Issue 8

Once Greta and the fat and skinny Germans had left I decided that it was time for some sort of celebration. We were finally on track to getting paid and the way it was all coming together it was for something that we may actually be pretty good at. I couldn’t help but wonder just how much we could increase our profits by “threat removal”, so I resolved to discuss this with Stevie for reasons that will become readily clear.

“So Stevie, you need a ride home tonight?” I knew I could do that without arousing any suspicions since he needed a ride home pretty much all the time.

“Sure, man. Thanks.”

I got everyone into the back room, “Alright boys, time for a celebration. We have a buyer. Guess that means we need to really be on top of shit when we finally have the guns in hand. Wil, I want a face to face with the Cartel and the Russians in the next two weeks. We’ll fucking go to Colombia if we need to. You and the “Big Man” will accompany me. You’re the only one who can speak conversational Spanish. Stevie is going to be spending tomorrow finding me some way to learn to speak Russian. I’m thinking podcast downloads but I don’t really know, but it should be relatively simple and I’m sure it can be made to happen. We’ll worry about cover stories for our trip as the time for it gets closer. Alright then, any questions?” I frightened myself a little at how I could formulate a plan like this on the fly.
“Just one, what are Stevie and I gonna do when the three of you are traveling around the world?” William had a point, but I’d already considered it.

“You two will run the store of course. Someone has to maintain our web sales in the meantime at least until we get our arms dealing feet wet. Yes, I realize what I just said. Also, we aren’t all traveling the world. Wil’s only coming with me for the Spanish portions of my trip. Ralphie is coming with me as far as I need to go in the guise of personal protection. I hope it’s not Russia, cause all I can think we’ll find there is that it would be damn cold and full of vodka and potato soup.”

I thought about that for a moment.

“Is that too many stereotypes?”

“Only if our contacts name ends up being Boris.” Ralphie, could be funny when he wanted to, and we all had a little laugh at that.

“Alright, looks like we have a buyer and a plan. That’s a start and I think we’ve all of us earned the right to call it a little early today. Anyone wanna go get a drink?” I knew they’d jump at it, but only after the addendum.

“And it’s on me guys. And then I’ll take you home Stevie. Does that sound good enough for you guys?” Nothing but nods.

So we went and had a drink, and as all things go one turned into three and when it was all said and done we’d effectively cancelled out the little bit we’d gained by closing early. Oh well, such is life. I called Mer to let her know I’d be running Stevie home and off we went.

“There was something I wanted to talk to you about. That German bitch was running her mouth about how they would pay a premium for some sort of hired assassin services, should we provide that. Now the rest of us have our familial obligations and whatnot to attend to here, but you don’t. You’ve expressed to me in the past a desire to travel and see the world, so I thought that maybe…” I just let it trail off there. He wasn’t stupid and he knew what I was saying to him.

“If you want me to, I will.” He’d have made an awesome soldier if he’d been so inclined.

“You aren’t doing it for me man. Not directly anyway. You’d be doing it for you. Since you’d be the one to run point and almost all you would be doing would be done solo, how bout you get 60% of the payment, plus reasonable expenses, on those ‘assignments’? That way it’s worth your time. We can make sure that you have all the tools you need at your disposal. I think that a study of human anatomy, chemistry, engineering and physics as well as some firearms and martial arts training might be of benefit to you. You should also look for anything else that might up your overall area of knowledge.” He simply nodded.
“That sounds good. I’ll start looking online for the things I might need tonight.”

“And you should also learn to speak as many languages as possible. If you wanna take a couple of days to get started on this and not come into the shop, that’s cool too. You’ll still get paid. I also think that for the time being we should keep this between us.” I wasn’t sure that the guys would understand or approve. I could tell he wasn’t super cool with that.

“Alright, if you say so man.” He hated to keep secrets from the rest of the guys.

That was about the time we pulled up to Stevie’s place. This was gonna be a problem and I knew it. He loathed secrets, which would end up being an issue when it came to stealthy assassinations in foreign lands.

“Alright, be there bright and early tomorrow and we can tell them together. Maybe they will have some idea of how to get you prepped for this too. Just know that if you change your mind and don’t want to go down this road that’s cool too. Ultimately, since it’s your ass out there running around in whatever godforsaken land your target happens to be in, it’s your choice and yours alone.” I had to hope that was enough to alleviate his feelings on the subject.

“Ok man, I’ll be there.” And he got out of my car and went inside.

I couldn’t help but think that I’d just made a huge mistake. If I had a dollar for all the fuck-ups I’d made over the years, I’d probably be one of the richest son of a bitches ever to walk the earth. Stevie was a good guy and he wanted to get rich like the rest of us. I already knew the decision he’d made. He’d kill for money, and he’d do it until he couldn’t do it anymore. He had the drive, motivation and questionably shady ethics to do it.

So I went home and caught hell for smelling like smoke and booze. Meryl hated it when I drank. It always brought back the less than stellar memories of what a horrible bastard I was when I got shit-faced. It earned me the luxury of sleeping on the couch.

The next day came and I rolled into the shop a little later than normal, which is saying something since I was always fashionably late getting in. I knew the guys would get it opened and whatnot before I showed up. What I didn’t know was that Stevie would get there before me and tell them without me. What I did realize until that moment was just how tired I was of showing up only to find the rest of them yelling like a bunch of caged animals fighting over a scrap of food. Right at that moment it was Wil making his feelings known.

“I don’t care what the justification is, that’s not what we discussed and I say no. Who the fuck does he think he is to ask you to do this?” I toyed with hanging back to hear what else he had to say on the matter, but I knew it would only breed a little bit of hard feelings and that was something that we just couldn’t afford to have in our happy little circle right now.

“I’m the guy who makes the financial decisions for 90% of what we do is who I am. And you’re right I did ask him, with ask being the key and operative term. I also made it clear to him that he was under no obligation to do it. I was merely suggesting it as an option to him, and judging by what’s going on here he made his choice.”

“You’re right. I’ve thought about it and I want to do this. I don’t have the obligations you guys have and I want to retire young. I don’t care for school. I want to be able to do what I want with my life and financial independence is the way for me to achieve that. My grandmother isn’t gonna always be there to take care of me, and I’m getting old enough now that I shouldn’t be constantly coming to you guys whenever I need something. Plus, the money won’t hurt the rest of you will it? All of you have bills to pay and kids to feed. I’m just building my nest egg, but you guys have families to support. You’ve all helped me for so long now that it’s just time for me to repay the favor.” He’d given it far more thought than I’d anticipated.

“Alright guys, now you’ve heard his piece, can you let it go? You don’t have to like it, but at least respect that he made the choice on his own and for his own reasons?” –The three of them, William, Wil and Ralphie, all just looked on a little shocked and a whole lot pissed and they didn’t say or do anything in response.

“Alright Stevie, what do you need?” And we began to plan out what he’d need.

We worked out the beginnings of how we could justify his almost constant travel and how we could get him any needed supplies wherever he should happen to go in the world. We also decided on a method of contact when he would be “in the field”.

We also were in agreement that from this point forward none of our clients would know who in our organization would be the one to do their jobs, and also that Stevie would effectively be a ghost from that point on in respects to our clients. They’d neither hear from or of him nor would they see him. We were also in agreement that we should never know who the target was to be. It was to be just a way for us to compartmentalize it all. He thought that all of that was a great idea, and he had already compiled a list of innocuous supplies and training materials that he felt would be of benefit to him.

As for the specifics of what we’d worked out they are as follows: First, that when Stevie was in the field, he is on his own. There would be an emergency voice mail set up that we were to contact in under the most serious of circumstances, and that he would check it once daily, if able.

Secondly, he would take as little or as much time as he needed to complete the job, as long as it was feasible to do so. No need to rush into it when you could plan it out and get it right.

Thirdly, upon completion of a job, he would send us a postcard to let us know that the job was done, but would only put onto the postcard “Wish you were here”. We were in agreement that he shouldn’t send from where he completed the job, so he should send form quite literally anywhere else.

Finally, it was decided that he should also take a little r and r time after every job, at least a week if possible, to just kick back and relax wherever he so chose to go.

That is how Stevie got his start on becoming the greatest assassin the world has never known and I became a monster for getting a kid to kill people for money and think that it was actually his choice. I’ve never forgiven myself for that.