Katya reads the collection of e-mails that piece together the job, who, where, and any special requests. The only special request they accept is time to completion. In a week, between date X and date Y, frequently the person buying the contract wants to make sure they’re alibied, preferably out of town. Penny doesn’t guarantee completion in less than a week, only best efforts. They don’t take special requests for method. The target will get a kill shot, usually at close range. They don’t arrange drug overdoses, use knives or garrotes, slip and fall or drown people. No displays of corpses in a certain place or position. It isn’t entertainment.
Ellen, “What’s the deal?”
Katya, “We will talk after girl has gone home.”
They had a full mid-morning breakfast, so Ellen has only cheese and cold cuts for lunch. Mani and Sarah reappear.
In between bites Mani says, “I’ll drive Sarah home after lunch. She has a run scheduled and school stuff for tomorrow.”
They collect her bag, Sarah, “Thank you all, I had a great time,” she glances at Mani, slight blush on her cheeks.
Katya, “You are welcome anytime.”
Ellen, “Whatever you and Mani work out, glad to see you get along together so well. Hope to see you real soon honey.”
Mani, “Already scheduled next weekend.”
They leave, Katja says, “Ees nice girl, haf good manner. She ees maybe good friend for Mani.”
Ellen, “She’s sixteen, Mani’s barely eighteen, not so far apart. Actually, Mani is a little younger than her years, stuck in Jackson with the domineering aunt. Sarah isn’t an adult, but she’s not a childish sixteen either. Her parents don’t seem to hover, they didn’t grill Mani when she picked her up.”
Katya, “We have work, target is in Malibu. No idea how someone so far away got to Penny, it isn’t a drug dealer thing. Standard job, one hundred thousand.”|
Ellen, “Who’s the guy?”
“The guy is a woman, the client is a guy. Apparently husband is getting tired of her antics.”
Ellen, “Why not just a divorce?”
“Cost him a fortune, no prenup, she never worked, he’s worth several million. They have been separated for two years. She is crazy woman, sixth lawyer, first five quit working with her. She enjoys the drama, endless demands, despite twenty thousand a month alimony, a car and second home in Malibu.
Ellen, “Sheesh, she just greedy?”
Katya, “Client told Penny she has something called borderline personality disorder. I looked it up. It is closest thing to psychotic. They enjoy turmoil, argument, constant fights with family, can’t keep any friends. Promiscuous behavior, everything is always someone else’s fault, accept no personal responsibility. She has lesbian affairs along with straight ones, calls husband homosexual. Maybe, but he told Penny he’s never been with a man for sex.”
Ellen, “So she does what lots of people do, accuse other people of stuff they don’t like about themselves.”
“Da, yes. Anyway, she is in Malibu now. We will fly out tomorrow and resolve conflict. I need to be in Houston for a few days after.”
Ellen, “Tell you what. I’ll book the plane, first to Houston, you two do what you need to do, Mani and I will fly on to Malibu. Then we come back to Houston. If you need a couple more days, we can go to the range, be good to practice anyway.”
“Make sure Mani takes the shot.”
Mani returns, “Wow, she’s creamy dreamy, that was fun!”
Ellen, “Adorable thing, lanky lean.”
“Her legs are runner hard, just right calf, curve of muscle in her quads. Tummy flat as sheet metal, I could bounce a quarter off it. After she got a look at me, she’s going to Brazilian this week. She keeps it shaved, but not bare. Is that too much information?”
Katja, “We are not for telling anyone, ees only us. We will not embarrass young girl.”
Ellen, “First time?”
Mani, “Yeah, she did the kissing thing with a girl at fourteen. A sleepover. They touched each other a bit, then did mutual masturbation. The girl moved before they could get up the courage to take it further.”
Ellen, “Just as well she got someone with a bit of experience.”
Mani, “Like I did with you, my teacher.”
Ellen, “You were easy, ready to rock.”
Mani, “I guess so, everybody wants to make love to Ellen.”
“Aww, you are the sweetest thing. We fly out tomorrow. Casual clothes, work clothes. One target.”
Mani smiles, “Where?”
“After we stop in Houston and drop the twins, you and I go to Malibu California. You’re gonna to kill a pain in the ass woman.”
“Awesome, when do we leave?”
“Haven’t called Blue Sky yet, probably nine, we pick up a couple hours in time zone. I’d like to get the work done tomorrow or latest Tuesday. Then we come back to Houston and go to the range for a day or so.”
Mani, “I’m having a good week, Sarah, kill, range, back to Sarah. It’s so good to be me. I’m going to pack,” she races up the stairs.
Katya, “Ellen, prepare weapons, best to take a rifle, just in case getting close is a problem. I will deal with Blue Sky and book a room someplace in Malibu.”
“Something simple, we aren’t gonna hang out.”
They gather for tea at half past four, “We leave at nine thirty, Houston ten thirty, three and one half to LAX, arrive noon Pacific. Car will be waiting, bring fake license plate, unplug GPS. I booked a queen room ocean view at the Malibu Beach Inn. Full restaurant, don’t need to drive all over. Driving is a pain in Los Angeles.”
Ellen, “Thank you for that. I have all the equipment, got her address. She’s there I hope.”
“Da, Penny is keeping me updated. Husband calls, she goes for some kind of SPA treatment Monday, then for yoga. Tuesday, she plays tennis at local club. I have the address of club and yoga studio. She will be out of SPA before you get there.”
Ellen, “Good enough. By Wednesday, hubby’s problems will be over.”
Katja and Katya make rounds of the donut shops, two each. They sample product, do visuals of the kitchens and display cases. Everything is spotless, just as if they were there every day. It’s encouraging because they didn’t tell anyone they were coming in.
Katya, 'Maria is keeping after everything. I want to give her a bonus.'
Katja, 'Two shops I covered are fine, clean, orderly. Whatever you think ees good bonus. Maybe a few bucks to store managers.'
Katya, “Maria, you have done a good job overseeing all the stores. They are clean and orderly. We are satisfied.”
Maria, “Thank you Katya. I appreciate it.”
“Sister and I want to make a bonus, not coming from store profit. Ten thousand for you, three thousand for other managers.”
“Katya! Oh, wow, thank you. My husband needs a new truck, we were discussing financing. It’s used, nine thousand, he says it is in great shape, low mileage. Now we don’t have to get a loan. What a relief.”
“We will pay in cash. Be careful, do not put ten thousand in bank at one time. It is okay to pay nine thousand in cash for truck. Ten thousand, have to report to government, you understand?”
Maria, “Yes, not to worry.”
“And we will not send tax report 1099 to IRS, you do not pay any tax, it will not show up anyplace.”
Maria, “Sweet, thanks again.”
“Finally, you do not say you got bigger bonus to employee, let them think what they want, okay?”
Maria, “Not a word.”
“Even better, you pay bonus to employee, five hundred. I will give you cash, you give to them.”
Maria, “They are good girls, honest, work hard, they deserve it. They love working here because we keep things in top shape. Customers always make compliments.”
“Good enough, customer happy, we all get paid, customer not happy, nobody gets paid.”
Maria laughs, “That’s our motto Katya.”
While the twins are opening the Houston home, Ellen and Mani are driving to Malibu. They check into the Malibu Beach Inn.
Mani, “Geez, nice place, look at the ocean, beautiful.”
“Lot better than my Hampton idea. It’s one o’clock. Let’s see if class is in session.”
It’s called Malibu Beach Yoga, Ellen taps into the phone, finds the schedule.
Mani drives past the building.
“Either she went at eleven, or doesn’t go until six thirty. Okay, taking her here is troublesome. It’s wide open, no good for the rifle either. Maybe we catch her at home when she leaves for class. First let’s run by the tennis club, we may have to do it tomorrow.”
They pull up to the Malibu Tennis Club, private courts, place is nicely dressed up.
Ellen, “Easy enough to tag her with the rifle. Sit right up on the hill and nail her while she serves. Or maybe do her in the parking lot, but it’s dicey if people are coming and going.”
Mani, “To the house?”
“May as well, she might run an errand, be in the yard. She’s gonna leave at six or so for a six thirty yoga class. I don’t see how she gets in a morning SPA session then to eleven o’clock yoga. Maybe she’s changed her schedule. Her husband wouldn’t know, he’s in Seattle.”
“Is she even in town?”
“Penny said she is, what she told Katya. I don’t know how she knows that. By the way, I don’t know that it ever came up. Penny only knows Katya, and she knows her by another name. There’s no twin, no Ellen, no Mani. Keeps the distance, understand?”
“Sure, safer for us too.”
“Yep, if Penny gets compromised, she can’t give up what she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know about New Orleans, or about Katya Donut since she doesn’t know any Katya.”
“Katya is careful.”
“If you shoot people for money, you better be.”
The house is nothing special, not Malibu mega manse, not up in the hills or on the beach. On Ramirez Canyon Road.
Ellen’s paging through listings, “Not the upper end of Malibu, home prices are all over the lot, but there are nice places for two million, those appear to be forty years old, some say they need updating, probably means it needs to be gutted.”
The place is boxy, partial two story, painted white. Views of the canyon, not the ocean. The garage door is open, a mid range BMW inside. Not new, maybe four or five years old, appears well maintained.
Ellen, “Right license plate. Nobody around. I’ll check the back, wait here.”
She’s back in two minutes, “Rear is up against a small cliff, no backyard, an
earthquake would turn this place into rubble.. Load up, gloves, stick your Glock and hands in your pockets. I’ll ring the bell, if she answers and we verify the target, pop her.”
Ellen taps the bell, nothing for a minute, then, “Who is it?”
Ellen is holding a small box, “Courier, package for Saundra Masters.”
“Just leave it.”
“Sorry ma’am, needs a signature, I think it’s expensive, insured for a lot anyway.”
The door cracks open, “Insured for how much?”
It’s the target, Mani says, “A hundred thousand,” puts a silenced round in her forehead.
A small red hole, then blood, she falls backwards to the hardwood floor, head cracks and bounces.
Mani, “Awesome. My first kill.”
A man’s voice from inside, must be upstairs or deep inside, barely hear it, “Who is it Saundra?”
Ellen shoves the legs of the corpse aside, closes the door, Mani grabs the shell casing, they bolt for the car. It’s a half block down the street, not visible from any part of the house. Ellen learned caution from the twins. Don’t assume the target is alone, don’t assume somebody isn’t looking out a window. She cranks it up, backs farther down the street, u-turns, back out they way they came in.
“Sheeyt, that was dicey.”
Mani’s distracted, eyes closed, her hands slip between her legs, she shudders.
Ellen is nonplussed, “You good?”
Mani grins, “I had an orgasm.”
Mani, “Maybe I should have done him.”
“We don’t kill people we aren’t paid to kill unless we’re compromised. He was buried in back someplace, even upstairs. He didn’t see jack or he wouldn’t have asked the question. He’d have shut up and jumped into a closet if he had.”
Mani, “True, unless he had a death wish.”
“He’s gonna have a rotten day.”
At the hotel, Ellen texts Katya, ‘Conflict resolved.’
Mani, “Do we go home early?”
“No. Even though it’s a crazy long shot, we don’t arouse any curiosity by changing flights or checking out the day we checked in. Stick the rental plates back on the car.”
A text dings, ‘Good. Keeping schedule?’
Ellen replies, ‘Yes.’
They hang at the hotel, long shower, cocktails at the bar, then dinner in the restaurant. They’re both up for steak, feeling carnivorish after the kill. Ten ounce filets medium rare, side of mashed, skip appetizer and salad.
Mani, “Steak is great. I love that charred crunch around tender beef. Red wine sauce is nice.”
Ellen, “Impossible not to like marchand de vin.”
Settle into the room, declothe, polish off another cocktail.
Mani, “Not a virgin assassin anymore. An orgasm, man I’m strange.”
Ellen, “Come here.”
Mani stands next to Ellen, hands on silky legs, teases the sensitive spot, Mani groans. Ellen slips to her knees, looks up at the sylph while she licks and kisses. Mani stares down, thinks, “God she’s so hot, and licking me like she loves it,” then her head explodes, shimmy shake, deep breathing aerobics. She sinks to the floor and tastes herself on Ellen’s tongue.
“Your turn, in bed, I want to explore everything, then I’m going to fuck you silly.”
An hour later, Ellen is beyond silly, right past hilarious, well into delirious.
“Fucked is me.”
“I’m the luckiest Thai in America, you, twins, Sarah. She asked about the twins, wanted to know if they, you know.”
“What’d you tell her.”
“Well, they do give off that vibe with each other, not surprised she noticed. I just said they are highly sensitive to each other. She didn’t pursue it, but she smiled.”
“Good answer. They haven’t said anything about her to me. I think they see her as your pal.”
“She’d do you in a heartbeat.”
“How do you know that?”
“Ellen, everyone would do you in a heartbeat, be crazy not to. Besides, she said so.”
Ellen, “How sweet. Does it bother you?”
Mani, “Come on, why? I’d love to watch her eat you up, probably give me a whoppergasm.”
Ellen laughs, “We don’t do jealousy, and we don’t do exclusive. Still, she hit on you, didn’t know how far her lust went.”
Mani, “I was her first real intimacy. I suspect she’s trying to get her game down before she goes to the big leagues. And she doesn’t know how you guys feel about it.”
Ellen, “Let her settle in, see if she hangs around. We know a little about her, seems to have her shit together, but an intimate relationship can change things. If she’s a little possessive at first, it’s no big deal.”
Tuesday morning, Ellen catches the housekeeper, hands her a few used towels, gets replacement and tells her no service today. She gives the woman ten bucks, earns a ‘gracias, no service.’
They pack up, take things to the car individually in small bits, avoid giving staff the idea they’re leaving.
Mani, “It was a nice hotel.”
“Shutters is even sexier and it puts us miles and a lot of people away from the scene of the crime. Paranoia in our line of work is a necessity.”
Check into Shutters, it’s a Tuesday and Shutters is huge, they don’t have to wait for a room to clear. Unpack toiletries, leave most of the clothes in the small suitcases. They disposed of work clothes along the way. It’s more paranoid procedure. Anyone who saw two people dressed in grey watch caps, baggy cheap jeans, sneakers and oversize jackets wouldn’t recognize them today.
They take a walk to Venice Beach, enjoy the breeze, sunshine and moderate temperature. They skipped breakfast, have lunch at James Beach and take their time with a couple of beers.
Back up the Ocean Walk, right into Santa Monica and the Promenade.
Mani, “They did a nice job with this. No cars, a long fancy open air mall.”
Window shop, women’s shoes, jewelry, clothes are endless. Other stores sell ice cream, frozen yogurt and candy, restaurants all with seating outside or in. They make the loop twice, stop for coffee, it’s pressing five, return to Shutters.
“If it suits, we’ll eat here tonight, enjoy the balcony, get blitzed.”
Mani, “Perfect. We fly out at nine?”
“Yes, three hours and change, lose two in time zones, maybe two o’clock.”
They strip and shower, decide to go downstairs and cocktail at Coast, the casual bar and restaurant.
A vodka rocks with an olive for Mani, Ellen goes with the same instead of bourbon. Then a second. A bottle of Piper Heidsieck champagne, Ellen gets a cheeseburger and fries, Mani ravioli Bolognese, a mixture of veal and pork.
They’re quiet, enjoying the food, atmosphere and bubbly champagne. A few men take surreptitious glances, the girls aren’t decked out in anything to attract attention. Ellen has a shift dress that comes to her knees, Mani’s in silk pants and a pullover. Still, they are pretty girls, and men do what men do.
Mani giggles, “We’re always getting checked out.”
“Men will check out fat ugly girls, don’t feel special.”
“It’s true, they can’t help themselves. Built into the genome.”
Ellen finishes her burger, “Something comforting about a simple cheeseburger and fries.”
“Ravioli was tasty, suppose we split this,” she points to the dessert menu, warm chocolate molten cake, pistachio streusel, vanilla ice cream.
Ellen, “Go for it.”
They share bites, “Christ, this is yummy, chocolate makes me horny, just so you know.”
Ellen, “I can dehorn you, slut.”
“I wear my badge with honor.”
“In a few minutes, you won’t be wearing anything.”
Ellen and Mani are in Houston with the twins, “Job went smoothly enough, Mani did her thing. Some guy was there, but he was off someplace, he didn’t see jack. We only knew cause we heard a muffled question.”
Katya, “There was a man?”
Ellen, “She must have picked him up, there was no other car there, we thought she was alone.”
Mani is texting Sarah, gets a reply, “She’s getting ready for a run, all anxious to come over Saturday, we’re going home, right?”
Katya, “Day at the range tomorrow, fly home Thursday. You must practice with rifle.”
Mani, “I’m on it. I like shooting up close, but I hope I get a chance at a rifle shot one day.”
Katja, “We get all kind of jobs. One will come up wiz long shot. Ellen ees best, but could be we haf to shoot two rifle at once. If you learn, maybe you will be second one.”
“Oh, I’m going to learn. Murder is so cool, I had an orgasm.”
Katja, “You make joke.”
Ellen, “Nope, we jumped in the car, she shot off.”
Katja shakes her head, “Asian girl, go for figuring.”
They laugh, well, Ellen and Mani, twins don’t laugh.
“Tonight, we haf seemple dinner at home, roast cheeken, mahcahroni chiz, cole slaw, I buy ice crim, vanilla bean and chocolate only.”
Ellen, “Perfect, we had veggie omelets on the plane. We’re good until dinner.”
They have a relaxed afternoon, if you consider full contact martial arts relaxing. Mixed martial arts gloves, light chest protector, mouth piece and headgear. By the time they finish round robin, Mani has a bloody nose, everyone has a few sore spots, Ellen sprained her ankle when Katja threw her across the mat.
They hydrate underneath a pile of gel packs for an hour, then hobble off to hot showers.
They’d battled past tea time. After showers, Ellen limps to the kitchen to cut the chicken in pieces, then into the oven. She starts to microwave macaroni, then finds a box of Panko breadcrumbs. Instead microwaves enough to warm, layers the breadcrumbs over the macaroni, uses the oven to finish heating.
While food warms, cocktails are poured.
Ellen, “Mani did well, she’s small but can take a punch. Fast with her kicks, got a good left hook too.”
Mani, “Katja almost killed me. I’m going to work on upper body strength. Won’t be as good as she is, but I can get better.”
Ellen, “The twins have done tumbling and gymnastics since forever. They have arms and shoulders like granite. They don’t look big, but the strength is there, I’ve gotten bashed by both of them, it hurts.”
Katya, “Important to get a pain check a few times a year. A busted nose or twisted ankle will not kill anyone. People feel a little pain, they give up.”
Mani, “Sarah said something about that, it didn’t register. She said one of the things she likes about running is the pain. She said it was, what did she say, almost erotic. I wonder….”
Katja, “She ees maybe girl who likes rough. Ellen likes, but we do not want hitting for Ellen except fight practice. Then everyone ees hit.”
Ellen, “I get my licks from our fight practice.”
Katja, “I did not mean to hit your nose, only a half shot to your jaw.”
Mani, “I turned my head the wrong way. Good thing we only do half punches to the head, I’d have a broken nose.”
Ellen, “Let me check on the food, mac is hot, let it rest for a bit. Turn up the oven and crisp the skin on the chicken, time for another drink.”
They have a second round, then cold Sauvignon Blanc with dinner.
Mani, “I think I’d like a bit of boob.”
Ellen, “We’re still having dinner.”
Mani giggles, “I mean on me. I’m a size nothing. I want to get a couple of apples installed, what do you think?”
Katya, “Your body, your business.”
“How do I find a good doc?”
Katja, “Eenternet, also I will call Mary, she haf teets put on, she will know.”
Ellen, “It just pop in your head? You never mentioned it before.”
“I like the size of you guys, none of you have whazooms, like I said, more like apple size. I barely have a plum.”
A day at the range, Ellen instructs Mani on the rifle. Today she spends two hours while the twins shoot moving targets in the barn, then try and hit clays with pistols. It’s not so simple and they miss half , but it significantly improves eye hand coordination. They have better luck by firing repeatedly and usually bust the clay before they empty the magazine.
Mani and Ellen take turns with the pistols, Ellen gets maybe a quarter of the clays, Mani pops a couple.
She laughs at herself, “I’m a rank amateur at clays. I definitely need a shotgun.”
Katya, “We just do it for fun, but you have a point. We should start you on shotgun, then more pistol later. Clays are hard to get with a handgun, we make a little improvement.”
“Ees no enough practicing. We come to Houston every month, but only to range maybe every two month. We will come every time. One whole day for only shooting.”
On the drive back to town, Ellen says, “Mani’s coming along with the rifle. She can make a head shot at one hundred. Next time, more one hundred, then one fifty.”
Mani, “The scopes do most of the work.”
“That is the idea. Drop begins to be serious over a hundred yards, so learning to properly calibrate the scope is essential.”
They have another quiet evening, go for Mexican and get swizzled on tequila and beer. They took a cab to avoid police problems, even Katya is tipsy.
Katja, “We will slip now, everyone haf beeg glass of water, maybe a couple of aspirin.”
They aren’t home twenty minutes before they’re collapsed and unconscious.
Ellen’s up early enough to make coffee, she rouses the rest and they begin the process of closing the house. Check all the doors, plug the chargers on the cars, turn off water and unplug appliances. Then to Hobby for their short flight. They’re home in New Orleans by ten thirty.
Ellen, “Leave suitcases and gun cases, Mani and I will deal, lunch at twelve thirty.”
Mani starts laundry while Ellen puts away guns, then goes out for cold cuts.
They kill the remainder of the day quietly, Mani in language practice, she speaks Russian with the twins, she and Ellen shift to Japanese, then she does French on her own.
Later, at tea, “My head’s swimming, I need to stick to English for the evening.”
Katja, “I spoke wiz Lady Mary, she recommend Dr. Dobbs, I look him up, he ees get good rating, lots of happy patient.”
Mani, “Gee, thanks. I’ll call for an appointment tomorrow. Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting breasts, I guess it hurts huh?”
Katja, “Mary said ees uncomfortable first day, then tight for a few days, not to stretch skin, only careful sponge bathing. Then ees fine.”
“That’s good, I guess, better to have an idea.”
Katya, “They have now a pain pump. During the surgery a tiny tube is set to supply Marcaine, long lasting local anesthetic into the surgical area for three to five days. No side effect, doesn’t go to bloodstream, so it doesn’t go to brain. Most women just take over the counter pain medicine, Tylenol or Aleve. But the local anesthetic does most of the work.”
Mani, “Oh, that’s even better, did Mary mention it?”
Katja, “I think she had breast a long time ago, maybe did not haf pain pump. You will make sure doctor uses it.”
“I sure will, this is so cool, tits.”
“I’m proteining us up with steak tonight, regular filets, I didn’t have time for sauce, you’ll have to suffer with it undressed. A baked potato, I have all the extras, and I’ll sauté mushrooms too.”
Mani’s phone dings, text from Sarah, ‘just finished a run, wuzup’
‘no, making appointment tomorrow, found a good doc i think, dobbs, your dad know him’
‘ask him later, need a shower, kisses.’
‘bye, cu sat’
Drinks, dinner, TV, bed, girls are looking forward to a stretch of nothing after travel.
In the morning, there’s a text on Mani’s phone, ‘dobbs first rate, good choice, cu sat angel grl.’
Mani, “She’s so sweet.”
After breakfast, Mani makes an appointment, it’s two weeks out. A good sign, Dobbs is a busy guy.