“If you don’t have it in you to do it, I will,” he stated coolly.
“What…how… why now,” I stammered realization slowly sinking in. “No, wait, I can’t, you can’t…”
He was not listening. How could he even be talking about doing this to her? Could he not see what she meant to me?
“Someone has to. No one can know. I tell you this, yet you choose not to listen. You chose to bring her into this situation. Now we have to take care of it. If you can’t, I will.”
“No!” I yelled. “I love her, you can’t! I won’t let you!”
“Son, you’re young. You don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know love, you don’t know what’s best for you.”
“I’m eighteen! I’m old enough!”
“You’re young!” He barked slamming his fist to the table. “And foolish and irresponsible!”
My blood was boiling. All I could see was red. How dare he suggest we do anything to hurt my girl. He thinks he knows what’s best for me?
“You have no idea what love is yet.”
My teeth ground together with each of his words, my nostrils flared with each violent breath I took.
“She. Has. To. Go.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. My mind shut down allowing my body to just take over. This person in front of me was threatening someone I cared about. He was no longer my Father, he was the enemy. My hands balled into tight fists and without another word I took a swing. I was going to nail this fucker right square on the nose. Lay him out and buy us enough time that we could escape. We could leave and never look back. I knew enough to get us by.
I was so ready to feel the satisfaction of my knuckles meeting his face. I just wanted the joy of seeing him fall to the ground. My plan was foiled when an inch from slamming my fist into his worthless face, I was stopped. A huge dark mitt wrapped around my wrist and in one fluid motion, I was face first on the floor, hands behind my back, a boot in my shoulders.
“You do not have to like what we have to do,” my Father said into my ear as I struggled to breathe against the pressure on my chest. “But, you dohave to respect the decisions that I make because they are only made with your best interests at heart. I wish you could see that. I expect you to break all ties with her and you are NEVER to see her again, understood?”
“No,” I squeaked out.
I felt the boot push harder as I fought to say the word he was waiting to hear. I wasn’t willing to give in, not yet.
“How hard are you going to make this, son?”
The boot pushed harder. Shit if he pushed anymore he’d step right through me. And knowing what he was about to do, I really didn’t give a rat’s ass if he did.
“Until his foot fucking stomps through my God-damned chest and stops my beating heart, cause, that’s what this fucking feels like,” I choked out writhing in one final attempt to escape, which of course got me nowhere.
My Father sighed, “Fine, have it your way, you stay here and I’ll take care of it. Greg, make sure he doesn’t leave this room until I return.”
Greg’s deep baritone simply answered, “Yes, sir.”
I felt the car slow and come to a stop. I’d been so lost in my memories I hadn’t noticed that we had arrived. Looking down, I saw my fingers mindlessly rubbing the charm I still wore around my neck. Not even ten years had passed and yet, it seemed like a lifetime ago. Whoever said time heals is a fucking liar.
Justin, my new driver, cleared his throat. I’m sure he was wondering if he should interrupt or not. I missed having Troy as my driver. He wasn’t afraid to speak up. It was always so difficult to get the new staff adjusted to the way I liked things around here, but I owed Troy a great deal and giving his little brother a home seemed like a small price to pay. So I used every ounce of patience I could muster.
I looked up seeing he was watching me through the rear view mirror and I forced a smile for him as I let the charm fall back to my chest. I really was trying to make him feel comfortable, I wanted him to feel as if he had a home here, but I couldn’t baby him forever. I don’t have time for that kind of bull shit.
“Justin, why don’t you go ahead and take the car back to my place. I’ll be here all day today and there’s no sense in you hanging around when I’ve got your brother here. I’ll just have him drive me home today. I’ll be fine.”
I sighed and placed a hand on his line-backer sized shoulder, “Justin, I know you’ve only been here for a few weeks, but, when we not in the presence of clients or patrons I don’t want the formalities. I insist you call me by my first name.”
“Yes, si-,” he let out an exasperated sigh. “Sorry, I mean, yes … Victor… I’ll get the car home and await further instructions.”
“You will do no such thing. You go back to my place and stand down soldier,” I smiled at him and squeezed his over-sized shoulder. “I am around you fuckers twenty-four seven so I don’t want to start thinking my name is ‘sir’ and I have to give ‘further instructions.’ Go relax, read a book, take a nap, play some video games. Hell, jerk off for all I care. Maybe it will help you relax.”
I exited the vehicle poking my head back into the window, “But, if you do the latter, please, just not on my couch.”
He chuckled, “You got it, Victor.”
Because of the extensive military back ground of the men I hired it was hard for them to shake what had been pounded into them during their training. Not that I was trying to make them soft, I just couldn’t stand the sound of being called ‘sir.’ My Father was ‘sir’ and I was most definitely not like that bastard.
I entered the secret pin and placed my thumb on the print scanner that was needed to open the door to my second home, Malone Stables. Before my father had passed away I’d never believed that it actually existed. He’d talked about it here and there, but doing what we do, sometimes the lines of reality get blurred and I was never sure exactly what was fact and what was fiction.
At the time I figured that it was another one of his fake companies, a front for his other life. After a few months of going through the books and experiencing a few seasons here it was obvious he’d been trying to change for me. And I stress trying. Who knew he was capable of running a legitimate business. Well, about as legitimate as my Father could be.
Too bad it was too little, too late. It took me a few years, but I finally got the place cleaned up more or less and got the books straightened out somewhat. Most bets that took place now were from real people off the street, the way it should be. Not the mob bosses and biker gangs dirty money. It was tough, but most respected my decision based on the past they had with my Father. I still had a few I had to deal with. Hence the reason for the men I hired and the backgrounds that I demanded they have.
“Mr. Malone, good morning,” my ever eager to please Secretary greeted me with a smile from behind a small desk in the corner of the quaint lobby area. “I do hope you’re doing well this morning.”
“Good morning, Lois,” I greeted back stopping for a moment before I went to my office. “Thank you, I am doing as well as can be expected on three hours of sleep.”
“Another long night?”
I sighed, “Sometimes I wish I could just turn my phone off. How is it that there is trouble nearly every night this week?” I asked not really searching for an answer and tried to duck away into the hallway down to my office.
I was not going to get away so easily, I could hear the quick click of her heels on the tile floor behind me as she struggled to keep up. My schedule was in hand, I was sure.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Malone. I hope your day gets better. Um, your final competitor for this weekend’s race arrived this morning at eight and is settling in at the North stables, stall number fourteen. At ten is the final meeting with the advertisers for race day. You’ll need to make your decision on the banners and the possibility of air advertising. They have to know by the end of your meeting because today is the deadline to get them signed, you know. At noon is your lunch with Frank and then you have a two o’clock with Tidwell Industries about the design of the trophy and the inking of the photographer.”
I stopped abruptly and turned around to find her glasses on the edge of her nose, her face buried in my appointment book. She had a pen in her left hand and a pencil tucked behind her right ear. So obviously she was not paying attention and didn’t see that I had stopped causing her to crash into me and bounce off of my chest. Her glasses fell crooked on her face and a strand of grey hair fell across her eye. She reached up to straighten them without missing a beat.
“How do you do that?” I asked the corner of my mouth turned upward slightly in amusement.
Lois smoothed down her light pink blouse and answered her tone stone cold serious, “It’s what you pay me to do, Mr. Malone. I keep track of your day to day and-”
“No not that,” I interrupted waiving my hand in front of me for her to stop. I tried not to laugh at her serious tone. I pointed to the appointment book, “My whole schedule came out without a single breath. How do you do that?” I asked laughing slightly.
Lois had apparently enjoyed the late sixties and early seventies as she failed to realize that fashion changed in the later decades. It was apparent in the knee length polyester skirts she wore on a daily basis with blouses that buttoned snug to the top. Her hair also was stuck in a decade long ago, but was now sprinkled with silver strands. She had been my father’s eyes and ears when he was unable to be at the stables in person. I pondered for a moment wondering if her coldness was due to the fact that she was now old enough to be the bosses Mother? Did that bother her? Or was my Father that callous that he’d made her this way?
There really was no need for Lois to act as she did. I’d never asked for anything different than I expected from the rest of the staff. In fact, if anything else, I did more to make sure she was well taken care of, especially after all she had to put up with my Father all those years. I didn’t approve of his way of running such a cold place to work. He’d turned these people into robots that show no emotion.
Everyone seemed to cower when I first walked in like I was my Father’s boy coming in to pick up where he left off. As if I didn’t already think he was a prick. I didn’t need anyone keeping track of my daily schedule or running off for my coffee or any of the other millions of things she did around here that I didn’t really know she did. But, this place ran smooth as silk and, I had to admit, it did ease my mind slightly that Lois was handling things so I could attend to more pressing business. Besides, she wouldn’t hear of it when I suggested anything otherwise.
“I hadn’t noticed, Mr. Malone,” she answered straight-faced. “I’ll try to be more aware next time.”
I sighed, “No, Lois, that’s not … I didn’t mean … Oh, never mind.” I gave up, “Just, tell security to send me this mornings feed. I want to see who our final competitor is.”
“Yes, Mr. Malone,” she stated. “And, just so you know, she, I mean they, are still here.”
“Thank you, Lois. I’ll have a look at that feed, see just what Frank considers to be a decent competitor.”
“You’re welcome, Mr. Malone,” she said and spun around on her heels heading back to the reception area.
I shook my head at her. We’ve had many women owners come through here. It wasn’t that unusual, although most of them did slightly resemble their racing counterpart. I shuttered at the memory of races past. I just observed from a safe distance.
Normally I was the one who set up the line. I usually knew everything about every one of my race horses. What was their lineage, their pedigree? Who were their respective owners and how many years they’d been in the business? How many horses did they own? What was their experience with racing? Who did they hire to train the horse? How long ago had they hired the trainer? How long had he been working with horses or if any had won in the past? Who provided their veterinary care and what, if any, medication was the horse on? Who was the jockey?
So it left me a little uneasy that this latest addition was added without my seeing them first. I’d left this decision up to Frank because I’d had a client to take care of and there was a final slot that needed to be filled. I trusted him, but I hoped I wasn’t going to regret that decision.
I unlocked my office, flipped on the light and closed the door behind me. Walking to the far left corner of the room I picked up the remote control that sat on the edge of my desk top and clicked the power button. The mechanical whir of the forty-two inch monitor lowering from the ceiling filled the room. I sat down the remote on the rectangular, mahogany coffee table that sat a few feet away from my desk and planted myself on the dark brown leather love seat. I smiled when I noticed the piping hot cup of coffee sitting there on a coaster prepared just the way I liked it in my favorite mug.
I laughed and shook my head. Lois. I don’t know how she did it, but I didn’t really see a way I could get by without her. She thought of everything.
I picked up the mug just as the footage began. There wasn’t any sound. The microphones were never activated unless I ordered them to be. Having state of the art high definition color security cameras with fifty-two times optical zoom that could allow me to count each hair on your arm was okay, but apparently the law does not like it when you use the ultra-sonic microphones to record voices without people’s permission. I’d learned that firsthand, so it was used at my discretion.
I blew on the hot liquid and watched as two people walked in the stable with their horse; a man and a woman. The slightly overweight pot-bellied man with a thinning hairline, I deduced, was the trainer. The woman walked on the other side of the horse; only the top of her brunette head visible, hair pulled up into a ponytail that bobbed softly up and down. She held the reigns and every so often reached up to rub the horse’s neck.
My eyes fell to the horse momentarily while I patiently waited for a better angle. He was a beautiful steed, dark brown, tall. He had big round eyes, and a long flowing black mane and tail. He walked with magnificent purpose and I couldn’t wait to see him run on the track. It seemed Frank had done well.
The camera followed them to the stall and I finally got a view of her. Well, the backside of her and it wasn’t a half bad angle. She wore a yellow t-shirt that was like a second skin clinging to the inward curve from her rib cage to her hips that met with a tightly hugging pair of deep dark blue jeans that rocked back and forth with every step.
Interesting, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a young owner before that was female. Or, quite frankly, one with a body like that. All of the female owners I’d ever met before were older, middle aged, and were taking over for their husbands that had passed away. Not many were owners by choice and those that were, well, let’s just say that they wouldn’t have to ever worry about having husbands.
I watched as she disappeared into the stall guiding the horse inside with her suddenly anxious for her to return. I waited with bated breath on the edge of the couch for her to reappear unable to look away until I could see her. Why was the intensity of the need to see what she looked like more powerful than anything I’d ever felt before? Finally, the camera focused on her face as she reappeared, as if knowing I wanted a closer look.
The second I saw her face, the sip of coffee I’d just taken was blown all over the floor.
Flashbacks again. Evil flashes to a past that I couldn’t control, a way of life that was forced upon me. A day I was told to do something just as awful as being told I had to ‘get rid’ of my girl.
The California job. Or as I liked to call it, my first fuck up. I was in my early twenties. It was my first job alone after he’d ripped my girl from me, which is why I probably fucked it up. My father had been working with me for a few years trying to make me forget. He thought I was ready to go out on my own, he thought it would do me some good.
He thought wrong.
I still remember the tinge of regret I felt knowing I had to make her disappear. And I don’t mean disappear like in a new identity, a new life, like I do now. My Father did things very differently, he had been very clear that she was to NEVER be seen again, that NO part of her was to ever be found. I guess I didn’t pay very good attention the day he was telling me the rules because I didn’t stick around to make sure the job was complete. Maybe I couldn’t bring myself to believe that my first kill was actually a woman. A woman who unsettlingly reminded me of the one I had lost at his hands.
My Father was a sick, sick man.
Was it possible? Had she survived? If it was so important that she be taken out and made disappear, why hadn’t it come back to me that I was unsuccessful?
She smiled at the frumpy older man she’d come with and walked back over to him. I couldn’t control it, her smile made me smile. I wasn’t able to see who else was with them, but whomever it was, they were talking their ears off. It had to be my stable manager and for once I was grateful for him being so chatty because it meant I could see her that much longer.
I remember spending hours just looking at that face. Studying every mannerism. Devouring every expression. Burning every detail to memory. I couldn’t help comparing her to my girl. It was eerie how similar they were.
They both had were brunettes, although I think my girls hair was a few shades lighter.
They both had brown eyes, but my girls were deep dark pools that I could never stare into anymore.
They both had this infectious smile that could light up a room.
Maybe that’s why I’d had such a hard time with it.
I had to memorize everything about her before going. I wasn’t allowed to take the photo with me. So I took to memory every freckle that spotted her nose. I had to know by heart that her eyes were indeed brown, but lightened slightly sometimes to an almost greenish hue. Her height, date of birth, favorite food, favorite color, worst fear, schools she attended, all the details that could get me close if I needed to.
I drank in the musical sound of her laughter that I listened to on the tapes of conversations she had so I’d know who her friends were, what her plans were, what was her day to day schedule?
I studied her every move knowing she stopped at Starbucks at seven fifteen every morning on her way to work and ordered a vanilla iced Frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso and hold the whipping cream topping. Every Tuesday she came home thirty minutes early as to not get stuck in traffic and to catch her favorite television show. On Friday nights she went out to dinner with her boyfriend, usually an off the beaten path Mexican restaurant, and every Saturday afternoon was spent with her best friend. They’d get nails done, walk past jewelry stores, and checking out the latest sales at department stores trying on dresses or shirts or pants.
That’s when it all hit me. She was someone else’s girl. It was like everything coming full circle. Since I couldn’t get rid of my girl, he was to have me get rid of someone else’s girl. Did he want me to know how it felt?
I tried to stay focused because I did have a job to do, but it also made it that much more difficult knowing what I was doing. I had gotten too much information. So had I slipped and made a mistake? I thought I’d had a flawless plan so I wouldn’t have to be there first hand. By the looks of things in front of me now, I sure as hell had done something wrong.
I got up from the couch and took a few steps toward the television to get a closer look and at the same time, she glanced upward looking directly into the camera. I froze.
There was no doubt in my mind now that this was her. But, how could that be? What was she doing here? My hand reached for the screen and ghosted across her face in front of me as she turned away.
Without thinking and not knowing exactly how old this feed was I flew to the closet and changed from my suit into jeans and a grey t-shirt. I placed the black leather shoes I had worn in neatly on the lower shelf and slipped into some white sneakers I kept for the days I did go down to the stables. Considering they were still bright white, it was obvious I didn’t go down there often.
I glanced at my watch. I had exactly thirty minutes until my meetings were to begin. That should be enough time to go see her in the stables and formally introduce myself. And figure out what the fuck to do now. I knew who had ordered her hit those years ago and they still came around from time to time for the races. If they saw her, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Would they recognize her? I couldn’t take the chance that someone would pick up on it. Fallout for something like this wasn’t something I wanted to experience.
I opened up my office door only to be greeted by Lois who had her hand in the air as if she was about to knock. Her mouth fell open when she saw I’d changed and she quickly closed it.
“Your ten o’clock,” she started and I could hear a tone a lot like I was going to be scolded at.
“Yes, I know, I haven’t forgotten. I’ll be back in time,” I interrupted knowing exactly what she was going to say.
“But you never-”
“I know,” I stopped her mid-sentence again.
She cocked an eyebrow.
“We had a new arrival this morning.”
“Yes, Mr. Malone, that’s what I told you. Didn’t you get the video feed? I told them to send it right away,” she questioned.
“Yes, I did.”
“Was it not good quality? Something wrong with the camera? Should I have Lonnie check it out?”
“The feed was fine. You know how I am. I didn’t set this up so I’m curious.”
“And it has nothing to do with the fact that the owner is a rather pretty, younger woman whom might look vaguely familiar?” she asked crossing her arms across her chest giving me that look.
Shit, I felt like I was trying to get around my Mother. And what did she mean by vaguely familiar?
She swooshed her hand at me pointing into my office not giving me a chance to ask questions, “Get back in there.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but she arched an eyebrow in challenge. She really was like my Mother. I turned, slumping my shoulders and went back into my office just as she was asking.
“Lois,” I started when we entered my office, but she cut me off shutting the door behind us.
“Uh, uh,” she said tisking at me. “What exactly were you going to say? Did you have a plan in mind?”
“No, but-” I started to try to argue.
“Don’t give me that.” She wasn’t going to let me get a word in edge wise so I sat down on the couch and simply listened. “I told you they were still here precisely because I did not want you going down there, not so that you could go make a fool of yourself.”
I buried my face in my hands, elbows on my knees. “I know who she is, Lois. But, how do you know?”
All contents on this site are protected by copyright. Except as specifically permitted herein, no portion of the information on this site may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, without prior written permission from A.L. Davis. Visitors or users are not permitted to modify, publish, transmit or create derivative works of any material found on this site for any public or commercial purposes. What does this mean? Please enjoy the stories, and respect the copyright.