“Rae… I do believe this guy is alive,” Zac said.
The two of us were peering into the cupboard, looking at a very tied up and very terrified-looking Noah.
“Yep,” I replied.
“Right… right…. And, just to make sure we’re on the same page here, you are aware that normally I don’t see this part, right? That I come in afterward?”
At the sound of the conversation, Noah immediately started to squirm and plead to Zac with his eyes, hoping that he would help free him. Not that it would do him any good.
“So, what’s the hold up?” Zac asked, still confused. “Isn’t this just another Thursday for you? I’ve seen you do worse.”
He was right. This really wasn’t that abnormal of a job for me to do.
But I gritted my teeth at his question nevertheless, hating how I had ended up in this situation.
“I… can’t,” I said, deflating in defeat. “I can’t do it.”
“You can’t… do it…” Zac repeated slowly. “And why is t—.”
“Look, I just can’t, okay?” I said, cutting him off, irritated at all the question
“I’ve tried. I even tried again before you got over here. I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it. End of discussion.”
“…So why am I here? Just tell your dad that —.”
Of course, Zac would suggest that. He didn’t know about every dark secret my father was hiding, only ever seeing as far as he needed to.
“No, I can’t tell him,” I said.
“…And you can’t tell him either.”
“Rae, the boss is expecting this guy dead,” he said, taking a step back to look at me.
“I’m not really sure what’s going on, but you do realize he’ll find out sooner or later, right? You can’t just keep him locked up in a cupboard forever.”
“Okay, fine! Fine…!” I sighed in frustration, before slowly locking up to meet his eyes.
“…Then you do it.”
Immediately, his face paled.
“What?! Rae, no! No,” he blurted out.
“I don’t do that.”
“c’mon, Zac,” I whined.
“It’s not that different from cleaning up. Both have a lot of blood. I can talk you through it. Here…just grab this dagger like this… and then hold it in your hand facing—.”
I’d been trying to get him to wield the weapon but he immediately held his hands up and stepped away.
“Just…chill,” he said.
“I’m not going to kill someone.”
“Argh! I spun around and angrily started pacing the room, beginning to get more worried as every second passed.
I didn’t understand why this had to be so difficult. It shouldn’t be this hard. Any other day, I could have done this job with my eyes closed. Why was I struggling to kill one random man? Who even was this guy? A small brown wallet then caught my attention as it sat on top of a table, and I walked over to inspect it.
“Hey, doesn’t this guy look sort of familiar?” I heard Zac say behind me.
However, I ignored him as I went digging through his different cards. He had a grocery store reward one… a rental shop… a membership to a laundromat? I didn’t even know those had memberships.
But then, finally, I found his driver’s license.
“Rae… he sort of looks like that guy.” Zac continued.
“The one from a few days ago. You know…—.”
“_..Kennedy.” I said, reading the name on the card.
“Right. Miles Kennedy. Wasn’t he the guy from the clean-up a few days ago?” I slowly spun around to look at Zac, my mind now racing with new information.
“No, Zac… Kennedy is this guy’s last name,” I said.
And, simultaneously, we both then turned to look at the man tied up in the cupboard. Just what was his connection to him? I’d thought that Miles was an underground businessman or some sort of gang leader. Someone who’d tried to pull a fast one over my father. Why else would he have acquired problematic documents relating to him?
But… ‘clean up. That’s how this job had been described.
Was Noah involved in whatever Miles had been up to?
…Or was I sent here because he was digging into his disappearance?
…If that were true… then didn’t that mean Noah’s death sentence today was because of me? Because of my accidental lapse in control?
I walked over to Noah and pulled out the cloth I’d stuffed into his mouth.
Normally, I would have agreed that talking to the future murder victim was possibly the dumbest thing I could ever do… but I felt we were already past the point of no return.
“Please, let me go, please.” he immediately started begging.
“I’ll do anything. Just… don’t kill me. Please.”
“You’re related to Miles?” I asked, disregarding the crying.
His face blanked for a moment before becoming confused.
“What about Miles?”
But I really wasn’t in the mood for people not answering my questions plainly.I’d already had my fill of that from Kieran today.
Instantly, I crouched down to his eye level and sunk my dagger into the wall directly next to his head, causing him to jump in fear.
“I’m asking the questions,” I hissed, pulling the knife back out to point it at him.
“Now.Let me repeat myself for the last time. Are.You.Related.To.Miles?”
He squirmed in fear but managed to huff out a ‘yes’, his head quickly bobbing up and down.
“M-my… he’s m-my brother,” he stuttered.
I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose, already knowing I was going to hate where this was going.
“And when was the last time you heard from Miles?”
“He never showed up at the bar on Saturday.I think he’s missing,” he hurriedly answered.
“I-I don’t know where he is, I swear! I’ve been looking for him but it’s like he’s just disappeared….Is that why you’re here? Does this have something to do with him? …Or the business?”
That caught my attention.
It was something that held my curiosity and yet I knew I shouldn’t ask. Asking the questions I had already asked was already way too far. My job wasn’t to investigate my father’s dealings, it was just to carry out his orders.
But… but a part of me wanted to know. To find out whether or not his death sentence today was actually because of me.
..And so I asked the question I knew I shouldn’t have.
“..What business was Miles involved with?” I asked.
“What. Business?” I repeated, interrupting Zac before he could stop me.
He would know how bad of an idea this was, just as I did. After all, he was also under the same orders to not pry too hard.
“Smuggling,” Noah answered.
“He’s a smuggler for that wealthy businessman in town. Gets in supplies and rare goods from all over. The best at what he does, in my opinion. Even better than me.”
I should have stopped there. I knew I should have stopped. No, I definitely shouldn’t have wanted to keep going…. But I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
“..Which businessman?” I asked carefully.
And he looked at me as if I were stupid for not knowing.
“Eric Reid, of course. Who else in this city would be shady enough to need a smuggler?”
F#ck, f#ck, f#ck.
Miles had been a goddamn employee.
He wasn’t some random criminal or a rivaling businessman. He was on the freaking payroll.
…I killed an employee*.
But why had I been given instructions to bring him in at all? Was he trying to run away or snitch on my father?
…Did he find out something he shouldn’t have? And those documents allegedly pertaining to the business… just what was in them? If they were harmful, then what could make someone want to betray a man as powerful as my father? Someone who would know better than most in this city what going against him entailed?
There were too many questions already asked and far too many answers left unknown that I shouldn’t go looking for. I needed to pause for a moment and stop tunneling down a thought process that had no end in sight.
Because, regardless of the why, I was now left with a very important ‘what’; As in, what the hell was I going to do about Noah? And I quickly stood back up and stepped away, my brain swimming with a million different thoughts as to what I should do.
This wasn’t like the jobs I’d had before. I wasn’t killing him purely for the sake of business this time… it was more personal than that. His blood really would be on my hands this time. Both physically and morally. He was, for lack of a better word, a loose end.
Someone who would go looking for Miles.
My intervention here today was meant to be cutting off that loose end.
“Rae, I kinda think that this has gone far enough,” Zac said, watching as I began to pace again.
“Just kill him and we can pretend that none of this ever happened. Here, I’ll just turn around and you can quickly do your thing.”
“I can’t,” I groaned in annoyance.
If I couldn’t do it before, I definitely couldn’t do it now.
“Miles was an employee,” I said to Zac, pausing to face him.
“Don’t you have someone you care about outside of work? What if Noah was them? Just trying to find out what happened to you?”
“Since when do you care?” he argued back.
“No offense, girl, but seriously. We’ve been in this business for… how long? You being employed even longer than me. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen you even bat an eyelid at having to do something like this in the past.”
He was right. I knew he was right. I didn’t know why I cared so much. This newfound reluctance, conscience even, was so incredibly unlike me. But that nagging voice inside was still telling me to not do it.
That I shouldn’t.
…That I didn’t need to.
“We need to come up with a plan,” I finally said, taking a step towards Zac.
“We!? Rae, no. There is no ‘we’ here,” Zac said, moving away.
“You finish the job or someone else has to come in and do it. That’s how this works.”
“I-I can’t fail again,” I said desperately.
“Do you have any idea what my father will do to me if I come home empty-handed?”
“That’s not my problem. I’m not getting involved in your family issue—.”
But his voice abruptly came to a stop as I lifted up my shirt, revealing the many different shades of bruises still riddling my skin.
“I can’t fail again,” I repeated.
And Zac visible gulped in disgust. I pulled my shirt down but it was another few moments before Zac finally found his voice.
He coughed, clearing his throat, and did his best to compose himself.
“So… what plan did you have in mind?” he asked.
And, suddenly, I had a perfect idea. Something that just came to me out of nowhere. It was so simple. Why hadn’t I thought of it earlier?
“Zac Greene…” I started, a smile beginning to twitch on my lips.
“The kind of man who can hide a body without leaving even a single drop of evidence behind.”
..And recognition slowly spread across his face as he understood exactly what I was implying.
“Wait, Rae, no,” he started to protest, almost tripping as he tried to move backward away from me.
“That’s not the same thing. I don’t—.”
…So, anyway, that was how Zac ended up hiding Noah for me.
Maybe this whole friendship thing wasn’t so bad after all.