By Paula Matter
I wrote this story after accepting a challenge. Read more about it here:
“So what can you tell me about this guy?” I like knowing a little about what, and who, I’m up against. Right now, all I knew was someone wanted Dan Malmon dead by next Tuesday.
“I know as much as you do. Let’s see if he’s on Facebook. Amazing what you can learn about a complete stranger.” He clicked a few keys on his laptop, then grinned. “Tons of public posts, photos.”
“What’s he look like?”
“A real geek. Skinny, wears tortoise shell glasses. Likes hockey, comics, rides a bike.”
“Schwinn, I think.” He scrolled. “Eats a lot of junk food--Mr. Pibb, donuts, cookies, candy bars, Pop Tarts, pizza. All sorts of crap. Jesus. Chocolate cake for breakfast.”
“Heart attack waiting to happen. And he’s skinny. Huh.”
“Must ride his bike a lot. Here he’s riding with his wife. Pretty. He calls her “Red” and says she’s a real ass-kicker.”
“Let me see.” I leaned forward, glanced at the screen he turned toward me. “She is pretty. She won’t be around, right?”
“Right.” He scrolled some more. “Wait. They’ve got a dog.”
Damn. I hated having to deal with animals. “Vicious?”
“Nah. It wears dresses. Any man who dresses up a dog deserves to die.”
I didn’t disagree.
“So. You want the job or not?” He pulled a thick envelope out of his briefcase.
I thought about it for about two seconds, then said, “Sure.” Sounded like easy money, an easy target. The one condition was weird, but what the hell. The customer was always right. The paying customer was always right. I shoved the envelope of cash into my pocket.
* * *
No barking when I rang the doorbell. The wife must’ve taken the dog with her.
The door opened about an inch, one eye peered out at me. “Yes?”
“Mr. Malmon? I’m with O’Shea’s Roofing, here to look at your roof.”
“I know nothing about this. Go away.”
“Your association wants me to take a look, sir. It’ll only take a few minutes.”
“Oh, okay.” He slid back the little chain, opened the door wide enough to let me in then quickly closed the door.
I had my knife at his throat before he even turned around. I dragged his skinny ass to the living room, tied him to one of the chairs.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“Keep your mouth shut. You’ve pissed off the wrong person by talking too much.” I pulled my iPod out of my pocket, unwrapped the earphones and shoved them into Malmon’s ears. “Let’s see how you like this,” I said. I cranked up the volume and pushed the play button. I’d looped the video ahead of time, and watched his face as he listened to the short clip over and over.
It didn’t take long for Malmon to start whimpering. Once the blubbering started, I moved closer. Every time I heard Letterman pause, I pulled the blade out of Dan Malmon.
Oprah, blade in. Pause, blade out. Uma, blade in. Over and over and over again.
The front door suddenly opened and in walked Malmon’s wife. Red. The ass-kicker.
She took one look at her husband’s body, clenched her hand and held it up. “Now, this is worthy of a fist-bump.”
The one condition. I returned her waiting fist. Like I always say, the paying customer is always right.
Dan O'Shea, should we ever meet, I'd like to buy you a drink as a way of thanking you for giving me an excuse to start writing again. Dan Malmon, sorry, and I guess I should also buy you a drink. Kate "Red" Malmon, you deserve free drinks forever. And ever.