The old fellow with the bad toupee was drinking straight spiced rum by the big picture window at the front. Dan Franklin knew it was rum was by the sick-sweet stench wafting over in the sluggish gulf stream of air the ceiling fan stirred towards him like a fading hurricane.
Only according to Marsden the old man wasn’t so old, and even the rum was just another part of the bit. Observing these things, all the while the ceiling fan turned, lazy and slow, like a fat child running laps.
Franklin took a sip of gin, waiting. He was working here. Grift or graft; it was all money. City paychecks were a joke and a wise man gathered acorns as he could.
Out the window, outside the bar, the bank across the street was closing. The bank was irrelevant, bank jobs were messy things. The bank manager, though…
He took another sip of the expensive juniper juice.
Here he came – the manager. A gent named Phillips, balding in the middle, thinning in back, a losing battle, all directions. He looked tired in the resignedly cheery way some have, when they have accepted that where they are in life is where they are going to be.
Then there he was, coming through the door, easy and polite, a real class fellow.
It was much quicker than Franklin had figured, and from that alone he knew Marsden had been right, hadn’t been bullshitting him or trying to put a scare in him to get the job done well.
The old man wasn’t so old and wasn’t so drunk; he knew his tricks – Franklin barely saw the rummy had plucked a little Colt Woodsman from the cheater holster under his coat until it fired. The first round clipped Phillips in the jaw, spinning his head, and the second blast from the thin, straw-barreled automatic hit him behind the ear, where only the best know to aim.
Even as Franklin moved, reaching into his own cheap sport jacket that had sweat stains at the pits, he knew he wasn’t that good, never had been – on his finest day he couldn’t just ping out two shots like that, each one death in a few grams of lead weight.
But now here was the standard issue thirty-eight that felt warm and slick in his hand, going off as though by order, an order sent from some foreign force.
The first round went high, shattered the plate glass. Too long since he’d done this kind of work.
Five rounds left now, and the second and third found home, taking the old man that Franklin could now see wasn’t really old at all, in the chest, but not toppling him, that gorgeous automatic spinning in his hand, coughing gently like a child with a cold. Franklin felt the sting of a bullet sear his left ear, and then his own fourth shot, a lucky slug rendering half the rummy’s face eyeless as he fell, a body without structure now.
Glancing around, blood dribbled down his neck and under his collar, mixing with sweat – it stung, Franklin was sure. But right now he couldn’t feel it. Behind the bar was the barkeep boy, a willow-the-wisp kid who’d gone milk-white.
“Relax. Lieutenant Franklin, vice squad,” he said to the kid, flashing the badge that worked such wonders on the uninitiated. “Call it in, ask for Station House E Precinct. Let’em know there’s a 10-35 at Sacchiarelli’s Bar.”
He sat back on the stool and waited for the dim wail of the sirens to get close. Always goes like that, seems like. Never there ‘til after the fact.
He drank his gin, considered things. Marsden had said not to kill the rummy ‘til the rummy killed the banker. Job done.
Now Marsden would forget the gambling debts, destroy the photographs he had of Franklin with the working girls, tear up the markers with his scribbled signature. And if not…
If not, the revolver had two rounds left. There were more spare shells in his old Chevy’s glovebox, too.
They never question a cop.