I stub out my cigarette as she walked through my door. Bad habits are hard to break and this one I’ve tried to break dozens of times. I had an easier time breaking myself from my occasional weakness of a beautiful woman than the lure of cheap tobacco. A friend of mine tried to get me to give those bloody e-cigs a go but I missed the smoke caressing me and slightly choking me from the inside. I wish I took one more drag before this woman walked through my door and entered my life. It was one of those weeks where that final drag may have made a difference.
She was fairly nondescript, she would fade into a crowded room almost like a chameleon. She was not quite beautiful and definitely didn’t fall into the type of beautiful I had a weakness for. She was not quite a Plain Jane either, per se, for there was...something about her. She definitely was the type that seemed to find trouble anywhere she went to. I was glad I was smoking, because this type of client always led me to take up smoking after times I have quit, because their trouble usually turns into my trouble. That said, as nondescript as she was at first glance, she demanded your attention if you were unfortunate enough to be alone with her, which in this moment, I was.
I was drawn in by her crimson lips - that didn’t seem to be painted - as she said, “Hello, Mr. Barnaby. I have a job that requires your unique skills.”
I was drawn by her crimson lips as she took my terminated cigarette into those soft lips, and relit the bloody thing; taking a nice, long drag off of it and holding the seductive smoke forever in her lungs before exhaling it back into the room. The room seemed to fill with more smoke than her tiny lungs could have ever held. The smoke seemed sweeter than anything I could ever suck out of the cheap cigarettes. The reaction I had to the second-hand smoke was stronger than I ever got from the cheap cigarettes as well. An intriguing potential client. A dangerous one as well.
I was drawn by her crimson lips, as she proposed her need. She passed me an aged photo of a locket that was stolen from her. She passed me an envelope filled with cash as a deposit for my services. It was filled with more cash than I typically charge for even the toughest of assignments.
“I would prefer if you didn’t have to...kill him to get it back,” her crimson lips purred in an overtly seductive undertone.
“I am an acquirer, Miss. I am not in the practice of taking the lives of others. I will either acquire your locket fairly peacefully, or I will give you your money back if it is impossible to do so.”
“I understand,” her crimson lips whispered sadly, notes of my probable failure lingering. She took another puff from the cigarette. “He will not give it up easily. Perhaps the locket is lost forever to me. If the best cannot get it back, who can?”
I handed her envelope back to her, “Miss, there are others in the acquisition business that while not as good at is as me, do happen to have grayer scruples when it comes to the taking of life.”
“No!” her crimson lips purred, in a way it sounded almost like the ‘n’ wasn’t part of it. Her hand slipped over mine like silk, pushing the envelope it held back toward my body. Her touch sent a jolt of pleasure through me while at the same time my hackles rose more than they ever had. A very dangerous woman. A woman that can blend into a crowd, yet almost always gets her way.
“...Please…,” she whispered through those crimson lips that seemed to be more seductive by the second, “...at least try. Even if you cannot acquire it back for me, the money is yours.” Her crimson lips formed into a needy smile, the type a child gives their father wanting a sweet from the store. If it weren’t for my hackles telling me to pass on this job, I would have believed that smile was utterly sincere.
Against my better judgement, I took the case. I asked her for a lock of her hair, for such a link is required for my form of acquisition, and she offered her mane to me so I could cut off a piece. Her hair was smoother than silk. The kind of hair you want to let your hands to get tangled in while kissing a beautiful woman. Her crimson lips seemed to almost purse such an invitation.
“...if only you can get my beloved locket for me. I would be eternally grateful.”
Words I heard from those lips, well after she was gone. I felt her loss of presence that strongly. She dominated the room while she stood in it, without seeming to be dominating at all. I lit another cigarette and drew the longest drag I ever had in my life while thumbing the lock of hair in my hand, an image, a direction, and a distance of the locket forming in my soul. I knew down to my core that there wasn’t enough money in the world to take on a job like this. I knew she wasn’t quite as she seemed. I knew I should just tell her that I tried and failed and walk away; ahead with the cash she gave me. More money than I would have gotten from my next twenty jobs over. But, my pride wouldn’t allow it. Once I take a job, I see it through. I only failed twice, and both of those times the failure only happened because it would have required me to kill in order to succeed in the acquisition at hand.
I took a final drag and walked out my door, feeling the weight of my concealed Glock that I always carried just in case; knowing I very well might be walking into a situation where I will have to hold the bloody thing again.
I paid the room service guy ten-grand to take a break from delivering to this one particular room. More than likely, the room service guy might very well get fired for the act. But, the ten-grand he just earned will be more than he would make in a few months of delivering food to the well-to-do patrons of this establishment.
“Room Service,” I said with a smile. As soon as the door opened, I slammed the cart inside, running over the patron and closing the door behind us.
“What the Hell…”
“I believe you have something that doesn’t belong to you.” I tell him, in a voice that comes off as gravel being pulverized. The robed idiot was actually wearing the heart-shaped locket around his neck. His hand went right to it, clenching it.
“No! She gave it to me! She wants me to have it. A token of...”
“Well, my friend. She wants it back now. We can make this incredibly easy…”, I toss him an envelope with another ten-grand in it. “...surely the cash is…”
“No! You don’t understand. You cannot understand. She would never give it to me just to take it away. She is not that cruel…”
I thought about my earlier hackles just then, and thought for a brief moment, thought perhaps she was that cruel. That perhaps this was just some twisted mindgame. I was looking at this well-to-do guy. You could tell by the quality of the room and the quality of his possessions within it that he was a successful man, albeit a dishonest one.
“Just take off the locket, hand it over, and go ahead and buy yourself dozens of lockets just like it with the cash I just gave you.”
“No! There is nothing like this…” He looked like he was high on something. Perhaps he was high on everything. “...Just look. It is a sign of her undying love to me…”
He opened the locket and there was a picture of my client on one side and this guy on the other.
“Are you her husband, boyfriend, lover?”
“I am just hers. and she is MINE!”
He launched at me then, getting tripped up with the service cart in the way of me. Still, he had an almost feral strength to his determination. His determination reminded me of a few meth-heads I have come across in my day, even though everything else about his demeanor seemed to scream something else. I slammed the service tray against his head then kicked his head hard once he was down. He was out cold, but his pulse was racing strong.
I unclasped the locket from his neck and put it in one of the hidden pockets of my coat. I picked up the envelope. I would have let him keep all of the cash if he was well behaved. Still, a part of me felt sorry for the guy. Not that it looked like he needed it, looking at the opulent belongings in the room, I pulled a grand from the envelope and left it on the the table.
I wish I left the room just then. I was close to. It would have been easy. It was the path of least resistance. But the locket weighed at my coat like it was made out of uranium. Not only insanely heavy, but dangerous to possess. My hackles kept me in the room. I needed answers to what all of this was about. Things were not as they seemed. This wasn’t a simple acquisition of a heirloom or some other babble that was only priceless to their owner. There was something off-balanced in the air. With her. With him. With this entire job.
I dragged the guy to his bed and checked the room for any hidden weapons. I found two guns. I went out on the balcony and tossed the magazines from each over to a neighboring balcony and then went back inside and dumped the guns themselves into the tank of the toilet in the bathroom. Last thing I want is someone finding one of these maker’s of death and using them in a crime of passion. For good measure I dumped his cell phone in there as well.
Waiting for the guy to wake-up, I helped myself to the dinner he ordered for and tried to puzzle out what I knew.
A nondescript woman, save for her crimson lips, wanted a nondescript, almost cheaply made locket back from a semi-successful thug of a miscreant. The brass, heart-shaped locket contained pictures of the two of them. My client gave me an insane amount of money to get it back. The man is found wearing it; treating it like his most prized possession; seeming convinced it was a gift given freely. None of it fit.
The robed man began to stir. I took another bite of the filet mignon he ordered. It was the best meal I’ve had in quite some time.
“What the hell are you doing?”, was what he uttered seeing me eating his dinner, still in his room. Then, in a more desperate tone as he clutched at his naked neck, “WHERE IS IT?! You need to give it back! Please! I’ll give you anything. I will do...anything.”
Watching his eyes, they were of a frantic sort, like an animal cornered with no way out and has no fight left.
“Why?”, I simply asked, “What is the significance of the locket? It seems like a cheap piece of crap to me…”
“Just answer the question and I may reconsider the situation. I need to know what is going on here, damn my curiosity anyway…”
He started to cry. “You will never understand. I barely understand. Please, just give it back. I can make your world hell. I have people that will destroy you for me.”
“Too bad none of them are here to destroy me right now, for you will never have another chance to. I am serious. Give me a good reason to give it back to you, and I may just do so.”
Perhaps he knew I was too honorable to go back on a job, once I took it. Perhaps he was too high on God knows what to rattle any sense from his mind. But, he never answered. Instead, he got off the bed, and I fingered the Glock inside my coat. I had a rule against killing men, but I was a good shot and wasn’t against blowing a hole into their shoulder as a warning.
He didn’t approach me though, he went to the balcony instead.
“You will never understand what it meant to me. What she meant to me. I would have done anything for her. Just as I would have done anything for you to get it back. If she truly doesn’t love me anymore…”
With that, he tossed himself over the balcony. As easily as if he was falling into a swimming pool. Unfortunately for him, a swimming pool wasn’t there to catch his fall. The crunch his body made at the end of it’s fall prompted me clearly that it was time to go.
My only thoughts as I got to my car and drove away were of the Room Service Guy definitely needing to find a new job once the shit storm came down and the seemingly simple locket in my pocket that caused a successful mid-level-mafia-type to kill himself.
Three days passed before she called me and asked if I had her locket. I told her I did. She wept happily hearing the news.
“I would have sworn he was so possessive of the locket that he would not have let it go without having to kill him.”
“Actually, once I took it away from him, he threw himself from the balcony.”
“He was disturbed, that way…”, she sounded infinitely sad. “Can you bring me the locket and I can pay you the rest of the job’s cost.”
I thought to myself that even though I was out 11 G’s, I was still way ahead on this job, not counting that a crazy idiot tossed himself off a balcony. “I can. Where do you want to meet?”
The manse was a few square hundred feet short of being a full-blown mansion. She obviously had money just to throw away. She threw a bunch away at me and was about to throw a bunch more.
A maid, perhaps the most beautiful woman that I have ever seen, led me to a receiving room. The only thing odd about her was her eyes seemed a bit distant. Still, she left me wishing she would have stayed while I waited. She was the type of woman that was hard to forget once you see her. She was the type of woman I had a weakness for. She was the type of woman that could, and did, arouse me just on sight.
I fantasized about what it would be like to embrace such a woman, to taste her lips against mine, when my client entered the room. Her crimson lips in a full smile. Her eyes surveyed my state, her smile deepened.
“Hello, Mr. Barnaby. You honor me. The locket…”
“Before I hand it over, I am curious. Why do you want it so bad? Why was he so unwilling to part with it? That is, if you do not mind the question.”
“Not at all,” her crimson lips purred. “It was a gift to me from my grandmother. As for him. It was a foolish love affair. He took it from me, because what do you take from someone as rich as me? What do you take from someone you want to possess, someone that has everything? You take the one thing that you cannot put a price on.”
I nodded. It was an answer, but not a full one. She handed me another envelope loaded with cash and I stood and took out the locket, handing it to her. She almost wept for joy holding it in her hand again.
“Oh thank you, Mr. Barnaby! you have no idea just how much it means to me to have it back.”
Before I could react, she leaped at me and kissed me. A hard, longing kiss. A kiss you don’t forget. A kiss that did make me forget about her beautiful maid though, a woman that was infinitely more descript than the one kissing me now, my client’s crimson lips notwithstanding. A kiss that gave me the urge to let my fingers get lost in her smoother-than-silk hair. A kiss that led her wrapping her arms around my neck.
A lifetime later, the kiss ended she parted. I visibly panted. I could not recall the last time a woman left me panting from just a kiss. I felt dizzy. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I was drugged.
I looked at my client with her crimson lips. Suddenly she seemed to be very descript. I noticed the perfection of her face. I noticed the lustful fire in her eyes. I noticed the endless curves of her form. I noticed her hands empty. I suddenly was aware of a cool chain biting into my neck. I reached up and felt the locket hanging from it. As I touched it she sighed almost as if I slipped my hand up her dress. I noticed that not only did she stir me with desire, but the desire was something I just could not ignore.
The next moment I had her in my arms again, she was wanton and willing.
“Take me, have me. My Barnaby…”
It felt like a yearning invitation, it rattled in my mind as a desired command. We tore at each other’s clothes not caring as they ripped, they were mere obstacles in the way.
I never coupled with a woman as quickly. I’ve never been as desperate at hearing the word, “Deeper!” Over, and over, and over again.
Animals did not mate as basely as we did. Still it wasn’t enough, I kept on needing more, she kept on begging for more. I was barely aware of how the brass locket burned at my skin every time it touched. All that existed was her.
I woke naked in silk sheets, as if from a dream. My thoughts my own for that brief moment, before I felt her trace her finger on my chest. I could feel the finger draw the outline of a heart, as if branding a rune into my flesh. My body responded, wanting her, mindlessly having to have her. I wanted her again. I needed her again. I was so physically tired from our seemingly endless affair earlier, yet if I didn’t have her again soon, I was sure I would lose my mind.
“My dear Barnaby. My dearest love. I need you. But, more than that, I need you to do a job for me.”
Those crimson lips laughed sweetly then. A small part of my mind, cowering in the corner and clinging to remembered sanity, was screaming that the laugh was not sweet, but wicked, a lie. The rest of me ignored the buzz of that noise of that small part of me. I touched the locket and felt her love flow into me deeper. She had a job for me. She had a desperate need for me! And she would love me all the more if I did it.
“Unfortunately though, it might require you to kill someone in the end.”
I don’t kill I thought to myself. But for her, for my love, I might have to make an exception. The ends would probably justify the means. She would never ask me to do something like this if there was no other way.
She took me again, before I could even answer. My body sang as she washed me in her lusts and desires. I knew I would only kill if it was the last result, justifying it to myself. A small voice in my head screamed that I was in a trap, the locket was the trap. Get rid of it. Get rid of it now before it is too late. I touched the locket as she rode me. Her love flooded me just as her lust pounded me. I caressed the locket wanting to feel both of the feelings. Her love and her lust, mine only to indulge in.
I knew in the depth of my heart, the locket now contained a picture of myself and her, my crimson-lipped love tucked inside. Bound together forever. I knew it even as I heard the small voice inside my head slip away in silence. Slip away to the need of receiving her love, her lust, and her need of me to do another job for her.