Authors: Havan Fellows
The reflection in the glass door as he approached showed a stranger smiling back at him. He'd learned long ago when he was on the force that you don't need to change your whole appearance, just a few details and you were good. Preferably details that weren't too noticeable to begin with such as a simple change in how you styled your hair, some colored contacts in a dull shade, or a birthmark that peeked out of your collar.
He smiled at his reflection and checked on the huge piece of spinach stuck in his teeth. Oh yeah, and if you have something gross for them to stare at, they'll never see the rest of you anyway.
He shouldered the door open and headed straight for the guard's desk. "Hey! I'm sorry I'm late. Traffic was a bitch, you just wouldn't believe the assholes on the road this time of day. Why do they even call it rush hour? Am I too late to get the file?" His southern charm was thick and heady at the moment.
The guard studied him, more accurately his teeth.
"Ah…you have something…"
"Yes?" Wick smiled wider and leaned forward a bit. "Oh absolutely. I have the work
"It's in here somewhere …" While rummaging inside—out of the guard's line of sight—he opened a special perforated bag and scooped out a couple nymph cockroaches purchased at the pet store on the opposite side of town. He scattered all kinds of papers and files over the counter. "I know it's one of these."
A bug scurried from under the mess and crossed the counter. Wick quickly slapped it with the heel of his hand. "Got it, no harm done," He mumbled loudly enough for the guard to hear him as he wiped his hand on his carrier labeled windbreaker, "Damn hitchhikers."
The other one ran in the opposite direction and landed on the guard's side of the desk. Wick continued to rifle through the papers. "You might want to stomp that bad boy. It's not in these papers; I must have put it in the other pocket in my bag." He dug back in his bag.
The guard danced in place trying to squash the roach, finally succeeding. He pushed the papers closer to Wick. "You know what, why don't you go get the file and find the work order while you're up there. You can show it to me on your way out. Just put everything back in your bag and take it with you."
Wick widened his eyes at such a suggestion. "But I don't want to break protocol, if my boss finds out—"
The guard tried to smile, "I okayed it, you're good. Just go." He stepped back from his desk and nodded to the elevators. "Now."
"Oh…okay." Wick headed for the elevators and knuckled the call button, whistling harmlessly.
As soon as the doors closed he quickly unzipped and took off his windbreaker, exchanging it for a suit jacket, careful of his shoulder holster. After buttoning up his shirt he slid the noose of a tie over his head and tightened it around his neck. Then he ripped the plastic off of a special pre-inked comb and ran it through his finger-tousled hair, magically creating gray streaks at his temples. He slid a pair of black horn-framed glasses on to complete his ensemble.
Finally he dumped everything out of the bag, flipped it inside out and slipped the contents back in. Now the outside was soft brushed leather, with an off white canvas lined inside.
Just as the doors opened he cleaned the spinach off his teeth. Moving quickly, he made his way down the hall until he reached the door marked Clifford Neer.
He rapped on the door and retrieved his badge from the jacket pocket.
Wick shook his head at the pompous welcome. Keeping his hand in his pocket he turned the knob then pushed the door all the way open.
"Can I help you?" Neer stood, showing his larger build off. Wick might have been intimidated if he wasn't used to being the smallest one on the playground.
He flashed his badge quickly while simultaneously bumping the door closed. "I was hoping to ask you a few questions if you don't mind, Mr. Neer."
The man made a face as he quickly moved around from behind his desk. "Well, I kinda do mind. What's this in reference to? Let's see that badge again." He held out his hand for Wick's badge.
Well now, this was a bump in the road Wick hadn't anticipated. Normally people just accepted the badge flash. He sighed, this was going to take not giving a shit to a whole new level for him. Not like he hadn't been there before, though.
"Sure." He smiled up at Neer. He stopped in the middle of reaching for his badge, "You know what, why pussy foot around?"
He quickly jabbed up and connected with the bottom of Neer's jaw. The bigger man stumbled back against the desk, his dazed and watery eyes tried to focus on Wick. Blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth.
"Ouch, bit your tongue, didn'tcha? That's gotta hurt."
Before Neer could get his bearings back on target, Wick took the two steps to stand next to him. He swung the bigger man around and into the chair situated in front of the desk as he dodged a limply thrown fist.
"Now now, you wouldn't assault a cop, would you?"
"You can't be a cop." The man leaned forward, probably to stand back up. Wick quickly twisted his torso and jerked his arm back. A distinct pop sounded as Neer's nose crumbled under his elbow.
Wick tugged the cuff of his sleeve to straighten it. "Okay, you got me there." He reached into his jacket and removed his gun from the holster. "But I am one of the good guys." He glanced at the weapon he now pointed at Neer and shrugged. "Honest. Now, move the chair against the wall, facing it."
Neer stared at the gun but didn't move.
"Oh come on Cliffy, don't make me do the melodramatic thing and cock this or something."
The man got up and moved the chair.
"Good boy, now sit down." Wick stepped in the opposite direction of Neer, keeping the desk between them.
As soon as Neer sat down, Wick stepped behind him and lifted his foot. He shoved the heel of his shoe into the back of the chair, moving it those extra inches so Neer grunted and his knees knocked the wall.
"And you call yourself a good guy." Neer sneered.
Wick sat at Neer's desk and very quietly set his gun down. "You're still breathing…for now. Anyway, good is such a relative term." He put on the latex gloves he had in his jacket pocket. "My mother thinks I'm a very good guy."
"What is this all about? What do you want from me?"
"What is your interest in Bailey's Inc.?" He tapped the space bar to remove the screen saver from Neer's computer. It quickly flashed to his open emails. "Does everyone live by emails nowadays? Sheesh…at least erase the incriminating ones."
"Get the fuck off my computer!" Neer twisted around as he rose from the chair.
Wick tsked at him, putting his hand over his gun again, "Back down, big boy, don't you think you've lost enough blood from our little meeting already?"
Wick whistled while he worked, clicking on different files in Neer's computer and copy/saving them onto the brand new flash drive he had brought with him. Most of the files would end up being worthless, but he wouldn't chance missing the right one because he didn't want to transfer them all over.
Wick didn't even bother looking up, he could tell from his periphery vision that the big brute still sat proper in the chair.
"Oh sorry, was that bothering you?" He licked his lips and when he blew between them the theme song for
It's a Small World
"Just kill me now."
"I don't take requests. Now less talking please, I'm concentrating." He continued whistling his little ditty while he finished the last of the transfers.
He reached into his pocket for his second flash drive when he noticed a link on the M drive that he could've sworn wasn't there before. He clicked on it…nothing. He moved the mouse over it again and double clicked…still nothing.
"Say, Cliffy dah-ling. What's so special about the M drive?"
"Go to hell, fuckwad."
"Okay, that's a tad unwarranted." But it wasn't the words that got Wick's interest piqued. No, he already guessed Neer wasn't a poet. The way his back stiffened when asked about the M drive, now that interested Wick.
He messed around trying to find a back door for this elusive drive, but no go. Finally he just put his pointer over it and clicked repeatedly out of frustration.
It opened up to a password protected file.
"Well fuck me, that really does work?" He chuckled as he searched the obvious places on the desk just in case Neer's denseness equaled Brad's. Unfortunately, Neer didn't leave a handy dandy sticky note with passwords stuck anywhere. Well, this was as far as he could go without asking for help. He curled his lip up to the right, he hated asking for help.
"Hey Cliffy, wanna play a game?"
He twirled the chair so he faced the back of Neer's head and propped his feet on the desk. "Go to hell, fuc—"
Wick raised his voice over Neer's, "There are five main swear words that are frequently used in the English language to hurt people's feelings. When used with lesser cuss words, you can procure hundreds of derogatory names. When combined to make compound words, your options go into the thousands, even higher if you aren't particularly worried about the grammar Nazis. If you insist on insulting me, I'm going to have to ask that you change it up each time. It keeps our romance alive, keeps the spark in our relationship.
"So now, about our game. I've got a silencer in my bag here. I'm about to equip it on my gun right here in my hand." He held up the gun. When Neer attempted to look, he stopped him. "What are you doing? No turning around. I really do have a silencer. You'll have to have a little faith in your dance partner on this one. Now, I'm going to ask you a few simple questions. If you answer them correctly, all is well. If you don't, I shoot. Let's say, oh I don't know…I'll begin about a foot away from you, but each time I don't get the answer I want, my aim will target a little closer…and yada yada yada. Get the gist of it?"
He reached into his bag and quickly equipped the silencer on the gun.
"Are we ready to play?"
"Eat shit and die, asswipe."
"Wrong answer, and very unoriginal might I add."
A soft quick sound filled the room and a hole appeared to the right of Neer's foot. He jumped out of the chair, knocking it over in the process. "Holy shit, you fucking shot at me!"
"I'm sorry; did I not say I was going to shoot at you?" He scratched his head with his empty hand. "I coulda sworn I mentioned it." He shrugged and pointed the gun over his propped feet, aiming at Neer. "Now sit back down on the count of three or I get to practice with a moving target."
"What do you want from me?"
Wick had to hand it to Neer, this couldn’t be an everyday occurrence for him, but he was holding up well. Of course it would've worked better for Wick if he crumpled to the floor begging to live and spewing all his secrets in one breath. Yeah, that would be sweet. But experience told him that almost never happened.
He gestured to the toppled chair and raised his eyebrow. He really didn't want Neer facing him any longer than necessary. But if he made a big deal about it, the man would take more notice than he already did.
Neer picked up the chair and slammed it down, slouching into it.
"That's good, big boy. Okay, let's try this again. I want the password for the M drive."
Those shoulders tensed again and Neer's head bobbed up in anticipation to speak.
"Ah…ah…ah…you've used up a couple wrong answers with that rude remark. I'm thinking your pinky toe is next. And yes, yes I can hit it through your shoe. Want a demonstration?"
Neer's shoulders slumped and he mumbled something under his breath.
"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that."
Neer raised his voice and growled, "The M drive is the company share drive. The password is the alpha code that you're given when hired. That way they can track everything done on that drive back to the user."
"Can anyone with an alpha code access this drive?"
"Access it, yes. What type of access they get varies."
Wick noticed his gracious host's fingers curl and uncurl, a sure sign he was getting antsy again. Time to wrap this up. He figured Neer might have access to a good amount, but he wanted the whole kit and caboodle. The fact that they used standard log-in measures to get in the share drive meant, with the right information, entry would be smooth sailing.
"What's your alpha?"
"N-E-E-R-C-A" Neer over-pronunciated.
"Toss me your wallet." The folded leather zinged at him at top speed, too bad it was three feet too high and two feet to the right. Otherwise, it might have really done no damage what-soever.
He opened the wallet and pulled out Neer's driver's license. And there you have it…Clifford Adam Neer.
Wick wanted to beat his head against the desk, it really couldn't be this easy. What type of dopes were employed here? He copy and saved the URL address for the company's main website that housed the M drive and popped out his newly stuffed flash drive just to replace it with the other one he brought with him.
Tapping his fingers on the desk, he waited for the virus on the second flash drive to quickly download. Wick's hacker friend graced him with this nifty gift for his birthday. It completely wiped out the last two hours of the computer, whether it was a history of porn sites that you don't want your boss knowing about or files that were just illegally downloaded that you don't want anyone finding out about. It even erased the fact that a virus erased everything, leaving nothing but a void. Man, he loved when his friends gave him work-related presents.
Between watching the bar on the screen and making sure Neer behaved accordingly, a movement caught his attention.
He sat up, trying to figure out what flagged him. The door was closed and locked, there were no windows in this inner floor office. The light under the door fluctuated again.
Someone was standing on the other side of the door, but they hadn't tried the knob as of yet.
He reached in his handy dandy satchel and pulled out the sealed baggie with a folded towel in it. It wasn't saturated in chloroform, not exactly, and with it being in the baggie instead of being applied to the towel fresh it wouldn't be as potent. He didn't want to knock the brute out for the whole night. Just a couple of hours would do.
Long enough for him to peruse the top floor for some names and get the hell out of there. This building started to have a stench to him.
He maneuvered around behind Neer's chair and eyed the towel. Why did he always have this overwhelming urge to sniff this stuff whenever he used it on someone? Like he was immune to the effects or something? One day he knew he would do it without realizing…that of course would be the last thing he ever did, he laughed quietly.
Neer's knuckles whitened as he gripped the arms of his chair. "What? What are you doing?" He twisted to the left and right without actually turning around.
Wick contemplated playing with him some, he did enjoy that part of his job. But the unknown factor on the other side of that door had him a bit off his game.
So he simultaneously whipped his arm around Neer's head while taking that extra step forward. Neer tried to push his hand away, but Wick captured his head with the towel, cradling it against his stomach for stability. Neer's muscles weakened and he was out for the count.
Working quickly, he shoved the towel back in the baggie and removed his gloves carefully, stashing those in the bag also. Before sealing the bag he grabbed a travel size container of baby wipes and cleaned Neer's mouth.
With all his little extras stowed away and his gun back in its holster, he checked on the computer. Sure enough the virus finished loading. Carefully he removed his drive and pocketed it.
Only a minute or two had passed from when he'd noted the light pattern under the door changed and he stood with his hand in his jacket pocket on the knob.
He took a deep breath, situated his bag on his shoulder so it appeared more professional and opened the door.
No one was on the other side waiting for him.
He twisted his neck to the left then right and glimpsed a man hustle around the corner. What an odd way to scurry through the offices at this late hour. He stepped out of the office, letting the door swing closed with its own weight, and followed the white rabbit.
When he got to the corner, he decided to forego the whole cloak and dagger routine, no one here knew him anyway. So with his head held high, he confidently took the turn and ran smack dab into—