Some things in life aren’t worth the price you pay for them. Or, in my case, get paid to do.
I’ve never been scared of dying. It lives easy with me. You know, I’ve killed, god knows how many? I’m a…how shall I put it, an exterminator. Yeah, I like that, exterminator.
Danny Rae. That’s my name. I kill people. It's what I do. I'm not just good, I'm the best. Well I was…maybe? I'm not sure any more. Things change in life. It’s the way of the world and life is so much more complicated than death. More complex. Even more so, when a guy you know you’ve killed calls you.
That's right. Who’d have thought it? I know I killed Spencer Francis. Two bullets to the back of the head, buried him under ten tons of cement. Even Christ couldn't resurrect himself from that and Spencer Francis was no son of God. His dad had left him for the bottle thirty years ago when Spencer was a wee bairn.
I killed Spencer Francis six months ago. New Years' Eve. Contract stuff, easy job. The strains of Auld Lang Syne could be heard from the pub below his apartment. All very nice and that. He took a drink with me. Gave me a cheap whisky. I hate people who drink that. He deserved to die. The police found nothing. With me they never do. I've killed three more since and it doesn't worry me. My blood is ice cold and I’ve got no conscience.
Spencer was a nobody, a bum who knew something he didn't need to. We both had a history, except his never graduated from the stone age. It doesn’t concern you, but he deserved what he got and no-one gave a damn. I did the world a favour. End of story. Or so I thought.
Three weeks ago I took a call. My private number. A number I give out only to family and dead people and I’ve only one sister who lives in New Zealand and is to far gone to even remember she has a brother. I heard his voice. It scared the shit out of me. Raw Glaswegian. Bitter tone, not like mine. I'm from Edinburgh. We're a little more refined there. Thre was no mistake. It was Spencer fucking Francis.
"Hello, Danny boy. Long time no see."
"Remember me, Danny. Bet you do. Bet you weren’t expecting me? I’m full of surprises Danny, you should know that.”
He laughed, a low gutteral rasping laugh that thirty years of cancerous cigarette smoke had carved inside his throat.
“I've come a long way to see you Danny, a long, long way. Hell, Danny, is no place for those who don't want a tan. And you know me Danny, never did like those hot foreign holidays. You can’t wear sun-block either and I was always susceptible to sunburn.”
“You did a good job, Danny. I've still got a hell of a headache from those two slugs you put in me. I've come back Danny, come back for you. See, Danny it's your time now. See you soon, Danny, oh and by the way Happy New Year."
Before I could answer the line went dead.
I sat there for a while. No recall number. My mind went crazy. It couldn't be, could it? Perhaps it was someone playing a trick, but how? Spencer Francis had one of those voices you wouldn't forget. Maybe one of his mates had found out but Spencer Fancis didn’t have any.
When you're a contract killer, nothing fazes you. You know you live life on the edge. Nothing in the rule book about a corpse that returns from the dead though. I took a ride out to Parkhead, where I left Spencer. I’m a Hibs fan myself and Spencer loved the Rangers. Thought I’d pay one last little joke. The Hoops were relaying the ground at that time and Spencer Francis now has a free season ticket there for life, so to speak.
Nothing had changed. No digging, no police forensic scene. The bastard is still under that ten ton column of cement. It had to be a joke, didn’t it?
I haven’t slept since that call. I know he’s out there somewhere. It’s driving me nuts. Seconds drag into minutes, minutes into hours. Twenty four, forty eight. It feels like forever. I cross the street and I can feel him watching. I can smell him, that aroma of sweat, Castella cigars and cheap whisky. It's there, all around but I can’t see him. I go to the john and I can hear him laughing. The bastards under my skin and I can't scratch. I turn on the radio and I hear him. I can’t sleep and I look like shit. I stink and I’m too afraid even to have a shower. I know he’ll be watching.
It’s two am. I'm waiting in my apartment. I've got a gun and a crucifix on the table. Think I’m nuts? Well, maybe. I was raised a Catholic, not a good one, but I’m not taking chances. I always carry a gun but I've never carried a cross before. You tell me what I should do, get some holy water? I’ve got some Bushmills and for me, it doesn’t get more holier than that.
Every night for the two weeks I’ve heard footsteps walking up the stairs to my apartment. Every time I’ve opened the door and there’s no one there but each time there’s a footprint on each step. Looks like cement and mud. Landlady’s pissed off with this and blames me. Each night the footprint gets closer. Last night it was outside the door. Tonight he’s gonna be here.
The night drags and I'm still waiting. The phone keeps ringing. I don't answer. I don't need to. I tore the wire out, but it keeps ringing. I'm tired, but I won't sleep, I can’t fuckin’ sleep. Spencer Francis is out there and he's coming for me. Dead man walking.
Four o'clock, the city sleeps and I've got the radio on. Some hacked off DJ is talking to an audience of insomniacs. I light up another cigarette. I blow smoke rings. I turn the radio off, but it keeps talking. He's out there, somewhere. I hold the gun and wait.
A song plays. Sinatra. Mood music. “The Memory of you.” Just what I needed, another joker. I take another shot of whisky. I shoot the radio. Three, four times. It doesn’t die.
I yell at it to shut up.
He’s fuckin’ got to me hasn’t he! I never mix drink with a gun, business and pleasure never mix well, but now I’m confused as to which is which.
The radio crackled and spluttered into life again. I feel the cold and listen as the DJ’s soft tones start up.
"Now, for all you night lovers out there, we have a request. Considering the time of year, this is a strange one. Danny, if you’re out there, this is for you. Your mate Spencer rang in to wish you all the best. Well, like I said, a funny one this, but here’s one for you Danny Rae….Auld Lang Syne.."
“Noooooooo” I screamed. Sweat poured off the top of my head. The footsteps started. The opening strains of music enveloped the room and I smelled the unmistakable aroma of cheap cigars. There was a quiet muted chuckle as the door opened.
“Hello Danny Boy…long time no see.”
“There’s stranger things in life and death Danny.”
“Oh aye.” Spencer Francis lowered his head. There was a hole large enough to put your fist through. “As a dodo. You did a good job. Very quick. I heard the shots you know. Funny that. You know what really pissed me off though Danny. What really pissed me off was that you buried me in that Papist shithole. Every fucking Saturday afternoon I have to watch those bastards win.“
I raised my gun and shot a hole in his face. He smiled and put his hand into the hole to pull the bullet out. He let it drop onto the wooden floor.
“Sorry son. I hope it doesn‘t scratch the floorboards. Don‘t waste your bullets Danny, you can‘t kill a dead man.”
I dropped to my knees and sobbed and I heard the bullets that killed me. I didn’t know that was possible.
The radio died. Spencer Francis walked over to me as I lay there with my throat shot out.
“Happy New Year son. See you round.”