The blade goes in, fast and easy. Butter and a hot knife. One hand has a good grip, pushing the knife in-between the ribs, past muscle into the heart and the left lung. One hand on his mouth. Can feel his hot breath on my palm.
Usually always goes the same. They get one good try at a scream with the last breath. You keep that quiet, you’re probably in the clear. No one going to hear anything after that. Then you get something husky, more like a cough. Then kind of a wimper, like they’re giving up. Then it’s just air escaping.
This time, that first breath, it’s like he was trying to tell me something. Happens every now and then. Usually begging for their life. I’ve got him in a half a bear hug, right arm pinned down with my right arm that’s driving the blade into his chest. My left arm is covering his mouth, holding his head straight.
He points with his free left hand. All over the place. Off in the distance. Too dark to tell.
He says it, but it’s lost by the second breath, a hack, a cough, and then that’s it.
He goes down on his knees. It’s all over. Fast and easy.
You can hear the blood gurgling out, like a leaky faucet.
I don’t feel anything. Nothing at all.
It’s a new place. I don’t much like that. But it wasn’t really up to me.
I don’t much like that it’s one of our own, but like they said, the evidence was irrefutable. Nothing more to be done.
They call it the black lighthouse. Not too many people know about it. Not really a lighthouse, either. It’s got lights, not too bright. Green on one side, red on the other. Something about shipping channels in the bay. They explained it, but I don’t really care.
We drove over from Ybor, the four of us. He thought we were coming out here to take care of a connection gone bad. That’s why the new place. We drive to our usual spots in the Everglades, he’d know something was up.
He wasn’t always a sucker. Maybe he should’ve guessed. I don’t know.
They say you look around, you can’t see the sucker, it’s you.
Fucking Nico, knifes him right there on the road. We’re barely out of the goddam car.
What we’d said was we’d get him walking out to the thing with the lights, do it there. Be out on the rocks, but at least we’d be standing behind that thing obscured from any drunk-ass late night fishing parties, or whatever. Be harder to see us from the road, too.
Dumb fucker. Shouldn’t be out here doing one of our own, anyway.
What, some FBI douchebag comes knocking on your door, first thing you do is freak the fuck out? Wear a goddam wire?
A fucking wire. You know how pissed the they were back in Ybor?
What kind of sucker wears a wire for the feds?
In our business, the dead kind of sucker, that’s what.
There’s always a sucker at the table. You look around and don’t see him, it’s you, motherfucker.
I do feel bad. Just for a moment.
After all, I got him into this business. We started with small time dealing in Tampa. Then smuggled cigarettes and booze coming from Mexico across the Gulf. A good enough operation that it got the attention of the big bosses in Ybor City.
We graduated to managing dope off fast boats. Then coke in airplanes.
Then gambling and whores.
Always enforcement. Always ready to make a problem disappear.
We were good at all of it. Maybe even great.
They’re called obscure sector leader beacons. They signal shallow water and land in a blind spot to the big ships coming around to the Port of Tampa.
No one is ever here. Maybe once every year or so to check the lights and the circuit. Other than that, it is a worthless jut of rock and land, at the end of the salty bay.
It’s a good spot, by what Nico called the black lighthouse. It’ll be deep because of the shipping channel. I would guess the tiger sharks will get interested at some point. Maybe not.
Nico’s already done it, so I just go back to the trunk to get the plastic sheeting and the duct tape.
I see him squirming under the knife.
It’s almost like he’s trying to say something, though I can’t imagine what it would be.
When you find out your best friend is wearing a wire for the FBI, you feel like a sucker. There’s no worse feeling. And so as soon as I feel regret, I let those emotions go, losing them to the salty breeze coming off the bay.
The sucker is easy to spot. When you’re sitting at the table and you can’t pick him out in five seconds, then it is you.
The black lighthouse is perfect. We’ll get out of the car and they’ll walk me right up to it. Hides ’em from the road, hides ’em from the water. You have to walk over some pretty serious rocks and shit to get to it, so it’ll take a minute or two.
Plenty of time.
Agent Dougherty tells me they’ll swarm the place. Tells me I’ll be safe. Says I’ve given him a lot of good information. Says I’m a valuable asset.
Says they’re going to invest a lot in me. Witness relocation.
They tell me I’m making a smart play. Tell me all the chips are going to come in for me. I just have to play this hand right.
And when we step out of the car, those suckers will get what’s coming to them.
© 2013 by Benjamin J. Kirby
All rights reserved.
Originally published at terribleminds for a flash fiction challenge.
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