The story so far:
Nomo Miranda paced his office, back and forth, with a pronounced limp. His cane rested at the side of his large desk, but whenever he was on-edge he would ignore it and limp instead. Where some people might consider it a weakness, Nomo thought it made him look tough. He even practiced his limp when no one else was around. He had even fabricated the perfect war story to go along with it. Made himself out to be quite a hero. No one, except his brother, knew the real reason for his gimp was childhood Polio.
Nomo was on-edge because his organization was in turmoil. He had lost two good men in a diner shootout. One of them had been his wife’s, sister’s boyfriend. There would be Hell to pay for that as Nomo had promised his beloved that he wouldn’t put the kid in harms way. But he had been a natural. A real killer. Nomo had been giving him hits for months and the kid always came back with a smile on his face. He couldn’t believe he was now gone. Yea, there would be Hell to pay.
Nomo paced. Nomo limped.
How had they messed this one up? Two against one, and they had the element of surprise on their side. The target had no idea he was the target.
Then, just when Nomo thought things couldn’t possible get any worse, the police scanner had lit up with the news that there was an officer down in the same vicinity as the diner shooting. It had to be that crooked son of a bitch Coles. The only Loop cop Nomo had on the payroll. He had been the back-up plan.
Yes, the organization was in turmoil. Nomo was on-edge. He limped back and forth.
Who was this guy they were trying to kill anyway, Superman? He had taken out two of Nomos best men and an armed Police officer!
“How many you **** it take to kill one man?” Nomo roared in his South American, Chinese accent. It was aimed at no one in particular, however each man standing rigid in the tiny office felt like it was aimed directly at him.
The office was twenty limps back to front and fifteen limps wide. Nomo moved side to side, over and over, and with each lap his gimp inched him closer and closer to the four men, who also with each lap, inched further and further back, until their asses were flush against the paneled front wall. They all feared Nomo. His temper was unpredictable and cruel. He loved torture.
A large desk took up the back half of the room and it was piled high with untidiness. Take out containers. Bottles of rum and vodka. Piles of folders and papers.
Nomo purchased the restaurant three years earlier and now used it as his headquarters in the city. He never bothered with the day-to-day legitimate business that was going on in the actual restaurant. He left that up to his younger brother Kato. Nomo preferred to stay hidden in the shadows, where the real money was made.
Nomo and Kato were born in China however spent there childhoods in Caracas, Venezuela. Their father was a hit man for the infamous Micky Miranda, a man that Nomo grew up worshipping and eventually took on his last name as a show of respect.
When the boys were in their late teens their father had disappeared and so their mother packed them up and moved to America. Land of opportunity.
Nomo made it a point to never lose his roots and so worked tirelessly to ensure he maintained his Spanish/Chinese accent. He was known around the hood as the ‘Venezuelan Asian.’
He met the far wall and turned to limp back the other way.
His client was not going to be happy. The money had already been paid. The job should have been completed hours ago. And now…three men later, they had no idea where the target even was.
Nomo jerked his neck and flipped back the mass of thick, greasy hair that hung in his cruel eyes. It was so black it almost appeared purple in the dim light of the office. It hung down low across his face, obscuring his vision, and he was constantly flipping his head, only to have it settle back immediately where it started. A woman had once suggested a haircut to him and he promptly cut off the tip of her tongue.
The eyes in the room, all eight of them aside from Nomo’s, reflected a collective misery. Someone was going to pay for this mess. They all hoped it wasn’t them. Death might be preferable to what their psycho boss had in store for them.
Nomo reached the far wall, spun on his good heel and began the limp back across. Each of the men pressed back a little harder against the wall.
When the contract had first come to him, Nomo was skeptical. How had this client, a man from New York, found him? However his concern had evaporated immediately when he learned that the client was a man of considerable wealth, power and influence. Admittedly, it unnerved Nomo. However, the money easily soothed his worries. Five million. Paid up front and in full. It all seemed too good to be true.
“Too gooo too be true!” He wailed and the men shuddered.
The hit seemed pretty cut and dry. A perfect set-up. One unsuspecting guy, sitting alone in a diner. A sitting duck. Nomo would simply send in a couple of his best men and they would take the guy out. Make it look like a robbery. One-two-three, easy as a sunday morning.
He had been orchestrating little hits like this for years and had built up a pretty solid local reputation. They all came to him. The Italians. The Russians. The Mexican cartels. ****, even the Asians would seek him out if they had some extreme dirty work.
But a major player from the Big Apple! That was the big time. It meant more money. More prestige. He was on the cusp of the big time.
What he hadn’t expected was for the sitting duck to somehow take out his guns, and then his prize possession, his inside connection, Officer Daryl Coons.
This made Nomo worry. This made Nomo limp.
“Simple instruction I give to you, no? You caan follow simple instruction…what Nomo pay you for?”
Four mouths stayed clamped shut. Eight heels began to inch up the back wall as Nomo completed another lap and pressed in further upon them.
As he approached the far wall, preparing to make one last turn before he limped right into the four men and made them pay for their failure, the phone on his desk rang.
A collective sigh filled the room and for a moment Nomo considered killing all four of them instead of just the one he planned. But then he realized that the phone ringing was his private line. That meant that there was urgent news.
“Gee outta here!” He yelled and the four men scrambled over each other to make it through the tiny door at the same time.
Nomo limped across to his desk and considered the phone as it rang a fourth time. Only three people had that number and two of them were now dead. That left only the client.
He took a deep breath and picked up the receiver.
“Elllo.” Nomo said timidly. He was never timid. But this man scared the brave right out of him.
“Nomo, how nice of you to answer so promptly. I trust by now you are aware of how poorly your performance has been and you’re no doubt in fear of your very life.”
Nomo shifted his weight to his bad leg.
“Good, good. Well all is not yet lost my little Venezuelan Cajun.”
Nomo hated the way the man blatantly messed up his street name, but he didn’t dare correct him.
“It would seem that someone is looking out for you tonight Nomo. I just received a call and I have the exact address where you can locate the target and finish this job on a positive note. Now how does that sound?”
“Daa sound goo. Real goo sir.”
“ I thought it might Nomo.”
The client gave Nomo the address and he scribbled it down and read it back.
“Now Nomo, I encourage you to earn the money I’ve given you. Earn it properly. Because if you fail me again, you will not be around tomorrow to regret it. Do I make myself clear?”
Before Nomo could answer, the line went dead.
He examined the address and wondered at his luck. He considered whom he should send. His two best men were dead. There was Declan, but he was not a true killer. He was better at beat downs. Nomo made his decision and pocketed the address. He reached in his top drawer and pulled out a snub nose .38. When you absolutely had to get a job done, then you had to do it yourself.
It was kill or be killed time.
Heath stood limply and let the scorching water massage his icy skin back to life. It was two hours since he had taken a bullet in the shoulder, returned fire and killed a cop. One hour since he exited 'the Ike' and found himself traveling a familiar route to a familiar home in Schaumburg. Thirty minutes since he took his first swallow of cognac. Twenty minutes since the bullet was removed.
Now, with his eyes shut tight and his thinned blood bulging into the throbbing rocket between his thighs, it would only be another moment or two until all the anxiety of the evening was expertly extracted by the skillful hands of one Dina Dellucci.
“There, there big guy. Just relax and let D.D. do the work.” A tongue whisper in his soggy ear. She always knew the right thing to say. The right thing to make all the wrongs seem right.
After so many years. After so many wrongs. This was still where he went. She was still his only safe haven. The only one he still trusted with his life.
“Relax and breathe the paradise.” She cooed.
Heath climaxed and for a moment, everything was just as she promised.
Standing in her bedroom, dripping wet in front of the full-length mirror, he inspected his naked body. Another hole. Another scar.
“How many does that make?” She asked casually as she slipped into the form fitting black dress she had been wearing earlier when she answered his desperate knock.
He didn’t respond. He would have, perhaps, had he known the total. But in his line of work, gunshots and knife wounds came as frequently as bad guys and babes. He had stopped counting them all years ago. About the same time he had received orders to relocate his hired gun from New York to Chicago. Family orders.
He pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt D.D. had laid out for him on the bed. They were not his and the fit was loose on his athletic build. He eyed her for a moment with a tight-lipped smile. She knew that smile well.
“Get over it stud. You think you’re the only bizzaro Bond in my life?”
“Of course not. I just thought you preferred us in a little better shape.” He picked his arms up to display the slack the shirt left around his ripped midsection. It was meant to be a joke, however a shock of pain jolted through his injured shoulder and mixed with the jealous undertone of his true emotions, caused the words ‘better shape’ to come out in a breathless cry.
D.D. crushed up a few pills and dumped the contents into a fresh sifter of cognac. She handed it to him with a sly wink.
“What’s this…you trying to take advantage of me?” He asked coyly.
“Do I need to try?”
They both laughed as he took the glass and sipped it.
“Just a little magic from the medicine cabinet to help you get through the night. Your gonna need it.”
Heath crossed the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed. He took another deep sip from the glass.
He watched as she examined the clothes she had stripped off of him earlier. She tossed the ruined shirt in a plastic bag with a frown.
“You know, I bought that shirt for you.”
He smiled. He knew.
She folded his pants and laid them on the dresser. As she did, his paperback of ‘The Odyssey’ slipped out of the pocket and dropped to the floor. She picked it up and laughed.
“I can’t believe you still have this?”
“Well, I’m still trying to make it back home.”
She looked at him and he could see the sadness in her face. She looked washed out. Her wet hair hung around her pale face like coiling snakes. She no longer was beautiful without makeup like she had once been. Now her cheeks looked sunken. The skin around her eyes was deep purple. How many years had he strung her along? Broken promises. All the times he had declared to her, ‘Just one more job.’
Heath regretted the life he had led her into. She had once been innocent. She once had potential. Now she was nothing more than his fall back plan. That’s all she could ever be as long as she remained in his life. That’s all he could ever hope to make her, as long as HE remained in his life.
But that’s what the night had all been about. That’s why this job had been so important. The real, ‘One last job,’ and then he planned to take her away from all of it. He planned on finally going home, and she was coming with him. Just one last job and he would be free of his client forever.
But apparently his client had other ideas on how that forever would be spent.
Heath pulled himself over the side of the bed and tried to get to his feet. His equilibrium failed him and he stumbled a few steps and plopped down in a small chair in the corner of the room.
“Easy baby. Those pain killers will make you groggy.”
“Damn it Dee. What did you put in here? You know I hate being weak. Especially at a time like this.”
She moved across the room and sat on the edge of the chair, her hands on either side of his face. “It’s okay sweetheart. Just relax. You know your safe here.”
“I’m not safe anywhere!” He tried to lift back up to his feet but with very little effort, she forced him back down.
“Just relax baby-boy. Just relax. D.D. will help you get back home.”
Heath struggled against the weight of his eyelids, but the drugs were too much. He drifted off to sleep.
Dina removed the glass from his slack hand and set it on the bedside. She leaned in and gently kissed his lips.
Then she moved to the dresser, opened the top drawer and pulled out a phone.
After two rings the other end was picked up.
“Is he there?”
Dina hesitated. Was she doing the right thing? It was what Heath wanted wasn’t it? To finally go home?
“Yes sir, I’ve sedated him. Your son is here.”
“Good, good. You’re a good girl Dina. Now you sit tight and I will send someone right over to get you.”