Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Hitmen, Part 2

Yaroslav waited in a parked car across from the Whig Club.

John Hanks would be arriving any moment. Even though he was under federal protective custody and the typical high-profile witness would never be allowed out on the town, nobody told John Hanks where to be, when to be there, or how to behave when he arrived.

And every Thursday night, he and the other members of the Whig Club swigged scotch out of crystal and gobbled down plate-sized slabs of beef, while they sat in a parlor with their own portraits hanging above them.

"Typical," Yaroslav muttered to himself.

Finally, John Hanks' limo slid out of the night and up to the curb. John Hanks emerged from it and was immediately surrounded by law enforcement personnel as he strode through the mahogany doors of the Whig Club.

Yaroslav started up his car, drove around the block, parked, and got out. He made his way through the alley to the back of the club and lurked in the shadows until a waiter about Yaroslav's size came out for a cigarette break.

"Hey, I'll give you six thousand bucks for your uniform," Yaroslav said.

The waiter looked Yaroslav up and down and sneered.

"I make more than that in a month," the waiter said.

"Really? Nice gig, hunh?"

"Scurry off into that dumpster with all of the other rats," the waiter said, gesturing down the alley as he dropped his cigarette into a puddle.

Yaroslav pulled out his gun and let it hang by his side.

"Can't we do this the quick way? If I can't sneak in to the club with your uniform and drop a laxative into glasses of water and serve them to the federal agents and then carefully drop some poison into John Hanks' glass of scotch then my only other option is to go in there and paint the walls red with everybody's blood, including yours. So, please, can't we do this the quick way with limited loss of life?"

"I am going inside and calling the police," the waiter said, and disappeared through the door. Yaroslav leapt forward and stuck the barrel of his gun between the door and the frame just before it closed.

"Every damn time," Yaroslav said. He yanked the door open and shoved past the waiter. He sprinted through the kitchen and out into the dining area.

As he turned the corner, he quickly saw his target. John Hanks, sitting at a specially-designed table beneath his own portrait. Each of the founders of the Whig Club sat at the table, beneath their respective portrait.

Yaroslav brought his gun up.

"Goodnight, John Hanks," he said. He squeezed the trigger and shot John Hanks in the face.

John Hanks' face in the portrait above him burst open and turned to shreds.

Instead of escaping, Yaroslav sprinted at the table and jumped over the corpse of John Hanks. He began wrestling with the portrait to get it down. This was part of the deal.

"You bastard!" said a voice next to Yaroslav. He felt a sharp pain in his thigh. He'd been cut.

Sure enough, one of the other founders had buried a steak knife up to the hilt in Yaroslav's leg.

"Argh!" Yaroslav said. He blasted his assailant in the face. The tatters of the assailant's portrait burst outwards and showered the corpse and Yaroslav with confetti. Great, two goddamn portraits.

He finally wrenched the portrait of John Hanks off of the wall and fell backwards onto the table. The frame was bigger and heavier than it looked and it knocked the wind out of Yaroslav. It also blocked a sap aimed at Yaroslav's testicles.

Yaroslav kicked his attacker in the chest. This wasn't any good. If he had to kill anybody else then he couldn't escape with the trophies that he needed.

With a yell he yanked the steak knife out of his leg. The blood ran free down his leg. He felt like he was pissing himself. He cut John Hanks' portrait from the frame and, kicking at his attacker while he balanced on a chair, he cut the other dead man's portrait out of its frame, then bolted back towards the kitchen.

This had taken only a matter of moments. Now the federal agents appeared and blocked the kitchen.

"Freeze, dirtbag!"

Yaroslav couldn't, so he let his momentum carry him right into the biggest agent. They both went sprawling. Yaroslav had been prepared for it and bounced back faster. He ran for the front doors. As he went, he rolled up the portraits.

As he passed an agent at the door, he smacked the gun out of the agents' hands and took off down the street.

Gunfire pinged off of the concrete around him.

His blood was all over the scene.

And he'd killed someone who wasn't his target.

Not a great night.

Yaroslav jumped into his car and sped away. He breathed easier but he knew that he wouldn't be safe until he made it home with the portraits.

It would take some time for the police to figure out what car to look for, and all units converged on the Whig Club, so he sped through every single red light and took corners without braking.

He screeched back into his driveway, killing the lights before he turned, and ran into the house.

The Demon Ersad lounged on his couch.

"I felt you using the power," Ersad said. "Did you bring me my treats?"

Yaroslav threw the rolled-up portraits onto the demon's skeletal stomach.

"There's your trophies, you piece of shit."

"Now, now. Verbal abuse is not part of our arrangement. Oh, very nice." Ersad unrolled the scrolls and his eyes flicked over the hole in the middle.

"Now call off their hunt!" Yaroslav said.

Ersad didn't reply. He stood up, scraping his horns against the ceiling, and went over to the wall with all of the photos on it.

"Oh dear. It looks like we're done here."

"What?"

"The wall is full! Our arrangement is complete!" Ersad grinned, showing rows of needle-sharp teeth. "I release you from my curse!"

"What? We're done? Just like that?"

"Just like that," Ersad said. "It was very clever, contacting an organized crime syndicate like that to supply you with targets. Even though you're just a human, it was somewhat interesting to watch you. You have your freedom back."

The pair heard sirens in the distance, growing louder.

"At least, for a few minutes. I'd spend it wisely. Adieu!"

The Demon Ersad began to fade.

"Wait! Call of the search!"

"That is part of the agreement and the agreement is over."

"No! You said that you would stop me from getting caught!"

"I implied that I would stop you from getting caught. It was never formalized, and I did so to help you bring me more trophies. Now I have no interest."

The sirens wailed louder.

The pictures on the wall with the faces gone. The bodycount. The DNA that he'd left at the scene tonight, and the other scenes, like when he'd gone after the head of the Russian mob. The guns.

The tax evasion!

Ersad was barely visible, just a shadow of hunched, evil shoulders and spindly legs.

"I'll make a new agreement!"

Ersad stopped dematerializing.

"What are your terms?"

"Holy shit!"

Both the semi-transparent demon and Yaroslav turned.

Iosif stood in the half-open closet doorway, his mouth all the way open. His limp fingers held a shotgun.

"I came to kill you for attacking my father all those years ago but...what?"

Ersad rolled his eyes and re-materialized.

"Fine, I'll kill you both," Ersad said. He blasted Iosif with a column of flame that could've made a volcano blush. All that was left of Iosif was a red-hot tube of steel from the shotgun, a pair of charred shoes, and a whiff of cooking meat.

But that whiff was all it took.

Down the stairs came the thunder of Yaroslav's dogs.

"What in the hell?!" Ersad said.

The dogs, perceiving their master to be in trouble, leapt at the demon and chewed him into soggy little pieces. They left behind only a pair of partially chewed horns.

The house then burnt to the ground.

The police arrested Yaroslav, and the dogs had a temporary rumpus at the boarding kennel. The state had a case against Yaroslav. But it had bigger cases against John Hanks and every other member of the Whig Club. Without the plea that involved John Hanks turning witness, the district attorney decided to pursue the Whig Club. The strain on the judicial system of lots of people paying off lots of other people who in turn paid off people who paid off the original people meant that Yaroslav slipped through the cracks.

His guns melted in the house fire, which burned unusually hot, and Yaroslav now spends his days training dogs and washing his pants because even the best dogs like to drool.

The Moral: loose lips get you torched by manipulative demons

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