Yesterday, I announced the Kill Dan Malmon Flash Fiction Challenge. It would be unfair to enter my own contest, especially since I’m the one handing out the dough, but I just couldn’t resist killing Malmon one more time. Besides, he always wanted to be the Jewish James Bond. And you might just recognize a couple other people, too.
So consider this an hors d’oeuvres before the main course, an aperitif, a little something to ready the palate for more Malmon blood.
Oderint Dum Metuant
The man stood at the bar and watched Holm cross the room. The idiot was trying to get by in off-the-rack Armani, wearing a no-vent jacket, so it bunched over the gun just behind his left hip. Didn’t bunch a lot, so Holm was packing something slim, something small caliber, giving up some stopping power so he could hide it in an inside-the-pants rig.
The man smiled. His tux was bespoke, H. Huntsman and Sons, Savile Row. Cut perfectly to hide the Walther in the shoulder holster. He wasn’t giving up anything, and no one would ever see it until it was the last thing they saw.
“Sir?” the bartender asked.
“Martini, dry, made with gin as God intended. Junipero if you have it. If you don’t, then just rinse the glass with whatever swill your serving and set it out to dry somewhere,” but with a wry smile. They served Junipero. It was that kind of place. Besides, he could see the bottle.
A wry smile in return. “Very good, sir.”
“Very good indeed.” A woman’s voice. He turned
Short, just over five feet without the heels, five three with them. A slim, tight body, a gymnast’s body. Platinum hair cut close. Pert breasts, and he could see most of them. A dress like body paint, at least down through the hips. Flared out a little there or she wouldn’t have been able to walk. Blood red. Something couture. She wasn’t packing anything, not unless it was strapped to the inside of her thigh, and if it was, she’d have a hell of a time getting to it.
She raised her arm, catching the bartender’s eye, said “Two, please.”
He saw the tattoo, script along the inside of her left forearm. Oderint Dum Metuant. Let them hate so long as they fear. Lucius Accuis, the Roman poet.
“But why would anyone, my dear?” he said.
She raised her eyebrows in question.
“Hate or fear.” he said. “You hardly inspire either.”
“So you’re a fan of the classics?”
“More so now.” A sly smile.
“Do you always judge a book by its cover?”
He smiled. “I prefer to read the entire work. Very carefully. Sometimes my lips even move.”
The bartender returned with their drinks. They each took a sip.
“Perhaps we should arrange a study session,” she said. “Mister?”
“Malmon. Dan Malmon.”
“I’m Kat. Just Kat.”
“More of a dog man myself,” Malmon said, “but you’re certainly no dog. I suppose a gentleman makes exceptions.”
Holm was across the room trying to work the oil people from Nigeria. Just past Holm, Malmon saw Chang. MSS. So Beijing had an interest too.
The woman stroked his arm. “Shall we?” she asked.
He nodded and they turned for the elevators. He’d deal with Holm later. Or maybe Chang would save him the trouble.
She picked up a very small silver bag. No room for a piece in there. Nothing to hate or fear.
They kissed in the elevator. Not savagely, he didn’t paw her. A gentleman didn’t, not in public. But a long kiss, a gentle kiss. The kiss tasted of Junipero. All kisses ought to. As the elevator slowed at her floor, they parted.
“Did you enjoy the title page?” she asked.
“Very much so. Amazed it’s not a best seller.”
“Limited edition,” she said. “For cultured readers only.”
They reached her door. She unclapsed the small bag for her key. Malmon heard the stairwell door open at the end of the hall and turned. Holm, his hand going to his waistband, fishing under the jacket for his weapon.
Malmon stepped forward, sweeping Kat behind him, the Walther already in his hand as if by some practiced legerdemain, already raised, already trained on Holm just as Holm’s pistol began to appear.
Malmon squeezed the trigger. Or tried to. Nothing. His arm dropped, the Walther thudding to the carpet. He felt himself falling. No, didn’t feel. Couldn’t feel anything. Saw himself falling, crumpling, his entire body not just unresponsive, but gone, dead, disconnected, no longer a part of him. Now he was on the carpet, too, the Walther in front of him, inches away, a million miles away. Down the hall, Holm slid the slim automatic back under his jacket.
Kat stepped over Malmon, walking down the hall toward Holm. As she did, she pulled a handkerchief from the small bag and wiped the blood from a thin knife, then folded the blade back into the handle, slid the knife and the handkerchief into the bag and closed it.
“Chang?” she asked.
“Done,” Holm answered.
Holm put a hand to Kate’s cheek, leaned down and kissed her.
“Junipero,” Holm said.
“And on Malmon’s tab,” Kat answered.
Holm smiled then opened the door to the stairs, holding it as she passed through. He took a last look down the hall at Malmon, raised two fingers to the corner of his eye in salute and left.
Malmon realized he should breathe, realized he couldn’t, that he wouldn’t, not ever again. Between the first and second vertebrae, he guessed. He’d never even felt the blade go in.
Hate and fear, now he felt both.