you, but it deprives me of the pleasure seeing you suffer. A bullet is too quick, torture is a prolonged thrill. I understand you find all this difficult to believe. It’s okay, you’ll find the truth of it soon enough.”
“Look, this is stupid, how much did my goddamn wife…”
“Shut up,” the butt of the Gerber Silver Trident combat knife cracks his jaw, two teeth won’t chew anymore.
He spits out a tooth, slurs,  “Fuck, who are you?”
“The angel of death if you touch anyone in anger.”
“You’re fucking beating on me easily enough.”
“Life is full of contradiction. Now, listen and maybe the pain is over. When you eventually get to the hospital, it will take some time to paste you back together. Then go home and experience your new world of poverty and homelessness. Do not look for your former wife. If you do, I come back. You will likely be inconvenienced up some time for funding terrorism, maybe you can convince them they tortured it out of you. You look tortured.”
“You gonna leave me here, like this? How do I get help?”
She cuts through the wire on one wrist, “That’s all the help you get. How you get to the doc is your problem, I’m not running a taxi service. I took your phone, you won’t be calling Uber. America values self reliance, give it a shot. Oh, save yourself some embarrassment, your credit cards have been cancelled.”
“Jesus Christ.”
Katya is at the door, Fontaine only knows there’s a second person, he’s never seen her face.
She steps out and cranks up the van, Katja can’t resist, she uses the butt of the Glock to crack his collarbone.
He’s in shock, whimpering, Katja says, “I hope you fuck up. Next time I keep you alive for days, then I do an anesthesia free sex change.”
He passes out, Katja leaves. Cleaners will come after Fontaine wakes up and gets gone. If anyone shows up to verify his story, they’ll find a dusty abandoned house, nothing inside, no chair, no wire, no halogen lamp, no finger, no blood. The power and water will be off and there will be no record that they were ever on anytime recently.
It’s late, quarter after ten. They pick up a pizza, reheat it in the suite’s oven while they pour chilled Russian Standard and drink it neat.
They have a slice, more vodka, a hot shower and a final drink. They sleep like conscienceless babies and don’t wake up until near nine.
Blue Sky offers service with four hours notice, but there’s already a jet in Denver with no place to go and a crew overnighted at a hotel. By noon, they’re in the air. Lose a time zone hour, two hour forty minute flight, Ellen is collecting them by quarter to four.
On the drive home, “Flight good?”
Katya, “Blue Sky is always good, they had lunch for us, we asked for cold cuts and chips, they had roast beef, turkey and ham. Brie cheese and crackers, potato chips. Plenty of tea, we listened to jazz and looked out the window.”
There’s no discussion of the work, there was a job, it involved a certain amount of physical persuasion, they did it. That it was successful is evident, the twins are back in one day, no cuts or bruises, nobody has a limp. Her girls aren’t injured, Ellen doesn’t care how they left the target.

Fifty Two

A week before the trip to Manhattan, Penny calls, “Ever been to Prescott Arizona?”
“They say it’s nice, high summer temperature is maybe eighty five or ninety degrees, a little snow in the winter, laid back no pressure. Clean and courteous.”
“I guess, but if you’re calling, somebody has a conflict with somebody in laid back no pressure Prescott.”
Penny laughs, “There’s that. In this case, it’s a high profile resolution, the job one hundred, twenty grand kicker if it’s done by Friday.”
“What is so high about the profile?”
“Nothing really, but the client was in a snit about the board chair of his country club. I said it sounded like a high profile position and he agreed, most exclusive club in town, his words. Then I told him high profile costs more. He didn’t blink, I guess he didn’t, I was on the phone with him.”
“Good bluff.”
“He’s an idiot country club snob.”
“Send the file,” she clicks off.
Penny has the file ready, figured Katya wasn’t going to miss a sixty grand payday.
She has no idea what Katya is worth, and she has no idea of a twin. She doesn’t know anything about a Sarah, Mani or Ellen. She thinks Katya makes her living by murder for hire. Penny has no idea Katya has near two hundred million in bank and brokerage accounts, owns real estate in Houston and New Orleans. Penny doesn’t know Katya kills because she likes it, just like her sister and three companions.
Katya leaves her office and joins the others, “Sarah, you have class tomorrow and Wednesday, and you’re going to miss a Friday next week. I’m sending Ellen and Mani for a conflict resolution in Arizona and it needs to be done before Friday.”
Sarah, “Just as well, I have a ton to do by Friday, sorry to miss the fun girls.”
Mani, “You want to kiss the bullet I’ll shoot him with?”
Ellen, “Who said you get the kill?”
Sarah, “I’ll kiss both bullets, you guys can sort out the lucky winner later.”
Mani and Ellen fly out the next day.
Ellen, “Nice place, what’s the hotel?”
“Hampton, Glassford Hill Road Prescott Valley, see, on the left.”
Mani checks in, Ellen parks the small SUV, a Hyundai Santa Fe, goes to the room.
“Nice, Katya got us the full one bedroom, how thoughtful.”
“Let me unpack, then we can check out Snyder.”
The target is Elvis Snyder, “Who names their kid Elvis?”
“A hick.”
“Hey, I’m a Texas girl.”
“You’re not close to a hick, even if you were those legs make hick a good thing.”
“Thank you. You think after we resolves this conflict I could see your eyes looking up at me from between them?”
“I’ll go down on you anyplace, anytime.”
“Might be good for you to loosen me up before the kill, like right now.”
Mani grins, “Lose the jeans, I know you aren’t wearing panties, Just hike up the pullover, you want it standing or sitting?”
“Edge of the bed,” she strips off her jeans, sits on the bed and leans back on her hands.
Mani kneels, hands travel along smooth tight thighs, kisses travel right behind. Ellen spreads her legs wider, Mani kisses along the inside of one thigh, shifts to the other, working slowly to the point of attack.
Ellen groans, “I love you on your knees for me.”
Slow tongue at first, then she gains speed, uses her thumb to tease the sensitive spot and licks the sensitive lips alongside. Mani’s eyes don’t leave Ellen’s, she’s biting her lower lip, breath quickening. Then she’s off, twitch, shudder, squirm, it feels divine.
Mani’s head pops up, she licks her lips, “Satisfactory?”
Ellen take a few seconds to recover, “Splendid, I hummed like a ten penny finishing nail hit with a greasy ball peep hammer.”
Mani giggles, “Where on Earth?”
“Granny used to listen to an old Southern comic called Brother Dave Gardner. It was cornpone, but the hicks ate it up, some of it was really funny. He used to play the Gulf Coast gambling circuit, not like today, back when gambling was illegal. He told the same jokes the same way for forty years. People who’d heard ‘em twenty times showed up to see him do ‘em live even though they could practically tell the stories themselves.”
She goes to the bathroom to refresh, Mani brushes her short hair.
“Yep. Snyder is at the club a lot, keeping his profile high and all. Let’s try there.”
They spot his car, Ellen says, “Dude’s got nice wheels, that’s a spankin’ new Lexus GS 350, a fifty grand ride. Pull up behind, good time to stick a tracker on it.”
She hops out, tracker magnet clunks against the bumper, hops in and Mani dives off. 
Ellen checks the signal, “There he is, well, there his car is.”
Mani, “And there he is, Elvis has left the building.”
“Well I’ll be, he’s got the Elvis greased back hair thing, maybe he does impersonations, he’s fat like Elvis was when he croaked on the crapper.”
Mani, “What are you talking about?”
“Elvis, died trying to take a crap. He was found a few feet away, but that’s because he crawled off looking for help. He was forty two, coroner said he had the arteries of an eighty year old, liver shot, prescription drug abuser and chronic constipation. Some think he died trying too hard to dump.”
Mani, “He was dead before you were alive, why do you know all that?”
“Granny, she was a wonderful lady, but she thought Elvis pooped petunias. Denied he ever could have died like that, or that he abused drugs, after all, he sang gospel songs and made Christmas albums. When it came to Elvis, she was delusional.”
“Seems like a harmless delusion.”
“I had to listen to his cheesy songs a few million times when Granny was around, Elvis played in the background. It was awful.”
“It’s past lunch, our boy must eat at the club.”
“Lower his profile if he didn’t.”
“Check his route, is he going home?”
“Not unless he moved over the weekend, he’s going in the opposite direction of Prescott Valley.”
“Why are there two different towns, Prescott and Prescott Valley?”
“Prescott Valley is newer, a lot newer. Prescott has the old stuff, it was incorporated in 1883, Prescott Valley was born in the 1960’s. The whole valley is owned by the Fain family, ranchers. They sold parts of it for development, kept most. They still own thousands of acres, developed commercial property, making a killing. No I’m not smart like Katya, I looked it up on the flight, just to get an idea of the place.”
“That is smart like Katya, she might be able to memorize it in a glance, but she would look up details on the area if it was work.”
“Yeah, that’s who I got it from. Every job we do, she knows the town history, the general layout, Katya can tell you what street intersects with what without a GPS.”
“Snyder is pulling into a low income apartment complex, at least based on the cars. What’s Mr. Profile doing slumming?”
“He’s parking, let’s see who he’s visiting, where’s the binocs? Ah, here.”
A girl answers the door. She can’t be more than fifteen, not beautiful, not dog ugly, a tad on the heavy side, but then Elvis is more than a tad, he’s a triple tad. She’s in hooker look, miniscule shorts, clunky platforms and a painted on t-shirt. Top and bottom heavy, partially redeemed by shapely legs
“Elvis is into young.”
“Unless he tongues his niece when he sees her, yeah, I’d say it’s a paid professional relationship.”
“We can’t kill him here, it’ll draw in the girl.”
“We can wait, not like we’re gonna do anything else, I draw the line at sex in a car.”
“Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“I use it up killing and maiming.”
An hour later, Elvis leaves the second building, as he walks to his wheels, the girl flips him off, prudently to his back.
Mani, “She’s not his pal.”
“Maybe he didn’t leave a tip. She might not like him, but she doesn’t have a hundred twenty grand to pay us to kill him.”
They follow, keep a fair distance, he’s on GPS after all.
“Headed back to the club.”
“Unless he stops in a secluded spot, we can’t do him at the country club. I doubt he plays golf by himself and he sure isn’t a tennis player.”
“He’s married, wonder if his wife is home? Penny didn’t know why Friday was so important. The client is willing to pay extra but doesn’t require the job to be done by then?”
“I asked Katya, he paid half of the bonus as well as half the contract. If the job got hung up for unanticipated reasons, then he pays the balance on completion but only forty thousand since he’s in for sixty already. Friday has some significance, but it isn’t a deal killer. Penny doesn’t guarantee resolution in under a week, so they negotiated the bonus.”
“Let’s take a look at his house.”

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