Ronnie Combs had been a hitman for 17 years since last Tuesday, and he had a reputation for being incredibly efficient. All he needed was a name. No lengthy dossier with a backstory or snapshots of the target’s last-known whereabouts. Just first name, last name. Bang, bang.
Most individuals who worked with Ronnie were grateful for his efficiency. But, when Leonard McIntosh accidently hired the assassin, he didn’t know he would later come to severely regret the man’s harsh approach to conducting business, as well as his intense love for money.
“Hey Leo, it’s me. The job’s done.”
“Don’t call me Leo. It makes me nervous. Like I’m in trouble or something. Anyway, when’s the meeting?”
“The meeting with Santiago. What other meeting could I possibly be talking about?”
Ronnie used his shoulder to hold up his cell phone to his ear, while he fluffed out a black tarp like he was laying out a newly-washed fitted sheet over a mattress.
“Well, the only thing Santiago’s gonna be meeting with is the trunk of my Accord. And, then after that, the bottom of the river. I just unloaded two bullets into the back of his skull.”
Leonard’s heart dropped like a transmission dropping out of gear. At the same time, his mind was also racing to think of a way to fix this catastrophic mess. He could never make it completely right, but maybe he could minimize the damage. He’d think of his attempted solution eventually, but right now, panic was causing him to stall out.
“You what? Are you crazy? Are you out of your goddamn mind? Why would you do that? He’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars to my client alive. He’s not worth shit dead.”
“Don’t get all pissy with me, pal. You even said the word ‘kill.’ Not most discreet way of handling things, but hey, I won’t tell you how to conduct your business, so long as I get paid.”
“You lunatic. I said no such thing. You were supposed to broker a meeting. If I did say the word ‘kill,’ it was most assuredly followed by ‘with kindness.’”
“Well, I heard kill, so that’s what I did. I’m a hitman, Leo. I kill people with bullets. Not kindness.”
“I told you not to call me Leo. Wait a minute, hitman? Who am I speaking with right now?”
Bad investments and worse luck led Leonard to make the transition from a legitimate career to shadier dealings. He had been in his current line of work for nearly a decade, though he had never had an official title. As far as his family and friends were concerned, he was a logistics officer for a large corporation. They usually never pressed with any follow-up questions. The organizations that hired him usually referred to him as “the guy,” which was just the predicate in the sentence “Call the guy.” He would tell himself, and anyone else who he deemed worth telling, that he was a “Specialist’s Facilitator.”
In his previous life, Leonard was an extremely talented networker, with a penchant for developing connections and adding to a hefty rolodex of movers and shakers. These days, he worked for corporations who hired him based on his ability to discreetly connect them with the likes of thieves, launderers, mobsters, and, yes, even occasionally hitmen.
Only, for this particular job on this particular day, Leonard wasn’t supposed to hire a hitman. His current client – a once-thriving electric vehicle and energy company – was desperate to return to profitability. Miguel Santiago, one of the most notorious drug kingpins in North America, was looking to dip his toe into legitimate business, so Leonard was tasked with facilitating a meeting between both sides that would successfully lay the groundwork for a win-win scenario.
Unfortunately for Leonard, while his strength was developing and maintaining a host of different connections, his weakness was staying organized. Surprisingly, his shoddily-kept rolodex hadn’t caused him any previous trouble. If you didn’t count the small incident in Malaysia a couple years back, which Leonard didn’t. His current situation was a snafu of an entirely different genre. He had mistakenly phoned a hitman, whose entry was listed alongside a known Santiago affiliate, a.k.a. Leonard’s intended “specialist,” as it were, and his ticket to closing the deal.
Now, Miguel Santiago was dead, and Leonard McIntosh knew that if he didn’t get to the bottom of the muck-up, he’d soon be dead, too.
“This is Ronnie Combs. I thought we already did introductions.”
“Ronnie Combs. Not Remy Coontz?”
“What? No. The hell is a rainy coot?”
“Shit. Shit! This is not good. This is very bad.”
“Listen, I know you’ve got yourself into a bind here, bud, but that’s really not my business or my problem. So, you can just wire me the other half of the money, and I can be on with my day.”
The lightbulb went off for Leonard as soon as he heard the word “money.” Maybe he could patch together this mess after all.
“Ok, ok, I’ll wire you your money. I can do it right now. But, if you help me out with my problem, I’ll triple it.”
There was a long pause. Too long for Leonard’s liking.
Leonard quickly and nervously laid out his haphazard plan. With the body of Santiago in tow, Ronnie would meet Leonard at his apartment. Together, they would prop Santiago’s dead body into the back seat of Ronnie’s Accord. Leonard would then call his employer’s predetermined representative, notifying them of the time and place of the meeting.
Driving the Accord, Leonard would pull up to the meeting spot. Meanwhile, Ronnie would be perched with a sniper rifle in a hidden location. While the representative was walking up to the car, Ronnie would shoot and kill Santiago for a second time. The deal still be a bust, but at least Leonard wouldn’t be blamed for it.
Ronnie agreed to the plan.
“But, on one condition. No wiring. You have the money in a briefcase ready for when I show up.”
Leonard hastily agreed, not even bothering to think it through. He hung up the phone, and was already halfway up the stairs and through the door of his private office. He grabbed the briefcase under his desk with his left hand, while spinning off the screws to a side vent with his right. He stuffed stacks of cash into the brief like a kid who’s late for school. The emergency fund was supposed to last him all year, but he couldn’t think of a more fitting time to use it all.
Before Leonard even had time to spin around, Ronnie fired off two shots at his back with a silenced pistol. Bang, bang.
Ronnie stood over a dying Leonard, who was still clutching the briefcase. The hitman snatched away his prize.
“Wanted you to be alive long enough for me to tell you this, but the folks from the Malaysia job say hello. Appreciate the extra compensation, though. Later, Leo.”
While the light started to fade, Leonard flashed a tragic smirk. He couldn’t even remember how he had screwed that Malaysia job up. He really should’ve just hired a secretary.