When he saw the girl, she reminded him of the photo-shoot girl, yet this girl had a smaller nose and a different hair style. If it was her, what had happened, and what was she doing here? Shopping? Well he would wait and watch. After all, he had plenty of time. Too much.
Everything was coming together. Drum loads of fuel were piling up in the barn. Just waiting for next Friday. The days were ticking by and he was tensed up. A fresh kill would help him relax. He saw the girl pick up her bag and move across to the fast-food outlet. He was going to follow her, but stopped when he saw BG sitting there.
He sat back down. So it was the photo shoot girl. What were they doing meeting here in Wal-Mart? It wasn’t a social meeting. No friendly gestures, no food or drink. Just business. BG gave her his briefcase; she opened it and moved some of the contents about. Satisfied she passed her bag to BG. He did the same, looked worried at something he saw and closed it quick. They talked awhile. She stood up, but stopped when BG told her something. She seemed to react angrily, but then picked up the suitcase leaving BG sitting there.
He moved downstairs. Followed her out. Saw her pick up a cab. Heavy traffic heading downtown. He rushed to the parking lot and eased the pick-up into the traffic flow.
Rental apartment block just off Smithsonian. Had a Surelet sign outside, flyer pinned to the board. He took it. He watched her carry the briefcase inside; he moved over to the main doorway and looked through the glass. Saw her take the elevator to the third floor; he watched the light above the door stop there. Turning to the fire escape he raced up the steps, and opened the door at the third level. There she was, far end opening her apartment door. She went inside, not looking around.
Okay, now he had to get her to open it for him. He gave her ten to settle in, make sure she wouldn’t be flustered when he knocked. No one around. He picked up a fire extinguisher and knocked on her door, twice all official like. He heard a movement inside, and he said ‘Fire Alarm test’ loud enough for her to hear. He heard her move to the door and it opened on the latch chain. He was dressed in casual clothes with a jacket, not run down; no overalls, but he would pass inspection.
She peered at him. “Yes,” she said. “What is it?”
“Management inspection ma’am,” he said. Keep it polite. He showed her the gas cylinder. “We’re installing these in all our apartments. Health and Safety regulations.” He smiled his winning smile.
“You got ID?” she asked.
No he hadn’t. That was a mistake. “Ma’am I’m completing the third floor installs for management.” He showed her the Surelet flyer. “My ID’s in my case downstairs in the office, you want to come and see?” It was enough. She took the chain off the latch and opened the door.
“You going to kill me?” she asked.
He stopped counting the dollar bills while he gave it some thought. Actually he felt a sense of shared pain, her nose and all, and the fresh lump on her head where he had hit her with the fire extinguisher. All those years, looking in the mirror, hoping and wishing her face would change, he could understand that. A neuron switch in his head triggered an unlikely response. “I’m not looking to harm you none, miss.” He resumed his count.
“My name’s Emmy,” she said.
He looked up. “I know,” he said. “Bees photo shoot.”
“How you know?” she asked.
He finished his count. “Fifty bucks short of fifty grand, huh. BG gave you this?”
“You saw me at Wal-Mart?”
He pointed a finger at her. “I asked you a question. Did BG give you this?”
She nodded. Seemed to be trying to please. So he wouldn’t hurt her. “Yes. And I planned on a whole lot more, but he’s scared me off.”
“Emmy, I’m not so dumb not to ask questions and all. Better tell Coach, huh?” He eyeballed her.
She flinched at the name, and started to gabble. “I got him framed for the killing up at Stockton. Ruth De Maggio. I have the pictures. Plenty. Downloaded to a flash drive stick.” She started to sob. “Please loosen these bonds, Coach.”
He made no attempt to help her. “And that’s it?”
She shook her head and bit her lip. “I was going to bleed him dry, but he’s put the screws to me. Ruth’s brother Sammy is a mobster. I don’t leave town, I’m dead meat.”
“That’s it?” he asked.
“Coach I’ve told you all, please untie my wrists.”
He moved over and gave her some slack. He watched as she rubbed the circulation back. A new plan was forming. And the new plan meant that Emmy Parton would live, that is, until she had set BG up for him.
He split the fifty grand as a gesture of goodwill, and took her cell phone. After all, there was a whole lot more coming, and since he was now off the Bees payroll, income was a priority. She could pay off her surgeon; his portion was the protection fee. He had a few days until Friday, this would keep him busy.
The plan was simple. She was to arrange to meet BG in the same place; he would bring quarter of a million in exchange for the flash drive stick. Of course, BG would inform Sammy, but they wouldn’t try anything in Wal-Mart, they’d follow her cab back to her apartment block where he would be waiting. A killing machine. It would be a perfect prelude to his masterpiece.