Cartwright and Billy walked into the garden on the west side of the country club. Bill threw the nub of his cigar away from him and turned to Cartwright. “The best laid plans,” Cartwright muttered to himself. “No plan survives first contact with the enemy…”
“We’ve got to deal with Konan. He’s not stupid, he’s always been the monkey wrench in our works.”
“Calm down, Billy. Konan will get his due. You’re letting him get in your head.”
Cheyenne Thomas joined the duo in the garden. Like a shiver in the night, she slid through the shadows. Billy let his eyes take in her beauty, like a coral snake she was beautiful but poisonous.
“That cop needs to be dealt with,” she said, “he’s mucked up the works several times now.”
“From what I heard inside, someone has already made plans to ‘deal’ with him,” Cartwright said inhaling smoke from his cigar. “Someone put a hit out on him and his partner. Ric Terrace got offed in the precinct. Someone has been a busy beaver.”
“Ric Terrace would have cracked and given Konan details of our operation,” Billy said quietly as he slid his blade from his pocket. “I couldn’t have that, my friend. He served his purpose, but he got pinched. I took steps to rectify matters.”
Cartwright finished his cigar and walked to the garbage disposal and put his butt in it. Billy stepped behind him and flipped the blade open.
“Huh, so it’s come to this hasn’t it, my friend?”
Billy took two steps as Cartwright turned and brought up the silenced .22 Kel-Tec PMR. Billy’s eyes widened in surprise, and he tried to backpedal. Cartwright fired and the bullet struck Billy’s right eye. Cartwright turned and fired once more. The bullet tore into the soft throat of Cheyenne Thomas. She fell to the ground and covered the hole with her hands as blood leaked out around her fingers.
“I’m sorry, dear. I can’t have people who go behind my back and make their own plans. The world is chaotic, but there’s no room for chaos in my operations.” Cartwright walked behind her and aimed the pistol at her right ear. “As you can see, I’ve planned for every contingency. Even the betrayal of my oldest friend,” he said as he pulled the trigger.
Cheyenne Thomas slumped to the ground. Cartwright walked over to Billy and fired two rounds into the back of Billy’s head. Then, he turned and walked back into the country club. The rail thin doorman stood at the entrance, Cartwright’s bag in his hands.
“Perfect timing, Jacob, as always.”
“Mr. Billy won’t make this trip, sir?”
“No, my friend. Our friendship has reached its inevitable conclusion.”
“I see, and Ms. Thomas?”
“I see. Do you need anything else, sir?”
“One thing,” Cartwright said as he took the bag from Jacob. He extended his hand and shook Jacob’s. Then, he turned, and walked into the night until the shadows engulfed him.
Manson and Val Rankin received the call that a double homicide had taken place at Fredericksburg’s country club. Rankin stood in the garden and looked up at the sky. The firmament, a dark black, caused the light of the stars to shine the brightest he’d ever seen.
“Well,” Manson said as she walked up to her partner, “what does Tammy think happened?”
“From the looks of it, this guy Billy planned to kill someone, but got popped before he could drive the blade in his opponent. Then, the killer turned on this gal here. Her name is Cheyenne Thomas, one of the owners here.”
“Someone tied up the loose ends.”
“Yeah. Did you notice there are no cameras out here? They have them everywhere else, but none in this portion of the garden. No one saw or heard anything. Bang, bang, two dead bodies. Then, the killer just walked away with no one wiser.”
Together the pair of looked toward the heavens. Maybe there was an organized chaos to the universe after all.
A week after Billy and Cheyenne were added to the murder roll, Konan sat on the steps of his mobile home reading The Illustrated Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. A brown cargo van came down his drive, and he looked up.
“Hi, you’re Thermop…uh, Konan, yeah?”
“Yep, I’m him,” Konan said to the long-legged redhead. She nodded and wrinkled up her nose cutely.
“I’ve got a package for you.”
She handed him a small rectangular package and got back in the van. He gave her a wave and watched as the brown van disappeared in a cloud of dust. The label had his address on it, but no sender. Konan took out his knife and cut the top of the wrapping.
Konan flipped the package upside down, and a black and white photo of him, Cartwright, and Billy fell into his lap. A white index card fell out as well.
“Billy didn’t make the trip. After all this time, he decided to make his own plans. I suppose his betrayal was inevitable. I killed him in self-defense. Consider whatever contract he put on you and your partner null and void. Don’t bother looking for me, I’m long gone. Take care of yourself.”
Konan picked up the photo and smiled. His time at war hadn’t been all bad, some of it had bright moments. Cartwright and Billy were his comrades, and they had been his family when times were tough. Sure, they had slowly succumbed to corruption, but they were his friends.
Cartwright would return, Konan knew this in his heart. Like gravity pulls moons into orbit around certain planetary bodies, Konan and Cartwright orbited each other. He put the picture and note back into the envelope and walked into his trailer.
He sat in his recliner and listened to the hum of his air conditioner. Justice, true natural justice, rarely got served in this line of work. Cartwright had escaped into the shadows once again. However, no one could escape forever.
For now, Konan would bide his time and look forward to his next meeting with Cartwright. And he would invest in a dog. Preferably, something large with a fierce bark and worse bite.