Friday, August 1, 2014


Genre: Crime Fiction

By Daniel Skye

            Avery Morrison made a killing in the killing business.
            Proving the old adage that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, Avery followed in his father’s footsteps and became a heavy hitter for the Westfield, Long Island crew. This was after the Westfield crew recognized his potential when Avery killed his first man at the age of twenty-four.
            His first murder wasn’t just business for Avery. It was a personal matter. He wasn’t paid to do the job. He did the job on his volition. Slit the throat of a petty drug dealer/pimp named Floyd who was selling drugs to school children and pimping out a few underage girls he had in his stable.
            Avery did it right. He left no trace behind. No hair, no fibers, no DNA. Not even a single footprint. He gained access to Floyd’s apartment from the fire escape and waited in the shadows for hours before Floyd returned.
            A minute later, Floyd was writhing on the floor, the heels of his shoes scrapping the linoleum tiles as blood spurted from his neck in quick jets. He waited until the blood stopped flowing and Floyd’s body activity came to a screeching halt. Then he left the same way he come in, sneaking down the fire escape and running off into the darkness.
            No one had seen his face, no cloud of suspicion loomed over his head. He killed Floyd and got off scot-free.
            The Westfield crew paired Avery with a budding psychopath named Todd Reynolds and the rest was history.
            Their first target: Bucky Wallace. The man who once employed Avery’s father.
            Todd wanted to bust in guns blazing, really make their mark. But Avery anticipated the backlash from Bucky’s crew and suggested they make it look like an accident.
            Cyanide was employed by Avery to make it look like a heart attack. Given Bucky’s weight and deteriorating health, a heart attack was a more than believable scenario. Bucky’s crew had their suspicions, but they could never prove the Westfield crew had a hand in their leader’s death.
            His second job was the infamous fisherman hit that branded Avery a legend in the business. Avery Morrison was the loving handle his parents gave him, but his associates and employers knew him under a different alias: Swordfish.
            Avery earned the moniker of Swordfish when the Westfield crew paid him to put a lonely fisherman named Bobby White on ice. It was a solo assignment, as Todd had prior engagements to attend to for the boss.
            Bobby White was the solitary witness of a heinous crime committed by the Westfield crew. And they never wanted Bobby’s story reaching the inside of a courtroom.
            The job should’ve been short and simple, but Bobby White was a scrapper. And he wasn’t going down without a fight. A struggle ensued and it culminated with Avery impaling him on the long, flat bill of an eight-foot taxidermy swordfish that was mounted to White’s wall.
            It didn’t go as smooth as it should have. Avery got sloppy, overzealous. He never even had a chance to deploy the garrote wire Todd had supplied him for the job. But this incident proved to be a happy accident–well, not-so-happy for Bobby White–as the stunt made Avery the talk of every organized crime syndicate within a hundred thousand miles.
            He got hundreds of offers, considering the notion of becoming an independent contractor. But in the end, Avery remained loyal of Leo Locascio and his Westfield crew.
            Like his father, Avery had retained that old-school mentality. You stay loyal, always keep your mouth shut, and never rat on your friends. Nowadays, these so-called gangsters will squeal on their comrades for a pack of smokes and two year sentence reduction. But not Avery.
            And as it turned out, Bobby White was a cakewalk compared to Miles Dexter.
* * *
            Seven months after the Bobby White affair, the Westfield crew handed Todd and Avery thick envelopes and informed them of their latest assignment. A drug dealer named Miles Dexter was cutting into their territory and the big boss man, Leo Locascio, didn’t want Dexter swaying his loyal customers away.
            Locascio couldn’t afford the risk of a little healthy competition. So he decided to “buy up” his competition, rather than contend with them.
            Dexter’s penthouse suite was on the top floor of a fifty-story apartment complex. They arrived before dark to scope the place out. Parked across the street from the building in a black Lincoln Continental, Avery could see a doorman, and a deskman. He knew they weren’t going to get in without ID, but Avery had it all worked out.
            They just needed to wait until Dexter left the building to make their move.
            Hours passed as they sat in silence; Todd munching on candy and chocolate to appease his incurable sweet tooth. Todd had learned over the months that Avery wasn’t the loquacious type. If he was going to get Avery talking, he’d have to be the one to initiate the conversation.
            Todd was wild, energetic, uninhibited. Avery was cold, devious, cerebral.
            “So I heard this story,” Todd began. “This guy living in a penthouse suite in Brooklyn was bragging to his guests that the windows of his apartment were unbreakable. He claimed the glass was five inches thick. It was bulletproof. You couldn’t smash it with a hammer or a baseball bat.”
            “Continue,” Avery said, not sure where the story was going.
            “But his guests weren’t convinced. So he decided to prove it by performing a small test of durability. He ran full speed into the glass and rammed it with his shoulder. Well, the guy was right. The glass was unbreakable. But he hit it with such force, the glass popped out of the window frame, and the guy fell forward, plunged sixty stories to his death.”
            “That’s a true story?”
            “As far as I know,” Todd said, helping himself to another Snickers bar.
            “I don’t know, man, sounds like an urban legend to me,” Avery said. Notice how he said man instead of Todd.
            Avery spoke seven languages. It helped in his line of work. Tod is the German word for death, a fact Avery was more than aware of. And so superstition dictated that he never speak the name aloud.
            He’d always call him man or bud or guy, but never Todd. To speak the name aloud would be like shattering a mirror and gaining seven years of bad luck…if you believe in that sort of thing.
            “Nah,” Todd dared to defy him. “You can’t just make up a story like that.”
            “Never underestimate what the human mind is capable of.” Todd hated it when Avery got all philosophical on him.
            “Speaking of that, that big brain of yours better have a good plan to get us in there without raising any red flags”
            “I’ve got it covered,” Avery said, motioning with his head to the backseat. There was a thick black case, two uniforms, and two fake ID cards. “We’re going in dressed as exterminators. We’ll use the service elevator to get up to the penthouse suite. Once we’re up there, Miles usually has one man guarding the door. I’ll distract him and you’ll dispatch him. Then we’ll do our thing and go.”
            “We’re going in as bug killers?”
            “You have a better plan?”
            Todd sighed. “That uniform better fit me.” Todd dug deep into his bag of candy. “Want a Butterfinger?”
            “I don’t care for sweets.”
            “What do you care for?”
            “At this very moment, I care about the money we’re getting paid, and getting this job done right.”
* * *
            They waited until eight o’clock, when Miles Dexter left the building with two hulking security guards at his sides.
            Donning their new wardrobes, Avery and Todd approached the building and flashed their faux ID cards at the doorman and explained to the deskman they were there to spray the penthouse suite for bedbugs. The deskman, sickened just by the word bedbugs, dismissed them to go about their business.
            Just as Avery planned, they walked inconspicuously to the service elevator and took it straight up the fifth floor. And just as Avery had pointed out, a guard was waiting at the door of the suite when they stepped out from the elevator.
            The guard was a bulky man with a crew-cut and goatee. “Purpose of visit?” the guard asked.
            “We’re here to spray for bedbugs,” Avery said, flashing his faux ID card once more.
            “Mr. Dexter didn’t say anything to me about any exterminators coming by.”
            “It was an emergency call,” Avery said, thinking on his feet. “That’s why we’re here so late.”
            “Uh huh,” the guard muttered, unconvinced. His eyes were deadlocked on Avery, so he didn’t even notice Todd slinking around his side. “And where are those canisters you use to spray for bugs?”
            “They’re in here,” Avery said, pointing to the thick black case in his hand.
            The garrote wire found its way around the guard’s stout neck, and Todd pulled the wire until it was taut. The guard dropped to his knees, but he was still putting up a fight. Todd tightened his grip, wearing gloves to make sure the wire didn’t slice into his hands.
            Blood spurted across the hall as the wire carved its way into the guard’s neck and severed the carotid artery. This was a trademark of Reynolds. Avery wasn’t a fan. He found it to be too messy, too tactless.
            Once Todd released the wire from around the guard’s neck, Avery relieved him of his magnetic key card and slid it in the door. They stepped past the threshold of the door, and Avery searched for the fuse box. Meanwhile, Todd dragged the guard’s body into the closet and set about cleaning the blood in the hallway with some ammonia he found under the sink. They couldn’t have the guard’s body in plain sight when Miles returned. It would ruin the big surprise they had in store for him.
            Avery killed the power to the top floor and grabbed a chair from the kitchen table, using it for leverage as he unscrewed a light bulb from the ceiling fixture. Todd returned once the job in the hallway was complete and popped open the black case.
            He removed a wireless drill with a small drill bit attached and took the light bulb from Avery.
            “You know what you’re doing?” Avery asked.
            “I’ve done this a million times,” Todd assured him.
            “Then pay attention because you’re about to drill the wrong side. You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. Let me do it.”
            Avery snatched the drill and light bulb from his hands and drilled a small hole in the center of the metal ring at the bottom of the bulb. Removing a syringe from the case, he filled the bulb with an amber colored liquid, and using the chair again, screwed the bulb back into the fixture. He activated the lights again from the fuse box and they exited just as they had entered. It was sometime after midnight that Miles Dexter returned with his two Incredible Hulk-sized bodyguards at his sides. Noticing the absence of the door guard, he had his men enter first. As soon as they reached out and hit the light switches...BOOM.
* * *
            The next day, the explosion was all over the front page of every major NY newspaper. Leo Locascio called the boys in for a quick chat. They expected praise and admiration. Instead, they were met with disapproval.
            “You two really let me down on this one,” Leo chided.
            “What are you talking about?” Todd was the first to speak. Avery knew better than to question the boss. “Have you read the newspapers? We used the old gasoline inside a light bulb trick the mafia used to use. No trace was left behind. The cops will probably think it was a gas leak or bad wiring.”
            “Yes, and that’s not why I’m disappointed. I thought the light bulb method was a nice touch. My only gripe is that you failed to kill Miles Dexter. You killed three of his security guards, blew his penthouse suite to bits, but he’s still alive. In the hospital with first degree burns. He’ll pull through just fine.”
            “You gotta be shitting me,” Todd muttered.
            “I don’t shit anyone,” Leo said. “I’m going to give you boys one more chance to do this right.”
            “We’ll take care of it tonight,” Todd assured Leo.
            “No you won’t. Not while he’s in the hospital. It’ll look too suspicious after the explosion if anything happens to him while he’s in recovery. We wait until he’s out. Then we take care of it. Can you handle that?”
            “We won’t let you down,” Todd promised.
* * *
            Two weeks later, Miles Dexter was out of the hospital and already back in the dope game. Truth be told, he never left the dope game. His dealers were still operating in his absence. And there was profit to claim when he returned and more profit to be made.
            And this was something Leo Locascio couldn’t have. After the attempt on his life–which as Todd suspected, the cops wrote off as faulty wiring–Miles had beefed up his security. He moved his operation to a compound on the outskirts of Westfield. A compound that was protected twenty-four-seven by cameras and armed security guards.
            In addition to Swordfish, Avery had been referred to by associates as the cerebral assassin for his cold, calculating moves. And if there was ever a situation where this term applied, it applied here.
            Avery and Todd would have to infiltrate Dexter’s compound and do the deed without being seen by cameras or by security. Easier said than done.
            But if anyone could formulate a plan, it was Avery “Swordfish” Morrison. So he strapped on his thinking cap, plotting and scheming away. Locascio had supplied them blueprints of Dexter’s compound, and Avery studied them, looking for a weak spot, a point of entry. And he couldn’t find one.
So he set a new plan into motion. A plan that couldn’t backfire. And it was a plan that Todd was in favor for. They were going in guns blazing.
* * *
The compound was comprised of several adjoining buildings, and was fenced off as Avery knew from the blueprints. But as Avery also knew, the fence was steel mesh and could easily be cut through with a pair of bolt cutters. So they swung by the hardware store on Leo’s dime and picked up a pair guaranteed to do the job.
Avery also had several other surprises in store, but he saved those for when they arrived to the compound.
They arrived after dark, sometime before midnight. On this night, the moon had returned to the beginning of its cycle and was barely visible to the naked eye. But the ominous glow of the spotlights was enough to light up the whole inside of the compound.
The perimeter of the compound was surrounded by several guards armed with AK-47s. Todd and Avery had parked the black Lincoln a quarter mile down the road. If things got ugly, they’d be retreating on foot. And chances were they’d probably never make it. So they had to do this fast and do this right.
Lurking in the shadows beyond the compound, Todd watched as Avery pulled the pin of a flash grenade and tossed it a good twenty feet through the air towards the fence of the compound, where the armed guards were stationed.
Todd and Avery turned their backs quickly, squeezed their eyes shut, and covered their ears. A loud boom was accompanied by a blinding flash of light.
Avery and Todd rushed towards the fence, Todd going to work with the bolt cutters as Avery removed the loaded magazines from the AK-47s. The guards, temporarily blinded and deaf, weren’t going to need them. And Avery didn’t want the guards using them if they recovered before the job was done. Besides, Avery and Todd didn’t need the AKs. They came prepared.
Todd cut a perfect circle in the fence and discarded the bolt cutters as they climbed through. Avery took out two rotating cameras with a silenced 9mm semiautomatic as they stormed the grounds of the compound. As they approached the first building, two guards rushed out. One was short and stocky, the other built like a tank. The tank was armed with a double-barreled shotgun but he was a clumsy shot and missed horribly.
It took two well-aimed shots for Avery to reduce the tank’s kneecaps to splinters. He fell to the ground with a heavy thud as the short guard fumbled for his pistol. Todd slid a straight razor from his sleeve and with one swipe of the blade, severed the short guard’s carotid artery.
The tank was still breathing when Avery applied a little pressure to his shattered kneecap with the heel of his boot. The tank yelped in pain as Avery applied more pressure. “Which building is Miles Dexter holed up in?”
“Fuck you,” the tank muttered.
“Very original,” Avery said, rolling his eyes. He kicked the shotgun out of the tank’s reach and wrapped his finger around the trigger of his silenced 9mm, aiming the barrel steady at the tank’s head. “I hate repeating myself, but I’m going to give you one more chance to save your pathetic life. Where the fuck is Miles Dexter?”
“The middle building, second floor office.”
“That wasn’t so fucking hard, was it?” Avery asked rhetorically.

The center of the compound was watched over by several more cameras that Avery took out with a few well-placed shots. The door was locked, but again, Avery prepared for this deterrent. He removed two objects from his jacket. One was a flash grenade. The other resembled a staple gun, but with a small metal rod protruding from the front.
“The fuck is that?” Todd asked.
“Snap gun. You can use it to pick locks.” And Avery did just that. Once the door was unlocked, he yanked the pin of the flash grenade, opened the door, rolled it inside, and quickly slammed the door shut. He didn’t open it again until he heard the bang.
They entered the building and stepped over six more fallen guards. As they reached the stairs, more company arrived behind them as several more soldiers approached, these ones armed with baseball bats and crowbars.
“You take care of Dexter,” Todd said, garrote wire in one hand, straight razor in the other. “I’ve got these clowns.”
Avery ascended the staircase, leaving Todd to fend for himself against the advancing guards.
He used the snap gun to gain access to Dexter’s locked office. As soon as the door swung open, Dexter fired a deafening blast from behind his desk. The shot from the rifle narrowly missed Avery. He slammed the door shut just as Dexter fired another missed shot that tore a hole through the wood of the door.
“This can go one of two ways,” Dexter shouted behind the door. “You can walk away and tell Leo Locascio to kiss my hairy ass. Or you can stay and die.”
“What about the third option?” Avery asked, peeking through the hole of the door to confirm that Dexter was still aiming the rifle towards the door.
He stepped back, away from the door, and fished through his jacket again. Producing a small round pellet no bigger than a marble, he moved forward again and tossed it through the hole Dexter had blasted through the door.
The pellet exploded upon impact when it struck the corner of Dexter’s desk, releasing a strange, odorless gas that left Dexter gasping for breath. Blood rained from his ears and nostrils, and he tasted copper in the back of his throat as he heaved and struggled to find the air. Collapsing behind the desk, Miles writhed uncontrollably about the floor. His legs twitched, his body going into convulsions.
As the gas cleared, his legs stopped kicking as he sucked in one last weak breath. Avery heard footsteps approaching and drew his 9mm, but lowered the weapon as he saw Todd coming up the stairs, his clothes stained red.
“Don’t worry,” Todd said. “It’s not my blood.”
Avery pulled the door open and they stepped inside the office, Todd getting his first glimpse of Avery’s handiwork.
“What’d you do to him?”
“Cyanide bomb. A little home project I’ve been working on.”
“You scare me sometimes.”
“Coming from you, that’s a compliment.”
* * *
            “You really are the cerebral assassin,” Todd remarked as they walked back to the car.
            “I like to think of myself as more of a modern day samurai,” Avery said. He had gained interest in the subject of samurais ever since Todd had introduced to a series of old Kung Fu and samurai flicks.
            “Call yourself whatever the fuck you want, but your methods are effective. That’s all that counts.”
            Avery never said it, but he knew Todd was right. As different as they were, they made one hell of a team. And their journey together was only just beginning.

Disclaimer: The “gasoline inside a light bulb” trick is an old mafia urban legend. I have not, nor will I ever attempt to test this out. And I do not encourage anyone else to do the same. Kids, please don’t try this at home. Disgruntled spouses, please don’t try this on your significant other. And if any Mafioso’s are reading this story, please don’t try this on me. I mean no disrespect.

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