Three in the morning.
Snow blowing in vicious little whirlpools down the streets and in the openings of dark alleys.
The windows of the line of brownstone apartment buildings lining both sides of the residential street black and lifeless—yet somehow, oddly, giving him the sensation of a thousand eyes staring down at him. And knowing. Knowing why he was here. Yet not making any judgments—only watching in morbid curiosity.
A grim, dangerous grin flashed across his lips as he stood in the shadows of an alley, his coal black eyes forever darting here and there as he waited. Something was wrong. Something didn’t feel right. Eyes moving he tried to pin it down. Tried to find the source of his unease.
The sudden—stark—white shafts of an automobile’s low beams shredded the night as a big Mercedes 500 S slipped around a corner and started making its way down the snow packed streets toward him. He watched, a gloved hand coming up to unbutton the top two buttons of his heavy black wool coat. With a slow, methodical motion he slipped his gun hand out of its glove before sliding the empty glove into a side pocket of his coat. Long, delicate looking fingers—like those of a concert pianist—wrapped around the warm wooden grips of a .22 caliber semi-automatic Ruger Mk. III with a 5 inch.
For most people, the Ruger would be an odd choice for a weapon an assassin. But in the right hands the highly accurate weapon was perfect. Its decibel level when firing was relatively low—and coupled to the long, barrel shaped silencer, even quieter.
Eyes as black as a pit viper watched the Mercedes roll through the fresh blanket of virgin white, the crunching sound of the snow underneath the tires coming to his ears distinctly. Pulling his weapon from the shoulder holster underneath the heavy coat he flipped off the safety as he watched the car roll to a stop in the middle of the block. Directly across from him.
Like a malevolent wraith. Like a nightmare from Hell. He moved.
From shadow to shadow—unseen until the very last moment. Stepping into the street directly behind the tail lights of the Mercedes, gun in hand, he stood in semi-darkness and waited for his intended victim to open the right rear door and step out into the cold night. The door remained closed. No interior lights inside the car flared on.
But behind him he heard the soft crunch of a heavy shoe taking one step into the snow.
And he moved. God in his infinite mercy gave some men intellectual genius. Or the ability to sing like that of an angel. Or the hands to be a consummate surgeon. Or the rugged good looks of a movie screen idol. But for this dark-eyed bringer of death he gave agility. He moved. Moved with a speed almost too fast to watch. Pitching forward, and down, he rolled on one shoulder in the snow and came up to a prone position gun up and aimed at the shadowy figure standing directly behind him. The gunman had a sawed off .20 gauge shotgun in his hands. Black eyes saw the butch haired kid pump a round in the shotgun and aim toward him. But the Ruger bucked twice in the dark eyed man’s hand just a millisecond before the shotgun ripped open the night with fire and fury.
The rear window of the Mercedes exploded into a million shards of flying glass projectiles from the double-ought buckshot. Doors flew open and men spilled out of the car with guns in their hands. One, the driver, stood up with an Uzi in his hands and glared into the night toward where the shot gun wielding killer should have been.
“Goddammit, Huey! You’re supposed to kill Smitty! Not us, you jackass! Huey? Huey!!”
“He’s down, boss!” a second gunman yelled, half turning to look around, eyes wide as saucers as he searched the darkness for the black eyed assassin. ‘Where the hell is Smitty?”
“Here,” came a soft whisper directly behind the gunman—sounding as if it was only inches away from him.
The gunman didn’t feel the bullet rip into the back of his head. Brain matter and blood splattered the side windows of the rear door of the Mercedes and the gunman dropped like a heavy stone into the deep snow.
“Shit! Johnson! Johnson! Shoot for chrissakes before Smitty takes us all out!”
The Uzi lit up the night with spraying bullets. The whine of bullets ricocheting off stone and street lamps sounded eerily like a madman’s symphony. But the gunman sprayed his entire clip into the night hoping he would hit something. When no more bullets would come out of the gun he stepped back, ejected the empty clip and fumbled around to find his other one. As he fumbled his eyes saw Smitty suddenly appear out of the darkness like some ancient haunting directly behind his one remaining team member. One shot from the silenced Ruger—barely audible—sent the burly looking killer to the snow withering in pain. As he watched and continued to fumble almost hysterically with the second clip he saw Smitty step up to the wounded man and calmly squeeze the trigger a second time and send a bullet directly into the gunman’s forehead.
The click of the second clip snapping into place in his Uzi made the driver of the hit team grin manically as he turned and lifted the gun up toward the black eyed man. But too late. Too late. Smitty’s Ruger spit out its deadly gift two more times. And the Uzi wielder went down into the snow screaming in blinding pain from both of his kneecaps being blasted open.
The black eyed wraith stepped up to the withering man in the snow and calmly kicked the Uzi to one side. For a second or two he stared down at the man sent to kill him. Calm, almost serene, black eyes watched the man scream profanities up at him as the white snow became a red gel-like fluid from the man’s blood. Finally—and with a soft, almost pleasant semi-whisper—he spoke.
“Who do you think, goddammit! Ruby! Ruby Galinda! He set this hit up. Wanted to get you outta the way. Thought you knew too much. Could make the squeeze on him if you wanted to. Galinda didn’t like that. So he hired us to come in and take you out! Now you sonofabitch, get me a doctor or finish what you star . . . .”
Finished. Except . . . .
Two hours later, and across town, an overweight, balding man dressed in a silk robe and holding a glass of bourbon and ice in one hand moved through the dinning room of his high rise apartment heading for his bedroom. He was frowning. He should have heard from his boys by now. But no one had called him. He definitely told them to call him the moment they iced Smitty.
Turning out the lights of the dinning room the fat guy with the drink in hand slid across bare wooden floors in a pair of furred slippers and opened the bedroom door. Closing the door behind him he turned and started to flip on the lights. But a soft, yet distinct, chuckle of amusement in the darkness behind him made him go rigid in terror.
“Hello, Ruby.” Smitty’s distinctive semi-whisper came pleasantly to the fat man’s ears, followed by the sound of a Click!—the sound of a switch-blade snapping into place. “I’m think we need to talk.”
You might get the idea B.R. Stateham likes to write dark noir. Some think, for an old man, he does fairly well at it.