Aidan heard the click of the revolver’s hammer and froze in place, icy dread tingling down his spine. However, the voice that soon followed the click gave him pause.
A shaky feminine voice spoke to his back, “Hands up! What are you doing here?”
Aidan had forgotten about her, but he was no longer scared. He turned on his heals slowly as he raised his hands in a relaxed manner. A woman stood in the doorway in a short ivory night dress with a flowery robe. Her short auburn hair was held in place by large clips cementing finger waves into her hair. She held a large revolver shakily in her hands and she awkwardly pointed it at Aidan.
He smiled easily at her flashing his trusted dimples in her direction, “Calm down Doll, I must admit I’m lost is all. I must be in the wrong house.” He walked towards her, smoothly crossing his legs back and forth in front of each other until he stood next to her, the muzzle of the gun pressed firmly to his chest. Her whole body began to tremble now as she looked at him with a look equal parts terror and confusion. He gave her a half grin again before side stepping, quickly grabbing the gun in her hand. Her surprise at his quick movements translated to her fingers which squeezed the trigger of the gun leaving a large hole in the floor.
The loud boom of the gun made his ears ring but he quickly turned the gun on her and held her tight to his body. She squeaked and squirmed against him but he held her tightly and moved her to the opposite wall. In a gruff whisper he said into her ear, “Where does he keep the ledgers?”
She did not hesitate and pointed to the large art deco painting. He moved her forward and she moved the picture from its place on the wall. Beneath it, there was a large iron safe sunk into the wall. Aidan smiled and said, “Thanks Doll, You’ve been a real help” He shot at the lock on the safe blowing it open and then used the butt of the gun to knock her unconscious to the floor.
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Fire laced down Evvie’s throat followed by the sweetness of strawberry cut by a sharp lime flavor causing her lips to pucker against her will. Besides the straight moonshine this was the least popular flavor of the evening. Her blackberry mint and blueberry rosemary had not lasted long among these men. Evvie sat on the side of the large meeting table, her legs crossed and pointed in Jack’s direction who occupied the seat in front of her. For some reason Evvie always sought out the table instead of chairs. She craved the height it afforded her.
As the fire dissipated in her chest she raised her hand to her lips carefully dabbing at any stray liquid that could be found there in a fashion that obviously distracted Mr. Wolfe. She ran a foot softly over his pants leg as she said, “Come now, Mr. Wolfe you can offer me a better price than that. You are already cutting heavily into our profits with your protection fee. There must be some mutually beneficial arrangement that we can come too.” Jack looked nervously towards Mr. Bernstein and Evvie smiled softly to herself as she saw him nod in her periphery.
Jack swallowed as his eyes came back to Evvie and traced the line of her legs up to where her slit exposed the tops of her stockings. “Okay we’ll play. What’s you price?”
She looked at him through her eyelashes and stood up slowly from the table, but as her heels hit the ground her vision blurred around the edges. A sharp pain lanced up her spine, causing a head ache to rip across her brain. She closed her eyes and grunted against the sudden pain. She was surprised that a series of ones and zeros seemed to float behind her eyelids like leaves floating down the smooth inky black surface of a smooth flowing river. The pain in her head culminated in three loud pops within her inner ear, sounding like gunshots. They caused the vision of numbers behind her eyelids to ripple like the surface of water when a stone is thrown into it. She opened her eyes against the dizzy sensation it caused and stumbled forward into Jack’s arms.
The urge to flee was overpowering as Jack said to her, “Mrs. Ikaros, are you ok?”
She responded in a shaky voice, “Yeah, I’m just a little dizzy all of a sudden. May I use your bathroom?”
Jack actually sounded concerned when he responded, “Of course, this way Mrs. Ikaros.”
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Charlie unknowingly held his breath, hoping with every fiber of his being that Aidan would not walk out of the front door. His attention shifted away from the house to his rear view mirror. Charlie started the car as he watched the men from the diner pull Tommy Guns from the trunk of a car from the safety of a reflection in his rear view mirror. Every fiber of Charlie’s being urged him to leave. Yet Charlie stayed; his hands shaking violently on the steering wheel. His body was rigid and stiff as his eyes jerked between the men in his rear view mirror preparing their guns and the painfully silent house.
The silence ended as the door clicked and swung open with a low creak. Charlie watched Aidan walking nonchalantly out of the front door without a care in the world as the wind pulled against his coat. Aidan pulled the coat around himself tightly as he made eye contact Charlie. Charlie’s look of horror made him come to a halt on the curb of the sidewalk. The clicks of guns being cocked echoed in the night and drew Aidan’s attention. Charlie watched as Aidan pulled his hands from his pockets and pushed them above his head as he stared down the barrels of three Tommy Guns.
Charlie took a breath and held it. He knew that this was it. Aidan would die. All Charlie had to do was exhale and his ears would be assaulted by gunfire. Aidan would lie dead on the wet pavement while his blood escaped into the gutter. Charlie would be free to leave and Evvie would be safe. All he had to do was exhale…
Aidan looked back to him. Charlie let the breath escape from his lungs.
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Aidan’s body was frozen as his mind raced through any possible solutions, but as his eyes scanned the faces of the men who held him at gunpoint, he knew that there was nothing he could do to escape this time. He turned to look at Charlie instead of his own death. He tried to impart an apology in his gaze but only felt desperation.
He watched Charlie exhale sharply and then suddenly the car was moving in reverse slamming into the men. Their guns went off as they were knocked from their feet sending a spray of gunfire past Aidan’s feet. Aidan couldn’t help jumping in place as the asphalt erupted in small explosions so close to his feet. His voice bubbled with a manic nervous laughter as he ran forward towards the car. He could hear the sickening crack of bones from the underside of the car. One of the men had found himself under the wheels of the car and probably wouldn’t survive the encounter.
Aidan dived through the open back window of the car. Charlie immediately pushed the car forward while Aidan’s legs still dangled from the window. The back wheels of the car swerved slightly pushing Aidan completely into the car. He lay for a moment in the back seat of the car, catching his breath, as he heard bullets peppering the trunk of the car. He began to laugh in earnest then while Charlie looked at him with a look of shock mixed with disgust. It only made Aidan laugh harder.
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Evvie stumbled into a bathroom leaving her concerned body guards on the other side of the door. A nauseous feeling had crept into her stomach and she struggled to keep the contents of her stomach down as she gagged. She looked at herself in the mirror over the sink and was shocked by her own sickly appearance. Her normally rosy cheeks had disappeared and were replaced by a sickly blue undercurrent.
Evvie wet her hand under the faucet and dabbed her cool damp hand against her neck and forehead wondering what she had just endured. Her rational mind could not begin to comprehend it, yet she was left with the unsettling feeling that she should return to the hotel immediately. It was not for her own life that she felt compelled to leave, but for the life her husband.
Evvie prepared herself to leave the bathroom but as she turned from her pale reflection she saw the window in her periphery. She knew that it was not a wise decision as she walked the length of the bathroom to the window.
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Aidan could not have been in better spirits as he jumped out of the car. As Aidan turned his back on the car with a visible skip in his step, Charlie silently hit his head repeatedly against the steering wheel. What had he been thinking? All he had had to do was let Aidan die. In saving him, Charlie was now forced to do the deed himself, and with his inability to simply let Aidan die, Charlie had serious doubts on his ability to actually kill Aidan himself.
Charlie chewed on the skin of his thumb as Aidan dropped the wrapped up ledger into a mail box addressed to Don Trapper, who would know who to trust with it. Aidan turned and began to whistle a tune as he sauntered back to the car oblivious to the extent of Charlie’s dark mood.
As he bounced into the car, Aidan almost shouted, “Cheer up Charlie! We won! Those stupid gangsters won’t know what hit them. I flipped through that thing. There are at least twenty different businesses implicated in that little thing, which should bring down just about everyone in the upper levels of the gang. We struck gold!”
Charlie responded, his voice tight, “I’m sorry, but we haven’t won yet. Evvie is still with the Purples. They could hurt her if they hear about what happened.”
Aidan scoffed, “You worry too much. We’ll call when we get back to the hotel and you’ll see that everything is fine. She should be gone by now anyways.”
Charlie didn’t believe him. With his own task set by the Purples yet to be fulfilled, Charlie was sure that they would not let Evvie leave. Even as the thought ran through his head, Charlie pulled into the parking lot of the hotel and said, “I hope you’re right.”
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Aidan flicked a coin at the elevator attendant, who caught it easily. The attendant was young, perhaps sixteen or seventeen, and while Aidan had tipped him many times with randomly thrown coins, the boy had never failed to catch them. Before walking out of the elevator door, Aidan gave the boy a card with his contact information on it.
“You’ve got great reflexes kid. If you’re ever interested in making some real money, give me a call” Aidan said as he exited the elevator.
Aidan noticed Charlie subtly shaking his head as he followed Aidan out of the elevator and down the overly patterned hall of the hotel. Charlie’s mood irritated Aidan. The night had been a huge success and Charlie had the nerve to insinuate that he was celebrating prematurely. Aidan took the room keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door to his room, yelling simultaneously, “Honey, I’m home!”
The door swung open to a dark and empty room. Disappointment washed over Aidan. He had wanted to celebrate with Evvie as soon as possible. From behind him, he heard Charlie sigh heavily. He had been doing that a lot tonight.
“She’s not here” Charlie punctuated the statement by closing the door with a thud.
Aidan wandered deeper into the room and looked out the window. “I’ll go downstairs and give the club a call.”
“You don’t think anything has happened to her do you?” Charlie asked.
“No of course not, I told you already. She’s fine.”
“But what if she isn’t? What would you do?” Charlie asked; his voice soft.
Aidan continued to look out the window and smiled to himself. “Charlie, the more appropriate question is what wouldn’t I do? The only thing I wouldn’t do is tell her what she could or could not do. If I could do that, she wouldn’t even be out there right now, but she is. If she were in trouble, I would steal. I would kill. I would die if I had to.”
Just then Aidan saw Evvie step out of the driver side of a car and began to walk into the hotel. He smiled and was about to tell Charlie when he heard the sound of a hammer of a revolver being clicked back into place. Aidan did not have time to be confused before the bullet was ripping through his skull.
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Evvie was thankful when the elevator finally came to a halt at her floor. Movement was a calming force to her psyche and the confinement of the elevator with its overly friendly elevator attendant put her on edge like nails on a chalk board. Her black heals kept her from moving at a full out run, but she jogged as fast as her heals would allow down the repetitive hall where the only change was the numbers on the doors.
When the number to her room finally came into view she twisted the handle, not bothering to fish for her keys, and the door opened without any resistance. Relief flooded her, as she knew that it meant that Aidan had returned but as the door slowly creaked open she was unprepared for the violence that lay before her. The room was dark. The light from the hall illuminated a skewed rectangle that stretched into the room and finally fell onto the feet of her brother who sat motionless on the bed. She could only see his profile which made no notice of her presence. Against the far window the lights of the city shown through the bits of brain matter that coated the window casting ruby colored shadows on the back of the corpse of her husband who lay in a congealing pool of his own blood.
Evvie’s hand shook as she reached for the light. While she did not want to see all of the details of the scene that lay before her she was compelled to know. Light flooded the room and she looked to her brother her now looked to her; his eyes were sad and shameful. He was covered in the crimson aftermath of his crime, something he obviously was not prepared for mentally.
“Charlie… What have you done?” Evvie’s voice was quiet yet panic laced every word.
Tears ran down Charlie’s face mingling with the bits of Aidan covering his face as he answered, “I had to Evvie”
Something snapped in Evvie in that moment and she advanced on her younger brother in a hysterical rage, “You had too!? You had too!?” Evvie’s hands reached for him with violent slaps. Her words turned to screams as her hands reached for his throat and as she began to squeeze, Charlie began to instinctively fight back, his revolver still in hand.
Evvie knew that Charlie had not meant to pull the trigger as he attempted to push his hysterical sister off of him, but the boom of the gun echoed through the room for the second time that night and she felt the pain pierce her chest making it immediately difficult to breath. She stepped back from him and watched the shock of what he had done rip her brother’s mind in two. As Evvie stumbled back to sit beside her husband’s dead body, she watched her brother raise the gun to his head and pull the trigger for the third and final time, leaving her the last living soul in the room. She felt the blood flood into her mouth as she began to choke on her own fluids. She looked over to her husband and used a blood soaked finger to move the hair out of the one hazel eye left on his face, the other obliterated in a ghastly wound where the bullet had exited his face. She did not look away from her husband’s lifeless eye as her own vision began to darken around the edges. For the second time that night her vision clouded with a flowing stream of ones and zeros but this time she was not confused by it and she let the running array of numbers overtake her vision. Suddenly the numbers stopped and were followed by: Successful Termination of Epsilon Subroutine.