Sloan twirled the high powered pistol in hand then dropped it into his side holster. It was a mess: several bullet-riddled bodies littered the floor of the dimly-lit apartment and the last person alive hung blindfolded from the beams in the exposed wall, chained to the wood.
“I-is it over?” he asked nervously. “A-are you going t-to kill me n-next?”
“Nah,” Sloan replied and kicked the body nearest him aside as he stomped up. “Whoever paid me said to keep you alive and waste the rest.” Sloan ripped off the banding over the young man’s eyes and he looked down at Sloan, surprised.
“You sound so old!” the young man cried. “I thought it was some old guy coming to save me!”
“Yeah?” Sloan cracked a wide grin. “That’s from chain smokin’ and boozin’ too much, dig?”
“So are you going to let me down?”
“Naw, I was paid to clean up, not save your scrawny ass.” Sloan pat the young man on the cheek. “You’re alive and whatever. I did my thing.” Sloan turned on his heel and waved a hand over his head. “Later!”
“Hey!” the young man cried as Sloan walked out. “Hey, let me down!”
Hurrying down the steps, Sloan stopped at the bottom of the staircase and withdrew his cigarette case and lighter from his inside jacket pocket. Moments later, two women in black entered the apartment complex and made their way upstairs. Sloan immediately felt uneasy as he lit a cigarette and pocketed the case and lighter in his jeans.
“Forget it,” he thought and pushed open the door, “it ain’t yer problem!” Sloan exited outdoors and walked down the trash-strewn street, smoking casually. He never considered buying a car since maintenance fees cut into his drinking and cigarette budget. Sloan usually charged extra to get a ride and though the client complained he made a point that he was the only one even willing to solve their problem when no one else would and his prices were reasonable. Any other chump would want more, even ask for a body or two to use. Sloan grunted at the thought and quickly tried to switch gears to something else. When he started his horrible work of a job, that’s when the pipes stopped working and he just couldn’t feel it any more. No one, no man or woman, caught his eye the same way. He’d acknowledge their beauty but that was it. The idea made Sloan more depressed. It was time for another round.
Kicking in the door of his favorite bar, he waved to the tender that glared at him. The other customers littered at the counter or at the tables in the dimly lit enclave murmured their greetings.
“Put it on my tab,” Sloan called and made for his usual spot in the back. He paused when he saw a young woman sitting in his seat. She wore all black: dress, hosiery, heels, gloves, clutch purse, even her wide-brimmed hat that had dark veil. Sloan bent over sideways to get a better glance. Even her lipstick was black! “What the hell, lady?” Sloan snapped. “I don’t do this for fun, ya dig?”
“I just buried my husband today,” the mysterious woman said flatly. “I want you to make sure he stays dead.”
“Whoa, hey, if he’s all embalmed and shit- he’s good lady, trust me,” Sloan said, putting up his hands. He whistled to the tender. “Send me three pints to start!”
“Get it yerself!” the tender snapped back.
“Don’t make me rape you man,” Sloan barked.
“With what?” The other patrons in the pub guffawed. Sloan pulled out his wallet that had a few dollars and fed the nearby jukebox. After putting in twenty’s worth, he smashed all the buttons under ‘techno’ and took a seat across from the woman in black.
“Mind if we switch seats?” Sloan asked. “I don’t like my back to the door.”
“You have your gun on,” the woman said. “What more do you need?”
“It’s on the wrong side.”
“So switch sides.”
“Sure, with you.” The woman grunted but made no motion to move. Sloan sighed and leaned back in his seat. “Well, since you’re gonna be a hardass, I’m doubling my prices.”
“Just on a whim like that?”
“You bet yer ass, lady.”
“Fine, what are your rates?”
“Two-thousand up front, a thousand for expenses and five-hundred an hour,” Sloan snapped.
“I thought it was --”
“Never mind it lady,” Sloan spat. “You caught me on a real bad day and if you can’t pay, then kick rocks.” The woman smirked.
“You’re getting old,” she teased. “You’re much milder than what you used to be.”
“What the fucking hell?” Sloan shouted. He quickly stood to his feet and threw the table aside. “I ain’t changed a goddamn bit, lady! Don’t act like you know me!”
“Here’s your money,” the woman murmured and opened her clutch purse. She withdrew an envelope and held it out for Sloan.
“I don’t take checks,” Sloan snapped as he snatched it away. Opening it, he found five ten-thousand dollar bills inside. His mouth dropped open. Suddenly Sloan found it hard to speak and the world crashed around him.
Cold water splashed on his face and Sloan groaned as he saw the woman in black standing over him, along with the bartenders Karl and Gwen that both held pitchers in hand.
“You need medical or something?” Karl asked. “You’ve been hitting it pretty heavy lately.”
“Man, it’s nothing,” Sloan groaned as he sat up. “I’m fine.” He waved them away. “Just gimmie some air or whatever.”
“Sloan, you need to slow down,” Gwen murmured. “We still need your crazy drunk ass here!” Sloan cracked a smile.
“I ain’t gonna go down like that or whatever,” Sloan said and rubbed at his eyes. “Get outta here, ya punks. I said I’m fine!” The bartenders left and Sloan stood unsteadily to his feet. He grabbed the fallen envelope and quickly pocketed it into his jacket. The woman in black handed him his sunglasses that had fallen off his face.
“You’re not that old,” she said.
“I know,” Sloan replied. “Let’s go.”
“I’ll drive if you like. You need to rest.”
“If you wanna incur more expenses...”
“I’m sure that’ll cover it.” Sloan clenched his teeth and followed the woman outside to her car - a stretched thirty-year old black sedan with darkly tinted windows and chrome grill, fenders, and bumpers. The driver exited the car and opened the rear passenger door for them.
“Where would Madam like to go?” the driver asked. She turned to Sloan and he shrugged his shoulders.
“That one rundown motel that everyone avoids,” Sloan answered. “I live there.”
“What’s the point of making all that money and you still live there?” the driver grumbled as he slammed the door and made his way around to the driver’s side.
“I wonder about that too sometimes,” Sloan murmured.
After gaining a change of clothes and putting the rest of his money in the safe he kept in the toilet for transferring to the bank later, Sloan felt ill at ease once the woman’s driver approached the graveyard. He stepped out the car and walked up the path according to her directions. Sloan eventually found the plot - a freshly piled mound of dirt that cut into the sparse grasses surrounding it. Nearby was another plot dug open with nothing inside. Sloan kicked at the ground.
“How the hell am I supposed to make sure this son of a bitch is dead?” he thought. “One’s full, the other’s empty!”
“I wish you’d stay away!” a voice shouted at him from behind. Sloan turned and gained a shovel to the face.