Hank pulled up next to Drew’s vehicle and disembarked. The men, and Jayson, watched as Hank walked toward them. Jayson watched in morbid fascination as the old man shuffled forward without so much as a care in the world.
“What brings you out here before the chickens get up, Drew?”
Drew chuckled and gestured as to say he didn’t know, or wasn’t even interested in knowing why he had shown up. Hank nodded at the other two men, and they nodded back. Both men appeared weary, as if someone had tied the weight of the world’s worries about their bulky necks, and forced them to carry the burden all by themselves. Hank recognized the look. There’s a weariness that goes beyond mere exhaustion, it seeps into the deepest cockles of the heart, stains the soul, and drags mortals into the deepest pits of despair.
“The Organization demands payment for Azerbaijan,” Drew said as Hank came closer. The old man tilted his head to the left and looked at Jayson. He gestured at the boy and asked, “Why’s he here?”
“Because he hates you, Hank. Seems you rubbed him the wrong way, that and he’s a mouthy little turd. I bumped into him in town, and he started running his mouth. Can you believe he threatened to beat the brakes off me?”
“Yeah, I can believe that. He’s young. Speaking of youth, and Azerbaijan, that whole mess was on your head. How come I must pay for it? You’re the one who broke cover, you gave away our position, and started the fire at the oil refinery.”
“I saved your bacon, Hank. For what it’s worth, I thought the books were closed on it. For a while it was, but then newly elected officials came in, and they started pulling out the books. You know how it is.”
Hank sighed and motioned at Jayson.”Yeah, I know how it is. What’s the plan here?”
Drew laughed and wagged a finger at Hank. The old man grinned and waited. Drew leaned forward and said, “Well here’s the thing, Hank. You have two choices. There’s a rope, if you want things to appear as a suicide. Or, I thought Jayson here would kill you. I owe you something for the training you gave me, so what do you wanna do?”
Jayson shook his head no, and Drew laughed. Hank scoffed at the boy and his fear and rubbed his scraggy, wisp of a beard. “There’s a third choice, Drew. The unseen option such as it is.”
“Okay, Hank,” Drew said, as his hand rested above the grip of the hand cannon. “What’s the third choice?”
“You pay for what you’ve done.”
Drew chuckled, and his hand darted for the cannon. The two men with him grabbed his arms and held him down. Hank bent over and took the pistol from it’s holster and turned to Jayson. The kid stared into the eyes of the old geezer, and he whimpered.
“I know I gave you a hard time, Hank. I’m sorry.”
“Shut up, kid. Get going before I forget myself. From this point forward, I better not have an issue with you.”
“You won’t,” Jayson said. “I promise.”
Hank watched as the kid raced off in the night, and he turned back to Drew. The two men had shoved him to his knees with his face in the dirt. Drew angled his head to the right, but one man had his knee upon his neck. Drew wasn’t going anywhere.
Hank removed a piece of stained paper from the pocket of his shirt, and placed it on Drew’s vehicle seat. He nodded to the rope, and the two men who dragged Drew to it. Hank placed the noose around Drew’s neck, and the other end of the rope was fastened to the bumper of Drew’s truck.
“200 people died in the fire you started Drew. This is for them.”
“No, this isn’t right. I was sent to kill you, Hank.”
Hank waved his phone at him and said, “You were sent here to die. I got your name and your number. Now, hush.”
Drew watched as Hank turned and nodded, and he heard the sound of his truck engine as one of the men gunned it backwards, and the sound of his neck breaking filled his ears. Hank and the two men watched as Drew kicked out his last breath, and then took him down.
“Take him off in the woods a couple miles from here and bury him deep. I’ll report in. Make sure he can’t get discovered.”
“Will do, sir,” they responded. Hank watched as they loaded up the body of Drew and drove away into the night. Hank pulled out his satellite phone and pressed one. The number rang and a sleepy voice answered, “Hello?
“Thank you, Hank.”
“Yeah, I don’t expect to hear from you anymore.”
“We’ll see. You were one of our best operatives.”
“I’m an old man now, retired, and I’m too old for this.”
“We’ll see. Have a good day, Hank.”
Hank walked to his truck and started it up. He drove slowly back home, passing Jayson as he turned to the right and headed into the night. Hank chuckled. The little mouth breather has a story now, too bad no one will believe him.
Stars filled the night sky, and Hank pulled in front of his small cedar cabin. He stood outside and peed, all while looking up at the heavens. It was a nice night, quiet, with only the serenading song of the crickets dancing on the breeze.
Life was good. Until the next time.