By Andrew Shortall.
She sat alone in the crowded bar. Hundreds of people milled around her; some drunk, some sober. The noise would be overwhelming to some, but she felt calm and focused. Her cover was ideal and intact, as it had been all weekend during the convention. Her quarry and prize sat among one of the larger groups of bar patrons, evidently enjoying the company they shared.
Looking up at the clock on the wall, she knew it would soon be time to make her move. For the moment, discretion was indicated and necessary. She motioned silently to the bar tender, signalling that she wanted to pay her modest bill. It would raise too many flags to leave an unpaid tab. She needed to remain the anonymous convention attendee, as she had been for three days.
The check now paid, she kept hold of her drink until her assignment moved. She waited precisely nineteen seconds before draining the last mouthful of wine and then sliding gracefully from the bar stool. She couldn’t see her target, but she knew exactly where they were headed. She moved in the same direction.
After imbibing several beverages, the mark was now inevitably draining a full bladder in the public restrooms. She ignored the heavy-set man waiting outside the door and entered the common area before selecting a stall near the assignment. Patience and surveillance were invaluable tools to someone in her profession. She knew the older woman always picked the same stall. Just the same as she knew she would wash her hands several times after using the facilities.
To keep up the appearance, she relieved her own mildly strained bladder and moved back out of the stall to wash her hands. Her excellent hearing told her the mark was on the third hand wash of her routine. She was standing close enough to catch a scent of her Dior perfume. As usual, she was wearing an overpowering amount of it.
She checked her own make up using a compact as the smartly dressed woman fussed her way into the fourth and final hand washing routine. Exactly middle of the temperature range on the mixer taps; precisely three squirts of liquid soap; no more or less than fifteen strokes of the lather all over her hands. Another fifteen strokes under the warm water to rinse; five shakes of her hands to remove excess water. Two pulls on the hand towel dispenser and ten strokes to dry her hands.
As the woman went through the exhaustive routine, the assassin made her move. She took out a small travel bottle of Dior and spritzed her wrist. She dabbed her neck too with the excess from her wrist. She knew this would get the attention of the target for she knew her purse had been left behind at the table. Her allowed mind to drift briefly to the moment she received the assignment to end another life. She remembered thinking this seemingly harmless lady must have pissed off the wrong person. Ultimately, the assassin didn’t care. It was just another job; a fresh paycheck.
“Pardon me, miss. Might I borrow a couple of squirts of your perfume?”
The younger woman hid her satisfied smile as she passed the bottle. This was it, the moment she had meticulously planned; the moment she had been paid a small fortune for. She fussed nonchalantly in her own handbag as the mark gave one-two-three squirts from the bottle of perfume before handing it back to the rightful owner. It wouldn’t be long now. No-one saw her sequester the bottle in a hidden section of her purse. It would never be seen again.
Both women completed their ablutions and left the restroom. The older lady returned to her group just in time for her meal, which had just arrived. The assassin found another perch at the bar and ordered a light beer from a young, female bartender who evidently had just started her shift. She could still see the assignment from her new seat and watched as her work came to fruition.
The target’s face brightened and reddened, and her eyes widened as she found it more and more difficult to catch her breath. She began to stand, coughing and spluttering. Her plate scattered to the floor, smashing on impact; casting its partly eaten contents everywhere. The large man who had waited outside the restrooms appeared at her side as she fell to her knees.
The assassin who had been pretending to watch the news events on the wall-mounted television smiled in time to a child appearing on screen. Her smile was a triumphant one. The mark collapsed forward as her large man tried to help. He raised his suit lapel to his lips and spoke some words unheard by the assassin. She knew it was the call-sign for a medical emergency involving his charge. In less than a minute, more suited men arrived to usher the worried and curious bystanders aside. The suits were quickly followed by medics.
As the medics worked and ultimately shook their heads, the suits blocked all exits to the bar. Questions were asked; notes were taken; backgrounds were checked into. As the assassin was finally allowed to leave, she saw a gurney wheeled out with a black body bag strapped to it. Her mission had been accomplished.
The senator was dead.
Born and raised in Ireland, Andrew Shortall has been writing creatively since he was a teenager in school. He has been published in a wide range of media from Star Trek Fanzines, to chronic illness support blogs and in print with his story in the zombie anthology “The Infection”. Inspired by such greats as Stephen King, James Herbert, George R.R. Martin, Kim Stanley Robinson and others, he hopes to continue writing in multiple genres when imagination hits. When not writing, Andrew creates tasty food in his parent’s small restaurant in the south of France and relaxes with a glass of wine and two dogs.