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Authors: Tony Schumacher

New York One

BOOK: New York One
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NEW YORK ONE

The iHit

 

By

Tony Schumacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Tony Schumacher 2012

Cover photo ©Ellen Newman 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crace looked around the half empty diner and pulled the yellow nylon baseball cap he was wearing off his head and ruffled his $100 dollar haircut for the fifth time in the last hour. He sighed, looked at the cap and frowned at the smiling Mickey Mouse that was beaming up at him from above the brim and tossed it onto the table.

"You want more coffee?" it was the Filipino waitress back again,

"No."

"The boss say you gotta order food or you gotta go soon, you taking up space for eating customer." She tapped her pencil tip on the pad, like she was practicing her full stops, and put all her weight onto her left leg causing her right hip to pop out. Crace guessed her feet were hurting after working a ten hour shift in this shit hole and just under his irritation a tiny bubble of sympathy floated to the surface.

"Look, I'm waiting for someone, I can't order till they get here."

"You or Mickey gotta eat or else he say you gotta go wait somewhere else." She flicked a glance at Mickey on the table and Crace felt his sympathy bubble go "pop".

"I'll take a coffee." He said looking away from her and out the window.

"No coffee now, unless with food."

"Jesus Christ, this place is half empty, what difference does it make?"

"Boss say you wanna wait, you gotta eat, that the rule."

Crace sighed and whipped out his wallet from the back pocket of the cheap jeans he was wearing, pulled out a fifty and tossed it on the table in the vague direction of the waitress as he turned away,

"You tell the boss I just turned his shit-bird diner into a goddamned waiting room okay?"

The waitress picked up the fifty dollars and slipped it under her pad faster than a card sharp on a riverboat and smiled down a Crace, flashing her tiny white teeth at him for the first time since he'd been there.

"You want coffee now?"

"Fuck off."

Evening was sauntering past outside and pretty much had the street to itself. The Lower Manhattan winter hadn't quite blown in yet and a few of the tooth pick trees still had some leaves clinging on for dear life. It was starting to rain and Crace wished he'd been allowed to drive across town instead of having to get the bus, he decided to get a cab home and mentally promised himself a drink of something strong as soon as he made it back to the apartment, unless that bitch was still there, if she was home he'd go to a bar. That was the plan until he remembered what he was wearing, he looked down at the "I love New York" tee shirt and ten dollar jeans he'd been given to wear, next to him in the window booth lay the Planet Hollywood jacket. At least he'd be able to ditch the baseball cap soon. He stared at Mickey again and longed for his usual uniform of designer brands and smart suits and wondered if he'd be too late to stop at a shop to pick up something decent to wear on his way back across town.

Crace picked up his mug and felt its chill in the palm of his hand,

"Can I get some warm coffee here?" he shouted holding up the mug like it was a flaming torch in a cave. The waitress glanced up from her magazine by the register and nodded,

"It brewing Mickey, be there soon."

Crace cursed and let mug bang onto the table making little effort to hide his irritation, fifty bucks for four cups of shit coffee, he felt like killing this bitch as well.

"Ten more minutes and I'm outta here." He whispered softly to nobody and turned back to the window to look at the rain that was now falling fast and hard, only a solitary pigeon stood in the road, looking like it had missed its bus and was waiting for a taxi.

"I know how you feel buddy." Crace said to the pigeon through the glass and turned back to shout at the waitress again. He nearly jumped out of the ill fitting jeans when he saw a man sitting opposite him in the booth. Crace took a deep breath to calm his beating heart and placed both his hands palm down on the table in front of him, just like he had been told to do in the email.

The man tilted his head slightly and looked down at the Mickey Mouse baseball cap on the table and then back at Crace,

"I felt like an asshole wearing it, I had to take it off."

The man reached under the table and then produced an iPad from somewhere Crace couldn't see, he wondered if the iPad had been taped to the bottom of the table as he noticed some marks on the back of the case as the man held it towards himself so that Crace couldn't see the screen.

Crace took the few moments to study the man sitting opposite him; he guessed the guy was about forty something, white, slim, maybe worked outside judging by the way his skin was weathered. The guy was wearing an old black leather suit jacket that looked maybe a size too big for him, it looked kind of cool on the guy and Crace liked it. He wondered if it was really old, or maybe one of those jackets that cost thousands to make them look like they cost fifty bucks. He decided to ask the guy after they'd finished their meeting.

The guy finished what he was doing with the iPad and then placed it down on the table between them. On the screen Crace could see about ten white squares on a black background. The man touched one of the squares and it zoomed in to show that there was writing on it, Crace leant forward and read the caption,

"
Put the cap on."

Crace looked up from the screen at the man,

"What? Are you speaking to me through the iPad?"

The man tapped the screen again,

"
Yes."

"Why? That's crazy, nobody can hear us."

Another tap

"The restaurant may be bugged, you may be wired or we might be being filmed."

Crace looked around the restaurant nervously and then back at the man,

"I followed all of your instructions, to the letter. Nobody knows we are here I promise."

"Put the cap on."

Crace picked up the cap and pulled it on; this time he didn't care he looked a dick. He didn't care because he was too scared to care.

Another swipe,

"Hands."

Crace placed his hands back down on the table in front of him palms down and stared at the man while he played basket ball with his Adams apple. The man stared back and Crace was about to speak again when the waitress suddenly leant in and poured some coffee, Crace nearly screamed.

"Fresh coffee, you order now?"

"No, not yet, in a minute I promise."

"Hey, that iPad, they nice things, my boy want one for Christmas, too expensive for waitress though, not make enough tip."

The man opposite smiled at her and placed his hand over the top of the cup she had put down for him and shook his head slightly. She smiled back, glad that this new guy wasn't as much of an asshole as the one who had been here for an hour and turned away saying,

"I be back soon take order."

Crace looked at his coffee but didn't pick it up, the email he'd received setting up the meeting had expressly told him to keep his hands palms down on the table at all times, it was the same one that had told him the locker number where he had found the bag with the dumb clothes he was wearing, the clothes and the hat. That fucking hat.

"I feel dumb in this hat, I look like a redneck." The man tilted his head again and Crace suddenly realised he might just have insulted him, he fought to take control of that bouncing Adams apple and made an attempt at swallowing it and an apology, "I'm sorry, not that there is anything wrong with being a redneck, it's just it isn't my style, you know?"

The man tapped the screen,

"I needed you to stand out in the crowd."

"You followed me?"

"Yes."

"All the way over?"

"Yes."

"You know where I live?"

"Yes."

"Jesus."

They stared at each other across the table for a moment, and Crace puffed out his cheeks and nodded to his coffee,

"Can I take a drink?"

The man nodded and Crace picked up the mug, careful to keep his other hand down on the table top. The coffee warmed his throat and cooled his nerves so that when he put the mug back down he felt a little bit more in control.

"Have you got the answer to every question I am going to ask programmed into that thing?"

"No."

"Well we've got a problem if I ask one it can't answer haven't we?"

"No."

Crace smiled in spite of himself and took another sip of coffee, he glanced around the diner and noticed there was now only about six or other customers in there, most of them with heads buried in meals or conversations. The man had chosen the venue well.

"Okay, let's get down to business here; I gotta get back across town. This is what I want you to do..."

The man held up the palm of his right hand and with his left index finger tapped at a square on the screen, Crace leant forward to read it.

"You have asked me to kill your wife; I will do this for fifteen thousand dollars. Half at the end of this meeting and half after I have completed the task. The figure is non-negotiable as I explained in our previous correspondence. The manner of the task will be to my choosing. The collection of the outstanding monies will be to my choosing. If you do not pay the outstanding amount I will kill your parents in New Hampshire. If you speak to anyone of this matter I will kill your sister in Georgia. Once I have killed these people I will find you and kill you. If you behave in the manner I have told you and follow all of my instructions, at the completion of the matter you will never see me again. Is this understood?"

Crace sat back and let his mouth hang open for a moment while his brain figured out how to close it, a moment passed until he found some words.

"How did you know about my folks and my sister?"

The man tapped the screen again summoning another caption,

"Answer yes or no."

"There won't be a problem with the money or the job I promise."

"Answer yes or no."

"Yes."

Crace leant back from the table and stared at the man who coolly stared right back at him. Prior to the meeting Crace had wondered if this guy was just some sort of nut job fantasist who was pretending to be a hit man, but right now, looking across the table at this guy, he felt like he was staring at death.

Death stared back, smiled and nodded, as if reading Crace's mind. The man tapped another white box and Crace leant forward to read it,

"If you wish to leave now you may do. We will never see each other or speak again and you will be safe to carry on with your life as if this meeting had never taken place. You have ten seconds to get up and leave the table."

"I don't want to leave, I need... no, I want to do this I swear." Crace whispered urgently, leaning in close, head inches from the table, the light of the iPad illuminating his face from below. The man didn't reply, and it took Crace a moment to realise death was tapping his index finger on the table.

He watched it. Eight, nine, ten, before the finger pressed another square on the iPad,

"You want me to execute your wife, Karen, who works as a lawyer Maybrick Legal Inc. You want me to do this so that you can inherit Karen's wealth, wealth that was left to her by her father who died last year, and also a joint six million dollar insurance policy that is payable should either of you die before your apartment is paid for. Is this correct?"

"Jesus, it sounds like I am one evil son of a bitch, but let me tell you buddy, she is looking to nail my ass to the wall if the divorce she is threatening me with goes though. I'm in a hole here, I gotta girlfriend who is pushing me to move in with her, my job is up and down, it ain't easy being a broker these days I gotta tell you. I can't afford to split from that bitch and get a divorce."

"Answer yes or no."

"Yes. Jesus Christ! It's correct. Yes."

"If you wish to leave now you may do. We will never see each other or speak again and you will be safe to carry on with your life as if this meeting had never taken place. You have ten seconds to get up and leave the table."

This time Crace counted along with the tapping finger, eight nine ten. He didn't leave; he just sat with his hands on the table like the first email had told him too.

"You are about to contract me to kill your wife Karen. You must place the first fifteen thousand dollars, as instructed, in a brown paper parcel, in used one hundred dollar bills onto the table. Once I pick up the money the deal is final with no provision for alteration or cancelation. Do you understand? Yes or No?"

BOOK: New York One
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