This is my twisted take on a blind date; an oldie, but a favorite of mine I wrote for A Twist of Noir. My main character is based on the deaf hit man character created by Christopher Grant in his story, Reverberations, which you can read here.
Jimmy Callaway followed with Closed Captioned, that featured this fascinating fellow, and you can read his story here.
Mine, entitled Blind Date, follows, and was the third in this delightfully bizarre series. I hope you enjoy them all.
Well, today’s been quite the eventful day. I’m still having a hard time believing it, and I was there.
This morning started off pretty much the same as all my other mornings. I was enjoying my usual morning fare: a nice hot, high fat, high cholesterol, high sodium, and let’s not forget all the sugar, delightful meal at my favorite haunt. I’ve been coming here for over 20 years and I’ll be coming for another 20. Small, homey, and most of all, private. In my line of work, confidentiality is king. My clients aren’t in the mood to advertise their meetings with me and I’m not much for social networking.
I was on my third java refill thinking about how sweet it would be to get away for a few days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to run away from something, because I never run away from anything. It attracts attention. It’s just that I recently finished a job that ended up being a bit messier than I like. The client was new, but had passed muster, so I took the gig. But, there were a few more individuals involved than originally agreed upon, so it required a bit more effort on the part of yours truly. Mind you, I was never at a disadvantage, but more usually means noise, and noise means trouble. Now, noise doesn’t bother me any. I’ve been deaf since the day I was born. But, I can see it being made--I can feel it. People running around yelling and banging on stuff? Noise.
I got the situation under control as I always do, but I figured my new client owed me a bonus for the extra sweat he’d caused. Oddly enough, he didn’t see it. I didn’t see or feel any noise while I was persuading him to my way of thinking, though. A nice bit of closure there. True, no actual bonus, but closure still. A job well done.
M point being, I needed some R&R, when an old friend that I haven’t seen in years strolled in and joined me at my table. He and I go way back and are in the same line, but it’s not like a competition thing between us. His old lady inherited big bucks from her last sugar daddy, and he’s set for life. He takes the occasional job just to keep a hand in and stay sharp. Most he turns down flat regardless, if his gut tells him it’s hinky. You know, I think I trust his gut more than I trust anyone or anything in this whole world. If a gig clears his checkpoint, and he’s strapped, he’ll offer it to me. I usually oblige. A friend in need… and all that crap.
When he gave me the deets on this one, I thought he’d jumped the track. He handed me a letter from the prospective client and told me to just read it and consider. He hadn’t met her yet--yeah, it was a dame--but thought this might have some merit. I nodded, shook his hand, blinked, and he was gone. Probably on his way to catch the Concorde to Paris. Again.
The letter read like an advice column plea. It seems a Miss Makafee had decided it was time to seek a better half. She didn’t trust computers--a Big Brother’s Always Watching complex--so she joined a mail order type service. She provided a complete description of herself (blonde, blue eyes, 5 feet and 2 inches, 110 pounds) and listed her favorite activities as watching old movies, drinking hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, and walking in the rain.
For a quick sec, I had the urge to marry this hottie myself. It passed.
The response was from a chap who claimed to be a rugged six footer, medium build, with dark hair and eyes. Said he loved old movies, and fantasized about them holding hands sipping a mug of cocoa. They set up a meet.
Well, knock me into a week from Thursday. The mope shows up, and he’s 5 feet if he’s an inch. Medium build? Compared to what? A Frigidaire? Dark eyes? Maybe. If you could find them under all those bags hanging around ‘em. She didn’t get a chance to quiz him in the likes and dislikes department because when he saw her, he started to laugh. Didn’t say a fucking word to this babe, just laughed, like it was all some sick prank. Little honey starts tearing up, runs out of the joint and catches a cab home. She’s got his number, knows where he lives, and that’s where I come into the picture. Well, not exactly me; it was my guy, but you already know that part.
So, she’s hurt and all, but more than that, she’s pissed all to Hell. She wants him ‘eliminated’. Her word--not mine. Classy dame is my guess. One hitch, though. She’s light on the green. Now, I’ve got as much heart as the next fella, but I don’t get a tax break for charity work. Still, we could meet and see where it went. I don’t take payment in trade, but maybe this chick’s got something I could use. Never know.
Got a bud to take her a note to meet me at the diner at 4, cause 4 is too late for lunch and too early for dinner. If the whole thing turns sour, all I’m out is a cup of Joe, tops.
So, I get there early, and I’m on my fourth refill and she walks in the door carrying the white rose I sent along with the note. First thought that crossed my mind was how could that son of a bitch laugh at her. She took my breath away.
I mean--literally--I couldn’t catch a breath. Five foot two? Maybe. If she could actually straighten herself upright. There’s a medical name for that, but it escapes me. Saw somebody once with that condition in an old Boris Karloff movie, though. She did have blonde hair alright--or, at least a couple of tufts of it on the right side of her head. I think one of her legs was shorter than the other by a few inches. That might have accounted for the fact that she kinda walked sideways; like, take a step and slide, take a step and slide. You get the picture.
She made it over to my table during my fifth refill, sat down, waved the rose at me, and smiled a funny little crooked smile. In my head, I was counting my meager blessings and wondering what the fuck I was doing there. But the answer soon became very clear. When she winked at me with her one good eye, I knew. I thought about the basic philosophy I’ve lived my whole life with. You make do with what you’ve been given and it’s got to be enough.
Maybe there wouldn’t be a tax break on this one, but bullets are cheap, and somebody really owed her. By the way, I sprang for an early dinner too.