***Note*** The week is running odd so we have a blast from the past today.
Silky Edge of the Night
The black sedan cut its lights then pulled to a stop behind a copse of pine trees. In the cover of darkness he sought stealth over speed. Paid for his discretion and methods he didn’t like to leave an easy trail.
Barry grabbed his tools from the backseat and strapped the belt to his waist and then hooked up the harness. He released the magazine for his .45 for a quick inventory then snapped it back into place. He hated to carry it, only did for emergencies. Way he saw it, if he had to use it he failed to perform at his best.
Professionalism and discretion, hallmarks of the profession that garnered some steep fees for his efforts. Only once, one time, he screwed up, pulled his gun on a job. He finished it of course, but returned most of the fee for the job. Didn’t meet his standards, that’s what he told the client.
A quick jog through the woods to arrive at the outer edge of the trailer park. Barry chuckled at the thought, who hides in a trailer park? It’s where dreams go to die. But then, no one thinks to look for you there either.
In the end, hiding, life style choice, Barry didn’t care. He didn’t spend time questioning the merits of the job. Moral dilemmas got in the way of a clean shot. Worst thing a morality question could do on a job is cause him to hesitate. Hesitation in a kill or be killed world resulted in the latter.
The park was laid out in a figure eight pattern. A main road circled the park with a center road bisecting it. Trailers were on each side of the road, mostly double wides. The park owners invested in fancy street lights to give the place some old world charm. Haunting, soft light emanated from the lamps, like old world gas lamps.
The trailer he needed lay just beyond the edge of the woods. He scouted the location over the past few days to ensure access and then egress from the location. In order to insure as little fuss as possible he planned out every step of a job.
A quick look at his watch, told him he had a few minutes till midnight. Mr. Body habitually went to bed at a quarter to midnight. Barry wanted to give him a few more minutes. With good timing he could break into the trailer without waking his target.
“What ya doin’ runnin around in the dark Mr.?” He jumped into the air, when a girl stepped around the shed behind him.
He leaned against the shed as his heart hammered against his chest. “Don’t… sneak… up… on… people like that,” he said as he caught his breath again. “You could get hurt.”
The girl, young, her hair in pigtails, looked him up and down. “You probably shouldn’t be sneaking around like this,” she said. “Some of the people around here will call the cops at the drop of a hat.”
“I’m not sneaking around,” he said. “I was hoping to surprise a friend of mine. We haven’t seen each other in a few years.”
“You friends with Mr. Smith? My dad don’t like him. Says, my dad says, that he is a crazy hermit.” She lowered her voice. “I think he is hiding from the cops or something. I don’t even think Smith is his name.”
“Maybe you should head on home,” he said. “Isn’t your mom worried about you wandering off like this?”
“Oh my mom don’t care. She’s at work right now anyway.”
“Then who is taking care of you? ”
“I take care of myself. Learned that a long time ago,” she said. “Only person you can ever count on is yo’self anyway.”
Cynical, so cynical, she couldn’t be more than ten or so, he thought. He couldn’t remember ever being that young but he wasn’t that bad back then, maybe. The memories hit him, a flash through his brain, unexpected, quick.
His father had come home, drunk again. “Wake up boy,” he said. “I said get up.”
Barry rolled over to find his father standing over him. He held a bottle in one hand and a back pack in the other. “Wha’?” he asked as he wiped the sleep from his eyes.
“Get yer shit and get out…”
He blinked, looked around. The trailer park came back into focus. The memories, they weren’t his. Where was the girl, he asked himself. He picked himself up from the ground and moved to cover behind the trailer. A quick scan told him he was alone again. “What the hell just happened,” he said into the night. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and forced himself to focus on his target again.
Voices floated through the night air from inside the trailer. The words unintelligible but he could make out at least two voices inside the trailer. The side door, no light above it, he could slip through unseen and still dispatch the target inside.
But the girl, he would still need to find her. She saw his face, knew he was there to see “Mr. Smith.” A soft breeze blew through the alley between trailers, no other movement suggested life around to worry about. She said her mother wasn’t home. He would take care of her next. Wasn’t his style to kill a child but sometimes the job needed him to step outside his comfort zone.
Barry slipped through the night to the side door and tested the latch. Unlocked, no barrier stood in his way.
“Aren’t you going to knock?” The voice, the girl again, behind him.
He turned to see her at the base of the stairs. “I told you I wanted to surprise him.” He kept his voice low.
“Now you’re just bein’ silly,” she said.
Her voice, in conversational tone boomed in his ears. A wave of nausea hit him, vertigo brought him to his knees. The memory crashed on the shores of his psyche. His girlfriend had left him at the beach.
Gulls called and jeered at him as he watched out into the waves, tears bled down his cheeks. She not only wanted to see other men, she was sleeping with his brother. Her words a knife driven through his heart. The dagger of confession twisted and turned to the sound of crashing waves.
The memory again not his own. He fought to stand, pulled at the hand rail to the steps to lift himself from the ground. Though he fell to the ground he didn’t feel broken or bruised, but the wind sent chills through his body as it dried the sweat.
A metallic, copper taste filled his mouth, his nose was plugged with the smell of it. Barry wiped away the sweat from his chin and neck and found his hand red with more than just his sweat. Trails of blood and sweat dribbled from the corners of his eyes and his ears.
The girl, gone again. He sat on the bottom step to catch his breath. They knew he was here, knew his intentions. The girl did it. Did she hunt him? The hunter now the hunted, when the prey changed the game without warning?
He pulled out his .45. Shoot her when she came back, a simple plan. He lost the element of surprise when she made her first attack. This had nothing to do with money anymore. The girl hurt him, attacked him when he was unprepared. Not this time. Barry chambered a round.
His body swayed with the wind as he stood. Vertigo held him in a loose grip but he fought it off. He looked up and down the alley between trailers but didn’t see the girl, so he walked back to where he first saw her.
“You can’t hide forever,” he said. At the edge of the woods his vertigo stopped. His sour stomach returned to normal. The dim light in the trailer park remained calm, steady. He could see no movement in the darkness surrounding the trailer. “This is crazy,” he said. “I’ll finish the damn job but they’re paying double for this one. I don’t care how messy it becomes.” He jogged back to the trailer, eyes open for movement.
No sign of the girl’s return, he slunk back to the side door for the trailer. The door still unlocked, no barrier to his entering the trailer. Now or never, he turned the knob and pushed the door open.
A light came down the hall from the front of the trailer but darkness met him from the master bedroom at the back end of the trailer. Barry switched his .45 to his left hand and drew his K-bar with his right hand. The job might be messy but there was still a chance he could do it quiet.
He heard the drone of a television come from the front of the trailer as he turned toward the master bedroom. No turning back, he thought as he moved with the shadows into the back room.
The target lay on the bed, unmoving but for the steady rhythm of his breathing. A quick cut with the K-bar on the sleeping form and he could slip back out again with no one the wiser.
“Took you long enough.” She stepped from the closet further in the room. The smile, her smile, sent chills down his spine.
“Who are you?” he asked. The .45, he could raise it and fire in a blink, but he had to know.
“Just a girl,” she said. “Isn’t that obvious?”
Knuckles white on the grip of his gun, shoot her, shoot her, his internal voice screamed at him. He fought to raise his hand, to pull the trigger. His arm remained unresponsive.
She stepped closer to him, stepped closer without moving. So close, so very close, he could hear the gasping breaths that came from her lungs.
Chills wracked across his body as his flesh dimpled and puckered. “What are you?” he whispered.
She stretched out her arms and placed her hands on his temples. “I am the night,” she said.
Vertigo consumed him as he fell to the ground.
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