Stretched Fingers

Writing inspiration: A gun shot once forgotten

I went over the facts in my head. The numbers. The exact details, over and over again. I could barely hear my feet on the old pine boards. I rapped my fingers on my pants. Higgins was waiting, I was sure of it, In the lounge. Ready for my report. There were five of us ‘experts’. James, Cindy, Mathew, David and myself. Higgins was the leader, the man who handled the transactions, the money and clients and everything in between. We each had a portfolio to develop. Weeks of watching, waiting, writing, observing. I was on two hours sleep after seventy two hours of solid work. For some people that’s a luxury. I would prefer more, but it needed to be perfect. Higgins had high expectations, and we all knew what happened if you failed those expectations.

I opened the door, a glass of red swivelling in his hand, a smile across his lips, a phone to his ear. The suit perfectly tailored to every curve, every angle looked sharp. The dark blue almost dissolving into the dark swirls underneath his chair. That carpet never did anything for me, but he liked it. His eyes turned to me, his body guard, Gerald closed the door behind me and took his place in front of it.

“Of course Greg, well look, I have to go. But I’ll be sure to get back to you. You bet. No, don’t worry about it. I’m sure we can talk about in detail tomorrow. Ten, that should be fine. Thanks. Bye” he hung up and put the phone down delicately onto the side table. The timber looked polished. I noticed the ring again. I heard he hit Cindy across the brow with that hand. It would have done damage. Then again you can’t believe everything you hear.

“My girl, look at you” he put his glass down and effortlessly lifted from his green plush chair. “You look wonderfully tired. I like that in a woman” he leant over and gently kissed me on the cheek. “Please, take a seat” his voice was that of a smoker. It had a smooth origin but the smoke did its damage and it drew in the ladies like a magnet. Though he gave up the smokes we knew he took stronger substitutes.

I took a seat opposite of him. I ignored the small blood stain on the arm. I didn’t have paper, or pen. My phone was off as it is courtesy to do so. I still remember seeing Gerald shoving a mobile down the throat of an unfortunate prostitute. I wondered if anyone missed her.

“Well, let’s hear the report. Remember, everything and nothing are both important” he took the glass back in his hand and glided back into the chair. I took a breath. The numbers. The details.

“Subject is male, thirty four years old. He is one hundred and eighty two centimetres in height, weighing in around eighty five kilos. Chest measurement is forty inches, his neck is/”

“Changing measurements are we?”

“It’s how he talks. Tells you something of him. The tailors he goes to”

“Or it could mean nothing. Continue” he signalled Gerald for more wine. I realized the help weren’t around. Must be a night off.

“Neck is fifteen point five inches, waist is thirty four inches, and hips are thirty six. I could go on but the rest are pure speculations. His shoe size is eleven, Australian”

“Australian?”

“He only buys Australian” he nodded gently and I continued. Hair is blond, eyes are brown. His nails are well manicured, so is his hair. Well-trimmed, modern but not too radical. His suits are only ever in shades of grey and black. Ties are greens, blues and black. Casual dress is a simple shirt, pants and watch. Currently he wears a Rolex, the Air-King model. His girlfriend paid for it, around eight grand Australian” his eye brows raised. He didn’t know about the girl friend. “He currently lives with his girlfriend Delta in an apartment. It’s 603/47 Hide Street/”

“Yes I know the address, the apartment. The girl?”

“Thirty years old, blonde, blue eyes. She has a history as a small time model but recently had to retire. She was involved in a car accident which resulted in her left leg amputated. She is currently rehabilitating at the Rose Garden Medical Centre. She works at/”

“I trust your research. You are precise, and I’m sure can go on for hours. His hobbies?”

“Reading historical articles, cooking and/”

“You’re proving my point. Do you think you have enough?”

“You can never have enough” he smiled. I didn’t liked that smile. Yet in the moment I smiled back. In the moment I wanted him to take an interest in me, trust me, and take me into his world completely. I wanted what he had. The power the control.

“Mathew will be your lookout. Next month, which ever date is easiest. Get it done my girl” he stood up, I copied. I went to leave and he grabbed my wrist. “I’ll trust you will exceed my expectations”

“Of course” he kissed my cheek again and I turned to walk through the now open door. He did have charm. I’ll grant him that. That charm took me to the top of Ryde Street. On top of a complex that included a Chinese restaurant and a vegan dress shop. I felt the rifle in my hands. The power. The control I had. I saw him. He and his wife still struggling with one limb missing. He had one arm around her as she used the crutches. He opened the door of a beautiful Chinese restaurant. He sold the Rolex and used the money to help her with her therapies and to pay for nights like this. She wouldn’t be modelling again, and the Rolex was an impulse buy on her behalf. He stretched his fingers, on cue. Every time he opened a door, the fingers always stretched. As always his eyes warmed to her and she warmed to him. She had her moments. Two weeks beforehand she had thrown a pot plant at his head, swearing he was the worst boyfriend ever. Dramatic, but he did sell the watch without discussing it. Then again she didn’t tell him that the insurance company wasn’t going to cover her due to a little issue with her blood test. I knew these people now. He little habits, his taste. The way he blew on his ice cream before eating it. The weight of his shoes on the pavement. I aimed the sights a bit higher. They were now inside. Ordering.

“How’s it going Sparrow?”

“Fine Groundhog” I was irritated with the interruption. Mathew was opposite the restaurant watching, waiting in case I missed or something went wrong. I had ten minutes until security arrived. I could shoot after wards but we all want this to be done sooner rather than later. Besides, the arrival of the security team would hopefully create some distraction. McDonald. Tom McDonald. I felt the weight of the sky on my cheeks. The night air was cold. I’ve done this before. In cities, in bigger and more populated areas. I’ve done this to men I’ve never known. The little voice in my heart spoke out. I shouldn’t be here. I was meant to leave two weeks before. After Cindy’s face was punched up and her body was found by the dam. I was meant to leave after David raped his targets girlfriend before strangling her with his scarf.

Mathew’s breath was visible. He was with David that night. He was used to all of this. More than me. He spent his last pay check on a woman that pleased him beyond words. And a car. The car was really to get the woman. I wondered if she would take him now. Now that my finger had pressed the trigger. That the decision was made. I knew each curve of McDonald’s skin. The expressions he made. The way he lied, or told someone something he loved. The way he drank through a straw, the way he smiled at children.

I also knew Mathews waistcoat. He wore it every time I saw him. The six buttons each carved from wood from Ireland. The little nooks from when he fought a bar man in Egypt three years before hand. He told that story with pride. Now they were red. The bullet had penetrated through his left lung and he bled all over the beautiful wooden buttons. I saw McDonald stand up, getting in front of his girlfriend. Hand on his own gun by his side, looking, trying to find where the bullet had come from.

I told myself I could run. I told myself Higgins wouldn’t find me. I told myself I wouldn’t end up like Cindy, or that woman…I told myself Ruby was a survivor.

They told me it had been seventy two hours. Seventy two hours of bleeding, of zoning out while I was told how much of a whore I was. Seventy two hours of being a shell. It took a further six months to write the report on what had happened. To pass all the tests, to return to work. Six months and everything was classified. I removed the name of Ruby from my mind. Ruby had died in the warehouse by the pier. I was Special Agent Davidson again. Promoted, sort of. I have my own team now. I don’t have to go undercover again. My second in command sits on my diagonal. His wrist with a cheap watch, his suit fitting a little lose. His brown eyes scanning the computer in front of him. He opened the draw, and stretched his fingers. He put a pen to his lips as he thought. I pretend I don’t know how he takes his coffee. I look surprised when he swears in Spanish. I smile when he introduces me to his girlfriend. I look intrigued when he tells me of the bloke in the waistcoat murdered in cold blood. I pretend I know nothing, all while knowing how fast his heart beats, how he looks when flustered…I would protect him come rain or hail and I would be lucky if he helped me up from falling. He’s wearing that smile again. Higgins never loved his brothers.

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