Jacob Hamilton always hated open spaces, yet he wasn’t agoraphobic, he was just smart. The station on Boston’s Rockport line was the perfect meeting place for a man whose profession was as shady as the surroundings he kept. It was dark, poorly lit and scary for the uninitiated, not a place you’d want to be on your own. He’d been there half an hour before the agreed meeting time of 7:25pm. For him it was nothing untoward, it was just an obligatory common practice to be early. Employment in his chosen profession was nothing he’d taken lightly, but when he announced his decision to enter the family business they welcomed him with open arms. Prep school in London had done little to prepare him for the cut throat world he entered, neither did the three years military service, in fact it was his parents who finished his schooling for him.
Carefully he unwrapped a piece of loose gum he’d carried with him and popped it nervously in his mouth. Nerves always kept him in check, it was their way of making sure he never took anything for granted, especially the most dangerous part of the whole deal, the meeting. Word of mouth was usually the way he got referred, except this one was slightly different. A chance encounter that’s all it was. Except Jacob Hamilton didn’t believe in chance encounters. Chance always suggested a little forethought. For Jacob there was no forethought only context.
Jacob wasn’t exactly an old head on young shoulders, but he wasn’t the new kid on the block either. He’d served his time and his apprenticeship, well and with distinction, yet there was still something about the first kill that troubled him. His father told him it would before it happened, but in his flippant arrogant way, he disrespected him, disbelieving everything the bespectacled grey haired man was telling him, so when it began to give him nightmares he humbly apologized. “Think nothing of it son,” comforted his father putting a guiding hand on his tender shoulder. “We’ve all had them. I have. My father before me. His father before him, and so on.”
A cold winter wind blew directly in from Canada as he stood passively waiting, his teeth chattering under a black woolen thermal hat. Jacob hated winter in New England with a passion, he’d rather be back on the British Virgin Islands where he had a house on the beach, scuba diving in the crystal clear blue waters that surrounded his adopted home. Normally he would be, except this particular phone call insisted on meeting him in Boston. He didn’t care, business was business after all, and any person’s motive for wanting someone dead was just as good as the next, providing the money was acceptable.
Jacob was unaware of the pair of beady eyes surreptitiously watching him. Association by name only was never a good thing to rely on and the eyes scowling at him couldn’t be certain that this was the man he was supposed to meet, so he waited aloofly until he was one hundred percent in the man’s identity. “Mr. Hamilton?” he inquired.
Jacob was never a yes man. That implied he was corruptible. No, he was his own man. A smart man. A man with his own ideas. His own thoughts. So why was he here waiting for a man? A man he barely knew. Gazing through intoxicated eyes they looked at each other, hard. A cigarette dropped to the floor and an outstretched hand inducted him to the brotherhood.
“Welcome Mr. Hamilton.” His contact said.
Jacob felt the grip tighten around his hand like a noose. It was rough and old like a piece of leather being left out to dry. “Business or pleasure?” he asked once he was sure he could trust him.
“What’s wrong with small talk?”
“You’re obviously here for a reason,” Jacob reminded him looking up and down the railroad platform. “So let’s just cut to the chase shall we?”
“Very well,” replied the contact gesturing Jacob to a nearby wooden bench. It was cold and hard as was the atmosphere. “Usual terms and conditions?”
“Agreed,” nodded Jacob taking a brown packet from the small, but burly framed man. Pulling an unassuming silver knife from the inside of his heavy brown steel toe capped boot he slit it open. Carefully he counted the money that was wrapped tightly in red bound bankers tape before taking the single solitary black and white photograph from the inside. “Whose this?”
“Adrik Ivanov. A small time Russian petty thief.”
Jacob knew there was no such thing as a small time Russian petty thief. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars up front with Two Hundred and fifty thousand more was proof in itself. Contract killing was all about the money, plain and simple. That was something his father told him when he entered the family business. Assassin for hire, Jacob Hamilton had lineage to back up his skills honed by years of plying his trade in a black market where reputation was everything. Twenty seven years old he was already in double figure body counts with scars to match. A small scar on his left cheek, the first, caused by a wayward shard of glass from a broken beer bottle, the latest a bullet wound graze on his right shoulder when his last target, a French terrorist living in Barbados, wouldn’t die quietly.
“So where is he?” he asked.
“Last he was heard of, Ivanov was working on some fishing boat in Alaska.”
With a British father and an American mother Jacob had the guile to smell a rat a mile off without being hindered by the restraints of either countries profiling. He had gained his father’s love of old classic cars and his mother’s love of guns with a mixed accent somewhere in the middle of both.
Cautiously he glanced sideways, his blue slightly grey eyes making his contact squirm uneasily on the wooden bench. “And that was the last you heard of him?”
Alaska seemed a logical move for small time petty Russian thief, if he was trying to go straight, but his gut feeling told him something wasn’t quite right. If this man was just a petty common criminal trying to go straight, why would someone want him dead? It didn’t make sense and he knew it, but after all business was business and the money was good. So why did he feel like he was being used? A pawn to do someone else’s dirty work. But then Jacob reminded himself that’s what he was anyhow. Just a pawn .
“How good is this intelligence?” he continued.
The destination board hanging on metallic silver pole rattled as it confirmed the approaching non-stop express train was on time. The contact yawned and stretched before standing up.
“Four weeks old.”
Jacob stuck out his bottom lip and nodded in approval. “Okay, seems fair enough. You know the rules, don’t contact me, I will contact you when the job is completed.”
The contact smiled nervously as he made his way to the edge of the platform. “Don’t worry Mr. Hamilton I won’t.”
A cacophonous sound echoed louder and louder as the high speed train made its way to the station.
“You going somewhere?” yelled Jacob.
The contact turned to look at him “This is my train.”
“But it’s a non-stop express train.” Jacob reminded him.
Jacob squirmed as the contact’s body was struck squarely by the engine of the locomotive express. It wasn’t often a man survived jumping in front of train and this was no exception. The shredded torso bounced for miles before the poor driver had chance to slam on the breaks. He stared down the track in disbelief gazing at the crimson encrusted intestines as they fluttered in the frosty evening breeze like confetti. Whatever had made the contact do that was enough to remind him that being an assassin had its pitfalls. He just had to remember to avoid them.
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