THERE WERE ONLY THREE OF US.
Our boss, CEO of Magnaforge, Al Denio, was sitting at the end of the table shaped like a giant surfboard, some thirty feet away from us, stroking his white beard.
I continued. “It’s only a matter of time before the trail leads back to you. Sir, you can’t keep killing off anyone who writes badly of you, who speaks ill of you, the bodies are piling up – well, metaphorically – obviously they aren’t all in the same place…”
He raised his hand, flat, as if pressed against invisible glass, the all too recognisable signal to shut the fuck up.
“If that’s the case…” He motioned to Gerard next to me. “Kill him!”
Without hesitation I stuffed a blade into Gerard’s neck, beating his hand-to-gun, surprised once more at how tough neck muscle is.
“Now you’ll have to kill me,” Al said calmly. “All my affairs are in order. By killing me, Magnaforge will escape the scandal, and the trail will stop. Cold. But then, you will have to kill yourself to put an ultimate end to it all. Only then will our misdeeds be untraceable. Can I trust you to kill yourself? If not I’ll need to recruit someone else to kill you who will kill themselves. I’d prefer not to, for obvious reasons.”
The thought of sticking it to the boss had occured to me before during heated arguments. In the reality of the dingy boardroom, haunted by expensive cigar smoke perhaps lit by $100 bills, it sent my mind dizzy, like it had just jumped off a skyscraper leaving the body behind to experience it. The simple complexity set in. If I didn’t kill Al, someone else would and I’d be killed. Or I could do it, him then me, like the boss said. The prospect of a delay in recruiting another contractor really was too much to take.
“Are you sure that is how you want to end it?” I said, surprising myself at how cool I was, the even tones.
“Remember, you swore an oath!” he said voice raised, finger pointing. “Me first, then you, and Magnaforge is saved. Not only that, our families are saved, and that’s…”
His head rocked back, then bounced forwards, blood dribbling like decanted wine between his eyes, creating a red beard within five seconds, and once the blood had absorbed into the hairs, it trickled straight down onto his gold tie and white shirt.
What was it he said? “Can I trust you to kill yourself?” – that was it. Now I thought about it, as my ears pinged from the shot, Gerard and Al really looked in terrible shape.