DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.
Mort Makes Contact
The bar was noisy and crowded. Classic rock music was playing on the jukebox over by a pair of pool tables. Mort’s target was bellied up to the bar laughing at some joke one of his buddies had just told. Mort pushed his way to the bar next to his mark and ordered a beer.
“Watch where yer going, asshole!” his target spat at Mort.
“If you weren’t such a fat ass, there’d be room for more people at the bar,” Mort shot back.
His target looked Mort up and down. “You trying to be a wise guy, buddy. Maybe you need to learn some manners.”
Mort snorted out a short, sharp laugh. “As if you could teach me.”
“Maybe I should teach you some manners and some respect,” Mort’s target said, setting his beer bottle on the counter.
“Like you teach your wife to respect you,” Mort said, setting the barb. “Or does she laugh at you when you drop your shorts?”
“You talk tough for a guy with no friends, mister,” his target said. “Can you back up that tough talk?”
“Any time, any place,” Mort said.
“How about right now, out back?”
Mort laid a five on the bar and told the bartender, “Have a cold one ready for me when I come back. This shouldn’t take too long.”
Fight Out Back of the Bar
The target and the target’s buddy led Mort into the back of the bar past the restrooms and out into a dingy paved area behind the building. There was a six-foot privacy fence around the place and nothing in it but some empty beer kegs and a dumpster.
Mort pointed his chin at the target’s buddy. “Your friend there going to call your next of kin after I get done with you. Is he the one who’s going to console your wife when she finds out she’s a widow?”
The target spat on the ground at Mort’s feet. “No! He’s here to make sure I stop once you’ve learned your lesson, so I don’t kill you by mistake.”
“Too bad he’s not around when you’re teaching your wife lessons,” Mort said.
The target bent into a fighter’s crouch. “Oh, I’m going to love teaching you a thing or two.”
He stepped forward and swung at Mort. The force of the punch was so hard that when he failed to connect the target spun himself completely around and fell on his butt. Mort stepped back and waited for him to get up.
“I guess that was my lesson in how not to throw a punch.”
The target’s friend laughed, causing the mark to say to him, “Shut up you idiot.”
“Screw you, man. I’m going back inside. I hope this guy kicks your balls into your empty skull.”
The target waved his friend off and turned his attention back to Mort.
“It’s just you and me now, loud mouth. There’s no one to stop me when you’ve had enough.”
Mort assumed the fighting stance he’d learned so well in Special Forces training when he was mortal. “You’re about to go to hell, literally.”
It didn’t take long. The target never laid a blow on Mort. Mort’s blows were decisive and fatal to the target, but merciful in a way. The fight didn’t last long.
As Mort bent down to check the target’s pulse, Hank appeared.
“There’s no need, Mort. He’s gone. You got the job done. Now it’s time for us to go.”
“Won’t somebody call the cops when they find him?”
“I imagine so,” Hank replied. “His will become one more in a long line of cold cases on file down at the police station. After all, no one in the bar ever saw you before. They don’t know your name, where you’re from, or where you went when you left. They don’t have any way to prove you were ever there. If anything, they’ll blame the target’s friend. The guy was the last person to see the target alive. The last living person, anyway.”
“Do all the assignments we do wind up as cold cases?” Mort asked as things started to go gray around them.
“Not all of them,” Hank replied. “Some get blamed on a deserving suspect. Some get classified as accidents or suicides. The rare few never get found out about; the target just seems to disappear. But we always have to make it look like whatever happened has a logical, earthly explanation. You can understand why.”
Hank Moves On
When the gray cleared, and Mort could focus on their surroundings, they were back in Hank’s cabin.
“Sit down,” Hank offered. “We’ll have a drink before they send us to prayer limbo. It’ll be our farewell toast. The next time you get an assignment, you’ll be on your own.”
“Don’t you think you should go with me a few more times? Every mission won’t be like this one, will it?”
“You’ll do fine,” Hank reassured Mort. “Gabe will make sure you have all the info, and incentive, you need to accomplish the missions. As for me, it’s time for me to move on.”
Hank took a long drink from his bottle and then handed it to Mort. “I’ll see you when you move up, Mort. I hope it don’t take you as long as it did me. But then, I needed a lot of praying to get me out of here. Maybe you won’t need so much.”
Mort took the bottle and raised it to Hank before taking a drink himself. Without another word, Hank walked to the door and out onto the prairie.
Soul Collector continues in Episode 11
- Soul Collectors Episode 11, A Cozy Bar in Boston
Gabriel shows up with a complicated mission for Mort, and the complication is more emotional than procedural.
© 2019 DW Davis