Thursday, October 30, 2008

Season One, Episode Six: The Killer

Markus drove with the windows down. The airco wasn't working as it should be and it was a hot night.
Charlo' looked at his arms.
‘Who's been scratching you?’
‘I had a bad encounter at a store on my way here.’
‘A drunk?’
Markus hesitated ten seconds.
‘You could say so. It was certainly a deranged person.’
He told her everything except the bit how he had killed him. He said the Moses freak had saved him by pointing the gun at the assailant.
‘The guy we're going to see is a lot more dangerous,’ Markus said without looking at her.
‘So? You don't want me to share in the fun?’
‘We only just met, and I don't have the habit of putting beautiful strangers in jeopardy.’
‘So, are you going to lock me up in the trunk while you get all the action?’
Markus grinned.
‘There is something you can do for me.’

He turned right at the next intersection, following a road which took them out of downtown and into a tacky industrial area.
‘You're not going to kill him, are you?’ she asked.
‘I just need something to bolster my confidence.’
‘So you think he might try and kill you.’
‘You never know. This thing is about money and people will do anything for money,’ he lied.
He switched off the headlights before they arrived at the shooting range, and parked the car opposite the building, away from the surveillance cameras. Charlo' went in with the keys and came back with a gun hidden under her blouse.
‘Is this what you were thinking of?’
‘Looks good enough to me. Let's ride.’
He smiled at her. ‘A woman's got to be prepared for everything.’
She slapped him on the cheek.
‘You're absolutely right. You're learning fast.’

Markus and Charlo' drove past a bunch of trees decorated with blue lights as if it were Christmas. A brandnew tall apartment building greeted them in a street full of lower buildings and Chinese restaurants.
He parked the Honda in a rare free space and cut off the engine.
‘You think he's in there? Looks like a posh place for a security guard.’
‘I don't know him that well, but he must have lots of projects on the side,’ Charlo' said.
‘You stay in the car, I'll go to get to know him better,’ Markus said.
She touched his sleeve. And leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.
‘Come back alive from this war.’
He took the bag from the trunk and went for the building's lobby.

Markus pushed five buttons, careful not to hit the one for the fifth-floor apartment where Charlo' said the guard actually lived.
He went up the stairs carefully, keeping the gun close to his chest so he could make a half-hearted attempt at hiding it should an innocent person show up in the hallway.
He should visit that shooting range more often so he would get more practice and get to know Charlo' better.

He climbed up the staircase, better not to wake up people with the cling-clang of the elevator. He found the room, opened it up with gear from his bag, but there was nobody inside.
Five minutes later, the guard came home from a round of drinking and cards at one of the neighbors. He found a laptop on his dinner table.
The laptop Bentley received from the man in the car, playing the final scenes from his sister's life.
Markus stepped out of the bathroom with the gun pointing at the guard's chest.
‘Do you recognize your work on there?’
‘I didn't do nothing wrong.’
‘Keep your voice down.’
The man put his hands in the air like an experienced victim and went two steps back in the direction of the kitchen.
‘Don't you move and I won't say it twice,’ Bentley said while he put out a chair for the guard to sit on, in front of the computer.
Markus didn't like what he was going to do, but he had no choice. He watched the screen and saw his sister's fear and innocence. It helped.

Charlo' was still waiting in the car.
‘How did he take it?’
‘Not well.’
‘Did you shoot him?’
‘If I had, the whole block would've been standing here by now. I used a more subtle approach.’
She inspected him for signs of blood. There weren't any.
‘I need some marzipan,’ he said, as if she was his supplier.
‘Wow, you got me there, I forgot to pack any. What else do you want, antelope steak?’
They laughed.

My place, your place. They ended up at a motel away from the places they had frequented earlier that night.
Markus told her the guard had not taken things too well, so he might be looking for him. He didn't want to endanger Charlo', he said.
‘Shouldn't I be taking the gun back?’ she asked.
‘First thing tomorrow. If they trust you with the keys, they can trust you with the guns.’
When Markus was sleeping, she walked into the bathroom for a shower. As the water ran, she had a look through his toiletries but that's not where a man like Markus kept his secrets. She found the rolls of marzipan, sniffed at it but it wasn't a familiar kind of drug.
Back in the room, Markus had put the statuette of the three elders next to his cell phone and the alarm clock. He had shoved the bag under the bed.
Charlo' returned to the bathroom, but instead of stepping into the shower, she kept the water running and flipped open her cell phone.
‘He thinks his sister is dead,’ Charlo' said. ‘And yes, he found the clues.’

NEXT: Markus Bentley looks beyond the murder of his sister for his next target in Episode Seven of Concentric before November 15.

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