A NOBLE DEATH
Eddie Doyle sat by the window at the Wailana Coffee Shop on Ala Moana Boulevard in Honolulu eating cherry pie and chocolate ice cream. As he watched the sunburned tourists scurrying across the street toward the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village he mentally ticked off the names of the twenty-seven people he had killed since his career began three decades ago. At one time Eddie had been the best in the business, hands down. Even at sixty-seven he was still a force with which to be reckoned. Oh, he was slowing down a little and, truth was, he could be more conversant with the latest technology and methods, but his reputation still preceded him; he had never turned down a contract. Nor had he ever botched a job. Give it to Eddie, they said, and it was a “done-deal.”
Nevertheless, the crazy-ass kids in charge of things these days didn't trust him. He had been around too long and, besides, he knew where all the bodies were buried… literally. There were few people left who appreciated a real craftsman, what they used to call a “mechanic.” Still, everybody knew that Eddie was “Mr. Automatic,” no questions asked. No one in the business today had his work ethic or his integrity. He was still a good soldier.
Eddie finished his pie and used a spoon to scoop up the last dollop of ice cream. He signaled the waitress for another cup of coffee. “This is it,” he said to himself, “my last hit. I'm finished after this one.” He fingered a folded piece of paper in his right hand. His anonymous contact had passed it to him on the street less than an hour ago. He hadn't looked at it yet. “This might not be such a bad place to retire,” Eddie mused as he watched he palm trees outside sway gently in the light trade winds, “the climate is great and the people are friendly. The cost of living is outrageous but, hell, I can afford it. One more job and then it’s guava juice every morning on the lanai and long walks on the beach at sunset.”
“Can I get you anything else, Sugar,” Eddie’s waitress asked as she poured his coffee.
“No, darlin’. Just the check, thanks.”
Dropping the check on Eddie’s table the waitress turned and walked back to the long counter that ran parallel to the far wall. Eddie was sure that her extra little shimmy was intended especially for him.
Getting ready to leave, Eddie took out his wallet and put some money down on the table. At the same time, he unfolded the small square of paper that he had been holding in his hand. He opened it and, gazing down at the name printed neatly in red on its ivory surface, his face registered only mild surprise. “Son-of-a-bitch,” he said aloud smiling wryly, “this one needs to be really good; something they'll all remember.”
After the ruggedly handsome man in the booth near the window left the restaurant, his waitress went over to collect the check and, hopefully, her tip. Gathering the money she noticed a piece of crumpled paper next to the man’s coffee cup. Her curiosity got the better of her. Using her palm to smooth out the creases she was able to read what was written there. The name “Eddie Doyle” meant nothing to her. She finished clearing the table and headed out for a cigarette.
BIO: James C. Clar is a teacher and writer who lives in upstate NY. His book reviews, articles and author interviews appear regularly in the pages of MYSTERY NEWS. His work, including short fiction, has also appeared in the CRIME & SUSPENSE EZINE, MYSTERYAUTHORS.COM, WORD CATALYST, HACKWRITERS, A LONG STORY, SHORT, CRIMESCENE:SCOTLAND, MYSTERY REVIEW and CRIME TIME MAGAZINE (UK).