Scalpel (2005 Short Story)

Chapter One

All would be as it was. That was the idea in the minds of some when the drank. It would be like their wife never left them; like they didn’t have to worry about paying the rent tomorrow. Everything would be like it was before and the stronger the drink, the faster it would get like that. And when the drink wasn’t enough, that was when they turned to Scalpel.

Jimmy Scallol, better known as Scalpel, was an all-around criminal. Over his forty-something years (no one could pin him to a date, or even a year) he had done it all: drug trafficking, hit-man for hire, fake IDs, you name it. While many of the ballers in the club used him for his drugs, everyone else knew that he had the connections, the tools and the money to do whatever he wanted. Rumors about him were plentiful and when they got too specific, people started disappearing. Therefore, few had any inkling that when he chose to carry a different identification, he was Harold Potter, foreign elevator operator at The Atrium Towers.

One of the few who did, a tenant at The Atrium Towers, was standing in front of him now. Serena was the only person who knew all 3 of Scalpel’s identities; even his false papers were not from the same bribed officials. The two had worked together for many operations through the years and it was at Serena’s suggestion that he moved into The Atrium Towers after his corruption trial. The two paid each other for their various services so often they had gotten to the point of simply exchanging favors.

This suited Serena perfectly. Here she had a skilled assassin, bodyguard (when needed) and more, all at the cost of a few drugs here and there. Meanwhile, though she could live without him at a very slight cut to profits, his dependence on her products was steadily increasing. She smiled, both inwardly and outwardly as she took another sip of her screwdriver.

The two criminal masterminds grew amused as they saw an acquaintance and fellow Atrium Tower tenant, Carolina Scott. Despite using the elevator at least twice a day, Carolina had not yet noticed that Jimmy Scallol and Harold Potter were one and the same. Knowing the girl’s love for gossip, Jimmy had to admit to himself that this, to any ordinary man, would be quite an accomplishment.

Then again, Jimmy thought, I am no ordinary man.

Carolina, as usual, was flaunting her inherited wealth with an exotic drink in each hand, neither of which Scalpel had overseen, though Serena had tasted them both. Seeing the two of them from the bar, she began to make her way over.

“What’s up?” Carolina asked, her voice betraying how many drinks she had already finished. She steadied herself on the bar, and put one of her drinks down. “Have you seen all the black suits in The Tower?” She asked Serena.

“What? Yeah,” she said dismissively. “A funeral or something.”

“Yeah- Jamie’s been announced officially dead,” Jimmy tensed slightly, an imperceptible and involuntary contraction of the muscles. Just enough for Serena to raise an eyebrow in his direction, knowing everything from that one reaction. He narrowed his eyes, silently warning her to keep it a secret, while Carolina went on about the funeral.

They both turned to attention back to Carolina. “I wonder what really happened to her,” she was saying. That piqued Jimmy’s interest. “What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” Serena replied in her most distracted manner. To Jimmy, it sounded a little insincere, but Carolina was drunk. Carolina looked at the assassin-for-hire, not mindful of the fact that he (to her knowledge) had no clue who Jamie was, or where she might be.

As he turned to her, he thought she might become a problem. It was hard to convince someone drunk to change the topic, even harder to do so without making it obvious. The last thing he needed was someone making a scene, asking people in the club about a murder they knew nothing about. “I don’t even know who she is. She could have been raped, kidnapped or just mugged and shot for all I know.”

He was right. Something in his sentence had triggered something in her, probably a latent fear, and she was going to rant. “Kidnapped? Who would kidnap her? Why would anyone want to kidnap Jamie?”

He sighed. This was just a waste of his time. “Her parents have money, right? Plenty, if she lives in the same building with you guys.” He paused, as if this was an obvious fact that she should have considered. In the opinion of someone who had hustled more than his share, it was. “They might want a ransom.” He specifically spoke in vague, hypothetical terms to keep from drawing attention to any specific possibility. It didn’t work.

“A ransom? For how much?” Her voice was getting louder, as if he had just told Carolina that he had kidnapped her for a ransom.

“How am I supposed to know?” He raised his voice slightly in anger as he not-so-gently placed his Hennessey down on the bar. It was time to end this conversation, one way or another. Jimmy regained his composure, and said, “You look like you need some fresh air.”

“I do?” Carolina asked. The older man gripped her arm, firm yet soft, imperious yet reassuring, and took a step toward the open. It was a touch that had been perfected over 2 decades.

“Yes, you do,” he replied, taking a blunt out from his jacket and lighting it. Carolina began to cough. “Want to go outside?” Jimmy asked. She silently and enthusiastically nodded her agreement. Jimmy gave a nod of his own- a silent, abrupt and barely perceptible nod to Serena, telling her he’d be back on his own terms- and walked with Carolina outside.

To say the least, it was an interesting neighborhood. It was the kind of place people like Jimmy Scalpel did most of their business in, the kind of place dealers like Serena would disgustedly perform business in, the kind of place someone like Carolina would only pass through knowing that within seconds she would be in one of the best party clubs in New York. So while Jimmy instinctively knew the places that his business would not be noticed, his college-aged acquaintance had no realization of the fact that no one would find out what transpired between them. No matter how many people go back into the club.

“This is far enough,” Carolina said, stopping a short distance from the club. Drunk or not, she was used to getting her way and didn’t like the look of this neighborhood. Particularly the unlit alleyway they were heading toward.

“No it’s not,” her companion replied. He tightened his grip and lengthened his stride, forcing her to follow him.

Quickly sobering as she realized the danger she was in, she futilely pulled against the grip of the stronger and more experienced hit-man. “What are you doing? Stop!” She yelled.

With that, Jimmy turned her around and jacked her up against the wall. They were around the corner now, into the dark alley he had been heading to. The smell was of alcohol, urine, and blood and a chill wind permeated every bone in Carolina’s body. What is he doing? She wondered. Is he going to kill me? Or rape me? Or is he just going to kidnap me for a ransom, like he said?

“Stop?” He snarled, whispering now in her ear. “If you had just stopped talking, you wouldn’t be in this situation. Now you leave me no choice.”

“What situation?” she asked but it was too late. Jimmy Scalpel, killer of many and mourner of none, had stepped away and fired his pistol directly against the side of her head. The bullet traveled about a foot before it entered just above her ear, shortly splattering against the wall with a couple pounds of grey matter. The blood flowed in streams down the wall, and Jimmy twirled his pistol on one finger and replaced it within his coat.

A grimace of irritation appeared on the his face. Carolina was fond of gossip, and her friends and acquaintances were numerous. All it would take is for her to have brought Jamie’s disappearance to the front of the mind of any of the Tower’s Tenants and it could bring disaster.

Jimmy headed back into the club, returned to the bar, and picked up his drink. Serena was still there, as he expected. “Do you happen to know who Carolina’s friends are? Who she gossips with? I know she talks with that maid, Isabelle, sometimes.”

Serena thought for a moment. “Danielle, Melissa James, and Summer.” She concluded.

“Summer?”

“The nanny, for that kid Tommy on the 14th floor.” She put her empty glass down. “It’s getting late, I think I’m heading back to the Tower.”

Jimmy nodded his agreement, and downed his drink. “I’m sure someone’s wondering where that girl went off to.”

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