Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 6
I reach for the bottle of red. It's almost empty. I dump the contents in my glass and gesture for another bottle. My face is flush. "Where the fuck is Nick?" Charlie asked, drunk and annoyed.
"Man," I say, "I know if this nigga don't hurry up, I'm ordering without him."
"Just like him to get someplace early, just to be someplace late," Charlie says, drinking a full glass of water.
"Too much alcohol for appetizers," I say. My phone rings. It's Nick. I drop the phone on the table. The heavy case protecting it lands with an authoritative thud.
"That's that nigga Nick?" Charlie asks.
"Mmhmm," I say, reaching for another breadstick. She grabs the phone.
"Where the fuck are you?" She curses into the handset, turning on the speakerphone.
"I'm in traffic," Nick says. "Fifth avenue is like a fuckin' parking lot, dude."
"We took fifth," I say. The waitress stops at our table. "It was hella open. Hold on."
"Everything okay?" She asks. "We're looking in the cellar for another bottle like that one." I clear my throat.
"Oh absolutely," I say. "Thank you." Charlie nods.
"Still waiting for your friend?" She asks.
"Unfortunately," I say. "Do you think we could get another order of the, uh, the chicken..."
"Certainly," she says.
"And another bottle of chardonnay?" Charlie asks.
"Absolutely," The waitress says.
"Sorry if we were a bit loud," I say, folding a bill into her hand.
"Well, it is the late lunch rush," she says. "Sometimes you have to be a little loud to be heard." We kinda shrug.
"I guess," I say. "I feel a little loud."
"Oh, well, I don't think you have anything to worry about," she says. "I should go take care of your order.
"Oh, right," I say. She nods and walks off quickly.
"Too loud?" I ask.
"A little," Charlie says.
[redacted] Years Earlier...
"Okay, so just keep it cool," Brier said, with a sense of urgency.
"You act like I've never done undercover work before," I said, hushed. "I do this type of thing very well.
"I just don't want to get in trouble out here," Brier said. "I have a family. If they find out we're CIA-"
"They already know I do contract work for the CIA," I said. Brier gasped.
"Oh my God," he said. "We're gonna die."
"Sometimes, the best disguise is the one you don't wear," I said. The Russian approached us.
"Mikel," he shouted.
"Vosov," I said, opening my arms begrudgingly. He gave me a giant hug.
"Who's this?" He asked, pointing to Brier.
"My intern," I said, rolling my eyes.
"I'm-" Brier said.
"Don't speak, and put your hand down," I said, looking away. Brier stood with his mouth agape. I shook my head.
"You might want to listen to Mikel," The Russian said through a thick accent. This man we are about to meet is ruthless."
* * *
"So, you're the tough guy, huh?" The Serbian asked.
"I'm pretty resilient," I said.
"I was looking over your resume," The Serbian said. I looked around the room. The Russian sat quietly. Brier was a crumpled mess on the ground. "You favor guns?"
"Pistols," I said. "Considerably. Did you guys just kill my intern?" The Serbian lowered his gun. The straps and wires connecting me to the polygraph were becoming a bother.
"He is sleeping," The Serbian said. "Now, this job I have for you, I do not think you can handle it."
"You doubt me?" I asked, mockingly. "Vosov has seen some of what I can do."
"He has seen you work with guns and explosives and poisons," The Serbian said. "Impressive. But not what I look for."
"What exactly are you looking for?" I asked. The Serbian lit another cigarette, and offered me one. I accepted it.
"Something... closer. More intense. I want them to feel it. I want you to pull the life out of their bodies with your bare hands. No weapons." He blew the smoke upwards as I took a drag. "That is not on your resume."
"You're right," I said. "It's not. Well. Everything doesn't go on my resume." The Serbian leaned in and dropped a file on the table.
"Look through it. I am listening." I begun to flip through the pages. It was a dossier. A very graphically detailed hit list, with names, faces, examples.
"Hmm. You want something like this." I jabbed a particularly unpleasant crime scene photo with my index finger. The Serbian took a long drag.
"Is that... not on your resume?" He exhaled.
"It is not." I stared ahead coldly. "Double my rate."
"For ten times the risk? Absolutely." I pushed the file away a bit. It slid into my pistol, sitting on the table before me. "I need the room for a bit."
"Take your time." The Serbian and the Russian walked out, followed by the Serbian's muscle. The last guy reached down to gather Brier.
"He stays," I said. Brier began to stir. I disconnected myself from the polygraph and walked over to him. "Get up." The door closed. A few streaks of dried blood marked his face.
"Ow," he said, reaching for a cut on the side of his head that stopped bleeding.
"I told you not to say anything," I said. Brier rose to his feet. "Sit." He obeyed and reached for the file.
"Jesus Christ," he said, flipping through. "They want you to do this?" He gagged a little.
"Yeah," I said. "To make a point."
"Wow," he said. "Judging by your calm demeanor, I will assume you've seen something this awful before."
"Worse," I said. I finished the cigarette and put it out. "Done worse." Brier's eyes widened.
"Who? How?" He asked, rattled.
"First person I killed," I said. "My stepfather."