by Raymond Rugg Views: 56
I really do love art that inspires. It’s one reason I arranged my meeting with Jacques in Washington’s finest public gallery.
Jacques was good. He moved in such a way that the security cameras registered him, but could never quite capture his face. He was pretending to study a large Jackson Pollock painting, Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist) and looked every inch a well-heeled tourist, instead of the contracted assassination broker that I knew him to be.
Yes, he was good. But I was better. I used the crowd to my advantage, and the cams didn’t even know that I was there. Jacques didn’t, either, not until I slipped up beside him and tapped on his shoulder.
“Najah! Najah Hafir! How nice to see you!” The look in his eyes belied the words that came out of his mouth.
I didn’t waste time with pleasantries. “I completed the Walsh hit perfectly but the payment was short.
You’d better be prepared to hand the balance over, or I’m going to take it out of your hide.”
He grinned. It was smarmy. “Ah, cherie! Events here in D.C., in the administration and in Congress, they fluctuated, you might say. It made Senator Walsh’s death a fortuitous happenstance, but in the end, unnecessary.” He shrugged. “Just be happy that you were paid anything at all.”
“Jacques, I don’t do cut-rate jobs and I certainly don’t take cut-rate payments. I fulfilled the contract, and I’m giving you one last chance to make things right with me financially, before something bad happens.”
The grin again, this time with more teeth. And a chuckle. “Oh, Miss Hafir, you are a treasure! But there is no more payment forthcoming on that particular transaction, so you had best be content and take pride in a job well done. Besides,” he gestured about the room, “do you really think you can ‘take it out of my hide’ in the middle of the National Gallery of Art?”
I sighed. “Okay, Jacques. Good-bye.”
He must have seen something in my face, because he had time for one quick look of concern. “No, wait, what—”
With a smooth side-step, I was behind him, and I planted my palm knife into his throat. There was one spurt of blood before he collapsed, blood that splashed across the surface of the Pollock, blending in with the artist’s iconic paint splatters. I eased him down to the floor and casually moved away. I was in the adjoining gallery, enjoying a seldom-exhibited work, My Little Jealousy, a nice color lithograph by Jiri Balcar, before anyone even realized there was a corpse lying in front of Lavender Mist.
The police called it an unsolved murder. I called it an object lesson. In certain circles, word got around about the ‘update’ to the Jackson Pollock piece at the gallery, and I haven’t had one problem with delinquent payments ever since. I really do love art that inspires.
Raymond K. Rugg is the author of Rugg’s Handbook of Sales and Science Fiction. His short fiction appears most recently in the anthologies Reunions and Stories from the World of Tomorrow, and he is currently working as editor on a project to publish a collection of speculative fiction inspired by writers’ experiences of life on America’s Indian reservations. A native of Northwest Montana, Raymond K. Rugg lives in the Galena foothills between Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada, with his wife and daughters. http://RaymondKRugg.weebly.com