Author: Engineer of Words PM
When one of Boston's most notorious hit men learns that someone's put a contract on his own head, he also finds out most of his friends are some degree of complicit. To get out alive, he has only one option - to kill his way to the truth.Rated: Fiction M - English - Crime/Drama - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,543 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 01-07-13 - Published: 05-11-12 - id: 3021657
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A handful of hours later I found myself at another doorstep. Hers was located in a much nicer part of a Boston suburb a few miles to the northeast, situated cozily between a view of Massachusetts Bay and a lot more green than I was used to seeing. The conversation I was about to have with her was a formality. The blue Honda that belonged to her was sitting in the parking lot, maybe fifty feet away. I leaned against the handrail and my fingers directed my phone to call my most recent contact.
"What do you want?"
"Are you home?"
"Why?" she asked, a tremor of hesitation punctuating her question.
"We need to talk."
"We are talking."
"Don't fuck with me."
"You'll have to be more specific, Cliff."
"I'm standing outside your apartment. You have two options. Let me in, or I'll let myself in."
"Fine. Give me a few."
I hung up the phone and replaced it in my pocket. Doors could be heard opening and closing as she scuttled about, probably trying to make herself look presentable. A couple of minutes later, the front door popped open and she waved me in.
I followed her down a hallway and into the living room, where we took seats on matching tan leather armchairs opposite a square coffee table. Just then I noticed I probably woke her up again. Her hair was down, tangled badly in a couple of spots. I hadn't seen her wearing jeans and a tee before, so her casual appearance caught me off guard. She followed this pregnant pause by folding her arms, waiting for me to begin.
"So?" she asked.
"So you know as well as I do I'm not sitting pretty. You know things. You might know things I want to know. You're going to answer my questions to the best of your ability. If you lie to me, I'll find out. If I find out, I'll kill you. We on the same page?"
"Good. How'd Archer get by you?"
"I don't know."
"Now would be a good time to figure that out."
"What do you want me to say? That I didn't look him up as well as I should have? I don't get contracts for dead men very often, so I assumed he wasn't."
"All right, but how'd that get by you when you were making his file?"
"I didn't put together the file. Most of it was brought in from a third party; I just sent it your way."
"A third party?"
"Yeah, so I didn't bother to double-check it."
"So, you didn't read the file before you sent it to me?"
She sighed. "No, I didn't."
I glared at her, not saying anything for a few moments. She crossed her legs. I wasn't sure if I was making her uncomfortable just by being in her living room, by threatening her life, or by revealing a moment of serious professional incompetence. All of the above, probably.
"I need to know who sent this file to you."
"You know I can't give you that."
"Look, Reagan told me I'd be getting a file for you from another broker, told me not to ask any questions. I don't even know who sent it to me."
My right hand reached into the fold of my sweater and pulled a .45-caliber pistol from its holster. I placed my right hand onto the arm of the chair, pointing in her direction.
"Just give me a damn name," I said. "Pretty please."
She shook her head.
"Anna, do you remember how I told you when we were dating that I like this apartment? Well, that wasn't a lie. So, please don't make me kill you in it. It'd ruin the whole art deco revival thing you've got going on here, to say nothing of the carpet."
I sighed and replaced the .45 in its holster, then crossed my arms.
"You expect me to believe you have no idea at all who sent the file?"
"No, I don't. But you asked me if I knew who sent it to me, not if I had any thoughts about who might have better answers for you."
"You could have just said that, you know."
"Well, excuse me for not being so used to having guns pointed at me as you are. It interrupts your train of thought a little bit."
She glowered at me, not really enjoying the attempt at levity.
"I know. But you were saying?"
"Oh, right. Yes, I've got an idea about who sent me that file. This one left a calling card of sorts on the signature - identified himself as "Ludovico". Leads me to believe he's one of our Italian friends operating in the area, and that narrows it down quite a bit. There are a number of guys who could have had access to this information, but as far as who'd identify themselves as having it? I'd ask your friend Johnny a thing or two about what he knows if I were you."
"Lucky Johnny Loscalzo? Motherfucker."
I paused for a moment to assemble all the details of what I'd just been informed. An Italian info broker I was not on good terms with, selling my people a contract on a dead man. The boss didn't want it looked into, either? Smelled like foul play. Especially if Reagan was somehow involved, and especially since the Priest didn't have a clue about it. Or so he said.
"I have no idea where this rabbit hole goes, but I have a feeling I'm not going to like it," I said.
"Same. Not happy that I've been used to set this up, either."
"Good news is it isn't your problem anymore. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make some people talk."
I stood from the chair and began walking toward the door, then stopped and turned about a quarter of the way around, facing Anna.
"Oh, and sorry about that whole threatening to kill you mess. Are we cool?"
"Not really, no. I understand why you chose to act the way you did, but that doesn't mean I'm okay with it."
"Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad, Clifford. But I am not letting you off the hook for this. Think about that the next time you want to ask me for favors or information."
I really do hate it when she calls me by my full name, I thought. It's got this irritating, bitchy step-mother vibe to it. All I could do at this moment was hide my frustration and self-loathing behind a smile.
"Fine," I replied. "Let me know if you've got any more work for me in the mean time."
I turned on a heel and excused myself through the creaky wooden door I'd come through a few minutes before, and I heard the deadbolt click locked behind me once I was outside. The good news, I thought, is that I know more about what was going on than I did twenty minutes ago. The bad news is that it didn't make any sense, and I didn't have high hopes Lucky Johnny or his people were about to help me out of the kindness of their hearts. I didn't need to rely on their charity to make them talk, though, and I had a few favors to call in.