the afterthought

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 8 (v.1)

Submitted: February 02, 2011

Reads: 86

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Submitted: February 02, 2011

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Gerald Smith had taken his mother’s maiden name when he was old enough, rejecting any kind of lineage that would have come with his father---that same father who, faceless and basically nameless to him, disappeared without a trace before he himself would have been able to attain these simple attributes. He held that angst inside and only let it come out during fights while he was in high school. Like a powder keg, always ready to blow, Smith never passed up the chance to take out the anger instilled within pertaining to his father, on those that would step in his way, stupidly, for any given reason. His guidance counselor, Mr. Shrap, constantly would ask him if he wanted to talk about the rage that welled up inside him. He was trying his hardest to keep Smith from suffering a more dire consequence when he finally graduated and made it out into the real world. What Shrap did not know is that Smith had already been arrested for vandalizing a shop window in the small town where they both resided. Smith didn’t volunteer such information, and Shrap was growing sick of the tedious upkeep of weekly reminders every time there was a fight in school. Smith did graduate, and Shrap was glad to see him go, as he was quite a few students during his time as a high school counselor. 
After taking a year to bum around the country in a car that Smith’s grandparent’s had bought him for a graduation present, Smith returned to the small town where he grew up. He began to work a night job with UPS, and saved every penny that he made, until after a year or so, he had accumulated enough to ask for a transfer to NYC. This rare luxury was awarded Smith after his boss had lost to him in a card game a few months prior, and with a job already set in the city and a nice nest egg saved up, he was able to make his way down to what would become his permanent home. These things, these biographical little tidbits, they are the things that a shrink may scribble down after a session or too with the man in question, however, they are not that important. What is important to us is that we understand that Mr. Smith held a bit of a violent nature all of his life growing up, and certainly that did not go away when he came down to the Big Apple.
We fast-forward to Mr. Smith having attained a highly esteemed position with an elite group within the city known simply as “The Dark Syndicate.” Over a few years, probably more than five, but less than ten---no one really knows, or knows how to find out---Smith found his way into the Syndicate, in that same randomly fortunate manner that separates the small time crooks from those that give out substantial orders to the various factions in the city. Being a “member” of such a group, like many of the secret societies that function to this day, holds with it a “don’t ask, don’t tell,” sort of policy. “Member,” this title is more honorary than anything, as no one who has ever met a member of the group in question has actually lived to discuss it, and so this group weaved its way throughout the News and the Post, amidst the lesser papers on a semi-daily basis. There might be a story ever so often in a small section of the paper, as these stories were so frequent, the daily reader lost interest in them. The law enforcement agencies in the city all seemed to agree that the members of this group may not hold an allegiance to the one that the papers had coined, and instead may be members of other gangs, possibly even the mafia, and basically, in their spare time they were freelancing---taking contracts that had nothing to do with their full-time obligations, simply for money.
Smith had a day job, where he worked at a newspaper writing crappy little pieces about the daily events in the city. It did him well, covering the real work that he did for the Syndicate, which was the scoping out of prospective individuals who might soon be “expirees,” as they were referred to by his cohorts. Smith’s reputation as a man who finished his contracts on time, dealing with them quite diligently, won him respect and envy within the organization. The contracts normally were handed to their “investigators” without any history on the question of why said contract was to be completed. Only centering upon the questions of when, how, whom and the preferences dealing with what nature the investigation would take, Mr. Smith went about his investigation of a Miss Violet Hays with no different routine than he would have any other prospective “expiree.”
Smith received the package that would commence every investigation in the same fashion. At lunch time on any given Thursday, that being 1pm, he would get a text message from an unknown number. This text message would be an address in the city, somewhere that could be found within walking distance of where he was currently working---that being the shitty little newspaper that he was writing his crappy little stories at. When he made his way to the address in question, he would stand in front of the building and look up at the building parallel to the one in which he was standing in front of. There would be someone, three floors up, who had been watching for him through usually large curtains. When they saw him, they would text him again, from the unknown number. With the exception of one time, the way up to the floor in question always meant that Smith had to climb stairs. When he started with the Syndicate, that unknown amount of years ago, he didn’t mind climbing the stairs, but years of smoking and lack of exercise was taking its toll on him and he secretly wished that there were less stairwells in his life and more elevators. 
He would make his way up the stairwell and at the third floor he would knock three times. He had no idea why everything seemed to be dealt with in threes, but then again, he would be getting a big fat paycheck after completing the contract so he didn’t really give a shit---it just seemed a little fairy-tale like to him. In the case of Miss Hayes, as with everyone else he had been handed over the years, he received a few photos. The photos all had significance to the contract. Some would show the individual’s workplace, their recreational outlets, whatever they may be, as well as photos with those that they were intimately involved with. Even though he knew very little about why it was that the Syndicate had handed him a package, there were patterns that showed up consistently, concerning the candidates investigated. For example, with the exception of two expirees, all those investigated by Smith during his years with the Syndicate were single or married individuals that did not have children. A factor like this, he could not chalk up to anything though, as he had no idea why it was that they had a contract on them. And even then, he felt that children may have been involved, but they had only not been in the picture at the time. Certainly they could have been staying with relatives, off to school somewhere, etc. Smith didn’t know. But then again, he didn’t care. It was a job, and it was really quite simple. Like anything, you just had to do it more, to practice, and as with most things, you would become better at it because you had. Smith had made a good amount of money leading the double life that he did, and it kept him alive, as far as the Syndicate was concerned. He probably could have continued leading two lives, unfettered by any kind of disturbance for quite a few more years---but then he got handed Miss Violet Hays.
Violet Hays was a stunningly beautiful woman---so much so, that she found no problem in finding employment in the city. She came to the city to be an actress, however, and as was the case with so many aspiring actresses, she was more beautiful than she was talented. And so she worked as a dancer in a couple clubs during the week. This gave her more than enough income to pursue whatever she wanted to while she wasn’t dancing. For the most part, she worked on student plays and films which would allow her time to “work on her chops,” with the hope that she would someday make the big time. Violet came to the city sober, shocking every model and actress that she befriended when she got there. It wasn’t until she started dancing that she began to drink. Drinking lead to other things, like something out of an after-school special, and within a short bit of time, Miss Hays had fallen in with the wrong crowd, so to speak. 
The wrong crowd, in the case of Miss Hays, consisted of a few men who came into one of the clubs that she regularly danced at. They, as most of the men in the club, wanted more than a lap dance or time spent in conversation while they liquored up, and in particular, at The Night Walker, a creepily named strip club in mid-town, there was an adjacent hotel wherein those men who would pay enough money, would get the girls to spend more “quality” time with them. As both the club and the hotel bore the appearance of prestigious establishments, the illegality of those actions that went on behind said doors were seldom checked on by the local authorities---if anything, because often those most frequent clients just happened to be one in the same. 
Miss Hays had been dancing one evening and a member of a four-member gang that came in at least three nights a week, and whom was sitting in the near-front by the stage, walked up to give her money. She leaned down with her hip close to him so that he could place it in her panty-belt and when she went to do so, the bill that he was handing her was of a much larger denomination than she had ever been given. The man himself looked like someone who shopped at Godfather-R-Us, and looked in no way like he was hurting for money. Hays, to her credit, was under the influence of a few intoxicating things and if one excuses the actions of another for such a reason, than one could do so in this moment. As she accepted the bill, allowing him to slide it behind her panty-belt at the side of her right hip, she also accepted his invitation to come and meet him later at the parallel hotel. 
A member of the security staff at the club walked Violet over to the hotel, and waited with her at the elevator. The man who had asked her to come had been waiting in a room a few floors up and when Violet and her escort arrived, the receptionist phoned him to come downstairs to receive her there. When the man opened the stairwell door, as he did not take the elevator, Violet and her escort seemed startled a bit. They both turned towards him and he walked slowly and calmly towards them. “Miss Roxy, you have come. This is quite delightful.” Said the man, whose name Violet had yet to get. She figured that he would give her a fake name, as any man would who wanted to cover up his actions at the club and in this case, at the hotel. 
Violet, like all the dancers, had names that they used at the club, which ensured the privacy of their outside lives, as long as they were not stalked. The security at The Night Walker was strong enough whereby there was never any problem with that kind of behavior on behalf of the customers, however, as there was never a chance for an individual to be stalked. Security escorted the ladies to the garage out behind the club, and a private car would take them as close to where they lived as they would like, or if the case was that they lived too far, they would be let off at a taxi service and the club’s security would wait for the girl to get into the taxi. This kind of treatment was unheard of in the city, but the owners of the club figured that it would make the dancers feel safer, and therefore they would stay longer at the club. If the dancers stayed longer at the club, the owners would be able to budget themselves accordingly. Dancers in the city were a dime a dozen, however, stable dancers who could be counted on to come and do their job at the proper given time were a bit more rare.
The man stood there for a moment as the security man sized him up non-verbally. “She will be fine with me sir,” the man assured Violet’s security, “there are cameras all over this place and it has its own soldiers on foot patrol as well.” As Violet smiled and moved towards the man she had come to see, her security escort told her to call him if she had any problems, and then he turned around and left through the door they had both come in. The man held out his hand and Violet grasped it gently with her own. He bowed down and kissed it, making her blush. She had seen the likes of many a man in her time dancing in the club, but no one had kissed her hand. It was such an old fashioned gesture that she felt all of the sudden vulnerable in a way that she could only equate to some kind of romantic feeling that would come with the first touch of a high school crush. “My name is Paul. That is my real name, miss. My friends may refer to me as Paully, but my given name is Paul,” the man said as he lead her gently to the stairwell. Violet was both comforted by the fact that this man had supposedly given her his real first name, albeit nothing she could really confirm, but then in the same moment she was unnerved by the fact that he was leading her back to the stairwell. “You aren’t a fan of the elevator, Paul,” she asked. “Actually I am not, miss um,” Violet thinking quick and deciding to stay with the club name for a while answered “Roxy. You can call me Roxy, just as you found me.” “Alright Miss Roxy…actually no, I am not a fan of the elevator. I am not a fan of the elevator here or anywhere, as it was where my younger brother was killed a few years ago. It doesn’t set well with me now. It seems such a fragile instrument, and lazy as well, I mean, if both your legs work.” Violet nodded and continued with him through the door. He walked beside her with his arm around her waist. This made her feel like she was either in a healthy relationship in college, walking along the shore of a lake at sunset, or a senior citizen being helped on her way to where she kept her glass of dentures. Paul began to have conversation with her as they made their way up the stairwell.
P: “So what is it that you do when you aren’t dancing at the Walker, Miss Roxy?”
V: “Hang out with friends…roam the city…you know, things like that.”
P: “So you aren’t a student? You aren’t working your way through college? Jesus, it seems like every dancer I have spoken with, is somehow paying her way through something.”
V: “Well aren’t we all paying our way through something? I mean, had this been a free ride, I don’t think I would have to be dancing at all.”
P: “I see where you are going. Then I can assume that dancing is not what you came to the city for. There is something else that you are here for then. You paint the picture as if you are something of a strolling drifter, however, you are not. Are you an aspiring actress? Artist? Musician?”
V: “Maybe one, maybe all in the same.”
Violet smiled and with her free hand, she pushed back her hair. Paul stepped out in front of her and opened the door on the floor where they had stopped. He held it open in a gentlemanly manner and she passed through, nodding to him and speaking a quiet “Thank you.” When the two were both through the door they made their way down the hall until Paul stopped at Room 16. “Well, this is it, Madamoiselle,” he said as he pulled the key from his pants and unlocked the door. Violet stepped inside after him and felt nervous all of a sudden. Certainly with all the time that she had to refuse the invitation, or to go back on it, she was aware at sometime that option would expire, but when she heard him close the door behind her, reality set in. She was going to make a lot of money, probably more than she normally would have in any given week, dancing at both of the clubs, but she didn’t know what was going to happen in the room she had just willingly locked herself in. What “Paul,” or “Paully,” as his friends called him, had in mind for her, was unknown to her, and she turned to look at him. He had not even taken off his suit coat yet, but was pouring a drink for himself at the little bar in the corner of the room. When he saw her look at him, he asked her if she wanted something to drink. 


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