I sat in the dark, pondering my life and waiting for my phone to ring. It was inevitable that it would ring. After so many years in the business, I seemed to be able to tell when my phone was going to ring.
It was weird I know, but nonetheless true.
I am in an unusual business, one that many people don’t realise exist. I’m what you would generally call an assassin. I know, it’s immoral and it’s completely outrageous, but I am, and I’m damned good at it. I’d have to be, I’ve been doing it since I was 15. Ten years of killing people kind of gives you some perspective. I’m not a violent person, contrary to popular belief, but I’m not adverse to killing people for money. I refuse to take pleasure in it though. Killing is not a pleasure, and death is not something to rejoice in. I’d say it was ironic that an orphan to violence became a killer. But then so much of my life is ironic I can’t help but shrug my shoulders and get on with it.
It’s my birthday today. 25 years old and what have I got to show for it? A great apartment, a full bank account, a great car, a whole armoury of ordnance that could take a small country. What I didn't have were friends, family; nothing to take pleasure in at all.
I write a lot. I occasionally get printed too; pieces about crime and violence. My abhorrence to it colours a lot of what I submit. There’s another ironic part of my being.
And there’s the phone. Told you it would ring.
“Is this Sachs?” the voice on the other end said. I rolled my eyes. Great another idiot.
“Yes," I replied, waiting for the inevitable pause and then the ‘but you’re a woman’ comment.
“But,” here it comes. “You’re a woman,"
This, I know.
“Yes,” I replied. This happened every time someone who didn’t do their homework rang me.
“I was told to contact Andy Sachs," I let the whole thing sink into the dense man’s brain for a moment, silently waiting for instructions. I was not one for talk, the fewer people knew about me the less dangerous it was for me to be in the same place for long periods of time.
“Are you going to offer me a contract, or should I hang up?” I asked, not willing to sit around idly anymore. If there was one thing I detested it was moving slowly. Even on my off days I would spend my days in the gym, or running in the city. New York was a melting pot of people and culture and it was beautiful once you got to know it.
“Ur, right, well, I need you to,” I rolled my eyes again, hissing in frustration.
“Not on the phone. You will meet me at the Bethesda Fountain, tomorrow at 3 pm exactly. Stand at the end of the terrace, with your back to the fountain looking at the boathouse. Have a bag at your feet with the documents inside. I will tap you twice on the shoulder and you will not turn around. Have everything I need to know in the bag or I'll cancel the job. I will leave my details in your left pocket. I do not do the job until the full amount is deposited into my bank account. Is that satisfactory?”
“Um, yes, I need her gone, she’s a bitch and I really really -”
“I don't need to know. I will or will not do the job as I see fit. If I decide to decline, you will receive all your money back." I hung up the phone, tired of talking and ready to focus on something constructive.
I sighed. I hated killing women. I don’t know why, maybe because I am one, or maybe because in my experience women aren’t nearly as cruel as men. Bitchy? Yes. But cruel and vengeful? No, at least not many. There were few women in my profession, that was for sure.
I poured myself a glass of bourbon. Swilling it in my glass as I looked out over the city, I smiled to myself. There was another ironic thing about my life. I hated the job, but when I had one I had something to focus on. Everything else just seemed to fade away.
I swallowed my drink, set the alarm and went to bed.
I’d have a head start if I actually got the money. My prices weren't cheap. It usually weeded out the ones who were less sure of what they wanted.
As usual, I got to the park at 2. I knew from experience that first-timers got there a little early to try and catch a glimpse of me. They had no idea that they would never, ever, see the real me. I had so many faces that no one anywhere knows what I looked like. I corrected myself. My doctor knew me well enough, but he was roughly in the same line of business as I was, so I had nothing to worry about from him.
I sat on the steps, embracing the homeless disguise as I watched the people milling around the fountain taking pictures on their phones. Nobody just looked anymore. At around 2:45 I glimpsed what I knew to be my new client. An impeccably dressed man, clutching a briefcase and pushing through the crowds. His eyes were on a swivel.
I smiled to myself.
They were all so predictable. He stood at the end of the terrace like I told him to. His eyes never stopped scanning the crown and I decided that I did not like this man.
That didn’t mean I wouldn’t do the job, just meant I’d hate the idea the whole time. He finally turned around and I started to move towards him. I weaved in and out of the crowd effortlessly, not drawing attention to myself in any way. After ten years in the business, I knew how to move silently and fluidly. I wondered if everyone took their jobs as seriously as I did.
I watched the man twitching nervously and I decided to have a bit of fun with him. Knocking into him, I apologised profusely in an accent no-one could ever place, begging for money, or food. I liked the man even less after seeing the look he gave me and was glad that I had given him a slightly inflated price for the job.
“Got money Meester?” I husked, holding out my hand. He backed away and shuddered in his thousand dollar suit.
“No, no, go away," he said, shuddering again.
“Just need food Meester, dollar iz good, anyting you can spare.”
As he turned away I slipped my details into his pocket and grabbed the briefcase, removing the torn jacket and wig. I turned into someone else before I’d even left his side. I didn’t look back until I had made it to the roadway, pulling my Oakley shades over my face to watch him. I emptied the briefcase, putting the papers in my jacket and dumped it in a garbage can. The leather gloves I always wore were itchy and I longed to take them off. Summer was not the right season for gloves.
I watched with a smile as he looked around, completely confused. The panic on his face as he looked to his feet and saw the case had gone. It made me happy that I had inconvenienced him.
I walked away, knowing that I would have the money within a few days.
The journey back to my loft in Tribeca took long enough that by the time I was home, I was ready to meet my new target.
“Hi honey I’m home,” I called to my empty apartment, smiling to myself at the little joke I had with myself. I’m convinced that if anyone saw the way I acted when I was at my place they’d lock me up in a sanatorium. Then again, I’m not saying I shouldn’t be locked up anyway. Nine times out of ten the people I killed were generally bad people. In the beginning, though, I wasn’t so fussy.
I pulled out dossier he'd made me and spread them on the table. My face betrayed my surprise as I saw who it was. Miranda bloody Priestly. La Priestly. The Ice Queen of fashion, Editor-in-Chief of Runway magazine.
About the most high profile target you could get in New York City.
I looked through the files, trying to get a feel for the woman. By all accounts, she was a bitch on crack and I would be doing the world a favour by topping her. But, there was something, something else. As I looked at her photo I saw something in her eyes, something that I hadn’t seen before in anyone's eyes.
I stared at it for an hour, trying to determine what it was I could see, my bourbon forgotten. I found myself smiling as I continued to read her file. The number of people she'd fired over the course of the last year was mind-boggling. Whether I got the contract or not, this would be fun.
I checked my watch. 7 pm. Good time to go hunting. I grabbed my gear, black pants, shirt, jacket. All very expensive tailor-made gear. It wouldn’t look amiss at a business conference, and yet it would afford me the perfect clothing to do pretty much anything in, including swim. This I’d found out the hard way, not that it mattered, but at least I knew.
I strapped two knives to my ankles and three to my ribs, fitting perfectly with the line of my jacket. I tended not to use them, preferring to use something a little more subtle when actually performing the task allotted to me, however, I was on recon, so I could pack what I wanted. Grinning to myself I grabbed my keys and headed to her townhouse. I parked a couple of blocks away and walked, keeping to the shadows, blending perfectly into my surroundings, in a way that only someone with my level of experience could attain. Standing outside the house, I watched for a while, working out where the best entry point was, where I could get stuck. It was three levels, which was unusual for a single woman. I figured she’d bought it before she’d had her divorce, or else won it in the settlement no doubt.
As I stood in the shadows I watched as a town car pulled up. The driver ran around and opened the door, letting the lady herself out of the car, nodding in respect as he did. It was odd considering she was such a tyrant to work for, that someone in such a menial position should afford her that respect. And it was a respect, it wasn’t expected, or asked for. It was a comment on what the man thought of this woman, this fashion queen. She climbed the steps to her house and turned as if she could feel my eyes on her. I held my breath. In all the years I had worked, no one ever felt me watching.
What was it with this woman.