Jack walked around from the back of the house and headed towards the road with a toolbox in his hand. Tom's plumbing was printed on his overalls and toolbox. As he was walking back to his van parked on the street, he had his phone in the other hand and sent a brief text message, "Job Done". Jack looked up from his phone and something glinted in the sunlight catching his eye. He turned to see what it was and noticed a young lady with a camera and zoom lens standing facing him several houses down the street. Dammit he thought, did she see me and take a photo, now I'm going to have to deal with her as well. He turned and started walking towards the lady, as he did she stepped over to the curb and hopped into an open-topped jeep and drove away, so much for a quick easy job he thought. Jack pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts, selecting one he brought the phone to his ear. "Hello," said a voice, "I need some plates run and details ASAP, Red Jeep, CRP 412 " Jack replied. "Stand by" said the voice, Jack hung up and walked back to his van. He started the van and drove down the road, taking some random left, and right turns until he came to a large shopping centre. Satisfied that no one had followed him, he took the entrance to the underground car park and parked in the furthest corner. Hopping out he looked around making sure no one was watching and then peeled off the Toms plumbing decals from the sides of the van. He opened the rear door to the van, and climbed in closing it behind him.
Stripping off his overalls and work boots, he unzipped a small duffel bag and pulled out a pair of Chino's, Polo shirt, cap and a pair of loafers. Changing quickly, he then stuffed the overalls, boots, and decals into the duffel bag. As he zipped up the bag, a text popped up on his phone screen.
Carrie Redcliffe, Carrie Redcliffe Photography, 2417 Carstairs Street Albany Heights, 0400 111 333. Taking the duffel bag, he stepped out of the van checking to see that he was still alone, quickly wiped over the door handles, steering wheel and dash areas that he had touched and then walked across the car park to a blue Commodore parked near the exit. He started the car and opened Google maps on his phone, entered the address for Redcliffe photography, and drove out of the carpark.
You will arrive at your destination in 100 metres on the left. Jack slowed a little and watched for the address to come up. It wasn’t hard to find as it had a large sign on the front fence advertising the photography business. He kept driving further down the street parking in front of a house with a high fence and a large tree on the nature strip. It was a warm day, and the late afternoon sun still had some heat in it, so parking here under the shade made sense to anyone who happened to notice. He waited a few minutes, pretending to talk on his phone while discreetly looking around. It was a quiet street and being such a warm day, most people would be inside with their air conditioners running.
Jack stepped out of his car, he had stopped at a park along the way and changed into Jack walked back along the street to the photographer’s house and walked up the path towards the front of the house. As he got closer the path split in two and there was a sign in the middle directing photography clients to the left. The path led to a door on the left-hand side of the house. The sign on the wall said, please press the doorbell, then come in and take a seat. Jack pressed the button and walked into a waiting room. There was a sign on the counter saying that the photographer was developing some film and would be back in 10 minutes. Jack stood there for a moment deciding on how to tackle this. If she had seen what he was up to, he'd need the film and to deal with her, but if she hadn’t, she would be suspicious of his wanting to see the film and more likely to remember him when speaking to the police which she undoubtedly would be at some point.
As he was deliberating how exactly to handle the situation, a door at the back of the room opened and the lady walked out. "Hi", she said, "I’m Carrie how can I help you". Jack replied by pulling a pistol from his waistband and pointed it at her and said "I want to see the film you shot at Maybury Circuit" Carrie's face went white "I haven’t developed it yet" she stammered in reply. Jack motioned to the open door behind her and said, "Let’s go do it now then" and stepped towards he with the pistol pointed at her chest. Carrie stumbled backwards turning around and leading the way into a short hallway with a couple of rooms off the side. At the end of the hallway was another door with an orange light above it and a sign that said, Darkroom, do not enter without knocking first or if the orange light is on.
She opened the door and stepped in, there was a long bench on one wall with two rows of developing trays, shelves with assorted bottles of chemicals and some negatives and pictures hanging from a couple of lines that ran from wall to wall. Carrie walked over to the bench where there were several neat rows of film canisters, she selected two and said, “these are the ones you’re after, but it’s going to take a while to develop them.” Jack noticed a plastic shopping bag on a shelf under the bench "put all the canisters in that bag, I’ll take them all." Carrie's heart stopped for a moment, that was at least two weeks’ worth of work to reshoot. "Can’t I just develop these for you?" she said, "this will take me weeks to reshoot, not to mention the inconvenience to my customers, you can stay with me while I do it." Jack wiggled the gun in her face "Just do it and hurry up" Carrie collected all the canisters and placed them in the bag and handed it to Jack "Stand back there against the wall,” he said. Carrie backed up against the wall and Jack placed the bag near the door and walked over to check the prints and negatives hanging on the string line. Satisfied there wasn't any resembling his visit to Maybury Circuit, his eyes drifted to the shelves of chemicals coming to rest on a couple of face masks. Jack picked one up of the masks, looking over at Carrie he asked, "Why do you use powder rather than pre-made liquid developer" Carrie thought for a moment, "mainly because it's cheaper, but I also think it actually gives a better result." Jack nodded and said, "Yes I have heard that, make a batch up for me." Carrie was about to ask why but decided to just do as he asked. she moved over to the bench where the chemicals were, Jack stepped aside and put on the mask while Carrie put on the other one. Carrie stepped to the side to take the bottle of developing powder down from the shelf, Jack quickly reached around her knocking it from her hand and smashing it onto the bench. The powder ballooned up in the air in front of Carrie. Jack grabbed her mask pulling it down off her face and then grabbed her in a bear hug pinning her arms to her sides. Panicking she tried to break free and hold her breath, however, Jack was too strong and she couldn’t get away. She could already feel a slight burning in her throat and must have already breathed in some of the powder. She knew that she didn’t have much time to get to the hospital. "Please" she gasped, "I need a hospital." Jack was silent and kept holding her. The burning in Carrie's throat was increasing and she thought she could feel it working its way down into her lungs. The pain was getting worse, getting more intense. She started to scream but the pain in her throat was too much, and she passed out. Jack stepped back and let her body drop to the floor.
Jack stepped back carefully checking the floor to see where the powder had gone. Satisfied that he wasn’t going to be leaving any footprints behind, He picked up the bag of films, took a handkerchief from his pocket and left the house wiping down the door handles as he left. He walked quickly back to his car, hopped in and drove away.
It was just about to turn 11 PM and Jack was sitting in a hotel room with the Television on. He wasn’t really watching it, it was just on in the background as he processed the events of the day. After leaving the photographer's place, he had driven to a nearby park and changed clothes again before randomly driving around for a while dropping the various items of clothing and gloves, he had used into the council bins. He then ditched the stolen sedan and took a bus to the airport. Thankfully he had booked a later flight so even with the extra time dealing with the photographer he still made the airport with time to spare.
He noticed a change on the TV and a reporter was now on the screen with a burnt out house in the background. The news ticker at the bottom was scrolling "Breaking News: Senator Johnston killed in an explosion at home, due to a suspected gas leak."
Jack smiled, All in a good day's work, he thought. He switched off the TV and went to bed.
Jack awoke in the morning stretched and smiled feeling pretty good about how he had handled his mission. It could have ended badly but he had been able to tie everything up quickly and easily. He checked the time, it was 9AM, he didn’t usually sleep in, he would have to get moving to check out by 10. He slipped out of bed and opened his hotel room door to retrieve the morning paper.
As expected, the headline was all about the death of Senator Johnstone, but now they were saying that it may have been foul play. This was expected of course, but not of any concern as he had been very careful to stay out of direct sight and had not left any prints at the house or in any of the vehicles.
He went back into the room and turned the TV on. The morning news was on, and they were talking about the senator's death and what that meant for the upcoming election. Reached for the remote and was about to turn the TV off when the News Anchor stopped talking and touched his ear. He said” we have some more breaking news in the death of senator Johnstone yesterday. Police are looking for a man photographed at the senator’s house on the afternoon before the explosion. It’s believed the man may also be linked to the death of a local photographer who died in what was thought to be a freak accident but is now a possible homicide. A picture of Jack popped up on the screen showing him clearly at the senator’s house. How could this happen he thought, I had all the films, and checked all the developed negatives and prints? The Camera, she still had the film in the camera, why didn’t I check the camera. Jack's phone buzzed, he looked down at the screen and saw a one-word message “Burned.” Jack got up and started to pack his things, he needed to get moving immediately and go to ground. As he was packing, he heard sirens in the distance, I hope they're not for me he thought, throwing the last of his things into his duffel bag.