by Anthony Ivins @ Smashwords
© 2017 Anthony Ivins
No part of this
publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other
electronic or mechanical methods, or by any information storage and
retrieval system without the prior written permission of the
publisher, except in the case of very brief quotations embodied in
critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by
This is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents
are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a
fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
or actual events is purely coincidental.
The plane jerked to
the side as its wheels touched the ground. All the passengers lurched
forward and were then thrown backwards as the plane suddenly braked,
sending a trail of smoke high into the air behind it. The plane
slowed down and taxied normally across the runway to its parking
Robert could hear
the huge sighs of relief from the passengers around him as the
seatbelt light went out, and they were allowed to stand and gather
their belongings stored in the overhead compartments. The usual
speech from the air hostess was blurting out of the PA system as
Robert opened the compartment above him and removed his rucksack,
placing it over his left shoulder.
He took his mobile
phone out of his pocket and switched it on, seeing the little white
apple on the screen before it powered up. He entered his eight-digit
passcode and waited for the phone to register on the network. After a
few seconds the phone successfully registered on AT&T and almost
at once the first message notification came through the Wickr app.
There was no name,
just a number. Robert opened the message and read the contents:
“Hotel 72, Room
He deleted the
message at once and put the phone back into his pocket. By this
stage, the people in front of him were starting to disembark and
Robert joined the queue. It was a lengthy walk from their stop to the
carousel where he waited to collect his luggage. He looked at his
watch. It was 5-05pm.
patiently as his bag was the last to come out. He was sure that the
airlines had a personal vendetta against him as his luggage always
seemed to come out last. He shrugged it off, picked up his bag and
walked towards the exit. The rain was pouring down and Robert lifted
his collar around his neck as he stepped outside, looking for a cab.
Normally he would take an Uber but he was on business and did not
want to leave any tracks.
Before he hailed a
cab he pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a few deep breaths.
The nicotine boost calmed him down. He took a few more deep puffs
before flicking the butt into a large puddle and holding up his hand
for a taxi. It took a few seconds for a cab to pull up and he opened
the back door and jumped inside.
asked the cab driver.
replied Robert, “Do you know it?”
“Yes Sir,” said
the cab driver.
“Okay good, let’s
go,” said Robert, and he leaned back in his seat and looked out as
they drove out of the airport, raindrops streaking the side of the
window. He noticed a large sign as they drove past, “Don’t mess
with Texas”, and he had a silent laugh to himself.
The ride from the
airport to the hotel was uneventful and took just over twenty
minutes. As the cab pulled up outside the hotel the darkness had
“Here we go
mister, Hotel 72,” said the cab driver.
Robert looked at the
meter and saw the fare was $27-37, he pulled a twenty and a ten
dollar note out of his wallet and handed it over to the driver, “Keep
the change,” he said as he opened the door and stepped onto the
The driver sped off,
wheels spinning on the wet tarmac. Robert placed his bag down on the
ground, pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He looked up at the hotel
which was as plain as they come. Then hotel was built like a large
rectangle with rows of windows up and down. At the top of the
building was a large blue neon sign that flashed “Hotel 72”. Even
from the ground Robert could hear the buzz of the electricity as it
pulsed through the glass tubes.
Robert had a look
around him. He was trained to notice every little detail and remember
it. Robert saw the convention centre opposite, the Starbucks across
the street and a beggar sitting against a lamp pole with his head
resting on his knees. He opened his wallet, took out a ten dollar
note and walked over to the beggar. As he was standing over him the
beggar looked up and Robert handed him the note, “Get yourself
something warm to eat and drink,” he said and then turned around
and waked into the lobby of the hotel.
He scanned the area
as he walked inside. The lobby was small and stuffy. A large sofa and
two wingback chairs were squashed in a corner with a coffee table
placed in the middle. There was a small doorway which Robert
identified as the entrance to the hotel bar, with a small sign above
the doorway, “The Tipsy Cow,”
“What kind of name
is that?” he thought to himself as he continued to look around,
taking mental notes of everything he saw. He saw that the
receptionist behind the check-in counter was staring so he walked
over to him.
“Good evening Sir,
welcome to Hotel 72, how can I help you?” chirped the receptionist
“I believe you
have a reservation for me. Name is Anderson. Robert Anderson,” he
started punching away on his keyboard, looking up at the screen every
can’t see it on my arrivals list. Do you have a reservation number
sir?” asked the receptionist.
“Do I look like a
fucking Travel Agent,” replied Robert, “look at your system
again. I am booked into room 710.”
A small bead of
perspiration ran down the side of the receptionist’s face as he
started to hack away at the keyboard.
“Ah, here we go
sir, my apologies. They had your last name as Robert instead of
Anderson which is why I didn’t pick it up on my system.”
tapped away a few more times on the keyboard before a piece of paper
spat out of the printer. At the same time he cut a key card and
placed both items on the counter in front of Robert.
“Here is your room
key sir. Please sign the bottom of the registration card. At the back
are all of our terms and conditions,” said the receptionist.
looked at the screen and piped up, “Ah, you have a package Mr
Anderson” he said with an enquiring tone.
“Are you asking me
or telling me?” replied Robert sarcastically.
kept his head down and pulled out a large book from behind the
counter and started paging through it. When he reached the right
page, he used his finger to scan down one of the columns before
writing down a number on a piece of paper.
“Here we go, it’s
in the back room. Please give me a minute,” he said.
Robert stood waiting
at the reception desk for a few minutes while he heard the
receptionist rummaging in the back office for his package. He
continued to add mental notes of the lobby area, seeing who was
coming and going and mapping the layout in his head.
After a few minutes
the receptionist arrived back with his parcel, “Here we go Mr.
Anderson,” he said as he handed the parcel over the counter to
Robert inspected the
package, making sure it had not been tampered with. When he was
satisfied that it hadn’t, he picked up the Keycard off the counter
and turned and walked towards the elevator.
“Sir, you forgot
to sign the registration card,” came the receptionist’s voice
Robert stopped and
paused, then carried on walking. The receptionist knew that asking a
second time would be trouble. He put his head down and processed
Robert’s check-in on the system.
Robert got into the
elevator and pushed the 7th Floor button. The doors closed
and the elevator started its journey upwards. Robert looked at his
watch when he stepped inside the elevator and then looked at it again
when the elevator stopped on his floor. It had taken 24 seconds. He
stepped out onto the carpet and looked along the long and narrow
The first thing that
caught his eye were the two CCTV cameras positioned above the
elevators. One was looking straight down the passage and the other
pointing to the entrance of the elevator. He walked slowly down the
passage, counting his steps until he reached his room door. Robert
slid the key card into the lock of the door and the small LED flashed
green. He pulled the card out again and heard a small click as the
door unlocked and he pulled down the handle and went inside the room.
Robert looked around
the room for anything that looked out of place but everything seemed
to fit. It looked just like any other hotel room. The bed was a queen
with a large wooden headboard with two side tables, one on either
side. Opposite the bed was a wooden cabinet with a television on top.
Close to the large single window was a lounger chair and a coffee
table. To the right of the TV stand was a small wooden desk with a
kettle and some coffee and tea sachets stuffed into a cup.
Robert switched on
the bathroom light and went inside. There wasn't a shower, only a
bath that had a separate shower attachment. It wasn't quite the Trump
Towers, but it was liveable. Robert went back into the room and threw
his suitcase onto the bed and opened it up. He removed some clothes
and hung them up in the wardrobe.
He took his phone
out of his pocket and opened up Wickr. There was only one number on
the phone. He opened up a new message and typed in the box "In
the room" and tapped the send button. He didn't have to wait
long for a reply: "Mirror, Bathroom". Robert threw the
phone on the bed and walked back to the bathroom. He looked at the
mirror but nothing seemed out of place. He looked at the corners of
the mirror and noticed there were small silver balls.
Robert looked at one
of the silver balls and put his fingers around it and tried to turn
it. At first it was quite tight but once it gave way it screwed off
easily. As he unscrewed the silver ball he saw that there was a screw
underneath that fastened the mirror to the wall. The silver ball was
only there as a decoration, to hide the screw.
He left the bathroom
and went back to his suitcase, pulling out the Leatherman that was
stashed in one of the inside compartments. Robert opened the
Leatherman and chose the star screwdriver tool and moved it out. He
went to the mirror and started loosening the screw. The screw came
out almost as easily as the silver ball had so he knew that somebody
had done the same thing recently.
The remaining three
screws were taken out in a matter of minutes and Robert moved his
hand gently down the edge of the mirror, feeling for any holes he
could use to pry it loose. He was almost at the bottom when he
detected the smallest of gaps. He gripped the mirror tightly and used
his fingers to pull it away from the wall. Robert pulled the mirror
off slowly, being careful not to break it.
As the mirror came
loose at the bottom, a small brown envelope fell to the ground.
Robert put the mirror gently against the wall and then bent over and
picked up the envelope. He examined it thoroughly at first, looking
for marks. Something caught the corner of his eye and he looked back
at the wall, seeing a small brown box lodged in between two bricks.
He reached over, took the box out of the wall and opened it.
Inside were five
7.62mm bullets, designed specifically for his rifle. He picked one up
and held it between his thumb and forefinger, examining every minute
detail. It was assembled almost exactly to the letter on his
instructions. He smiled to himself and carefully placed the bullet
back in the box.
He turned his
attention back to the envelope and with the fingernail on his thumb
he sliced the top of the envelope open. On the inside was a
black-and-white photo of a man with dark, long curly hair, standing
tall and pointing. Robert knew that this was a surveillance photo. He
turned the photo around and on the back was written, "Marcus
Wahlberg, 31st October, 19h00, Convention Centre".
Robert memorized the picture and the writing and went to the
He took the
cigarette lighter out of his pocket and lit the bottom of the
photograph. It caught fire quickly, and he held it over the toilet so
the ashes could fall into the water. He kept having to swop hands so
he didn't burn himself. As the flames engulfed the last visible piece
of the photograph Robert let go and the remaining small piece fell
into the bowl. Robert pulled the chain and watched as the ashes were
flushed away. He decided to wait a few extra seconds to ensure that
nothing remained. Nothing did.
He picked up the
mirror and put it back on the wall, putting all the screws back with
their silver balls on top. Robert examined the counter top, making
sure that no evidence remained that he had removed the mirror. He
took a step back and double checked, making sure everything was in
Robert walked back
to the bedroom and looked at the parcel lying on the bed. He walked
back to the door and placed the chain on the lock, "Better safe
than sorry," he thought to himself.
He went back to the
parcel and, using his Leatherman, he sliced open the side of it.
Robert could see the side of the briefcase. Robert removed the rest
of the packaging and removed the briefcase, holding it up and
inspecting it. He looked at the combination lock and knew at once it
was military grade. Robert was sure there would also be a tamper
proof switch that would trigger an explosion if the case was opened
without the correct combination.
He picked up his
phone again and was about to open the Wickr app when a message alert
came through. He opened the message and read it: "1496".
Robert looked around
the room nervously, wondering if he was being watched. He walked over
to the brief case and moved the dials around until he had entered
1496 as the combination. He pushed the button next to the lock and
heard a loud 'click' as the latch sprang open. Robert moved onto the
lock on the other end of the briefcase and entered the same code,
luckily with the same result. He lifted the lid of the briefcase
slowly and instantly recognised the pieces of metal and plastic that
were packed between layers of foam packaging.
He took out the
pieces one by one, examining each one carefully for any damage. After
he had removed them all and was satisfied with their condition he
started to assemble the pieces. Through years of practice he was able
to assemble the rifle in fifteen seconds. He took a bit longer to
place the telescopic sight on the top and then held the rifle up and
looked through the sight, aiming at a picture on the wall.
The knock from the
door nearly startled him to death, and he looked around for a place
to hide the rifle. He lifted the comforter off the bed and threw the
rifle under it.
"Who is it?"
He asked out loud.
came the reply.
Robert walked to the
door and opened it slightly, keeping the chain in place.
"What do you
want?" asked Robert rudely through the door to the housekeeping
"We didn't put
any cream for your coffee in your room." replied the
housekeeper, looking nervous.
"I drink my
coffee black," replied Robert as he slammed the door closed.
He looked through
the peephole as the housekeeper stared at the door for a few seconds
and then walked back down the passage. Robert knew that the best way
to ensure his privacy was to be rude. Nobody messed with a rude
He went back to the
bed and took the rifle out from under the comforter and started to
take it apart. Once he had dismantled it, he opened his suitcase and
removed everything inside. He moved his hand to the corner of the
suitcase and felt for a small button. He pushed the button twice in
quick succession and heard a faint click as the bottom of the
suitcase came loose. Robert lifted out the bottom of the suitcase,
placed all the pieces of the rifle inside then returned the bottom
back into the suitcase and pushed it down hard until he heard another
Robert packed some
of his clothes back into the suitcase and placed it next to the desk.
He looked at his watch, and saw that it was 7-30pm - almost time for
dinner. He walked over to the window and pulled the curtains open. He
had a full view of the convention centre which was in complete
darkness, "No conferences at the moment," he thought to
Robert got changed
into some more casual attire - he was after all, a mobile phone
salesman, so he had to look the part. He chose a worn pair of jeans
and a t-shirt with the slogan, "FBI – Female Body Inspector".
Robert loved this disguise and had used it on many previous jobs. He
was so good at playing this character that nobody doubted it for a
He went down the
elevator, timing the trip again and memorising it. The elevator doors
opened in the lobby and the sound of Karaoke filled the air.
this crap." Robert thought to himself, he hated Karaoke with a
He walked into the
bar and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light. In the
corner of the room a small makeshift stage had been setup with an old
television in front of it. On the stage was an old man, close to
seventy years of age, with the microphone in his hand, butchering the
old Tom Jones classic Green Green Grass of Home. Robert winced
as his voice blasted out of the two speakers on either side of the
stage, the extra bass causing the windows to shake and rattle.
Robert made his way
to the bar, trying to sit as far away from the noise as possible.
There were quite a few barstools open and Robert chose one that was
in the darkest corner of the bar. As he sat down the bar tender
walked over to him, "What will it be?" he asked.
"Double Jack on
the rocks," replied Robert, and he turned round to see if the
old man had managed to get off the stage safely.
He was pleasantly
surprised to see that a younger girl had taken his place. He was
hoping that her voice would be as good as her looks, but when she
started singing his hopes were dashed and he turned around just as
the barman placed his drink on a coaster in front of him.
"That will be
fourteen dollars please," said the barman.
Robert reached into
his back pocket and pulled out a roll of bills, peeled off two
hundred-dollar bills and placed them on the counter, "Keep them
coming," he said to the barman.
replied the barman, and he took the money opening the cash register.
Robert was quick to
see that he barman didn't ring up the Jack Daniels on the cash
register. Instead, he placed the cash on the side of the register,
making it look as if he had put it inside.
"So where you
from?" asked the barman.
replied Robert, "Down here on some business."
"Well I'll be
damned, I'm also from Dallas. Which area you from?” continued the
replied Robert, sticking to his tried and tested cover.
"We might as
well be neighbours then. I am from Farmers Branch," said the
barman, and he leant over the bar counter and shook Robert's hand,
"Wade Michaels is the name." he said, introducing himself.
Anderson," replied Robert, knowing he had just made an instant
friend; exactly what he was hoping to do.
you down south?" continued Wade.
"I'm a sales
rep for Sprint," replied Robert, "Trying to close a few
"So you work
for Sprint?" asked Wade, suddenly sounding a lot more
"Well yes and
no," said Robert, "I work on commission for every dealer I
sign up, but they don't employ me. I work for myself. Never have been
a corporate man."
Part of Robert's
cover was to make sure that he was untraceable. If somebody phoned
Sprint and found out he didn't work there his cover would be blown.
This way, there was nobody to verify who he was.
"What can a guy
do for fun around here?" asked Robert.
"What type of
fun you looking for, the clean or the dirty kind?" replied Wade.
type," replied Robert, "Have a wife and two kids waiting at
the best way to stay out of trouble is to stay right here," said
that," replied Robert, and he raised his glass and downed the
golden-brown liquid. He banged the empty glass on the bar counter and
motioned for the barman to pour him another one.
“When are you
going to get some decent entertainment?” asked Robert, “This one
sounds like a cat on a hot tin roof.”
“The more you
drink the better they sound,” replied the barman as he handed
Robert a full glass.
After downing three
more drinks, Robert made his way to the bathroom. His head was
starting to spin and he tried hard not to bump into some tables on
his way. He managed to make his way into the bathroom without
incident and rushed into one of the stalls and closed the door. He
opened the lid of the toilet and stuck his finger down his throat.
The contents of his stomach, including all the Jack Daniels, came out
instantly in one gigantic ball of vomit.
The spit was
dangling from his mouth, almost reaching the toilet bowl. He pulled
of some toilet paper from the roll and wiped his mouth. His eyes were
watering, so he pulled off a few more sheets of toilet paper and
wiped them too. He took a few deep breaths of air and stood up,
making sure he could focus. He flushed the toilet, opened the cubicle
and went to the wash basin.
Robert opened the
cold tap and, using both his hands, he threw some water on his face.
He put his mouth to the tap and gulped down a few mouthfuls of water.
He then stood up and looked into the mirror, making sure that he was
able to focus. Robert opened the bathroom door and started walking
back to the bar. He noticed he was walking too straight. He had to
look drunk, so he exaggerated his stagger, bumping into a few tables
as he made his way back to the bar.
Robert sat down
heavily on the bar stool and put his arm on the counter.
one please Wade,” he ordered, slurring slightly and holding up his
empty glass, his hand wobbling.
asked Wade, who had seen Robert stumble back to the bar, “Looks
like you have had enough for tonight.”
“Yesh I’m fine,”
the boss,” said Wade, shaking his head as he poured Robert another
Robert had another
four double Jacks before looking at his watch, it was 10-30pm, time
to get back to his room. He stood up from his bar stool and almost
fell over, just managing to keep his balance.
“Woah, easy there.
Do you need some help?” asked Wade.
“I’ll be fine,”
replied Robert, “How do I get out of here?”
“Through that door
over there,” replied Wade, pointing to the doorway that Robert had
“Thank you for
your hospitality,” said Robert as he saluted the barman, his hand
shaking as he held it at an awkward angle above his brow.
Robert stumbled and
bumped his way through the bar, briefly resting against a pillar on
his way out. He made sure that most of the bar was watching him. As
he stumbled through the doorway he tripped on the step and fell flat
on his face. He used the palm of his hand to slap the ground as he
fell, letting it sound like he had fallen hard.
As he lay on the
ground he held up one arm, “I’m alright,” he said.
He lifted himself
carefully off the ground and back to his feet. He stumbled forwards,
using the wall to guide him to the elevator. Robert had to wait a few
seconds for the elevator to come. He leant against the wall, his head
bent forwards. Out of the corner of his eye he looked at the CCTV
camera which was staring directly at him. He wasn’t sure if they
were monitored full time so he had to assume that they were.
As the elevator
opened Robert fell inside, almost knocking over a couple that were
getting out. The man pushed Robert against the side of the elevator,
“Watch where you’re going,” he said aggressively.
replied Robert, “Had a bit too much to drink.”
“Yes, I can see
that,” replied the man, “best you go and sleep it off.”
“That’s where I
am headed,” said Robert, “Apologies again.”
The man took his
wife by the arm and walked her down the passage towards the reception
Robert pushed the
seventh floor and set the timer on his watch. When he arrived at the
seventh floor and the elevator opened he looked down at the timer
again. It registered 26 seconds. He carried on with his charade,
stumbling down the passage towards his room. When he reached the door
he fumbled with his key card, dropping it on the floor twice before
opening the door.
As Robert stepped
inside his room he went to the bathroom and put his finger down his
throat, vomiting up all the Jack Daniels into the toilet bowl. He
leaned across to the bath and opened up the cold tap, pulling on the
lever to close the plug. Robert took off his clothes and stepped into
the bath, letting it fill up with cold water. He waited until his
body was fully covered in water before turning off the tap. He then
gently let his head down underneath the water, holding his breath and
letting his mind relax.
After a minute, he
lifted his face out of the water and used his hands to wipe the water
away. He got out of the bath and toweled himself dry, taking a moment
to stare at himself in the mirror. Then he walked into the bedroom,
towel around his waist and sat down on the edge of the bed. He opened
his rucksack, took out his second phone and switched it on.
Robert waited for
the phone to boot it up before he saw the familiar picture of his
wife and two kids light up the screen. When the menu to come up he
opened his Wi-Fi settings and scanned for available networks. He
picked up the hotel wireless connection and connected to it. As he
connected a secure web page popped up asking him to register with his
last name and room number. He entered the details and clicked the
connect button. The hour glass flipped over a few times before
connecting him to the internet.
Robert opened up his
email client and downloaded some emails. He scanned through them,
looking for any urgent emails but didn’t find any. He threw the
phone onto the bed and flopped backwards against the bed, his hands
behind his head. So far everything was going according to plan.
The sun streamed
through a small crack in the window and straight into Robert’s
eyes. He used his one hand to try to shield himself, hoping for a few
more minutes’ sleep. He suddenly remembered where he was and shot
out of bed. He walked into the bathroom and had a long pee, his
bladder full from the night before. When he finished, he looked at
himself in the mirror, “Not looking too bad,” he thought to
Robert put some
water in the basin and took out his toiletry bag, removing his razor
blade and shaving cream. He liked to shave in warm water as it seemed
to make his beard softer and stopped any rashes from the blade.
Robert didn’t waste any time and was finished quickly. He rinsed
his face and applied some Nivea cream, making sure he kept his skin
hydrated. Although not overly concerned about appearances Robert like
to at least look presentable.
He slapped on a
small dose of after shave, rubbing some in behind the ears. Then he
went to the wardrobe and pulled out a pair of brown Chino trousers
and a blue long sleeve shirt. He liked to wear blue shirts, it made
him feel that people trusted him more- anything that would help his
disguise. After Robert dressed he made his way downstairs for
breakfast, making sure he timed the elevator again. This time it was
He stepped out of
the elevator and walked towards the breakfast room which was on the
far side of the hotel lobby. Robert walked past the entrance to the
bar and had a sly peek inside, a small grin on his face. He entered
the breakfast room and waited to be seated. A small and petite
waitress saw him waiting and walked up to him.
“Good morning sir,
how you doing this today?” she asked, a large fake smile filling
“I’m doing just
fine,” replied Robert.
“Table for one?”
“Yes please, close
to that couple over there,” replied Robert, pointing to the couple
he had accidentally bumped into in the elevator the night before.
“Sure sir, please
come this way,” she said, picking up a menu and leading him to the
table next to the couple.
Robert sat down and
the waitress placed the menu in front of him, “Some tea or coffee
for you sir?” she asked.
please,” replied Robert, and he started studying the menu. When he
decided what he wanted to eat he put his menu down and looked across
towards the couple. He placed his napkin on the table and turned
“Sorry to trouble
you again,” he said to the couple, “I just want to apologise for
my behaviour last night. It was unprofessional of me.”
alright,” replied the man, “no harm was done.”
said Robert, holding out his hand to introduce himself.
The man took
Robert’s hand and shook it, “James Jackson, and this here is my
wife Judy,” he replied.
Robert looked across
at the woman, “Pleased to meet you Mam,” he said.
“Where are y’all
from?” asked Robert, thickening his Texas accent.
“We’re from New
Orleans,” replied Judy.
“Ah the Big
Easy,” said Robert, “I just love that part of the world, the
home of poker.”
“Best state in the
US of A,” replied James, looking proud, “Where do you hail from?”
Dallas, Texas,” replied Robert, “Born and bred.”
“Why don’t you
join us?” asked Judy.
“Don’t mind if I
do Mam,” replied Robert, and he swopped chairs, joining them at
their table, “Being on the road is a lonely time - probably why I
had a little too much to drink last night,"
“Yes, I know what
you mean,” said James, “I travelled a bit when I was a youngster
“What line of
business are you in?” asked Robert.
“I am retired,”
replied James, “Was in law enforcement for 42 years.”
skipped a beat, his mind racing, what should he do? One thing Robert
could always count on was that he remained calm under pressure,
showing no visible signs of his predicament, “What line were you
in?” asked Robert, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.
replied James, “Can’t say too much though, top secret.”
skipped another beat. He knew this man would be well trained so he
had to be careful. Despite trying his best to remain calm, a small
bead of sweat ran down the side of his forehead.
“Where were you
based?” asked Robert.
for most of my career before being transferred to run the New Orleans
office,” replied James.
Robert to himself, “He must have been high up to run the New
“How long have you
been retired?” asked Robert.
“About five years
now. Can’t remember a dang thing of what they taught me,” he
replied, tapping his forehead with his index finger.
Robert breathed a
small sigh of relief, “Maybe he isn’t so sharp after all,” he
thought to himself and relaxed slightly.
They continued to
chat for another hour, discussing what sights there were to see in
“Why don’t you
join us on the day tour? We are leaving in twenty minutes?” asked
really nice but I have some dealers I need to visit and hopefully
sign some deals. I need to pay for this trip,” replied Robert.
“Sure thing, we
will be sure to take some photos for you,” said James as he stood
up, “Come on Judy let’s get the show on the road. It’s going to
be a busy day.”
Robert waited for
them to leave before he summoned the waitress, indicating for her to
bring the check. The waitress walked up to him, “Sir, the other
gentleman has already paid for you,” she said.
“Oh ok, thanks,”
replied Robert, looking slightly confused. He hadn’t seen James pay
or even talk to the waitress.
He got up and left
the restaurant and as he stepped outside he removed a cigarette from
the box in his pocket and lit it up. Robert hated smoking, but it
gave him a chance to stand in one place and observe the surroundings
without drawing any attention to himself. He took a deep puff and
then exhaled, sending a large ball of smoke into the air.
Robert scanned the
conference centre, looking at all the entrance doors, the fire
hydrants, anything that could be of interest and memorizing it. He
flicked his half-finished cigarette into the gutter on the side of
the road and ambled across, stepping over the tram tracks that split
the road in half. Robert stepped onto the sidewalk and looked at the
entrance doors, they were all locked.
He walked around the
building, checking all the doors, hoping that one would be open but
they were all shut tight. Robert walked back to the main entrance and
peered through the window, trying to get a look inside. He was
looking around when a voice boomed behind him, “Can I help you
around and saw a security guard staring at him, his hand resting on
“Whew officer, you
gave me a fright” said Robert, holding his hand over heart.
“I am not a police
officer,” replied the guard, “Just here to protect the centre
sir. Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Can I help you
with anything?” asked the guard.
“Do you know that
time they open?” asked Robert politely.
“They are closed
today sir, no conferences,” replied the guard, “Only open
tomorrow for that environmental talk.”
talk?” asked Robert.
“Yea, some bunny
hugger giving a talk about nuclear energy and the environment. He is
apparently quite a famous bloke,” replied the guard.
“Do you know his
name?” continued Robert.
something or other. I can’t remember his last name,” said the
“Sounds like a
blast,” said Robert sarcastically.
“Not exactly down
my alley either,” said the guard laughing.
“How long you been
on the job here?” asked Robert, fishing for as much information as
“Going on seven
years now,” replied the guard.
“Seen any action
here?” Robert continued.
“Nothing much. We
did have a shooting a few years ago and then last month a fire broke
out in the elevator room,” he replied.
hurt?” asked Robert
evacuated the centre in time,” replied the guard.
“Good, the police
must have been here quickly,” said Robert.
“Not the fastest I
have ever seen. The fire truck was here just before them. They were
probably out getting some doughnuts and coffee,” continued the
“Why didn’t you
join the force and shake them up? You look like you would make a fine
policeman,” said Robert, trying to flatter the guard.
replied the guard, leaning down and touching his kneecap, “Busted
it in high school playing football. Ruined my career.”
“I know how it
feels,” said Robert, “All State baseball before I popped my
shoulder and killed my career.”
“Well I guess
that’s life,” said the guard.
“I see this glass
is mighty thick,” said Robert, placing his fingers on the glass, “I
am looking at getting some for my mobile phone shop back in Dallas. I
have been robbed three times in the last six months and they always
bust the glass to get in.”
glass,” replied the guard, “A couple of years ago we had Obama
giving a talk here and they decided to replace all the glass with
this special glass. It’s bulletproof. I saw them testing it with
all kinds of rifles and nothing came close to going through it.”
“I can see why.
This is some serious protection,” said Robert, “Anyways, I had
better get moving along, still lots to do today. Thanks for your
help. It’s much appreciated.”
mister. Have a good day,” replied the guard.
Robert turned around
and walked back to the hotel. He sat in the lobby on a comfortable
chair and ordered a cup of coffee from the waiter. He sat with a
newspaper in front of him, pretending to read. He was watching the
convention centre, making notes of the guards’ patrols and their
It was almost
11-00am when Robert pulled out a mobile phone from his jacket pocket.
He switched it on and waited a few seconds for it to power up. He
looked at the newspaper until he found the number he was looking for
and started typing a text message. It took him a few seconds to type
before he entered the number and pressed the send button.
He switched the
phone off at once and slipped it back into his pocket. He set the
timer on his watch and buried his head in the newspaper, trying to
look as inconspicuous as possible. It took four minutes for the wail
of sirens to be heard in the distance, closing in fast. Robert kept
his head in the newspaper and when the first cop burst through the
doors he stopped the timer on his watch, it was four minutes and
make your way outside. Exit through the doors in an orderly fashion.
Please do not panic,” came the bellowing voice of the police man.
Robert stood up and
walked towards the exit, trying to blend in with the surrounding
people. He joined the stream of people exiting and when he got to the
pavement he pulled the phone out of his pocket, removed a thin layer
of plastic that covered the keypad and put it inside a dustbin that
was attached to a lamp pole. He looked around, making sure that
nobody saw him and then moved a few yards away, standing behind a
crowd of people.
A fire truck and an
ambulance pulled up outside the hotel at almost exactly the same
time. The fireman in the front of the fire truck jumped out as they
stopped and ran inside the hotel. A few more police cars arrived,
bringing the total to eight. Two of the police officers were
stationed on the pavement, keeping the people at bay.
on?” asked one of the crowd.
“There has been a
bomb threat,” replied the police officer.
“Is it a real
bomb?” asked an elderly lady.
The police man
turned and stared at her for a few seconds before shaking his head
and walking off. They waited in the street for close to an hour
before an unmarked white van pulled up. Robert could hear the barking
of dogs and knew that the sniffer dogs were about to earn their next
The handler opened
up the back doors of the van and out jumped one of the best animal
specimens Robert had ever seen. He was a Malinois, the same type of
dog used to guard the grounds of the White House. His coat was
mahogany in color with black markings, matching the color of his nose
and ears. His ears were pointed and stood upright, giving him an
almost demonic appearance.
The dog gave one
look around and then bounded up the stairs and into the hotel, his
handler close behind him. Robert continued to watch as the second dog
was brought out of the van. This one was a Beagle and not a very
intimidating sight. He was small and compact and looked as if he was
there to have some fun. He looked up at his handler and wagged his
tail, as if he was waiting for a treat. The handler bent down and
patted him on the head before leading him up the stairs and into the
patiently with the rest of the people while the dogs were hard at
work, sniffing for explosives. Robert knew they would not find any as
he was the one that sent the message of the bomb. He wanted to see
what the reaction time of the police would be and now he knew.
After another two
hours of standing on the pavement, the dogs exited the hotel and were
bundled into the back of the van. The two handlers climbed in, waved
at the police officers and drove off. One of the police officers
walked up to them, “Okay folks, you can go back inside. It seems
somebody was having some fun.”
“Are you sure it
is safe?” asked the old lady.
replied the police officer, “the dogs have covered every square
inch of the hotel and if there was anything they would have found
“Great thank you
officer,” she replied and started hobbling back to the hotel.
Robert waited until
most of the people had made their way back before he joined the line.
As he walked into the entrance he saw that one of the police officers
was staring at him. He put his head down and walked straight ahead,
trying to blend in. As he went behind a pillar he changed direction
and walked hastily to the elevator.
As usual he timed
the trip up to the seventh floor. This time it was 24 seconds. When
the elevator doors opened, he kept his head away from the CCTV
cameras and walked to his room, opening the door and slipping inside.
Robert was worried about the police officer that was staring at him.
It had happened before that he had bumped into one of his old school
friends whilst on a job and in disguise, almost being caught out. He
had to silence the friend, permanently.
As much as he tried
to remember, the face of the police officer did not ring any bells so
he dismissed it from his mind, “No use worrying about it, he is
probably long gone by now,” he thought to himself. Robert looked at
his watch, it was 3-00pm. He went to his rucksack and pulled out a
small laptop and switched it on.
He logged in with an
extremely long password. Robert always liked using a phrase as a
password, it was easy to remember and almost impossible to be hacked.
He opened up his Wi-Fi settings and connected to the hotel network,
entering his details as he had done the day before. Robert opened up
his Chrome browser and typed “Marcus Wahlberg” into the search
box. He hit the search button and within milliseconds the search
returned over one thousand hits.
Robert looked at the
first one, it was a headline from the USA Today from three months
ago, “Activists Block Entrance to French Nuclear Plant.” He
clicked on the link and read the full article. Marcus and some fellow
activists were demanding the closure of the aging Fessenheim Nuclear
Power Plant in France. The Plant was located in a densely-populated
part of France and close to the borders of Germany and Switzerland. A
Nuclear fallout from this plant, as had been seen at Chernobyl and
Fukushima, would have devastating consequences.
looking at the results of the search, going into different articles
and finding out more about his mark. He saw a picture of Marcus tied
to an enormous Redwood tree with a large bulldozer standing in front
of him. The caption beneath that photograph read, “Save the
Redwoods.” Robert was becoming intrigued with Marcus who had
travelled all over the world, being a part of many protests. He would
appear in a photograph saving the Amazon Forest and then a few months
later would appear in another photograph standing on a small boat
with his hands high in the air right in the path of a gigantic
One link though
stood out for Robert, and he was intrigued by the title, “Rainbow
Warrior Sunk by French Spies.” Robert had heard about this event
years ago and clicked on the link. He browsed through the overview
and then started reading the detail. Marcus was a passenger on the
Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior when it was sunk in Auckland harbour
by two French foreign intelligence operatives as part of Operation
Satanique. Marcus was sleeping on the ship at that time and had only
just managed to escape, unlike one of his colleagues who perished.
Two French divers
had placed limpet mines onto the hull of the ship. The first mine
detonated and blew a hole the size of a car in the hull of the ship.
Ten minutes later a second blast went off which threw Marcus into the
water, where he was dragged to safety by his colleagues. Four minutes
after the second blast, the ship sank.
Robert’s mind was
imagining what it must have been like on that ship. He felt a small
pang of regret ripple through his body. It would be a pity to kill
this man, especially after reading all these stories. It seemed that
Marcus was a noble man who fought hard for many just causes. “Oh
well, he must have pissed somebody off,” he thought to himself.
He went onto
Facebook and searched for Marcus, finding him right at the top of the
list. He had close to four thousand friends. Robert looked at his
profile picture which was of Marcus, a woman and two children. They
were sitting on a wooden fence with what looked like Mount Everest in
the background. He read a few of his posts and looked at his photos,
which were all of his family.
They seemed to live
a happy life if the photographs were to be believed. Marcus took his
family with him wherever he went. There were photos of them in the
snow, lying on desolate beaches, flying kites and just about anything
else you could imagine. Robert looked at the two children, they were
close to the same age as his two. He suddenly felt a yearning for
home and he closed down his browser and opened up his Skype
Robert had only one
contact; home. He double clicked on the name and it started calling
his home. It only rang three times before he heard that familiar
voice on the other end, “Daddy,” it was his daughter Zoe. It took
a few seconds for her face to appear in the video window. She was
smiling from ear to ear.
“How are you
honey?” he asked.
“We're fine daddy,
when are you coming home?” asked Zoe, “We miss you.”
“In a couple of
days’ time honey,” he replied, “I am just finishing up some
deals here. How is school going?”
fine. Lots of homework,” she said.
“Well make sure
you finish it all before I get back so we can go and see that movie
you been nagging me about,” said Robert.
asked Zoe excitedly, “Can I bring a friend? Please.”
“Yes, but only
one. Not seven like last time,” said Robert, laughing.
great, thanks Dad, you’re the best,” said Zoe as she leant over
and gave the camera a kiss.
“Is your mother
around?” asked Robert.
“Yes she is in the
kitchen getting dinner ready. Must I call her for you?” she asked.
“Yes please,” he
Zoe left the room
and Robert could hear her shouting for her mother down the passage.
It took a few seconds before his wife’s face filled the screen.
“Hello Baby,” he
said when she sat down.
“Hi Honey, how is
the trip going?” she replied.
well. I signed up two dealers today and I have another three
appointments tomorrow,” he replied.
great news,” she said, “When are you coming home?”
replied Robert, “I am coming in on the red eye.”
“Okay great so you
will be here by eight then?” she asked.
“Yes why?” asked
“Ben has a soccer
match, and he really wants you to be there. You’ve missed the last
three,” she said.
“Yeah I know,”
said Robert biting his lip, “Tell him I will definitely be there.
Where is he now?”
“He is in the
bath,” she replied.
bother him then. I will see him on Thursday,” said Robert, “You
know Baby I’ve been thinking about all this travelling. I was
thinking that this might be my last trip. I need to spend more time
with you and the kids.”
“Really? Are you
serious?” replied his wife Lisa, her face a picture of disbelief,
“That would be fantastic!”
“Yes I am dead
serious. I am tired of travelling, really tired,” said Robert.
“That is good news
honey,” said Lisa, tears starting to well up in her eyes.
better go. I have another meeting in ten minutes,” said Robert,
having to clear his throat to get the words out, “Love you lots and
see you soon. Send my love to the kids.”
“I will. I love
you too Honey. Come home safely,” she replied and blew him a kiss.
Robert ended the
call and sat there for a moment in silence on the end of the bed. He
placed his hands behind his head and flopped backwards onto the bed.
“I really have had enough,” he thought to himself, “this is my
last job. After this I am retiring.”
The fee for this hit
was one and a half million dollars. A substantial amount more than
his usual one hundred thousand dollar price tag. This was part of his
motivation for retiring, he would now have enough money to support
his family for many years ahead. He wondered who, or rather why,
would anybody pay one and half million dollars to kill an
With that thought in
his head he glanced at his watch and jumped off the bed. He had a
dinner date with the Jacksons in fifteen minutes. Robert rushed into
the bathroom, ripped his clothes off and jumped into the shower. He
washed his hair and lathered his body in a thick layer of soap. He
stood under the shower spout letting the water run down his body,
rinsing off the soap suds.
Robert got out of
the shower and combed his hair into place, sprayed on some deodorant
and got dressed into a pair of stonewashed jeans and a white Polo
golf shirt. He checked himself in the mirror before opening the door
and heading towards the elevator. He timed the elevator again, this
time it took 25 seconds. He ran a calculation in his head to work out
the average time it took from the seventh floor to the ground floor.
It was an average of 24 seconds.
When the elevator
stopped on the ground floor he walked out and paused in the foyer,
looking around to see if he recognised anybody. The only person he
recognised was the old lady who had made those stupid comments to the
police officer. He walked over to the entrance to the restaurant and
looked inside. The Jacksons were already seated and were chatting
away to each other, “Now that’s how I want to grow old,”
thought Robert to himself and he made his way over to their table.
“Good evening Mr
and Mrs Jackson,” said Robert as he reached the table.
said James as he stood up and shook Robert’s hand, “Please have a
“How did your
business go today?” asked Judy.
extraordinarily well, managed to get ink on two deals,” replied
Robert, “How was the sight-seeing? Did you see anything
“We went to the
Capital building which was magnificent and then to the History
Museum. I don’t like museums much but James loves them. He is a
history buff,” said Judy.
“Sounds like I
missed out,” said Robert.
“From what I have
been told there was some action here today,” said James, “Something
about a bomb scare.”
“Oh yes, I heard
about that,” said Robert, “Probably some college kids playing a
here when it happened?” asked Judy.
replied Robert, “I was still on the road.”
“I am always
terrified of these bomb scares. Do you know that I was only a few
blocks away from the bomb that went off in Oklahoma? Every time I
hear the word bomb I want to jump out of my skin,” said Judy.
“You must be
really lucky to be alive,” said Robert.
“Every day I thank
the Lord for saving me,” said Judy, pulling the gold cross out from
around her neck and giving it a small kiss, “Do you know that James
here helped with the case?”
“Now now Judy,”
interrupted James, “You know you are not allowed to talk about what
happened in the past. A lot of that stuff is still confidential. I
can get arrested if any information gets leaked.”
replied Judy, “You just did such a good job that I wanted to tell
“So tell me
Robert,” said James, changing the subject, “Who do you think is
gonna take the Super Bowl this year?”
don’t like the Panthers. I’m a Bronco’s man,” replied Robert.
“There is no way the Panthers are going to get through Von Miller.”
“I’m not a
Panthers fan either. Never have liked them,” said James.
“I assume you are
a Saint’s fan?” said Robert.
“Hell yea. Saints
all the way!” said James loudly, banging his fist on the table.
“Calm down dear,”
said Judy, resting her hand on his arm and turning to Robert, “You
know he can really get upset about football.”
“I always see that
as a good thing in people,” replied Robert, “It means they are
“I really like
this man,” said James, and he raised his hand in the air and
snapped his fingers to get the attention of the waiter, “Now let’s
get ourselves something to drink.”
The waiter appeared
out of nowhere and within an instant was at James’s side, “Yes
sir, what can I get for you?” he asked politely.
another double scotch,” replied James, and then turned to Robert,
“What will you have?”
“Double Jack on
the rocks, lots of ice,” said Robert.
“A man after my
own heart,” said James, “I like him even more now!”
They had a festive
time, eating, drinking, talking and laughing. Any threat that Robert
felt about James’s previous employment was long forgotten. The
drinks kept on flowing and James and Robert were becoming best mates
with Judy the only one that remained sober. As the night wore on the
restaurant emptied out and it was only Robert and the Jackson’s
left. The staff had switched off half the lights and the waiter was
sitting down as a table on the far side playing on his mobile phone.
“James, I think
it’s time for me to hit the sack,” said Robert as he stood up and
“Was a great
evening Robert, thank you for the company,” replied James.