Author: Fights-With-Words PM
Grace is a hitman. Y'know, she kills people for a living. But unfortunately for her, someone's looking to reverse that role. -Rewrite of Shooter-Rated: Fiction M - English - Crime/Humor - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,131 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 12-19-09 - Published: 02-11-09 - id: 2634193
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I hummed a song softly to myself, a soothing habit I'd always used to calm myself and this time to still my quivering muscles as they tried to cope with the bitter weather. I wasn't at all comfortable, but I did have the benefit of the chill to keep me alert as I waited in the oppressive shadow of a shitty apartment building for the man I was supposed to kill. Snowflakes fell and formed a thin blanket about my head and shoulders before I shifted to brush them off. I was having trouble keeping my temper on check. After all, it was frigid, and the fucker was keeping me waiting.
I pushed a lock of dark brown hair out of my face and flicked spent ashes from the end of my cigarette, fervently wishing Solomon Kramer would hurry the hell up so I could go home and soak. I've never been a very built woman, and certainly not a winter-loving one. I took a drag and exhaled, glancing blearily up and down the semi-dark street.
There was only one other person here, and it certainly wasn't who I wanted it to be. Some random drunken degenerate stumbling toward me. Damn it.
I rolled my eyes and leaned against the wall, not making eye contact in the hope that he might catch the hint and continue on his way. No such luck.
"Hi there." he slurred, already too close to me at four feet off. I could smell his alcohol breath, which was honestly saying something considering the distance and the two years' heavy smoking that dulled my sense of smell. I lifted an eyebrow and glared, not at all in the mood for conversation. He didn't take that hint either. "Wanna hang out? I'm Dan."
"I really don't care." was the nicest response I could summon. He wasn't fazed.
"Come on. It'd be fun." he pressed, walking a little closer to me, which did not at all help my mood.
I blew my lungful of cancer in his face and muttered in my quietest, most level tone, "I'm not in the mood to be picked up by random drunken pricks in the middle of the night. Got it?"
Apparently that last comment injured his pride sufficiently because he backed up and looked hurt. "Fine." he said as he walked off, swerving a little. Thank God for the bartender smart enough to make him walk, despite the fact that it brought him along my path. I merely inhaled my annoyance and continued my singing.
'Hands armed with broken bottles/standing no chance to win, but-'
"What the hell?" My song was brought to a screeching halt by buzzing in my back pocket. It took several seconds to extract the Blackberry and hit 'talk'. "Kendall? Can I help you in any way?"
"Is the target dead yet?" My employer's flat and inflectionless tone crackled with static from the crappy connection.
I bit back irritation. "If Kramer were dead, I would have informed you of it already."
"Why is he still breathing?"
"Because he's not home, and it would make little sense for me to scour Portland for the bastard." I couldn't help the sarcastic cast to my voice, and thankfully Kendall was accustomed to it enough that he ignored it altogether.
"Remember, the longer you stand there, the greater the possibility that you'll be identified."
It took a little more fight to maintain my tone at that. He didn't need to lecture me as if I was still green. No matter how many years he had on me, Kendall Truitt would not tell me how to do my job. "Noted, Kendall."
"Good. Handle this with your usual flair, Graecia." Click.
My mouth twitched in a faint smile as I registered the veiled compliment. The reprimand was immediately forgotten as I replaced the portable and pulled up the left sleeve of my jacket, checking the luminous watch face above the edge of my glove. It was nearly midnight, meaning that I'd been a fixture on this street for roughly three hours already, essentially chain-smoking my way to an early grave and cursing at everything that moved and some that didn't. And as I saw not another soul up and down the street, I figured I'd be here for a little while yet. Finishing my smoke, I tapped another from a new carton in my coat pocket and settled there, resuming my solo oration.
'There's someone inside me that softly kills everyone around/They don't know they're dead to me/cause intent never makes a sound.../all along prevailed, I'm strangled/what's learned from slower hands/in these eleven minutes I could teach you what I am.'
The snow started to peter out, blessedly, leaving me a good deal happier.
'There's a knot of seclusion/production and depression/if a stranger turns up missing/this song is my confession.'
The glare of headlights diverted my attention to a spot at the end of the street I was diligently haunting. I couldn't see the car they belonged to, but I could guess as it turned and rolled toward me. Suppressing a grin, I tossed my nearly spent butt to the cracked sidewalk and ground it out with a toe, stepping away from the dingy apartment facade.
I could make it out as a recent model-year Lexus as it pulled up and parked in a spot roughly ten feet from me. Solomon Kramer drove a black Lexus, I knew, and I didn't need the grainy photo in my pocket to instantly recognize the target through the untinted window, being gifted with a particularly vivid photographic memory. I casually made my way toward it. Approaching the driver's side window, I bent slightly and tapped on it with the knuckle of one finger. The window rolled down and revealed a haggard-looking man of maybe forty who might have said something rude if he had ever gotten the chance.
My hand had been inside my coat, palm resting on the grip of a silenced Kimber. I pulled it on him, firing four bullets into the luxury cab, earning a bloody spattered mess for my trouble. Both the silencer and the body helped to quiet the rounds, so I promptly stowed my weapon back in it's place and trotted off, trusting the already melting snow to destroy my small pile of cigarettes on the sidewalk before the police showed.
I slipped around a corner at the opposite end of the dark backstreet and found my ride parked exactly where I'd left it; a gleaming black Yamaha bike with a matching helmet hung on one handlebar. I started toward it, but my pocket was vibrating again. I sighed and answered. "Hello?" I growled venomously in my typical 'Hello, good evening' voice.
My boss again. "Graecia. Is the target dead yet?"
"Of course. Did you think I'd get sloppy and miss?" Nevermind exactly how difficult it would have been to actually miss Solomon at that range.
"Perhaps. Were you seen?"
I deigned not to mention Dan. "No."
I put the phone away again, sighing aloud. Never even got a goodbye from the man anymore.
"Graecia Pryor, hitman extraordinaire, can't get any respect." Graecia Pryor, 29 years old, cracking up, really needs to stop talking to herself.
I stuffed the helmet over my knit-wool cap and swung a leg over the bike. Revving the motor, I shot off home. Unfortunately, I didn't get far before I hit a snag.
Red and blue lights flashed up ahead of me: a police blockade. A moment's deliberation decided that it was ridiculously unlikely that they'd found Kramer that quickly, so I decided it was more prudent not to do the suspicious thing: turn tail and flee.
I slowed to a halt alongside the first flashlight-wielding wannabe badass and flicked up my visor, projecting my 'nice' face. "What's going on, officer?" I asked in a politely curious tone.
The cop looked me up and down, before his eyes flicked over my bike. "There was an incident not far from here. Would you happen to know anything about it, Ma'am?"
I pretended a thoughtful look. "Not a thing, officer. I haven't been around this way long, and this helmet's kind of like blinders on a horse. You can only see one way and can't hear worth shit." I rapped the side of my head with my knuckles for emphasis. "Well, I haven't seen anything, but I know this area. Has someone been shot again?"
"Can I see some I.D.?" He asked curtly, holding out a gloved hand. Obviously, he either wasn't buying my act or he was just in a pissy mood.
"Sure sure, just a second." I reached into my jacket pocket and retrieved my false photo I.D. and license, bearing my picture and assumed name; Vanessa Keyes. He took it without any humor and checked it, glancing back and forth from my mugshot to my actual mug, comparing. Moments later, I received my cards and a grunted, "Have a good night, Ma'am. Thank you."
I gave my politest smile and said brightly, "Keep up the good work, officer."
Shakespeare was rolling in his grave somewhere...
The officer walked slowly back to his cruiser, keeping one eye on me. I flipped it visor back down and started off slowly, so as not to alarm anyone.
When I was out I view, a grin spread across my face. That guy would be kicking himself in the ass if he knew how close he was to the perpetrator of that grisly murder down the street (and indeed 219 others, if I wasn't mistaken in my count). Well, to be fair, I didn't resemble a contract killer. Coming in at five-foot-four, with my shoulder-length dark hair streaked through with electric blue in artful disarray, ripped low-rise jeans, leather jacket. Motorcycle. I looked more like a rebellious teenager. A thin, short, rebellious teenager.
My stature also sort of reflected my... 'bedside manner', so to speak. Although I did have a bit of wiry strength to me, borne more from raw determination than actual muscle mass, I just wasn't big enough to overpower too many people physically. I always relied on stealth, surprise, and a gun.
I laughed to myself a few blocks further along and stopped, pulling over and extracting my cell from my pocket for the final time. I dialed the number without looking, wrenching the headgear off with my other hand. The person I meant to contact picked up on the second ring.
"Hello?" My sister sounded sleepy. Not shocking, given the odd hour.
"Hey, Constance. What's up?" I smiled, my cheerful tone in place.
"Grace...? Why are you calling me at one in the morning?"
"Sorry. I work third shift now and I'm on break." 'Because if I call when you're only half awake, you acknowlege that I bothered to call but don't ask too many questions.'
"Jesus, Gracie. They've got you working the weirdest hours. Why do you put up with it?"
That's a damn fine question. "I don't mind it that much. So how are you?"
There was a grunt, and a few more muffled noises. "About the same as the last time I saw you. Nothing much changes with me anymore."
"I don't suppose it would, you married thirty-something." a laugh. "How's Ray? I think that'd be him I hear in the background."
"Oh, he's fine. Work's running him ragged, as usual. Hey, we're getting together soon, you hear? I haven't seen my little sister in a while."
"Uhm, sure. When?" That could be difficult. I couldn't exactly just 'take off work'.
"How about Friday? Ray'll be out of town, I can get us some takeout, and we can watch a bad zombie movie."
That did sound nice. "I think I can manage that."
"Alright, hon. Look, can I talk to you again at a normal hour?" Constance yawned.
"Yeah, just call me later."
"Thanks. Bye, Gracie."
Click. Only my sister would put up with that from me. I smiled to myself a bit more and started my bike again, jetting off toward home at speeds likely illegal in what was (technically) a residential area.
Not that I minded speed limits.