The Man In Black Hits The RoadbyHeathen Hemmingway©
The man in black hits the road
It was a miserable night. Rain fell in dark sheets across the path cut by the Crown Vic's headlights. The big black sedan swept down the deserted highway while the wipers batted back and forth at the chilly rain. It wasn't cold enough for the roads to ice over, but it was damned close. Most people would avoid driving in weather like that at all costs. But the man behind the wheel, well he wasn't like most people. He was Hell bent to make it to the other side of the country. He had an appointment to keep, and the man in black never missed an appointment. In almost twenty years at a hard-handed and unforgiving job, the man in black had never missed an appointment. He could have flown or taken a charter bus of course, but that wouldn't suit his needs. He traveled alone, and let's just say that he had some luggage with him that wouldn't make him too popular at an airport.
He wiped his eyes and then took his foot off of the gas pedal. The Crown Vic gradually slowed and he pulled over carefully onto the side of the road. Once the car was at a stop he stretched a bit and yawned.
"Goddamned insomnia." He muttered. "When I want to sleep, I can't. And when I need to stay awake I can barely keep my eyes open."
He looked at his face in the rear view mirror.
"Dammit man." He grunted to himself. "You look a hundred years old."
The truth was, he thought to himself, that he felt a hundred years old. He opened the glove box and pulled out a thick brown envelope with a metal clasp on the flap. He opened the envelope and pulled out a stack of papers and a picture. Without looking he reached up and turned on the overhead light. He studied the picture for a moment and then looked at himself in the mirror again. He shook his head and closed his eyes.
"You know..." He said into the cold silence. "You could just turn around and go home. You could just go. No one would question it. You could tell them anything you want and they would buy it. You could tell them your man was already gone, you could tell them he wasn't where he was supposed to be. You could tell them anything. They won't doubt you. You can tell them to keep their money and everything will be fair. They will find somebody else to pick up where you left off. You've had a perfect record for too long. You could just let it go, turn around and go home and count this one as your first loss."
A tear burned its way down his cheek, slowly. It felt like a cold finger touching his skin.
"In less than eight hours I could be at home in my bed with Christine asleep on my feet." He told himself.
The man in black opened his eyes and looked at the picture again. A pair of bright blue eyes stared back at him from the photograph. Those eyes are closed forever now.
"Yeah, I could tell them to keep their money, but everything wouldn't be fair, would it?" He said, wiping the tears from his face with an angry swipe.
He sat there in silence for several moments. The only sounds to be heard were the faint drone of the Crown Vic's engine and the rain tapping overhead. He sighed aloud, and then put the picture and papers back in the envelope and returned it to the glove box.
"No Hell it wouldn't." He said angrily, and put the Crown Vic in gear.
Moments later the big Ford disappeared into the gloom, and so did the man in black.
The Mexican was losing a lot of blood. The bullet in his gut was a screaming hot agony. He couldn't stop running, though. He was running for his life. He clambered atop a tall mound of wood chips and fell face first and then slid down the other side. He grabbed and clawed to stop his decline, but to no avail. He kept on sliding through the dry mass of wood chips until he came to a rest at the bottom of the mound. The man spat and coughed, shaking his head to rid him of the wood chips that had clogged his hair, nose and mouth. The man was covered from head to toe in small cuts and scratches, and he itched something fierce. He managed to stand and gain his balance and then quickly looked around. His breath fogged in front of him in random little clouds of vapor as he heaved for breath. He was somewhere in a lumberyard, but other than that he had no idea where in Hell he was. It was dark out and bitter cold. He could see a faint perimeter of lights some distance away, and presumed they would be near a fence that surrounded the lumberyard. If only he could make it over that fence, he might be home free. He studied his surroundings for a moment longer and then started to run. He didn't make it very far, though.
A single shot rang out and the Mexican fell to his knees. A bright red bloom of blood appeared on his dirtied work shirt, just below the small of his back. He fell onto his side with a ragged wail. He lie there motionless for several moments. He tried to sit up but his legs weren't cooperating. He palmed the ground with both hands and tried to lift himself, but his legs would not respond. He fell flat onto his face and began to cry. Moments later he heard footsteps approaching.
"Dios mio, Senor." A man's voice mocked from behind him.
The Mexican tried to turn over and see who the voice belonged to. He was too exhausted, too spent from the bullet in his belly and his mad dash through the lumberyard. He couldn't feel his legs, only an odd detached feeling below his waist that reminded him of a trip to the dentist as a child. The smiling dentist had given him a shot of Novocain in his mouth, and he remembered touching his cheek afterward. He could feel the pressure of his finger against his cheek, but no sensation. The Mexican realized he had been shot in the back, and the bullet had severed his spine. He knew he was about to die, and he knew he was totally helpless to stop it. He continued crying. His hands dug into the soft earth, clawing at it in a feeble attempt to crawl away. The smell of damp earth and dry wood filled his nostrils. He could also detect the sickly sweet smell of blood, his own. The ground underneath him was red with it.
"Do you know what today is mi amigo?" The voice asked.
The Mexican didn't respond. He lie there crying in a growing pool if his own blood.
"Today is a good day to die." The voice said.
A foot materialized out of the darkness and suddenly the Mexican felt a blinding white pain in his stomach. Before darkness took him he caught a brief glimpse of a slender shadow looming over him. Seconds later a gunshot rang out. Then there was blackness.
"That's what happens when you don't pay your bills amigo." The voice said sullenly. "That's what happens when you fuck with me."
The shadow turned and walked away, whistling a merry tune. He meandered between huge piles of wood chips and sawdust until he reached a fence, and then strolled along the fence for a few minutes until he reached a gate. Standing over the gate was a pole with a single light at the top. It cast a muted white light. As he passed under the light it shone dully against the expensive tailored suit he was wearing, grey with thin black pinstripes. He was rail thin, yet a bit wiry looking. His short hair was sand colored. He looked like an up and coming young executive, not a gun happy hired killer. But that's exactly what Jeremy Michael Finch was. Not only was he a hired killer, he was one of those sick souls who enjoyed every minute of it. To hear him tell it, he was the greatest assassin ever born, a machine of pure clinical destruction. In his mind he was the finest instrument of warfare ever conceived by the minds of men. Matter of fact, he had taken the time to tell a few of his victims that before he finished them off. He didn't want them thinking they were going to be killed by just anyone. Dammit, he wanted them to know they got bumped off by someone special.
Suddenly he stopped and pulled a cell phone out of a pocket. It was vibrating in his hand. He touched a button and held it up to his ear nonchalantly.
"Yes." He hissed.
"I've got a job for you." A man's voice said. "Be in Dallas tomorrow by noon."
"You assume I'll accept it." He replied, instantly angry. "I'm a busy man."
"You're busy like I'm the Pope." The voice snapped. "And if you want your payment for the Mexican then you'll be in Dallas tomorrow by noon. Got that Finch?"
"But of course." He answered, trying to sound casual despite his growing anger. That man knew how to see right through him, precisely how to push his buttons. And it drove him just plain nuts. "I'll make time for it."
The voice on the telephone made an exasperated 'hmph' noise.
"Whatever. Just be there." The voice said. "I need you to pay a visit to some damned bumpkin out in the styx, so be ready to travel. And be on your toes when you arrive. This guy's a ghost. We don't even know if our location is good or not. Only hard fact we have is that he dresses in black. Other than that all we have to go on are guesses. So be sharp, kid."
"My name isn't kid." He responded angrily, speaking slowly as if to emphasize his point.
"Of course it's not. Be there by noon." The man said, his voice followed by a click then silence.
Jeremy Michael Finch was a young man who had allowed himself to be consumed by hate. He hated women, hated blacks, hated Jews, hated Mexicans, so forth and so on. He hated so well that he did it without thinking at times. His hate was the foremost thing in his life. It was bigger than he was. The sad part was that he hated because he liked to. He led a privileged life and never went without a thing, yet for some reason the sensation of animus toward another human being made him feel good about himself. After all, why should he let someone else's feelings or needs come between him and the most important thing in the world, himself? He was quick to assume that anyone who didn't remind him of himself deserved to be hated.
And for all the gleeful hate that he kept close to him, the one thing that he hated more than anything else in the world was to be called 'kid'.
To Be Continued
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