Pre-Wedding Jitters – The Nightmare
September 17, 2010
Each sharp retort of the gun brought a certain bleak satisfaction to Derek Fitzpatrick’s heart. Weeks of surgery had left him pale and far thinner than he’d once been, but a meticulous regime of exercise and healthy eating was starting to restore the flesh to his bones, while the doctors had performed the same service for his face.
Almost the same service. There was little resemblance to the man pictured in the Hall of Fame at CSA headquarters, not any more. He’d had to pull a few legal strings to convince the reluctant plastic surgeons to do as he asked.
Three shots, then the low whine of the mechanised pulley system as it reeled his target towards him.
He unclipped the picture from the cardboard target. Ian Carlyle’s features, looking back at him from the glossy headshot, seemed far less smug, marred as they were by a perfect diagonal track of three bullet holes. The enforcer slipped a finger through a hole that punched right through the pictured lens of the man’s habitual sunglasses and whirled the photograph idily around his digit. “An eye for an eye, my friend… An eye for an eye.”
He set the punctured photograph down and clipped a pristine one onto the target in its place before pushing down the button to set it scrolling backwards down the range. His eyes flicked briefly to the pale band on his tanned finger where his wedding ring had once lain. His wife, Lucy, had skipped town while Derek had been in hospital and he found himself too weary and on edge to put the effort in to find her again.
It was simply another gift for which he would have to thank Ian Carlyle properly.
He was two shots into his sequence again when a hushed step on the concrete interrupted him. He set down his pistol and pulled off his ear muffs and goggles, pushing his sweat-soaked hair back off his face as he suddenly became conscious of the evening heat radiating from the walls of the building.
“Did you get ’em?” Derek looked his visitor in the face without fear, though he would be one of very few to do so.
The man in the grey suit nodded, holding out a large, thick envelope. Derek snatched it from the man’s fingers, pulling out a handful of enlarged photos. He shuffled through them, one by one, then stopped, waving dismissively to his visitor, who simply bowed his head and left without a word.
The telephoto lens had captured every detail, from the lines on Carlyle’s knuckles to the sheen of reflected light from the engraved letters on the inside of the plain gold rings inside the tiny cushioned box he held out to his brother.
Derek closed his eyes and silently thanked either God or the Devil, whichever force had given Ian Carlyle something else for him to take away.