She didn’t seem as perturbed as he thought she would be, when she found him slouched before the television, watching the news on channel five. There had been an assassination-style shooting in the Upper West Side, and of course, no one had been apprehended. No one even saw anything.
Any other person would have asked the question: How could someone be shot out on the sidewalk while the world moved on yet not seeing anything? It was almost the code of New York City.
See no evil, hear no evil.
But for her, he thought as he watched her drop her heavy backpack on the floor next to the doorway, it was just the way she liked it. As she nodded curtly towards him, shrugging off her leather motorcycle style jacket, John watched her walk towards the bathroom, her leather gloves still on.
That was Alex. Never leaving prints where she knew they’d be found. But this was their place. Of course, her prints were probably everywhere, although he didn’t think that she’d allow it to remain that way.
Although they’d only been here since three in the afternoon, long enough to do a “job”, John knew that before midnight, Alex would be gone. As usual.
It was his job to clean up after her. If he ever failed, it would be the death of him, for he did not know how to be a ghost like her. He did not even know how to do half the things she did.
Or maybe that’s what he wanted her to believe although he knew he couldn’t fool even himself. Wasn’t that how it had happened, the reason why they had met in the first place?
He had bragged and boasted, or rather, the alcohol had bragged and boasted that he had killed three men with his bare hands. And when she raised an eyebrow to question him silently as she watched him from her bar stool at O’Malley’s, it had enraged him. As he charged towards her, she had disappeared from the stool and when he finally came to, maybe a minute, or maybe three minutes after, she had been standing over him, a booted foot on his chest, while all the other patrons began moving away, shaking their heads and muttering.
“Thank God the fool is still alive,” One of them had muttered.
John had wanted to die right on the spot that day. But God had thought otherwise and he simply consoled himself that it was Fate that they were thrust together in that manner. For didn’t it get him this job?
He would be the one who would “help” her out. Wasn’t that what she had told him? And he had only nodded mutely, not wanting to upset her in any way. The tiny thing was like a nuclear bomb, about to explode at any moment, but he wanted to be like her. He almost wanted to learn everything about her although he knew it was impossible. Part of him didn’t want to know, after seeing the scars she bore over her body.
But honestly, John wanted to do more than help her clean up. He wanted her caught, pay for the humiliation he had gone through that one night at the bar. When he had told the detectives about her at the precinct yesterday, they had asked him to describe the scars. All he had really wanted to do, he had told them innocently, was to find out if there were some warrants out on her. They didn’t stop questioning him for almost three hours, and now here he was wearing a wire taped to his chest as undercover NYPD officers waited outside in an unmarked van.
“There’s gonna be two hits tomorrow,” he had told them in the interrogation room yesterday, a man so eager to spill secrets. “One of them is probably somewhere in Manhattan, I’m not sure.”
“And the other one? Do you know his name?” Dick Caruso had asked him. The detective’s expression had been that of boredom, as if John hadn’t told him anything worth his attention. This only spurred John to tell him more.
“I know the first man is some CEO or something. Dradden, that’s the name…someone about to be indicted or something like that.”
With the guy’s statement about Dradden, CEO of Whirlygig Designs, the detectives’ expressions suddenly brightened, as if John had given them the answer to The Daily Double question. Suddenly they were all over him, especially this one detective named Mike Sabian, a handsome man with dark hair and green eyes. John knew that Alex would have liked him.
David Dradden’s company had been a long time front for the Columbian mob, and now he was being indicted for racketeering charges, although all this had been kept in secret because of the enormity of the case involved. One didn’t deal with the Columbians lightly.
He only shrugged. Honestly, he did not know. All he knew was that he would be asked to book a room somewhere and then get the site prepped for her to change and then disappear again.
It would be his second time to help her out, having insisted that he was the man for the job the second time around, and she had only nodded at him then. A few weeks later, she had called him, and here he was today, sitting nervously in front of the tv, waiting for her as she began washing her hands.
From what they were now pasting all over the major news stations, John could only assume that her job was done. Shot through the heart as he walked out of his company building, even the guards that flanked him could not protect him. John knew that they could never have been able to anyway. The shot had been fired from a building across the street, and although it had been checked and thoroughly gone through, hours before the shooting by the NYPD and federal investigators, a group of coked up addicts had made their way through an open window. The newscaster said that all five were now in custody.
She came out of the bathroom and walked over to the makeshift bar he had assembled per her request. In her low voice, she had asked him if he wanted a drink, and John only nodded, hoping that his microphone would have registered her voice.
The idiots at the police department didn’t even know her name. Or that’s what they had told him.
“You did a great job today,” she said to him as she poured him a drink of scotch on the rocks, the ice cubes she had removed from the icebox. He didn’t remember making ice today. But then maybe it had already been there, he thought to himself.
One never knew what to expect at seedy motels along the upper west side, where the South Americans and the Italians mingled and lived, rooming in tenement houses and studios.
She had made herself a drink as well, but as he remembered from seeing her the first time at O’Malley’s, she drank her scotch straight.
He liked the idea of working with her, prepping the motel room and all that, making sure that everything would be ready for her. He also liked the idea of doublecrossing her, watching her get caught by the police waiting outside, and knowing it was all because of him. Oh, yes, he was a wily son of a bitch, alright.
He may have lied about killing three men at the bar when he first met her, but he hadn’t lied about being a crafty old weasel. Even the bar patrons knew about that.
John only smiled and watched as her hand reached out to touch his briefly, then move to fetch a cigarette from behind her ear. She hadn’t even offered him any, he thought as she lit the cigarette, taking a long drag.
She held the glass with her fingers not touching the surface, just as she held the cigarette between her two fingers, the tips of her fingers never touching the surface. Yet her eyes never left his face, now twitching with anticipation.
Why won’t she say anything? he wondered.
“Having fun yet?” she asked him and John nodded. Why doesn’t she tell me about the guy she whacked? He needed a confession. He had promised the poor idiots sitting outside in the cold Manhattan air, trapped in the surveillance van now for the last five hours since he first booked the room, some good clean fun.
“I’ll help you catch a cold-blooded killer,” he had told them. He hadn’t exactly been sure who she really was, but he had been convinced that she was a hired killer and that if only the cops caught her, they’d know that they were dealing with a professional.
She had made sure early on that she knew nothing about him or the jobs she did. It had not been a coincidence when she had asked him to come to Maine where an assassin’s bullet shot down a drug dealer about to testify before a grand jury against a well-known family. No, it was no coincidence. She was the one.
The scotch was perfect. It calmed him down and he found himself finishing the whole glass in three sips. He hadn’t realized he was that nervous.
She rose to her feet, and leaving the glass of untouched scotch on the coffee table, walked over to the door where her backpack lay. She took a small cassette recorder and placed it next to the glass, close to John’s reclining form on the couch.
He did feel so much better, now that he had had a drink. She sat next to him and put her hand on his thigh, leaning towards him as she did so. He could feel her nimble fingers through his jeans, her hands blazing a hot trail towards his crotch.
That was Alex—all sex and brains. She once told him this one line from the movie, “Working Girl” and it now came back to him.
“I’ve got a head for business, and a bod for sin,” Melanie Griffith’s character had said, and Alex was the epitome of the saying.
Only her business, unlike that of Melanie’s character, was death. Swift death.
John was sure of it. How else could he explain the coincidence of death swooping low to hit a famous person, or a rich unknown whenever she was in town. True, it had only been his second time to help her. But when he had first met her, drinking at the Irish bar, hadn’t there been a shooting, still unsolved, that occurred just two blocks away?
And just last month, when she had contacted him to help her secure the getaway car, hadn’t there been a car of the same make and model that was seen at the crime scene of an obvious Columbian mob hit? The detectives had questioned him about that but he could only say that it was last parked in his driveway in Brooklyn. And his neighbors made his alibi stick like glue, for he was indeed tending to his little vegetable garden along with the neighborhood kids.
No, she had to be the killer. John was convinced of that. And that was the reason why he had paid a visit to the 26th precinct and told them about what little he knew about her.
“You’ve been a very good boy, John,” She was suddenly saying, her hand rubbing against his crotch, the pressure intensifying in her touch. “Wanna hit of this?” she asked him as she took her hand away and opened a leather case that contained some cocaine.
She always had the best stuff available and John couldn’t help but nod. When was the last time he had had his fix? Maybe last night, when they were in bed.
It was also one reason why he had stayed with her. She had kept him supplied with plenty of coke to last him a whole year almost. He never asked where she got it, but it was the best he’d ever had.
He watched her snort the white powder up one nostril before sliding the case in front of him. For someone who supplied the stuff, she had her habit very much in control. He took a snort in each nostril and felt his head expand as it hit him, slowly suffusing his body with that unmistakable high.
He looked at her as she licked her lips and turned the recorder on. It was the sound of them making love from last night, and he could hear himself moaning through the speakers. The volume was faint and a familiar song was playing in the background. John smiled.
Black Magic Woman by Carlos Santana.
He hoped the police wouldn’t bust through the door right now, although he knew they were waiting for a sign or a statement from her. So far, he could see that she was in no mood to talk as he watched her slowly unbutton her silk blouse. He could feel himself getting so hot as he watched her and as he leaned forward to try to help her, she only pushed him down, then straddled him.
“How do you like that?” she asked him as he leaned back and allowed her to run her hands through his chest, her hands tugging at the tucked in shirt and slipping beneath the fabric to play with him. For a while John almost panicked, realizing that he had microphones on his chest, but her attention was now elsewhere and he heaved a sigh.
Her hands left his chest and moved downwards.
He could only lean his head back and close his eyes as her other hand began to tug at his jeans, unbuttoning his fly. The sound from the recorder began to intensify and he smiled, remembering last night as he was relishing the moment as well. She was good, there was no denying that.
He heard her utter a groan as she slipped her fingers beneath the waistband of his underwear, finally feeling him. John kept his eyes closed as he felt her fingers play with him, the coke sending him to heights he could never have imagined.
As he kept his eyes closed, his mouth half open in anticipation, his tongue licking his lips hungrily, she went to work. The cannister was hidden in her jeans pocket, a small silver canister she had acquired from the butcher shop at the Meatpacking District. The high pressurized gas was used for keeping meat sterile for packing prior to shipping, and Max had handed it to her yesterday with confirmed reports about John’s little adventure to the 26th precinct.
She had always liked Max and his congenial nature. Although the man looked grandfatherly and warm, he was cunning beneath that exterior. He always knew more than he let on.
“You have had your use of him, eh?” was all he said when he handed her the cannister. “It’s all ready to go. It’ll be painless.”
She only nodded as she pocketed the canister containing the concentrated gas. It wasn’t as if she had never done this before, and the son of a bitch deserved it. And now was definitely the time to do it.
As she pulled him free of his underwear and jeans, he gasped as her hand gripped his full length and his eyes flung open from the shock of her cold hands. It was then that she sprayed the cannister’s contents in front of his nose as she sprung up from his lap.
The gas was odorless and colorless, but from the look on his face, she knew it was over for him. Carbon monoxide poisoning via concentrated levels was always quick and painless. She pulled a pair of latex gloves from her back pocket and put them on, using a damp rag to wipe every surface she had touched clean of her prints.
In the background, the sounds of last night’s lovemaking still filled the air, along with the lazy tune of Santana’s “Black Magic Woman”. She knew she would be finished in three more minutes and as the sounds of moans and groans filled the dank hotel room air, she closed the door behind her.
“What was that?” Detective Sabian asked as he looked up from his seat next to the recording panel. The van was getting too stuffy, even with the cold autumn wind howling outside.
A woman dressed in a worn woolen coat and neon yellow pants was walking past them, her face heavily roughed and her eyelids bearing shocking blue eyeshadow, peering at them with curious eyes. She was about to say something but Mike only flashed her his badge and urged her to move on.
“Police business.” He muttered and watched her hobble away.
His partner, Dick Caruso, grabbed the headphones from one of the other men monitoring the panels and listened intently.
“What happened to all the music and shit?” As he said those words, the music began again. And so did the moans and the groans. But the same song was playing again, this time from the beginning.
Yes I’ve got a black magic woman got me so blind I can’t see that she’s a black magic woman trying to make a devil out of me.
It almost seemed as if he had been sleeping, the way they found him leaning against the couch with his head arched painfully backward, half dressed and with his erection still present. Mike could see how his hands were clenched tight against his sides, his eyes half open and his mouth open in surprise.
You put your spell on me, baby, turning my heart into stone I need you so bad magic woman, I can’t leave you alone.
With gloved hands, Caruso turned the recorder off. He wore a frustrated look on his face as he grabbed the man’s denim jacket which had been lying on the bed and draped it over the man’s front.
“Even he deserves some dignity, Mike,” Caruso mumbled.
Neither one of them touched the body, knowing they had to wait for CSU to come into the scene and dust everything. Already the room was filling with more detectives and cops, and Mike only sighed looking at the dead man’s face.
The poor bloke never did realize that he was hit number two.
Velvet Madrid © 1999-2000
Lyrics of Black Magic Woman © Carlos Santana
Quote from Working Girl © Twentieth Century Fox