Reggie, Melvin, and Siouxsie
I really should have polished the shoes. I have shoeshine, I have rags, I have that buffer-brush-whatchamacallit, but I totally blanked on the shoes. I’ve never even used the shine before, it would have been the maiden-polishing. I didn’t buy the stuff at Rite-Aid either, I bought it at a specialty store on vacation in Rhode Island three girlfriends ago, back when I thought it was a good idea to take weekend drives with women before the six month mark. We were walking down Main Street or State Street or First Street or whatever it was called and she said, “Look Lucas, it’s a boy store, why don’t you go on in?” The other stores on the block were full of chachkies and ceramic angels and tennis equipment and weird clothes that smelled like cardboard boxes, yet we entered every single one and talked with the store owner for ten minutes because “that’s what you do on vacation” according to Lisa.
The gentleman who sold me the shoeshine said — and this is a direct quote — “This brand’ll shine em so good that a Vampire could catch a glimpse of himself in your toes.” I told him that was a good line, which seemed to sort of offend the shopkeep. He still gave me “fifteen percent off” for the out-of-towner special and threw in the brush for free. I said thanks and paid the man in exact change, and on my way out he told me to “have a blessed day.”
I wonder if he knows how many people buy stuff at that store and either forget it at the Inn down the street, or pack it away and never use it, like roadside jam you buy and eat twice before it gains a nice layer of moldy film on the top and before you know it your Jam has been living in your fridge longer than the Arm and Hammer box.
Great. Not enough time to polish. Or shine. It’s shoe polish but people only ever say that you shine shoes. One of them is here now. One of them is here now. Maybe more, but at least one of them is here now. That’s what matters now. You can shine tomorrow. Or polish. Which is it?
I open the door to my second story bedroom, and of course, it creaks. The simple solution to avoiding a creaky door is to hold the knob tight and push into the hinges while you open, which gives the more rusted parts a break and lets the door silently sway as you exit unannounced. I know this because I handle a lot of unpredictable doors in my line of work, but this one is a door I use every day and of course I forget that it creaks. He’s definitely heard it by now. He knows I know he’s here. But then again, I would know from the crash, which was supposed to sound like him breaking the window upon entry, but if he’s worth the money I wired to him earlier today then surely he is using another point of entry. With any luck, he will open the dining room window —
“OOOOOWWWWWWWWW FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK”
Oh yeah, he found the dining room window.
“HOLY FUCKING CHRIST MY LEGGGGG OH GOD OH GOD FUCKING SHIT JEEEEEEEESUS CHRRRRRIST”
I release the hammer on my pistol. No need to take a shot now.
“OW OW OW OW OW OW OWWWWWWWWW”
To be clear, I did polish the gun. Clean the gun. You don’t exactly polish or shine a gun, it’s less about vanity and more about ease of use and really is a safety measure when it comes down to it. My shoes are still shoes with the grime and dirt, but they are less presentable. My gun is currently presentable and a vampire could sure as shit see himself in the barrel, though it wouldn’t matter because you need wooden stakes to kill those bastards.
His screams should be dying down but they seem to become more pronounced and articulate as I make my way down the stairs.
“PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF MARY SOMEBODY HELP ME GOD WHY DIDN’T I CHECK THE FLOOR BEFORE I CAME IN GOD PLEASE PLEASE.”
I reach the bottom of the stairs and lean against the wall. On the other side of it lies the screaming man, his leg caught in a bear trap that I placed at the foot of the window. He likely didn’t see it because the lights are off throughout the whole house. I would have cut the power wholesale but if things went bad tonight then the smell of rotting refrigerator food would have led some nosy neighbors to investigate and the last people I want to find my body are Martha and Tom Hacker. “Oh looky here Tom, ol’ Lucas with a bullet in his chest. Perhaps if he had taken me up on my invitation to our bible group he wouldn’t look so fucking dead at this moment…”
I reach around the corner and flick the light switch to the dining room. I fling my hand back just in time to avoid a mishmash of silenced bullets that I only hear because of the click of the gun and the impact the first makes with the already-broken window across the house, while the third makes its way right past my ear through the drywall. I slide down to a sitting position and extend my legs out. Now that the light is on in the next room my shoes look even worse.
“HEY FUCKFACE, THIS ISN’T COOL. A BEAR TRAP?? A FUCKING BEAR TRAP?!?!?! I’M BLEEDING OUT HERE MAN!!”
“Well yeah, Reggie, that’s kind of the point,” I reply.
“WHO THE FUCK IS REGGIE??”
“MY NAME ISN’T REGGIE GODDAMNITDAMNITDAMNITDAMNIT.”
“Well my name isn’t Barnaby but you can call me that if you’d like. For now I’m just gonna call you Reggie. You’ll each be given a name that corresponds with a band I liked in High School.”
“GOD THE BLOOD LOOKS SO REAL IN THE LIGHT.”
“Listen, Reggie, do you want to be let out of the bear trap?”
“YES. YES, PLEASE!”
“Would you prefer I ice you right here, right now, or would you rather I tie you up and try to dress your wounds?”
“I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING DIE!”
“Reggie that’s almost definitely going to happen, so hows about you decide if it’s now or later — ”
“LISTEN MAN SOMEONE WANTS YOU DEAD. I WAS HIRED. I CAN GIVE YOU A NAME. JUST LET ME OUT OF THIS FUCKING BEAR TRAP GOD FUUUUUUCKING DAMNIT I’M GETTING WOOZY OVER HERE”
“Slide your gun to me and I’ll consider letting you out”
The silenced pistol slides past me before I can finish the sentence. Then a revolver. Then a knife.
“NOW LET ME OUT, PLEASE.”
“Reggie you have one more weapon on you, where is it?”
“I SWEAR I DON’T — ”
“Reggie it is clear you aren’t going to be successful today so don’t try and trick me. I’ve already bested you and frankly it’s a little disappointing. So slide out whatever else you have and I’ll help you.”
About five seconds go by, not that I’m counting. I hear him rummaging through his clothes, and with a clumsy throw he throws a taser into the hall, electing not to slide it because of the rubber handle.
“JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
“What kind of hitman even owns a taser?”
Now he’s just screaming. I stand up and keep the gun in my hand. I wave it around the corner.
“Do you see this gun Reggie?”
“Ok, I’m not holstering it. I’m walking out with it. Don’t even squirm or I’ll put two in your gourd before you can say ‘No, stop, don’t’. Are we clear on the rules?”
“QUIT THE QUIPS AND LET ME OUT”
Fair. I turn the corner swiftly and walk towards him. He was right about the blood. I’ve seen a lot of blood but his looks especially real, maybe because I keep the hardwood pretty clean. Or at least Bonnie The Maid does. Polishes it, she does.
Reggie is dressed in all black, which is disappointing. He has all kinds of gear on that looks like he searched for a Hitman costume on Amazon and one click bought his way into a whole world of shit.
I’m wearing a suit that I bought at Men’s Warehouse because who wants to get an expensive suit all fucked up with viscera? And it might seem like a cliche to kill people while you’re dressed nice, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. First, no one suspects a dude in a frumpy suit to be the one to put them in the ground, and second, they actually allow for a lot of freedom of movement when you order up a size. And third and finally, no one gets into this job without having a slight flare for the dramatic.
“Reggie, it’s a shame that I just cleaned this gun.”
“Because I’m about to whack you in the head with it.”
Reggie quickly raises his arm and points to the hall.
“BEHIND — ”
And like that, Reggie’s got a bullet straight through his left eye, but surprisingly it wasn’t from my gun for the penalty of squirming. I immediately dive under the dining room table, practically tripping over Reggie’s now-corpse. Unlike Reggie’s, these bullets are LOUD, and three more follow me as I crawl. Two chair legs splinter as they are hit, fragments of wood hitting my face like cheap confetti.
I hear the footsteps approach the table and for the first time tonight I have to think quickly. In this moment I kind of miss Reggie.
Another footstep. One more and I’m found.
No time to aim and fire my weapon. I stand up quickly, propelling the table towards my assailant with all of the force my bad back can afford, like a Turtle ejecting his shell parachute-style. For the first time tonight, I make a sound I don’t intend to, as I scream in semi-pain and mostly-adrenaline in an effort to make the table atack easier. OK, now I’m definitely missing Reggie.
The table makes contact with hitman number two and I burst through the door at the end of the room into the kitchen. I haven’t gotten so much as a glimpse of this one yet, and I don’t plan to in the kitchen. Everyone who has ever done this knows to avoid kitchens. Too many improvised weapons. This is why Hollywood action films have a lot of fight scenes in kitchens; it’s an easy day of writing when you can just say “and then he grabs the broom and breaks it in half, yeah, that’s good…”
Sure enough my new friend thinks the same thing. He speaks from the dining room:
“If you think I’m going into that kitchen you’re out of your damn mind.”
I don’t say anything. It was fun being quippy with Reggie. But this one seems to really mean business.
“Hello? Are you alive in there?”
Nope, I’m not going to say anything.
“I know you’re the one who paid me to do this.”
“I thought at first that maybe you were just some millionaire who wanted to see if you could Most-Dangerous-Game me, but now it’s clear that you and I are in the same line of work. And presuming that, it goes without saying that you don’t want to prove that you can do it since you already have bought a house off of the money you’ve made doing it. And adding that presumption to the very real reality that there is a dead man in a bear trap where you would normally eat Easter Brunch, plus a few guns with bloody handles lying in the foyer, It would appear that you have hired two gentlemen to come at you this evening with the wrath of God in mind. Is that all correct?”
I really, really, really miss Reggie.
“Where’s the other?” I finally reply.
He doesn’t say anything. For a second I think he might already be adjusting his position in the house, flanking me from the hall. If he did that he would be met with another booby trap of my creation, this one consisting of motor oil on the floor and a pressure released motorcycle engine that would fall directly onto his gourd as he slips, hopefully rendering him unconscious at the very least. I only had one day to prepare so I really had to ransack the garage and hunting shed for ideas. It’s campy, but hey, it will get the job done.
After a moment, he speaks.
“He’s still dead in the bear trap, obviously.”
“No, the other guy you came with.”
“I came alone, obviously.”
“Wow, you really like that word.”
“Well, do you work with a partner?”
“Of course you don’t. Neither do I. So why wouldn’t I be alone?”
“I hired three tonight. Three to come at me with, how’d you put it? ‘The wrath of God?’ You killed one with my assistance, now you’re here, and there is a third that is probably lurking outside waiting for us to keep talking to each other until we become such good chums that we end up sipping tea by the fireplace. Then they’ll trip the gas line or something and we’ll die in an explosion or something equally painful.”
“This was a really stupid plan you’ve concocted.”
“Well I’m not doing it for free, obviously, if I may use your favorite word.”
“Who hired you?”
I laugh. It’s the first time today that I’ve laughed. I always know when it’s the first time for anything in a given day. First word spoken, first sigh, first laugh. It lets you appreciate the daily minutia.
He laughs as well. “I suppose that was a dumb question to ask.”
“Yeah I’m not giving up who hired me. Like I even really know.”
“So OK, how do you want to do this, then?”
I stare at the swinging door, imagining what this person must look like on the other side. Trying to imagine what his best course of action is to kill me quick for some cash.
“I guess I should give you a sporting chance,” I reply.
“You didn’t give Mr. Bear Trap here that chance”
“His name is Reggie. Speaking of which, we need a name for you.”
“I’m not giving you my real name. Did that idiot in the bear trap give you his real name?”
“No I gave him that name, after Reggie and the Full Effect”
“Is that a video game or something?”
“OK I’m just going to call you Melvin, ok?”
“Like Bob Melvin?”
“Is that one of the guys from the Melvins?”
BAM! The door swings open and fuck fuck fuck fuck this guy got me talking and sure enough my guard was down. I sprint to the door but slip on the motor oil, knocking into the rope that’s holding the motorcycle engine up. The second man takes three shots as I run, the last one ricocheting off the engine as it falls towards my oil soaked body. I roll out of the way just in time to avoid a full on collision, but it still lands on my right hand and gun, breaking the shiney polished barrel and all of the 27 bones in my hand, or at least that’s how it sounds.
“OOOOWWWWWWW FUCKING HELL”
I use my left hand to lift the insanely heavy engine off my right as the second man approaches me. He fires but I wiggle out of the way, gambling with my skin where the bullet will land. The bullet hits the oil and for a split second I wonder if it will all ignite like in the movies, but thankfully Hollywood is full of bullshit and this is one more piece of bullshit to file under M for “myth.”
Before he can fire again I kick my foot square into his groin. And this, finally, incapacitates him. So much for a sporting chance.
I get up and fling myself out the kitchen door back into the foyer, having made a full circle now. My feet slip as I run, my body greased up like a hog at the grange fair. I can feel splinters of bone jiggling in my hand like marbles in a pouch.
For a second I consider bolting for the front door. Let’s be honest, I’m kind of through with this day. It was kind of fun with Reggie, and the pay from the person who put me up to this was good enough for some dumb wannabe badass, but Melvin was a whole other piece of pie. But if I left now I wouldn’t be guaranteed the money, and that money could buy a whole lot of shoe polish.
Plus, the third could be waiting for me outside.
I pause in the middle of the foyer, listening to Melvin groan on the floor of the kitchen. I am now gunless, but thanks to Reggie I have a few options. I pick up the revolver, which is like, why the fuck did he bring a revolver? Is he a Texas Ranger or something? It’s right next to the taser, which makes me chuckle once more. This is the second time I have laughed today.
Armed with the revolver in my left hand I make my way for the kitchen door and kick it open real quick, and three more bullets fire out into the hall, followed by a very satisfying click, signaling that poor Melvin is all out of ammo.
I walk back into the kitchen. Melvin is trying to reload the gun while his balls swell in his undies, but I kick the gun out of his hand and pistol whip him so hard in the face that for a second I thought I saw the birds cuckooing around his fractured skull. He slumps over to the ground, and as he tries to speak I can hear that I’ve broken his jaw, which is a pity because he was really good at monologuing. This is also the first time that I get a good look at the guy: blonde hair, zip-up Northface and expensive jeans. New Balances. He looks like someone who would live in my neighborhood. Respect.
He’s smart. He knows I’m not going to let him go. He knows it’s the end. There are two of them in the house. One is dead, one is alive. There are two of them in the house. He doesn’t even try to bargain. Instead, he opens his maw and tries to form a sentence as he moans.
“Hawi un un-hine?”
“Again please Melvin, I think I broke your jaw.”
“HUH-WAII AN UNGINE??”
He lifts his arm and points to the engine, and with great difficulty:
“Ohhhh, the engine. Well, to tell the truth, it’s the only heavy thing I had lying around. You ready?”
Melvin shakes his head, his jaw sliding a half-second behind the rest of his face.
I put a bullet in his brain and, in his words, he feels the wrath of God.
I walk to the kitchen door and open it. I amble into the hallway and seriously consider leaving this time. There’s only one more coming, but I am in no shape to fight anymore. My right hand throbs so much that I can feel each pulse travel from my heart to my hand only to be greeted by a million little cells screaming in agony.
I put the revolver on the table in the foyer, then pick up the pistol and the knife and place them side by side. This is it, I’m going to go. Screw the money, I don’t really need it anyway. I can go to my safe house in the woods and heal for the time being and be back to my normal ways in three to six months, tops.
I look to my left and see Reggie. I imagine his rigamortis is starting to settle in. Come to think of it, I don’t know how long that takes. Mental note: Google that later.
I look to the ground once more. Where is the taser?
I feel it first in my hand, like the center of pain immediately receives a million more volts than the rest of the body. My hand tries to stiffen up but the broken bones can’t do anything so the hand hurts that much more. The prongs stick in my back and suddenly the rest of my body feels the jolt of electricity pulsing through every single hair follicle and artery and my heart begins pumping a million RPM and my toes curl and my eyes roll back and I almost bite my tongue off as I stiffen and fall to the floor, convulsing while spittle seeps out of my mouth. I can taste the iron from my bleeding tongue and I feel it slick down the back of my throat and for a brief millisecond I wish that I had swallowed my tongue like an epileptic instead of biting down onto it.
Finally the jolt stops. My body starts to loosen up, though I am still completely coupled with the floor. I can’t even begin to think about getting up. I hear the footsteps circle my body and can feel the slight pull of the wired prongs as the third assailant examines me.
There are three in the house. Two are dead. There is one alive in the house. There is one in the house. There is one alive —
The tazer drops to the floor next to my head, on my right side where I can’t see it. My stomach breathes up and down heavily into the hardwood. The third assailant’s shoes stop in front of my eyes. Turning my head is agonizing, but I turn it upwards and roll my eyes as far to the left as I can to get a look at this clever one.
Looking down at me, silhouetted by the light of the dining room, is a woman. The third man is a woman. I suddenly feel bad for expecting them all to be men. It’s not exactly my fault, I’d never met a woman who did this, but then again I had never met anyone who did this before tonight. By my estimation, that makes 33.3% of hit men hit women.
She doesn’t say anything. She just stands there.
She’s wearing a tasteful pant suit. Looks like it fits perfectly. No up-sizing for her.
The blood starts to drip out of my mouth. I cough some up from my esophagus, splattering onto her shoes.
“Oh, come on!”
She kicks me in my side.
“I just shined these this morning, you fuck.”
Shined, not polished. Mental note.
She unholsters her pistol and points it at my dome.
I’m not going to beg.
“Thouxthie” I lisp through my bleeding tongue.
She cocks her head to the right.
“Thouxthie. Thouxthie and the Banthees. Thath your name.”
She puts the gun to her side for a second.
“I like that band.”
I turn over, letting the prongs dig deeper into my back, like it matters anymore.
“You do?” I cough
She raises the gun again and cocks the hammer.
“How’s that one song go? ‘This is the happy house?’”
I laugh, which only coughs up more blood. This is the third time I’ve laughed today.
By Brad Moore
October 3rd, 2016
Los Angeles, California
Inspired by a prompt from r/writingprompts contributor u/writeprompter: “You hire three hitmen to kill you at your home, but in reality you are a hitman who has been tasked with killing the three men you hire.”