Sunday night. Trip and Mowgli have to wait until the day after viewing the pictures and discs because they needed to do some prep work. This is not a situation that they want to walk into without carefully planning what they’re going to do. Both recognize the volatile nature of what they’re about to do and want to try to account for all the ways things could go wrong. Neither of them will admit to nerves, but they both know that the odds against the two of them are infinite. The only thing on their side is that they have the element of surprise. As long as they hadn’t known who was in charge of the whole operation, they had been at the mercy of the assholes. Now, the worm has turn, and the hunters have become dead meat. They work in grim silence, not wanting to jinx the expedition with needless verbiage. Once in awhile, Mowgli would start to say something only to be cut off by a glare from Trip. She is used to working solo, and it’s bothering her to have to rely on someone else, even if it’s Mowgli. Finally, it’s time.
Trip plays a version of a con to find out where O’Reilly is—she has Mowgli call him on his cell phone, pretending to need a lawyer, panicked. At first, O’Reilly doesn’t want to talk to Mowgli, but Mowgli manages to convey the urgency of his situation. He accomplishes this by sheer volume—O’Reilly finally decides to talk to Mowgli simply because it’s the most expedient way of getting Mowgli off the phone. After Mowgli babbles for ten minutes about some made-up legal situation, he manages to finagle where O’Reilly will be and elicits O’Reilly promise to meet Mowgli for ten minutes. As she might have guessed, O’Reilly will be at his—and Andretti’s—favorite watering hole—Tosca’s. It’s not Trip’s sort of place, but she’s willing to put up with it if it nets her what she wants—O’Reilly. Of course, Mowgli gives O’Reilly a fake name and of course, Mowgli isn’t going to show up, but O’Reilly doesn’t know that. Mowgli and Trip high-five after Mowgli hangs up the phone.
For the occasion, Trip is wearing the shortest white leather mini-skirt she has, a bright purple leather halter top that securely covers her tattoo, thigh-high leather boots the exact same shade as her top with three-inch heels and a long, white leather trench coat. She also has on elbow-length gloves the same color as her boots and halter top. It is a look that worked well for her when she was on the streets and by the admiring glances she’s garnering at Tosca’s, it’s still a look that works well. She’s wearing the platinum wig, but has made up her face—read, her eyes—to look ‘extra-Oriental’ just for O’Reilly. The only thing marring her look is the oversized plum-colored bag she’s toting, but it’s a necessity. She is confident that she looks nothing like her normal self nor the other self that shadowed O’Reilly the other day into this very bar. To prove her point, she smiles widely at Seamus who is working the bar and obviously doesn’t recognize her.
“Wow, aren’t you the vision now,” Seamus grins at her, discreetly checking her out. “What’ll you be having to drink, darlin’? First one on the house.” Trip is at the end of the bar nearest the door whereas O’Reilly is at the far end, drinking what looks to be a martini with three olives.
“White Russian,” Trip says in a little-girl’s voice. She bats her eyelashes at Seamus who is loving her performance. The healthy dose of cleavage doesn’t hurt.
“Aw, darlin’, you don’t be wanting that,” Seamus cajoles her. “How about a Irish coffee? It’s what we’re famous for, you know. And I, being Irish, make it the best of anyone.”
“Why not?” Trip coos, tilting her head to the side.
“What’s a girl like you doing by your lonesome? I’d think the boys would be busting down your door.” Even though there are Irish coffees lined up on the bar, Seamus ignores them to make one fresh. He places it in front of Trip with a flourish.
“Sometimes, a girl just wants to be alone, you know?” Trip says, sipping daintily from the Irish coffee. “I love boys, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice just to be.”
“You don’t look like you want to be alone dressing so fine like that,” Seamus comments. “If you don’t mind me being so bold.” He is called to the other end of the bar by O’Reilly who has spotted Trip. O’Reilly’s eyes boldly roam up and down Trip’s figure and for a horrible minute, she wonders if she’s chosen wrong in her personas. O’Reilly likes little girls and young women, after all, but he likes them dressed like whores—at least that’s what the pictures and DVDs show. O’Reilly calls Seamus over again and gives him an instruction. Not to Trip’s surprise, Seamus saunters back to her end of the bar.
“The gentleman at the end of the bar would like your next drink to be on him,” Seamus informs Trip, a twinkle in his eyes. “At this rate, darlin’, you won’t be buying a single drink all evening. What’ll it be?”
“White Russian,” Trip rejoins, finishing her first drink. She smiles widely at Seamus who busies himself with the drink.
“What are you willing to bet, darlin’, that you won’t be alone come the end of the night.” Seamus sets the White Russian before her and smiles. “Take me word for it, though, you can do better than that old duffer!” He says it in a low voice, though there’s no danger of O’Reilly overhearing.
“Oooh, isn’t that De Niro?” Trip squeals, clapping her hands together. She points eagerly at the back of the room where a familiar head can just barely be discerned behind a cloud of smoke.
“The one and only,” Seamus says easily. “Bobby comes here often.”
“Oh, it’s Bobby, is it?” Trip asks, looking at Seamus from beneath her eyelashes.
“Excuse me, Seamus.” O’Reilly appears out of nowhere. “Why don’t you introduce me to this fascinating young lady?” His question is directed at Seamus, but his gaze is fixed on Trip.
“I can introduce myself, thank you,” Trip says pertly, lifting her chin. “Vi Li,” she says, holding out one gloved hand.
“Caleb O’Reilly.” He lifts her hand to his lips, letting the kiss linger in that creepy way. Trip allows it because it’s the effect she’s after, but she doesn’t like it. “May I?” He gestures to the stool next to her. Trip acquiesces with a slight nod. Seamus pouts slightly, but keeps his grin intact. “I’m supposed to be meeting a new client, but the bastard didn’t show. Probably changed his mind.”
“His bad luck is my good luck,” Trip says brightly.
“I’d say it’s mine,” O’Reilly replies, turning on the wattage.
“So, Caleb,” Trip begins, placing her hand near O’Reilly’s, which is gripping his martini glass rather tightly. “What’s a nice boy like you, etc., etc.?”
“I’ve had a hard week at work,” O’Reilly says glumly, slugging back the rest of his martini. By the way he’s carefully enunciating his words, it’s obviously not the first drink of the night. Trip notices that he’s not wearing a wedding ring, and she wonders if he’ll mention that little tidbit sometime during the night. Somehow, she doesn’t think he’ll get around to it. “As I said, I’m a lawyer, and you wouldn’t believe some of the assholes I have as clients.” It’s a bad sign when a guy doesn’t even need encouragement to a) talk about his job and b) spill out his feelings. “The guy standing me up? That’s not the worst of it. The fucking stories I could tell you. God, you’d think for once one of them would just listen to what I have to say and not question me until I want to give them their damn money back! I had this one client,” and he’s off. Apparently, he finds his voice so fascinating that he doesn’t question whether others will be equally taken with it.
“Oh, really?” “How interesting!” Trip sprinkles their conversation—if you can call it that—with these stock phrases while letting her mind drift. She makes eye contact with Seamus who is looking at her sympathetically. He quietly places another White Russian in front of her and refuses to take the ten she places on the bar. She insists, but he declines. She slips it into her halter top, Seamus’s eyes following the bill the entire way.
“Enough about me,” O’Reilly says, rousing himself out of his stupor after thirty excruciating minutes. “What do you do?”
“Sit around looking pretty,” Trip says sassily, inching out her lower lip. She’s decided that even though O’Reilly likes to be the dominant one, he probably appreciates a little fire with his sugar. With all the submissive women and girls surrounding him, he can do with a challenge. “Date respectable rich older men,” Trip adds, laughing girlishly. O’Reilly laughs with her, placing his hand over hers.
“I like Asian girls, Vi,” O’Reilly says, his words beginning to slur. He motions to Seamus who mixes him up another martini. “I’m not sure about the wig, though.” He eyes it disdainfully. “I like black hair.”
“It’s just for fun,” Trip gushes, fluffing out the wig. “Sometimes I get tired of being me, you know? Don’t you ever wish you could be someone else?”
“I certainly do.” O’Reilly’s face sags as he drains the martini Seamus sets in front of him. Without O’Reilly saying a word, Seamus makes another martini, extra-dirty. “Like right now.” He laughs harshly, the alcohol loosening his tongue. “Don’t ever grow old, Vi, it’s horrible.”
“Something bothering you,” Trip says sympathetically, slipping her hand out from under O’Reilly’s so she can place it on his knee. “You’re too good-looking a guy to be so down.” She nearly gags over the line, but manages to make it sound natural.
“Don’t ever owe anybody anything,” O’Reilly says heavily. “And don’t let anyone do you a favor. They say it’s a favor, and that you should forget about it, but they hold it over you. Hinting, pushing, wanting something in return. No, don’t ever be beholden to another human being, Vi.” By Trip’s count, O’Reilly is on his sixth martini since she walked in forty-five minutes ago. Even for someone as big and as used to drinking as O’Reilly obviously is, it’s too much. She knows that if she wants to implement the next phase of the plan, she has to get O’Reilly out of there now.
“Hey, Sad Man,” Trip says silkily, her hand sliding from his knee to his thigh. She squeezes it and is gratified to see his immediate response. “Why don’t we get out of this joint and continue our party elsewhere?”
“Sounds good,” O’Reilly says, his eyes gleaming, but his words mushy. “Not my place, though. It’s a mess.’
“I know of a place,” Trip says softly, standing and stretching. She winks at Seamus who winks in return. He slides a napkin her way—it has his cell phone number on it. She slips it in her purse and links her arm through O’Reilly’s, more to hold him up than anything else.
“My car’s this way,” O’Reilly says, waving vaguely in the opposite direction as Trip starts walking them to her car.
“I’ll bring you back here when we’re done,” Trip says smoothly, escorting O’Reilly to her car. After making sure he’s buckled in—wouldn’t want to lose him on the way—Trip gets in the driver’s side. They drive for a few minutes with neither saying anything.
“Vi, is that short for something?” O’Reilly asks suddenly, startling Trip out of her thoughts.
“Violet,” she says. “My mother’s favorite flower, and my favorite color. Obviously.”
“Violet. That’s pretty. Violet. Vibrant Violet. Vituperative Violet. Villainous Violet ” He continues in this vein for several minutes until Trip wants to tell him to knock it off. There are few things she hates more than the so-called-wit of a drunk. “I knew a girl named Violet,” O’Reilly sings in a decent voice. “She was prettier than a rose. When I picked the fair violet, she burned all my clothes.”
“That’s so clever,” Trip coos, injecting admiration in her voice. “Who’s a clever boy? Caleb’s a clever boy.” She wonders if she’s ladling it on too thick, but either that’s the way O’Reilly likes it, or he’s too far gone to notice.
“Caleb’s a very clever boy,” O’Reilly grins, his teeth white and even. “Caleb graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, though I won’t tell you what year. Caleb got his law degree from Yale.” He waggles his finger in her face, withdrawing it in time to save it from a chomping. “Caleb makes a few million a year, that’s how clever he is.” Caleb hums to himself for a minute, allowing Trip to concentrate on the road. “How old are you, Violent Violet?” O’Reilly asks suddenly.
“Twenty-one,” Trip says automatically, managing to insinuate that perhaps she’s fudging a bit.
“Sure you are,” O’Reilly says, grinning slyly. “I bet if I ask you to see your license, it’ll even say so.” He throws back his head and laughs uproariously. “Funny how every girl I meet in a bar is over twenty-one.” In the darkness, Trip smiles slightly. The ‘girls’ that O’Reilly met were probably more accustomed to adding years to their age than vice-versa, but her Asian genes serve her well. Though she looks her age when she’s dressed normally, she knows how to cash in on her rounded cheeks and smooth skin to appear younger even with an inch of makeup slathered on her face.
“Aw, go on with you,” Trip protests, her laughter light and airy. “I’m twenty-one, honest! Why would I lie to you?”
“Because you don’t want to seem too young,” O’Reilly says matter-of-factly. He lowers his voice confidentially. “Tell you the truth, Victorious Violet, there is no too young for me.” He starts humming again, his mouth smiling in anticipatory glee. “You can tell me the truth. How old are you really?”
“How did you know?” Trip adds, avoiding the question. She’s wondering how many more years she’s willing to shave from her purported age; sixteen is pushing the envelope, and she doesn’t want to give her game away.
“The makeup,” O’Reilly chortles. “Any pretty young girl wearing that much makeup is trying to look older than she really is.” Faulty logic for a lawyer, but Trip pretends to be amazed.
“Oooh, I see I’m going to have to be careful around you,” she gasps, making up her mind. “I’m seventeen, but I’m very mature for my age.” She holds her breath to see if a) he bought it and b) he would go for it.
“I can tell.” To her relief, O’Reilly places a hand on her thigh and squeezes. They would be playing her game, which means she is in charge. They don’t say anything else for the rest of the drive.
“Well, here we are,” I say, detaching myself from O’Reilly’s wandering hands. “Nice and anonymous.” I have taken him to the Phoenix to get him out of his home territory and to place him on his playground. I want a touch of seediness just to emphasize the sordidness of what he’s doing. He doesn’t seem to notice as he staggers towards the door, stumbling into me. He’s one of those men who can converse fairly well while drunk, but his motor coordination is shot. I help him into the hotel and book us a room. Unbeknownst to O’Reilly, Mowgli is in the lobby, ready to secure the room next to us. I talk loudly and enunciate clearly in order to ensure that he’ll hear which room I reserved. I’m not anticipating trouble, but it’s good to have backup. Mowgli is reading a book and is much further than he was when I dropped him off before going to Tosca’s. As I maneuver O’Reilly away from the desk, I watch Mowgli approach the desk out of the corner of my eye. I hear him asking and receiving the room next to mine and breathe just a bit easier. He has taken off the sling and is in pretty good shape, thanks to spectacular genes. Not quite a hundred percent, but impressive, nonetheless.
“Come on, Caleb,” I murmur, my arm firmly around O’Reilly’s waist. He is concentrating fiercely so he won’t fall. Really, it’s almost like taking candy from a baby, but I deserve some breaks after the horrible week I’ve had. I promise myself that I’m taking a week off once this whole mess is solved. Maybe I’ll take a trip to Hawaii or Jamaica. Anywhere but San Francisco.
“Vivacious Violet,” O’Reilly mutters, looking soulfully into my eyes. “You’re very pretty, Violet.” His hand brushes my wig, and a moue of disgust skitters across his face. “You’re going to have to take this off,” he says as we toddle our way to the room. “I’m not going to be able to get it up if you wear this shit.” I flash him a smile, but promise nothing. I can’t take off the wig and risk him noticing that there’s something familiar about me. I curse myself for my shortsightedness; I should have worn a black one. Hopefully, it won’t matter because we won’t get that far, but it’s an oversight on my part.
“Come on, big boy,” I whisper into O’Reilly’s ear. His hand slips to my ass and for a second, my body stiffens. Then my training takes over, and I’m back in hooker-mode. I lean my body into his, forcing my muscles to relax. I’ve done this hundreds of times while I was on the streets; I should be able to do it one more time. It’s harder than I anticipate to not lean away from O’Reilly, wanting his hands off my body. I breathe deeply and empty my mind. “Slow down, cowboy,” I giggle, holding onto O’Reilly’s hand. “We don’t want you to pull the trigger before you even begin riding the horse, do we?”
“You saying I have a problem in the sack?” For a brief instance, O’Reilly’s eyes are lucid and filled with rage. He half-raises his hand as if to strike me.
“What’s your problem, Daddy?” I ask, thrusting out my lower lip. It occurs to me that perhaps he’s impotent as well as a quick shooter, which may be the reason he has to copulate with much younger women. I file the note away in my mind. “I’m sure you’re a stud in bed!” Then again, he’s had children. Still, he’s not a happy camper with me right now, and we can’t have that.
“Damn right, and don’t you forget it,” O’Reilly shouts, still angry at my perceived slight. This guy is touchy about his sexual performance, so I’m going to have to tiptoe carefully. We make it to the room, finally, and I flip on the lights.
“Why don’t you lie on the bed, make yourself comfortable?” I say to O’Reilly, easing him on the bed. “I’ll be back in a jiff.”
I go into the bathroom to repair my makeup. I hesitate about taking off the wig and decide to leave it on. If O’Reilly really wants it gone, he can take it off himself. I carefully outline my lips and fill them in. I brush some more blush on my cheeks, but everything else is intact. I readjust my clothing to show off my curves to their best advantage, then shrug out of my coat. I bring both my purse and my coat back into the bedroom where O’Reilly is snoring lightly. If I was truly interested in the guy, I’d be offended by his passing out, but because I have a job to do, I’m just pleased that he’s made it that much easier. I open my purse and pull out a set of handcuff. I gently take O’Reilly’s right hand and cuff it to the bedpost. I pull out another set of cuffs and do the same to his left hand. When that’s done, I pull out two lengths of rope and tie his ankles as well. When I am sure that he is secured, I slap him across the face. Hard. He doesn’t waken, so I slap him again. Harder. Twice. This time, he sputters back to consciousness.
“Wake up, O’Reilly,” I say, my voice cold. No more little girl for me, thank you very much. This is now a woman’s job, and I’m the right one to do it.
“What?” O’Reilly mumbles, slowly awakening. “I can’t move my hands!” He says in panic before opening his eyes. He wiggles a bit, adding, “Or my legs!” He looks at me standing over him and adds, “Come here, you gorgeous thing.” He makes kissing noises with his mouth, leering at me.
“Shut up,” I snap, slapping him across the face one more time just because I can. O’Reilly is slow on the uptake and doesn’t realize that I mean business.
“Ooh, little girl’s playing tough,” O’Reilly says lasciviously. “I like it rough.” He tries to sit up but is restrained by the cuffs. “Not like this, though,” he adds sternly, not comprehending that he’s no longer in charge. “You let me go, young lady.”
“I don’t think so, O’Reilly.” I stare down at him, making sure he catches my eyes. He cocks his head to the side, unsure what is happening. “You see, you don’t call the shots here; I do.” I slowly pull the wig off my head and stuff it into my purse. “Recognize me?”
“No, but you’re much prettier without the wig,” O’Reilly smirks, still convinced it’s just part of the foreplay.
“I hear you’re the mayor’s lawyer,” I say, sitting next to O’Reilly. Instantly, the smile is wiped from his face. He keeps his face expressionless, but his jaw muscle twitches. “I want you to set up a meeting with him and Andretti for tomorrow. I’ll tell you what to say.”
“You have to be fucking kidding,” O’Reilly blusters, the jovialness gone. He was still drunk, but my words must have penetrated his booze-addled brain because he was responding just as I expected. The look in his eyes tells me that he’s catching on to my identity—finally. “You can’t just waltz in here and demand—”
“I think I can, Caleb,” I say, deliberately using his first name to demean him.
“If you want a meeting with the mayor, you call his goddamn secretary.” O’Reilly is turning red as he continues to fume. I watch in interest, wondering if he’ll choke on his indignation. While the thought pleases me, I need O’Reilly alive at least until I get my meeting with Davies.
“Now, why would I bother his poor secretary when I have you, Caleb?” I ask sweetly, patting O’Reilly’s cheek. He moves his head sharply, as if to bite me. I leisurely remove my hand, smiling superciliously down at the bound lawyer. It’s not often I have a man of his caliber at my disposal, and it’s a pleasure to have him in my control. “Besides, I’m pretty sure the secretary wasn’t involved in this.” I select a copy of one of the incriminating photos of him from my purse and drop it on his chest. “Oh, can’t see it?” I pick it up and hold it in front of his face. He’s much too composed to give himself away, but I sense a tensing in his muscles as he studies the picture. It doesn’t show him in a flattering light, but no one looks good while coming.
“I don’t know where you got that,” he says at last, trying to brazen his way out. “Must be one of those computer tricks.” It’s not as lame as it sounds; techno-geeks can work miracles these days.
“It’s not all I have, Caleb,” I say softly, trying to stop my stomach from churning. “You’re in deep shit, and you know it. This is where we play let’s make a deal. You’re not the one I want, anyway.”
“The mayor,” O’Reilly says flatly. “You think Sam Davies is messing with little girls? You’ve got to be crazy!”
“I don’t think so,” I say, hesitating with my hand in my purse. I don’t want to tip my hand any more than I need to because this guy is a fucking lawyer, after all. Who knows how he might twist my words? Besides, the less I give O’Reilly, the less he can blurt out to the mayor. “You’re really not in any position to argue, Caleb,” I say again, slapping O’Reilly across the face. I pull out a sheet of paper from my purse and unfold it. “This is what you’ll say to the mayor. This and nothing else.”
“I’m not saying shit, you bitch!” O’Reilly shouts, thrashing against his restraints. I could have told him all that will do is cause his wrists to bleed, but I don’t. I’m glad he’s struggling, and I hope he slices his wrists open.
“I’m glad you decided to do this the hard way,” I say with a slight smile. I pull the gun out of my purse and point it at O’Reilly who loses the little color he had at the sight of the gun. “This is going to be so much fun.”
“You wouldn’t shoot me, you bitch,” O’Reilly says, his tone unsteady. “Management would be here in two minutes!” Triumph flares in his eyes at his logic.
“See this?” I point at the gun. “That’s what’s known as a silencer—management won’t hear a thing.”
“You wouldn’t do it, cunt,” O’Reilly retorts, his voice becoming fainter. “You don’t have the balls! You’re just a two-bit whore with no brains. I suppose you’re doing this for money! I knew Andretti was fucking nuts to do it like this. He should have just killed the bitch! The chief of police would have helped bury the body! Well, you can fucking go to hell! You don’t have anything—” I jam the gun into his mouth as he’s ranting. I release the safety and cock the trigger.
“Listen up, Caleb.” My face is inches away from O’Reilly’s, whose eyes are bulging. His neck cords are sticking out as he tries not to move. “I am sick to death of listening to your shit. Either you call the mayor or I blow your brains all over this room and call him myself. You think I’m kidding?” I remove the gun, pistol-whip him across the temple three times and jam the gun back into his mouth before he knows what the hell is happening. I cock the gun again. “What the fuck do I have to lose, Caleb? Nothing. The cops will put me on death row if I get caught. You, on the other hand, have everything to lose.” Caleb’s whimpering around the gun which I start sliding in and out of his mouth. “Like that, do you Caleb? Just like you had those little girls do to your cock.” I stop as suddenly as I started, causing O’Reilly to flinch. “You going to do what I say?” He nods carefully, not wanting to inadvertently set off the gun. I slide the gun completely out of his mouth, and he chokes as he gulps in the air.
“My head, you hurt my head,” he whines, mindful not to call me names. He’s learning that it doesn’t pay to piss off the person carrying the gun. I have hit him hard enough to split the skin which pleases me no end. Drops of blood glitter in the wound, but it’s nothing serious. He won’t bleed to death from it as far as I can tell. And if he does, I don’t care as long as I have my meeting set up with Hizzoner.
“You needed to know that I’m not playing,” I remind him, putting the safety back on the gun but keeping it in my hand. I don’t know what kind of trouble I think I’m going to have with O’Reilly tied up like a cow, but it never hurts to be prepared. “Now, I’m going to call Mr. Mayor on your cell phone, and you are going to read this little piece of paper. Any deviation, and I shoot you. Got it?” O’Reilly nods his head. “What? I can’t hear you. Do you get it?”
“I got it,” O’Reilly says sullenly. I set the gun on the nightstand to make sure O’Reilly can’t reach it, then rifle through his pockets for his phone. I don’t want to touch him, but it can’t be helped. I find the mayor’s number on speed dial and punch it in.
“Hello?” Sam Davies’s voice comes across loud and clear. “What do you want, O’Reilly?”
“Mr. Mayor? Caleb O’Reilly has something to say to you.” I hold the phone to O’Reilly’s ear with one hand while holding up the paper with the paper. I can just barely make out Davies’s voice, so I reposition the phone until I can hear him clearly.
“O’Reilly? Caleb? What the hell is going on? It’s almost midnight. I was just about to go to sleep.” Davies’s voice is indignant at having been interrupted by his lawyer.
“Sam, I am being detained by a woman who desires a meeting with you concerning the recent murders which have plagued your city.” O’Reilly reads from the piece of paper, his voice flat.
“What the fuck? O’Reilly? What have you gotten yourself into?” Davies’s voice is loud, but O’Reilly simply talks over him.
“She refuses to take no for an answer and says she’ll go to the police and the newspaper if you and Andretti do not meet with her personally tomorrow afternoon at three o’clock. She will call you at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon with the location of the meeting. It has to be just the two of you, no tricks.”
“Caleb, this isn’t funny. Have you been drinking? If this is your idea of a joke, you damn well better think twice. You always were a lousy drunk, you Irish fuck.” Davies’s voice is still angry rather than scared, but I know that will change soon. I relish being the one who will enable that change.
“Tell him it’s not a joke and that I have proof,” I hiss to O’Reilly. “Tell him about the picture.”
“Sam, it’s not a joke. The young lady has proof. She showed me a rather damaging picture of me.” O’Reilly still sounds as if he’s reading from cue cards, but at least he’s playing nicely.
“Well, then it sucks to be you,” Davies retorts, suddenly in good humor. “I’ll make sure to get you the best lawyer in town, after you, of course.” He guffaws at his joke, but he’s the only one laughing.
“Tell him I have the disc.” I deliberately use the singular, knowing that will get Davies’s attention if nothing else will. I wish we had had pictures of him, too, but the discs are damning enough on their own. Especially the one. I take another sheet of paper from my purse and show it to O’Reilly who averts his eyes.
“Sam, she has the disc.” By the shaken tone of O’Reilly’s voice, it’s clear that he knows exactly which disc I have.
“Bullshit,” Davies screams. “No fucking way. That bitch told her about it, and she’s yanking your chain. The young lady, it’s that goddamn Asian cunt, isn’t it? You just can’t keep your hands off the yellow pussy, can you?”
“She just showed me a still from the disc, Sam! She has it.” O’Reilly is on the verge of panic as I flash another still at him. “She just showed me another! She has the motherfucking DVD!”
“How the fuck did she find it when we couldn’t?” Davies’s voice is frantic as the seriousness of the situation dawns on him. “We tore that bitch’s place to pieces.”
“I guess I’m just better at my job than you guys are at yours,” I say softly, fighting the urge to pick up the gun and blow O’Reilly away. He’s done his job; now he’s expendable.
“Fucking bitch,” Davies swears. “Goddamn fucking cunt! She probably wants money, right? Or she wants me to call of the dogs? Listen, you tell that fucking bitch—” I’ve had enough. I turn the phone towards my own head.
“Mr. Mayor, you are in no position to talk like that. Caleb told you the plan; all you have to do is say yes. You have no choice.” I am so angry, my voice is shaking. I picture my hands around that scrawny neck and squeezing until there is no breath left.
“Fine, you have your meeting,” Davies says, the sound of grinding teeth filtering over the phone. “Tomorrow at three. Where am I supposed to meet you?”
“I’ll call and let you know tomorrow,” I say, abruptly hanging up the phone. I pick up the gun and point it at O’Reilly’s temple.
“Please, don’t kill me,” he blubbers, tears and snot running down his face. Underneath all the bluster and arrogance is a chickenshit punk who doesn’t even deserve to live. “Please, I did what you wanted.”
“You’re nothing but shit, Caleb,” I say, my voice heavy with disgust. I cock the gun, my finger aching to pull the trigger.
“Please, I have money! Millions! You can have it all. It’s in a Swiss bank account and tax-free!” O’Reilly is babbling by this point, desperate to save his life.
“Open your mouth,” I say, not moving the gun from O’Reilly’s temple. It is a sign of his terror that he immediately obeys. I shove the gun into his mouth until it bumps against the back of his throat. Tears spring to his eyes, but he doesn’t move. “The world would be better off without you, Caleb. Who the hell would mourn your passing? Certainly not the families of those girls you raped and killed.” A haze of red surrounds my head until I can’t see. My finger twitches, but I don’t pull the trigger. “Keep you mouth open,” I warn as I slide the gun out of his mouth. He obeys me like a little lamb, and I stuff a pair of rolled-up socks in his mouth, then tie a scarf around it so he can’t spit it out. I don’t ask if he can breathe because I don’t particularly care if he can. It’d be expedient if he lives through the night, but not necessary. “See you later, big boy,” I coo, kissing him on the cheek. I take his phone and stuff it in my bag. “Night-night.” I turn off the lights as he makes distressed noises in the back of his throat. I place the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the outer doorknob, then knock three times sharply on the door next to mine. That’s my signal to Mowgli that I’m leaving. He’s to wait ten minutes then exit himself. I return to the lobby to arrange to keep the room for another day before leaving the hotel. I slide into my car and wait for Mowgli who appears ten minutes later on the dot.
“Did you get it?” Mowgli asks, his lips set in a thin line. He hadn’t seen the need to involve O’Reilly at all and is still pouting a bit about it.
“Yes,” I say simply, pulling away from the curb. “Three o’clock tomorrow. Did you hear anything?”
“Not a damn thing.” On that note, I drive us ‘home’.