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Kissing the Killer(2)

By: B. B. Hamel

The state took me in after that. I entered the foster system, but that shit didn’t sit right with me. I was in and out of care homes, the good people at the adoption services trying hard to find me a permanent place to live, but I was a troubled kid. I got into fights, I stole shit, I pushed back against my guardians. I did everything in my power to raise fucking hell, because I didn’t know any better.

Until one day, I met Gian. He was just a young, mid-level asshole in the mafia back then, but he gave me my first job. I was working in the back of a deli, slicing meats, cleaning up, and after hours I would serve drinks to the wise guys and empty their ashtrays.

Slowly they took me in. The mafia taught me everything I knew about being a man and then some. Gian rose up through the ranks and brought me with him, eventually promoting me to full-time hit man. I didn’t see much of Gian anymore, since he was one of the big bosses, but I owed him and the mafia everything.

They saved my life. I was on a dark path, one strike away from going into the juvenile detention system. From there, I could just imagine what my life would have been like: petty crime, drugs, senseless violence, and ceaseless poverty.

But the mafia gave me purpose. And money, lots of fucking money, so long as I was good at my job and followed orders.

I did what I was told, and I was rewarded for it. I killed who they needed killed and I never asked questions. I trusted them, trusted my superiors, and it never occurred to me that they might not know what they were talking about.

We stopped outside the rundown row home and Abram gestured for me to go around back. I nodded and slipped past the building, silent as a shadow, keeping low and close to the building. I jumped the back fence and landed on my feet, light and easy.

There was no light, which suited me just fine. For whatever reason, I could see great in the dark and had no trouble navigating around where other people were just blindly stumbling.

The yard was a shithole. It was full of trash, literal bags of garbage, and it stank to all fucking hell. I couldn’t believe a man lived with this, but apparently he did. I moved along the concrete back porch and stood next to the back door.

I checked the windows but couldn’t see past the blinds. I listened for a moment before getting out my lock pick tools. I made quick work of that lock and gently turned the knob.

The door fell open. Inside was a grungy kitchen, plates piled up in the sink, table covered in half-full ashtrays and newspapers. The smell outside followed me in as I softly shut the door behind me.

I didn’t hear a fucking peep. I stayed silent in the kitchen for a minute, listening, but there was nothing. I moved down the hall toward the front door, passing photographs hanging on the walls. I unlocked the front door and pulled it open. Abram slipped inside, shutting the door behind him.

“Well?” he whispered.

I shook my head and gestured at the stairs. He nodded.

I climbed the steps, Abram at my back. There were magazines piled up against the wall, a sure sign of a hoarder. I got to the top of the steps and looked down the hall.

Nothing. Total silence. The doors were all shut, but I knew these row homes like the back of my hand. They were all the same in Chicago, more or less. The master bedroom would be the first door on the right, and that Russian scumbag would be in there.

I pressed my ear up against the door and listened. Inside I could faintly make out the rumbling sound of a drunk-as-fuck man snoring like a chainsaw.

Abram nudged me and pulled out his gun. I nodded, taking mine out, and then kicked open the door.

We rushed into the bedroom. The place was dingy and small, or at least it seemed small because of all the boxes stacked all over. I wasn’t looking too closely at them, but they were all full of junk as far as I could tell. In the center of the room was a single bed, a bare mattress suspended on four metal legs and plywood. A fat man was lying there, snoring like a beached whale.

Abram walked over to the man and kicked him. He grumbled and rolled over but didn’t wake up. Abram grinned at me and then kicked the guy again, much harder. He jolted awake, confused and disoriented.

“Rise and shine, mother fucker,” Abram said.

We held our guns out to him.

“Oh shit,” he said. “Shit shit shit. Please, no. You don’t have to do this.”

“Do you know why we’re here?” I asked him.

“I can get you the money. Look, under this mattress. I can get you more later. Please, you don’t have to kill me. I’m not worth anything dead.”

“Fucking asshole,” Abram muttered.

“Listen to me, Karsov,” I said to him. “We’re not your fucking bookies. We’re here from the Barone family.”

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