Hello, my friends. The blogosphere, this Thanksgiving Week, is almost deserted. Hmm. Too much shopping? Too much food? Too much time with the family? Whatever the reason, I think we could all do with a pick-me-up. And I know just the guy who can provide that: Nick Hunter.
Here’s a small excerpt (written only last week) for your enjoyment:
Goldberg Senior shuffled sideways out of the covers and switched on his bedside light.
His wife, Marion, turned over with a humph taking most of the covers with her, and shielded her face from the soft orange glow. Goldberg ignored the chill and slid his wrinkly feet into his slippers, his attention focused on the advancing butler.
“Mr. Goldberg, phone call for you.”
“Is it Lorri?”
“No, Sir. Mr. Dollar de la Rue.”
Goldberg frowned at the phone, but took it with one hand, dismissing the butler with the other.
“Yes?” he barked, watching the door glide softly shut. Dollar was beginning to get on his nerves of late. Too whiney and too full of his own self-importance. The only calls he got from him these days were to justify another failure. What good was a dumb head on an Operations Manager? Back in his day, Goldberg thought, paid crooks worked for their keep. Forget the dragon, 2012 seemed to be the year of the ass in more ways than one.
“The Whitbournes are dead.”
“Is that all? What about the house?”
There was a pause before Dollar spoke again.
“Hunter has the signed papers and he’s on the run now. He was expected at the station for questioning – I had my man standing by and ready to press for his arrest – but Hunter just… disappeared.”
“You never cease to surprise me. What did you expect from a contract killer, Dollar?”
“I expected the UK Police to be more effective, that’s what. Hunter took off in the Detective’s car, for Pete’s sake!”
Goldberg let out a quiet chuckle which only incensed Dollar more.
“Look, he’s been trying to find me. He is somewhere in London now. And if he gets to me, he’ll get to you, too.”
“Do I detect a hint of panic from the man who charges me millions simply to take care of my unfinished business?” All Goldberg could hear was Dollar’s heavy breathing, barely under control. He went on softly. “I suggest you get off the phone and start doing what you claim to do best: take care of the damn business. Before I find someone more capable. Or less dishonest. I don’t want to hear your voice again until it’s over.”
Goldberg pressed the ‘off’ button and dropped the phone on the small glass-topped table. It clonked loudly when it landed and Marion growled from under the covers. The old man pulled hard at the silk-sheathed blankets and slid back under them, oblivious to the daggers in his dear wife’s stare. He closed his eyes and let his bony fingers hunt for the off switch on his lamp.
Marion was a pretty woman, even now, when she was fast approaching her forty-sixth birthday and her expression was ten shades of sour in his company. The bash he’d agreed to endure at the Hyatt was partly to celebrate that, but mostly to ward off the vultures. Philanthropy must have been invented by the rich as a defence mechanism. People who held their hand out year after year, month after month, would let you live, so you could continue to place money in it. It was a symbiotic relationship – undesirable, yet beneficial.
A bit like his hasty marriage had been. Goldberg repressed a sigh as memories of his first weeks of courtship, if you could call it that, flooded his mind. Marion was so pretty. Twenty-four and extremely fanciable. A beauty.
Of course, he knew she used him just as much as he was using her. She helped provide the smokescreen he needed in order to be fully accepted in every circle. People happily mixed with other people, as long as they were no threat. Married. With children. Vulnerable.
Vulnerability brought with it an extra layer of acceptance which he hadn’t needed until he reached fifty-five. By then he had enough money to buy acceptance, but it seemed a better deal to buy one wife instead and get the rest for free.
When, a year later, Lorri came along, any remaining gossipmongers drew back into their shells or went off to pester some other unfortunates in the public eye. Yes, Lorri made sure the thirty-one years age difference between her parents lay forgotten. To the outside world, they were a happy family, rich beyond belief and able to influence most things, within reason. And sometimes outside it, too.
The best boon of all, one he hadn’t expected, was that no one bothered to dig any deeper than those twenty-two years of marriage. It was as if his life up to that point didn’t exist. As if he hadn’t lived. But live, he did. He lived, he worked, and he suffered.
Now that he could strike Judge Whitbourne-Philips off his list, he could finally relax. Getting hold of his house would have been the icing on the cake – a way to bring to blissful, heart-warming completion the eternal discreditation of the Whitbourne-Philips name – but even without that, it still felt good to have the treacherous, gutless limey off the face of the Earth.
Goldberg silently congratulated himself on his win and resolved to keep up the elderly benefactor façade – just enough – and enjoy his last few years as much as his weary body and considerable fortune allowed.
Just before drifting off, Nick Hunter entered his thoughts briefly. Should he worry about Hunter? Nah. Dollar would deal with him. Or the other way around. It really didn’t matter. That was why he’d planted the idea of using Hunter in King’s head in the first place. He knew King would rather die than suggest anyone else to Dollar, the dim-witted fool. There were plenty others, of course, but King chose Hunter because he wanted payback for the Turks and Caicos affair five years ago. The one hit man who could bring down both King’s meagre drug venture in the Caribbean and ensure Dollar’s demise, with a bit of luck, and instead of keeping their distance, the fools were prodding the angry bear.
Goldberg shook his head at the crass idiocy of some of the people in his employ and wondered whether he should offer Hunter Dollar’s job, but he fell asleep before he reached a conclusion.