“You’re turn, Lilly. Are you married, dating or single?”
“I was married. Now, divorced. We had a good thing until it soured.”
“I see. Did you have children?”
“We did not. It’s one my biggest regrets.”
“Why,” Konan asked as he guided the vehicle in front of a ramshackle factory. It had long been closed, but squatters still used the place.
“Because having children is a privilege not everyone gets to have. If I have children, my memory lives on in them.”
“You want to be remembered?”
“Yes. You don’t?”
“Nah. I’m good with passing like a whisper in the night.”
“Of course, you are.”
Konan pulled out the paper Ahmed gave him. They were in the right place. There was no sun to speak off. The overcast skies gave way to long shadows. Konan and Lilly walked into the building. Broken windows and leaky ceilings made the place musty. Konan took point.
“Hello? Rasheed Mohammed? Are you here,” Lilly called out. The long shadows held only silence. Konan took out his flashlight and shined it around. Workbenches and various factory equipment stood in the middle of the building. Stairs led to the second floor.
They proceeded to the second floor. Rolls of fabric and mannequins were scattered in the room. Konan and Lilly stayed quiet and moved through the room. Konan gave Lilly the signal to move to the far side of the room. He went right as she went left.
A backpack sat on one of the tables. Konan shined his light on it. Everything in the room had dust on it, except for the backpack. Konan heard a noise and turned to face it. Lilly stood by a mannequin. An average looking man held a pistol to her head.
“Um, Konan…” Konan watched as the man pushed the pistol and Lilly stepped into full view. “I think this is Rasheed.”
Konan waited. The man looked at him, Konan stared back.
“Who are you? What do you want,” the man asked.
“I’m Thermopolis Konan. I’m with the police, and I am looking for Rasheed Mohammed. Are you him?”
“Why have you sought me?”
“I need to ask you some questions about Talia’s murder. You need to put down the weapon.”
“So, you can kill me? I don’t think so.”
“I’m not going to kill you, Rasheed. She might when you move that gun from her head. You have nothing to fear from me.”
“Are you a soldier? A killer of men?”
“Give me your word as a soldier that I will come to no harm from you.”
“I give you, my word.”
Rasheed removed the gun from Lilly’s head and handed it to Konan. Lilly punched Rasheed in the mouth.
“That’s for putting a gun to my head, idiot!” Rasheed wiped at the blood from his mouth and nodded. Konan watched the scene play out. Lilly walked off to calm down, Konan motioned to a chair for Rasheed to sit in.
Rasheed nodded toward Lilly. “She is fierce.” Konan nodded and said, “yeah.”
“You had questions?”
“Why would anyone kill Talia?”
“I don’t know. She was a good woman.”
“Whoever killed her made it look like an honor killing. You know that, right?”
Tears welled up in Rasheed’s eyes. He stared at the floor. Lilly had walked up, she looked like she wanted to throttle Rasheed, but she kept her cool.
“My sins have caught up with me. They will not let me live a peaceful life,” he muttered quietly.
“What sin? Who will not let you live a peaceful life?”
“When I was, um, extreme in my beliefs, I performed honor killings. You must understand, my faith needed protecting. Those who turned their backs on the faith needed to be punished.”
“You were hired to kill those who left the faith?”
“And now, you say that your sins haunting you.”
“Who would kill Talia to strike back at you?”
“I don’t know.”
After more questions, all which Rasheed answered, Konan and Lilly had no more insight into the murders than when they first showed up. Lilly had told Rasheed not to leave town. They left the abandoned factory and stepped out into the humid blanket left in the wake of the storm.
Across town, Khalid Abbas sat outside a café and waited for his guest. His day to ascend had come. It began with the news that Ted Wright had stepped down. This would now propel him to the political heights he had long sought after. He stroked his beard and smiled. “Things are coming together just as I have envisioned,” he thought.
A hand touched his shoulder. He turned to face who dared to touch him. There was no one there. He turned back around. Across from him sat his guest.
“Good afternoon, Khalid. I trust the news has comforted you.”
“Yes. My ascension to power draws nigh. Of course, your efforts on my behalf made this all possible.”
“I did it for the money,” the man said. He stared at Khalid through his mirrored shades. His mouth was a flat line, and Khalid could feel the intensity of his gaze upon him.
“Right, the money. It’s in the bus locker that you requested.” William ‘Deadeyes’ Blankenship forced a smile. Khalid squirmed uncomfortably in his seat.
“The key,” Blankenship asked in a quiet voice that barely moved the wind.
“It’s under your placemat.”
Blankenship lifted one corner and pulled out the key. Khalid smiled. Blankenship took the key and put it in his pocket.
“Enjoy your meal, Khalid. I have things to do.” Khalid nodded his head and thanked him for his help. He watched as the large black man walked down away.
Khalid wiped his hands on the tablecloth. He pulled out his handkerchief and dabbed at the sweat on his brow. Dealing with Blankenship made him nervous. Of course, the man had come with a sterling reputation for getting the job done.
And he had done the job.