He glanced briefly at the picture on his iphone as the elevator sped upwards. "Arresting features," he thought to himself. The elevator doors slid open. He looked up. He stepped onto the stage of New York master-of-the -universe-dom. The scenery: a Eurotrash-chic mash up of London Gentlemen's Club meets Marie Antionette's boudoir. Opulance the new austerity, at least amongst those who still could out-douche themselves.
"In matters of true importance style, not sincerity, is the vital thing." Oscar Wilde.
The quote, in flowing penmenship, was projected onto the front of the long gilden bar. And on the top of the bar, in case anyone might have inhibitions ordering more booze. „This is Terry, he is sooo cute when he's drunk. And he always is!" a blonde girl screeched from across the room.
Fred felt right at home. From the infinite anonymity of the street to the contained anonymity of a hipster restaurant, flush with gleaming teeth and skin. The relaxed atmosphere of high maintenance girls and boys at play.
Slipping his phone into his breast pocket, he walked up to the table, indicated to him by the host, where a scruffy-looking painfully thin girl in jeans was sitting. Her long light-brown hair was pulled back into a pony tail, obviously worse for the wear of a long day..........at school? Fred looked nonplussed. He turned to the host. „Excuse me", he whispered, „could you bring me a bottle of Belvedere with two iced glasses and pretend it's on the house?" He pulled a money clip out of his wallet and handed a bill to the guy. „Oh jesus, he uses a money clip? Bloody hell", she thought to herself. „What a turd."
He smiled and turned back to the table.
"Hi. Lucy, right?" Rhetorical question really. She stuck out her hand. "You're late."
"I hope you will accept this flower as a greeting and simultaneously as an apology. " He smiled, pulling one of the roses out of the table vase.
She smiled back. "Please....sit." He had already pulled the chair away from the table. The flower was laid dissimissively on the chair. She took out her notebook.
"So, where are you from originally?", she asked. "East London."
"Have you ever been married?", she continued.
„Not that I know of, no."
"What do you do? For a living? Your profession?" she glanced at her notebook. He didn't lose his cool and signaled to the waiter. „Drinks........needed......here". He mouthed the words and pointed to table. The girl sat there, pen in hand. She smiled somewhat apologetically. "You see, there is no sense in wasting each other's time. I find it.......beneficiary to cut to the chase and just get it out in the open"
"Of course. I agree completely. "
"What do you do, by the way?" He asked her.
"I'm a model" she remarked, pointing to the glossy on the table. Fred picked up the magazine. The wonders of photoshop.
The waiter arrived with the vodka and two frozen glasses. Both remained silent as he poured the liquid into the glasses. He looked at them both. "I will come back later for your orders for dinner".
"You see, I am for complete openess and honesty as well. I am a contract killer. I believe honesty is the best policy" He smiled. She took a drag off her cigarette. "Really?" "Yes, really" he said proudly and opened his jacket. Lucy looked at the gun and then at him. "It really is quite a wonderful profession. I can choose my own hours. I freelance. And it pays well." Fred reached for the glass and downed it in one go. "Go on", she prompted with her glass before taking a sip.
"I find it's like any other job. I don't engage in the messy bit. I don't actually have to do away with the body, you know. After all, a bullet is a clear indication of a "murder" therefore I have no need to get rid of the body. If I were that kind of killer, I would be a thug. I'm not a thug. I am a highly skilled professional. " He smiled again.
"So whom have you killed?"
"Obviously that is privilaged information I would only disclose if we became.....intimate. Even then I'd have to be very careful. Otherwise, I might have to shoot you". He picked up the magazine again and studied it.
"You look.......different in real life."
She had heard enough and picked up her bag and the flower. She took his hand and gave it a brief shake. "Very nice meeting you but I think we..I couldn't handle.......the.......danger" She managed a blush. "Good bye." She smiled to herself as she walked away.
He sighed. Wasn't there anyone out there who appreciated what he did? Everyone was always going on about honesty, and all that crap. But the minute it was put to the test, they buckled. Quite disappointing really. His cell phone vibrated. Lucy's picture appeared next to the message: "Bam." He deleted the text message. „Wicked", he chuckled as he tapped his phone and signaled to the waiter.
"I'd like to order now please. Can I have the filet mignon with the croquettes and a rucola salad with baby tomatoes please? And I'll have a bottle of Beaujolois with that please". He looked back at the menu. "I'll decide on dessert later". "Will the lady be back?" The waiter asked.
"No. I'll be on my own this evening" He smiled again. Fred was a good smiler.
The next morning, Lucy was sitting at her computer, with a cup of coffee in her hand. Sunshine flooded in through the ceiling-to-floor windows of her Soho walk up apartment. The Huffington Post site opened. „Hitman Hit" a small headline on the sidebar read, with a picture of a dark-haired very handsome guy underneath. „Well, they weren't very imaginative with that one. " She didn't click on the story. She picked up her phone and texted. „Do I have the job?"