Chapter 1: The Whole Story

The Whole Story
by Vince D’Amato

Kodek walked through the underground parking structure, hearing the rhythmic echoes of his footfalls as he concentrated on the choice he had at hand. Half a million credits versus a full two-million. Half a mil if he brought Larry “The Brain” in dead and the full two if he kept The Brain alive. The Brain meaning literally, all of Larry – not just the grey matter inside the skull. No, it wasn’t really the brain part The Boss was interested in at all, it was the body, so much better to torture the schmuck who scammed him out of 17 million gold credits and had somehow managed to make twelve previous contracted hitmen disappear off the face of the earth.

Digital video surveillance was rampant around the apartment structure, and Larry the Brain wasn’t even trying to hide out, he just sat there all day at his hundred-year-old typewriter, typing away throughout the days, and when each hitman had come to pay their respective visits, each one has inexplicably disappeared. No blood on the walls in Larry’s apartment. A complete fucking mystery.

The sledge-hammer in his hand was swinging by his ankles as he walked.

Kodek was no detective, and he didn’t really care much for the mystery of Larry the Brain and the twelve missing hitmen further than the cautionary tale it posed for any future contracted hitmen such as himself. No, the only thing Kodek was trying to figure was should he go for the easy half-mil credit score, which would literally entail shooting Larry in the back of the brain form the doorway of the apartment where he was holed up while sitting at his desk – or go for the full two, which would require some finesse, some physical contact (as Kodek would have to drag him out of the apartment, down the elevator and back through the underground parking garage before stuffing Larry and his big brain into the trunk of his silver Sedan) and a lot of forethought. This last, Kodek was confident he had attained much of. He’d been hired for this gig a week and a half ago, he’d had nothing to do but think about it for the last ten days.

Kodek reached the end of the parking lot and came upon the heavy door leading to the underground elevator. He hoisted the sledge-hammer and swung it hard into the knob of the door, bashing the whole thing in. Two more swings and a kick, and the door finally swung open. Kodek leaned the sledge-hammer against the wall and left it behind, running a hand over his hair. He hated to make so much noise, but when he’d tried to gain entry to the front door, he found that nobody, not even the listed building manager, was answering their visitor calls from the from buzzer-panel, which he had found slightly odd.

Everyone around this guy seems to be disappearing. Like it’s the fucking Twilight Zone.

As he waited for the lift to arrive to take him up to Larry’s pad, he decided that he would go for he easy half-mil if there was any sign whatsoever that closer physical contact to Larry would in any way only be getting him nearer to the previous twelve (and still inexplicably missing) hitmen.

The elevator gave off of soft electronic DING when the door opened and allowed Kodek to exit on the floor where the door to Larry’s apartment was located. When he reached that door (1507) he tried the doorknob first. The fucking thing wasn’t even locked. Cheeky bastard.

Kodek stood in the doorway and leaned against the doorjamb as the door slowly swung wide, allowing him a clear view across the length of the one-room apartment over to where Larry sat, his back to him, at the desk at the far end. Just angled enough away from the edge of the window that Kodek had been unable to snipe him from the roof of the adjacent apartment structure. Clever.

“Leave if by the door.”

“Excuse me?” Kodek engaged, despite the fact he’d told himself repeatedly he’d do just the opposite if Larry had tried to speak with him.

“The pizza,” Larry said without even a glance over his shoulder, “just leave it at the door. There’s cash right there.”

Kodek glanced at the low, small table by the door. The cash was there, alright. He cleared his throat. “I’m not the pizza guy,” he informed Larry.

Larry’s back visible stiffened. “You here for me?” he asked.

“Yes,” Kodek answered without elaborating.

“You want a drink or something?”

Kodek remained silent this time, refusing to let Larry’s idle chatter invade his calculating thoughts. Kodek was the extremely meticulous type, and he prided himself on that trait. It was a trait he held in high regard. He scanned the room with his eyes, taking in every detail.

How the fuck did this bookworm get the best of twelve experienced hitmen?

There was absolutely nothing extraordinary about the flat at all. No weapons visible.

He asked if I wanted a drink. Did he actually manage to poison the first twelve guys who had come here looking to do him in?

“So,” Larry went on, seemingly trying to disrupt Kodek’s train of thought, “You here for the half-million credits of the fill one million?”

“Full price for you, alive, is two million now.”

“Oh. Well, you’re welcome, then,”

“Yes, thank you,” Kodek agreed. “If you hadn’t made this job so difficult, I’d only be getting half of that.” Kodek’s eyes scanned the desk Larry was seated at. Typewriter, desk chair, a stack of white printer-paper, a glass full of pens and pencils.

Maybe he stabbed the other guys with those?

“So, you’ve decided to take the full two million, then? Not going to play it safe and just shoot me in the back of the head from over there? Easy money, as they say.”

Kodek felt the wight of the gun in his hand. The tip of the silencer brushed the edge of his leather coat. “Actually, I’m still considering it,” he said to Larry. His eyes scanned away from the desk. A couple of pictures on the wall, a bookcase along the far wall filled with books, a couple of bottles of wine, and a vase filled with dead flowers. His eyes went back to the pictures on the wall, thinking he might find a clue there, until he realized he’d seen the pictures before. Generic art sold in the bottom floor of Ikea. Nothing special.

There was a counter with a built-in stove-top that might’ve been called a kitchen by the unambitious, and Kodek figured there’s at least have to be a knife in there somewhere. If not that, at least a fork.

“Trying to figure out how I did it?” Larry asked him. Kodek looked over to the back of Larry’s head. “Last ten guys stood there doing exactly the same thing you’re doing now,” Larry told him. “Trying to figure it all out.”

“I’m not trying to figure that out,” he told Larry, “I don’t give shit how you did it. I’m only calculating my risks.”

Kodek’s eyes wet along every inch of the wall, the corners of the apartment, and then up along the ceiling. There was a light fixture in the ceiling that was covered in dust, it hadn’t been touched in at least a year.

“They all do the same thing,” Larry repeated.

Kodek went back to eyeballing Larry himself as he sat there, his hands on the typewriter, his feet hooked on the bottom rung of his chair. Glasses hooked around his ears. Kodek had known another hitman once who owned and wore a pair of glasses that when removed could be used as a blade. Trick glasses. He kinda doubted Larry had the same pair.

It’s his hands, Kodek realized. He probably knows some sort of Kung Fu. Probably a fucking black-belt.

Kodek’s thumb rubbed the edge of the hammer at the back of his gun hanging in the same hand. He knew he had it all assessed now, Larry’s weapons were in plain sight. His face twitched in the direction of the bathroom. He could see the edge of the white garbage can stuck between the open bathroom door and the toilet.

Not a garbage can at all – a bucket.

A bucket of lye, to get rid of the bodies, no doubt. Larry with his fists as deadly weapons, quietly killing each hitman as they approached him.

Probably has a fucking knife taped underneath the desk, to boot. Just in case, just as a backup. That’s what I’d do.

His thumb pulled back the hammer and the metallic CLICK echoed through the apartment.

“So, you’ve decided already?” Larry asked.

Already? Kodek glanced at the clock and saw he’s been standing against the doorjamb calculating the situation for almost seventeen minutes now. Meticulously.

I’m a fucking surgeon.

All he’d have to do now is to keep Larry from turning those fists of fury on him before he could get the electronic locks over his wrists.

“It’s not too late to take the easy way,” Larry told him. “You know, half a million credits is still pretty good.”

Kodek was three steps into the apartment now.

“Not really any need to get greedy, is there?” Larry asked him.

“I know how you did it,” Kodek said. “I know I can take you in. I would never do this if I didn’t have it completely calculated. I stood there in your doorway and calculated every risk in this apartment, including you, and including anything that might hypothetically be hiding. You know, like that knife you’ve got there under your desk.”

Larry’s legs moved a little (twitched) and his knee brushed across the handle of the knife that had been duct-taped to the underside of the desk, directly underneath his precious hundred-year-old typewriter.

“Alright,” Larry said, “but did you factor yourself into the calculations?”

Another step closer. Ten more and he’d be right at Larry’s back. His left had felt the electronic wrist-locks in his coat pocket. He activated them, ready for anything.

“Myself? I’m fine. I know myself in and out. Nothing to calculate.”

“Everybody thinks they know themselves that well. You didn’t factor in your greed. That’s what they all miscalculate.”

Kodek paused for a second, then grinned. He had to admit, Larry had him there for a split second there. A split-split second, but Kodek instantly dismissed Larry’s remark and was right back on top of the game. He focused on the back of Larry, on his hands. On the knife that had been placed right by his knee. He didn’t have to look, he knew the bucket of lye was sitting there beside the toilet on the white-tiled bathroom floor.

Another step closer.

“It was always their own greed that did them in,” Larry went on, a little softer now – and all of a sudden the world went away from Kodek – or at least, the bottom part of it did. He knew something was wrong when he stepped on the rug, but nothing of the rug had been out of place – he had made absolutely sure of that–!

But Kodek saw, from the corner of his eye, the cardboard that had kept the rug in place so perfectly, perfectly flat and even so that the edge didn’t lift away or the middle wasn’t sinking into the hole in the floor until it was far too late. The cardboard was just enough to keep the weight of the rug exactly even, but it would obviously never hold the wight of a hitman in a leather coat with a gun in his right hand and a set of electronic wrist-locks in his left pocket – and the last thing Kodek saw as he plunged fifteen stories through the holes that had been smashed out of every consecutive floor’s ceiling was the rotted corpses of twelve broken and bested hitmen down below, so far, far down and speeding up to his screaming face-

And then he knew, falling through each empty apartment, why nobody had been home when he had been hitting the buzzer panel at the front door of the apartment complex only a half hour earlier.

Copyright © 2011 by Vince D’Amato.

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