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Through the Viewfinder

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Cold eyes assessed the photograph. Within moments he would have even the most miniscule detail committed to memory. For the performance of his task, the added perusal wasn't necessary; however, he was a professional - he did not tolerate surprises. He slid the photo into his pocket, no remorse for the life he was about to take. It was merely a job to him. In the beginning it had been more difficult… but now, it was just a paycheck… and a damned good one at that. It wasn’t only that… even though, that would be enough. After years of work as the most sought out contract killer, he was the most skilled in his ‘profession’. In the underground, he was referred to as ‘The Surgeon’.

 

A sardonic chuckle had been his response the first time he had heard of it. The man that was the best at the destruction of lives was dubbed the name of one that saved lives. To him, that was irony at its best. He realized it was considered a compliment to his style and skills. As in everything he did, he was meticulous. Not a solitary drop of DNA was ever remaining… unless he chose for it to be. Those that hired his special services were aware of the folly their actions would render should they ever dare to double cross him. Some had made the attempt and paid the price. His reputation as it was now… very few even thought of it.

 

He was ever alert, though. A younger, more inexperienced man could come and seek to make a name for himself by using him to do it. Nothing would further a young gun’s reputation more than being the one to take him out. His lips twisted mockingly. That wouldn’t happen.

 

Looking into the mirror, he slipped into his long coat that was worn more for practicality than his own personal taste, before sliding his dark glasses into the front pocket. He placed the new pair of gloves into his pocket, never reusing the same ones. In some instances, he knew he was overly cautious… however, his spotless reputation remained intact. The only evidence, and circumstantial at that, that ever linked him to a professional hit was if the knowledge he was in town leaked out to the wrong people. It was never enough.

 

Walking at a leisurely pace, he left his hotel room, his footsteps taking him in the direction of his unsuspecting quarry. His methodical stalking was at the end of the line. He knew every move this particular man took each day. Typically, he spent a few days following and observing his victim; however, at times there were cases that required much longer. In the case of the bigoted, and self-absorbed Jim Stockwell, this hit would provide him the ultimate of pleasure. A snarl curved his lips as he proceeded to the waterfront where he knew Stockwell would meet one of his nefarious contacts. This hit would be such a pleasure that he might come in the aftermath. If not, he would find some fuck worthy trick to pound into in his own brand of celebration.

 

A car was ready and waiting for him to use once he was prepared to move on Stockwell. From that point on, doing his job on foot would be impossible. He would get Stockwell into the car… and then, it would be over for the corrupt ex-police chief. It amused him how such a man of obvious corruption had made so many enemies in a short amount of time. After losing the election, he had soon after retired. Apparently, he had found his fortune and power through other avenues. The leaders in local organized crime didn’t trust a former cop, whether on their payroll or not. Once they no longer had use of him, the decision to pull the plug had been quick.

 

His time to act would be short. Stockwell always met with his contacts on the pier. An envelope exchanged hands, with Stockwell lingering for only about five minutes afterwards. Stockwell never drove to this location. A taxi would drop him off, with him leaving on foot. He would make his move as soon as Stockwell was alone. Typically, he didn’t make his contact in a place that had the potential to be so open… but Stockwell was a very cautious man. His eyes coldly watching the exchange, he thought to himself - not quite careful enough, though.

 

Unreadable eyes scanning his surroundings, he was pleased to find the pier more abandoned than usual. There were couples scattered here and there… but all of them seemed to be focused on either the water, or each other. Slipping his sunglasses from his pocket and onto his face, that was more to add to his anonymity than for any other reason, he placed the gloves on his hands, before moving in the direction of the now alone Jim Stockwell… his eyes alive with purpose behind the dark lenses. This was the moment that filled him with exhilaration. His only regret was that he wouldn’t see that initial flash of fear in his victim’s eyes. This man was a pariah to society. He would be doing the people of Pittsburgh a favor.

 

Stockwell stared blankly into the murky water, his back tensing when he heard the slow, yet even footsteps stopping behind him. The body wasn’t touching his, and yet he could still feel the menace. It had finally happened. Death had come for him… and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it. As always he was armed. He didn’t even need to turn around to know his weapon would serve no purpose. The man that stood behind him was a professional. He was silent and assessing the situation. Bargaining was his only hope. If this man was who he thought he could be, he realized his pleas would be for nothing.

 

“There is no escape for you, Stockwell. You have two choices. I can work with either…” the words were low, only audible to the two men, neither of them looking at anything other than the rippling water ahead. Not giving Stockwell the time to either plead or ask inane questions, he cuttingly told him, “Either walk away with me now, or I will scatter your brains all over this pier. Your choice, though… and time is ticking, Jimmy boy. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.”

 

“You w-won’t do that…” Stockwell countered, his voice shaky and unsure. “You’ll be exposed.”

 

A mocking laugh swiftly emitted. “I always have a quick getaway planned, and more aliases than you can imagine. Now, I’ve wasted enough time here. Either you come with me, or I finish this now.” His hand was poised on his gun just in case Stockwell didn’t take the route he expected. That was highly doubtful though. His victims never surprised him… in fact, no one ever did. He didn’t expect that to change now. “You have to the count of three. One… Two…”

 

“Okay! Stop… I’ll go with you.” Stockwell turned and faced the man that was clearly hired to be his executioner. He frowned when he looked at the man, not a doubt in his mind of his identity. The man was a legend in the underground. For some reason he had expected someone much older.

 

Walking toward the end of the pier, his expression giving nothing away to anyone passing them by, but his eyes glacial and alert, he grasped Stockwell’s arm tightly, effectively leading him in the direction he wished to go. “Don’t think about running, or pulling a gun on me. I can finish you in an instant - with or without my weapon.”

 

“I know that…” Stockwell whispered hollowly. “If I didn’t know who you were, I would probably fight. Even though we’ve never met, your reputation precedes you, Mr. Kinney.. or whichever name you are currently using. My only hope is cohesive reasoning - man to man.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Brian pushed the repellent man toward the car, mockingly telling him, “That’s a slim hope.” He watched as Stockwell willingly took a seat, not the least bit surprised that the older man was going along with him so easily. That was the advantage of a reputation such as his. He would try to change his mind through his checkbook. The attempt would be fruitless. Sliding into the car next to him, Brian cast a cold, disinterested glance Stockwell’s way. “There’s a plastic bag on the floor. I want you to place all your personal items inside of it - wallet, cellphone, keys, any weaponry… etc.”

 

“Is this standard practice for paid assassins these days? The victim assembles their personal effects?” Grousing or not, Stockwell didn't hesitate to comply; he knew his choices were non-existent. As the car pulled away from the waterfront, he didn’t even look at his surroundings, mindful of the fact that his bargaining time would be very limited.

 

“My technique varies by the situation… if you really need to know.” Brian stared straight ahead, his eyes glancing only briefly to Stockwell’s equally blank expression… waiting for the panic to set in. Despite knowing the reality, men generally went into panic mode before the act was completed. “Don’t worry, Jimmy… we’ll be at the cabin soon.”

 

“C-cabin?” he asked, uncertain if he was more alarmed by that or not. He had assumed he would be murdered and dumped into the river. He should have known better. That was too common for a man of 'The Surgeon’s' style. “Listen, Mr. Kinney… I know you’re a man of reason. I can make this worth your while.”

 

Brian accelerated his speed once they were on the dirt road that was unknown to anyone not intimately connected with the area. He had scoped out the terrain carefully once he had accepted the contract. Stockwell wouldn’t go out filled with lead as with a more typical and quick hit. He had something else in mind for Jim Stockwell. “We’re almost there. Save your pitch until we arrive.” Brian cast a bland smile in Stockwell’s direction. “I might be more appreciative of the humor then…”

 

Stockwell felt his heart thundering in his chest. He’d never been a man to succumb to fear… but it was setting in now. His pleas would be for nothing. He had to find a way to get away from this hired gun… But, it was hopeless. They were now in the middle of nowhere. No one would hear his screams. If they could, Kinney would merely silence him before they could be rendered. Pure and simple - he was doomed.

 

Pulling his gun from inside his jacket, Brian pointed it in Stockwell’s quivering direction. “Get out, and walk very slowly…” Brian hissed, his eyes watching the man that seemed to be going through a mental reversal. He knew the look so very well. Stockwell had been dealing with his reality with a small degree of hope. Suddenly, it had been extinguished. He wouldn’t be doing anything to revive that hope.

 

Once they were inside what was clearly an abandoned cabin, Stockwell shuddered in distaste… unable to believe his life would come to an end in such a desolate place. Turning to face the man that had cold, almost dead eyes trained on him, he tried to find the words that would get him out of this mess. “Mr. Kinney…. S-Sir, don’t be rash. I can double whatever they’re paying you. Just name a price and I will make sure you get it.”

 

“Sit in the chair!” Brian barked at the frightened man, no remorse or feeling showing in him. He had learned that valuable lesson years ago. In fact, he had a scar to show for that juvenile mistake. That would never happen again… and never with a man such as this one. “This isn’t all about the money, Stockwell. Although, I was paid very well to terminate you. No, this goes a bit deeper than that---”

 

Motionless as Kinney circled the chair, tying ropes around his ankles, then to his legs, and up the rest of his body, Stockwell began to squirm as the horror assailed him as to how he was to meet his end. It wasn’t going to be the result of the instant penetration of lead into his organs. Of course not. Brian Kinney would be far more vindictive than that. But… why? “I’ve never encountered you, Kinney. You’re not even from around here… Why is this so personal for you?”

 

“Why?” Brian hissed, his eyes boring into more helpless ones that were widened in horror. “I hate homophobic pricks! It’s one thing to have your opinion. That’s all well and good… but you bombed a club that cost men and women their lives. Then, there are the ones that were permanently crippled or injured.”

 

“What’s that to you!?” He foolishly argued. As far as he was concerned they all deserved it. Disgusting, pathetic faggots. He’d do it again. Knowing he obviously couldn’t boast of that now, he cried out desperately, “That was never proven, Kinney. I didn’t do it. I swear!”

 

Brian moved away, analytically surveying his handiwork. He didn’t doubt that the knots were tight and secure… but, as always, a consummate professional down to the smallest detail. “You are a cowardly fool…” Brian growled. “If you had been forthright - for once in your worthless existence, I would have shot you clean in the head and ended you quickly.” Brian smiled coldly at the man that began straining against his bonds. “I knew you wouldn’t do that… so I have something far more poetic in mind for you.”

 

“Kinney! Don’t do this!” Stockwell began to scream in his horror, his eyes bulging in his head as his assassin nonchalantly strolled to the door, his eyes focusing on Kinney reaching for a small device, his stride to the door never slowing. He began to shriek in terror. “That’s a detonator! You can’t be that cruel!!”

 

Brian turned to face his victim, his eyes unmercilessly sliding over him. He’d rather beat him to death. But… he never played with DNA when he could avoid it. This would eradicate the evidence, and do the job in a more torturous manner. With this man - that was exactly what he wanted. “Can’t I?” Brian mimicked. “And… I thought you knew all about me. Well, allow me to clue you in on some pertinent information about me, something for you to think about while you wait for an explosion similar to what you inflicted on the patrons of Babylon.”

 

Jim Stockwell gasped in disbelief, his arms pulling frantically at the ropes that bound him. He didn’t know what he would do if he managed to get free. Kinney would never let him leave. Sitting here and waiting for the inevitable wasn’t doing him any good. His eyes met the cruel ones that were intent on his destruction, clarity suddenly with him. “My God, it’s true. I’d heard it spoken of, but there’s no way I thought a man with your strength and skills could possibly be---”

 

“Be what?” Brian rasped. “Queer? Yes, I am Jimmy… and damned proud of the fact. I’ve fucked more men than I’ve even killed, and when I finish here with you, I’ll celebrate by fucking even more.” His lips twisted in satisfaction as Stockwell flinched in revulsion. “Speaking of… it’s time for me to get on with that, and time for you to meet your end.”

 

“Kinney! Wait! Don’t do this!” As his executioner reached for the door handle, and the futility of any fight quickly died in him, Stockwell spit out words that were meant to enrage… his heart and mind feeding on the contempt he held for Brian Kinney and all of his disgusting kind. “I don’t regret my actions that night… except that I didn’t continue my campaign and wipe out all of Liberty Avenue!”

 

Brian’s back tensed as he opened the door, he turned back to look at Stockwell, murder in his eyes. He pointed his gun to the loathsome man’s chest, instantly firing and connecting to the middle of his chest. He only shot him once. It was his intention that the building explode before death fully claimed him. A cold and mocking smile curved his lips as he watched Stockwell twitching in the chair. “Have a nice trip to hell, Jimmy.”

 

TBC