Not Even a House
I was upstairs drinking alone, swishing four neat fingers of Irish around in a tumbler. Miles was spinning on the hi-fi and I was feeling kind of blue myself. Reflecting upon the past year, I realized I was a mad, obsessive artist of some sort: I’d created a lot of widows and fatherless children. Wide teary eyes dripping on velvet draped coffins and ash urns. Well, you don’t get to choose your old man, do you? Nobody does.
Murder is a strong word for what I do. I’d suggest retribution or justice. Each and every one of the dearly deceased sons of bitches got their due. And I wouldn’t hesitate to waste them again. Still, it gets to you, the toll. It eats me up inside so I try not to dwell too much on violent death. The name’s Danger, Geoff Danger. I suppose you could describe me as a fixer. I walk your streets because I’m here to help but it’s best you never need nor even know of a man like me.
Outside the snow fell in the low, chilly northern light, the dreadful sky darkening like a pulsing, bloody wound under white cotton. I sipped my whiskey and mused about retirement, about Freedom 55. Maybe the old ways had passed and it was time for me to drop my guns. Maybe Ann Fatale and I could emigrate to some Caribbean clime. Serve up rum punches and bebop to tourists from some shack on a beach. I lit a cigarette and sighed: my baby’s still struck by the bright lights in our big city, enamoured of the glorious, blinding glamour of Edmonton’s ballrooms and her glittering ball gowns with slits up the thigh and plunging necklines.
Oh, melancholy me. Truth was I needed a job, a caper, a lark, action. None of our neighbours needed to be threatened nor beaten half to death. The fellow who tended to deposit his dog’s dirt in our waste bins is still recovering in hospital; best not to ingest fecal matter, my son, however difficult it is to refuse what with two broken arms and missing teeth. There’ve been no heists since we lifted the lavender plant from the old lady’s back alley garden two doors down. And funnily enough, the good folk from the community league don’t come around much anymore since I threw a beer bottle and brandished a gat at the children’s Halloween pumpkin carving festival. I lost to a nine-year-old. The judges did not impress me, they’d been bought and the fix was in.
My bitter reverie was shattered when Ann Fatale came up the basement stairs sans her typical drop dead aplomb. Her miniskirt was a-twirl. I scoped every inch of her fishnetted gams. ‘Something’s skittering in the ceiling, oh, Geoff!’ she breathed huskily.
‘Hmm,’ I grunted. ‘Weather’s getting cold. Mice.’ I crushed out my cigarette and finished my drink. I stood up. ‘Go get even more beautiful,’ I instructed her. ‘I’ll deal with this. I was looking for something to do anyway.’
I adjusted the angle of my fedora to something a little jauntier and pulled out my 9mm automatic before descending the stairs. The basement was dark and cool. I could hear critter noises above my head, creeping like my darkest thoughts. I fired a few shots through the panels of the drop ceiling and then ventilated the spaghetti system of furnace ducts. The rodent sounds, like the thrum of my rogue conscience, did not abate. The cloudy smell of cordite was thick like cigarette funk and haze. The smoke detector went off. I emptied what was left in my clip into it and holstered my weapon.
Ann called from the top of the stairs, ‘Are you okay down there, baby?’
‘Everything’s twenty-three ski-doo,’ I grunted.
‘It’s just that some of the rounds have ruined the Persian rugs up here.’
‘I hate vermin,’ I muttered.
I ignored my baby, something I don’t often do. I remembered that I still had a few pounds of Semtex 10 in the workroom leftover from a job well done a few years ago. I was a kinder and gentler man in those days; being eviscerated into a pink mist is a pretty painless way to meet your maker. Anyway, I set the putty cubes of plastic explosive strategically around the basement and then ran the wires and detonator up to the main floor. The mice had no chance.