Soul food

She hated making a mess. As a rule she went to great pains to avoid it. Typically clean up meant simply gathering spent casings, wiping down a blade, disposing of a garrote, the usual. This last job was going to be more complicated than that.

Even with all her experience, she couldn’t anticipate every scenario and this was one, big fuck up. Nothing went as expected, from the mark not being alone, to a freak rain storm, to having to stay concealed far longer than was convenient.

This was going to ruin her entire day. The only thing that was going to save it was that she had been able to maintain cover and finish her job.

The mark was supposed to be by himself when he arrive at his Brownstone, but he had a woman with him. She thought about taking her out too, but that would have meant a second bullet and another chance for witnesses to get a fix on where the shot came from. She also didn’t expect him to break into some sort of impromptu dance, causing her to miss her intended target. The resulting head wound caused one hellacious explosion.

That poor woman was literally covered in blood and brain matter. There was no physical injury to her, just another miscalculation.

The rain was a surprise. Studying weather forecasts was always on her checklist. There was no mention of rain. She considered dealing with the meteorologist, but it really wasn’t his fault he was an idiot.

Even the timing of the shower was off. It would’ve been welcome had it come after, washing away precious evidence. All it did was soak her to the bone, and make the air steamy, causing another possible problem with fog on her scope lens.

She’d have to take extra care cleaning her rifle, making sure to wipe down all the moisture and oil the mechanisms to prevent rust and corrosion. That was going to take a good hour or more.

The splattered woman was, unfortunately, composed enough to call the cops. She had counted on being able to leave her post immediately, but for once, response time was quick. Wet, and losing light, she had to stay concealed until the area was clear. She wasn’t worried about being discovered. She picked the kill spot because of the echo-effect from the surrounding buildings. There was no way the mark’s lady friend could pinpoint where the shot originated. Even crime scene reconstruction would take time, by then all traces of her would be long gone.

When she finally made her way back to street level, she was beyond pissed. It didn’t matter that she’d managed to salvage the job with her existence still a mystery. There would be a few matters to deal with to ensure her anonymity, but she was confident there’d be no way to link the hit to her.

If she thought she could get away with it, she’d demand an extra grand for all the trouble she went through to fulfill the contract.

Once back at her loft, she stripped off her wet clothes and began the meticulous chore of breaking down her weapon. After a hot shower of her own, she donned a favorite pair of worn jeans and an oversized sweatshirt. She needed to work off her agitation and a walk around the city was just the thing.

Despite the earlier rain, the night had turned cool. She took her time, forcing herself to walk slowly, taking in the city sights. With no destination in mind, she wasn’t surprised to find herself sitting in Lu’s diner.

She’d been a regular at the perennial greasy spoon since she was a kid and her granddad brought her there for their weekly Saturday breakfasts.

Slipping into a familiar booth, running her hands lovingly over its red naugahyde covered seats, she breathed in the cooking smells that reminded her of all those long ago mornings. The knots in her shoulders began to loosen, her headache was suddenly gone, and the gnawing feeling in her stomach was because she realized she hadn’t eaten all day.

Lu, who looked as old today as she did back in the day, ambled over to her table. Nearly as wide as she was tall, the old broad had jet black hair piled high on her head, pink buttons of color on her cheeks, electric blue eyelids and blood-red lips fringed with tiny wrinkles from years of smoking. An unlit cigarette dangled from her mouth, jumping up and down with every other words she spoke.

“You look like hell kid, bad day?”

“The worst! I can’t begin to tell you how much it sucked.”

“Well, you just let Lu take care of you. You’ll feel better before you know it.”

“You’re the best Lu.”

Wiping the last of the gravy off her chin, she pushed her empty plate away. Belching softly, she took a long drink of sweet tea. Lu made the best meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and her green beans were to die for.

Just as she was reaching down to unsnap the top button of her jeans, Lu was at her elbow with a cup of steaming black coffee in one hand, and a plate with a huge slice of apple pie in the other.

After the first bite of pie, she wondered why she had been so tense. She had to learn how to relax more. The day’s mishaps weren’t deal breakers, she was still the best at what she did.  A few hiccups weren’t going to change that. Some quick fixes and all would be right again. She would sleep well tonight, full and happy.

This week’s Indie Ink Writing Challenge came from Liz – “Something bad happens, what is it and where do you (or your character) go for your ‘soul food’ to recover?”

My challenge when out to my bloggy pal Sarah at Sadie’s Story Lines – “some assembly required, batteries not included”

Interested in joining the Challenge? Stop by Indie Ink for details.

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