“He’s just some old cat.” The line cook overheard two men in booth number three. “It’s time for him to go.”
The diner was practically empty at that hour. Only a group of drunken college kids on the far side of the restaurant and an early-riser truck driver sort sitting at the counter with his face stuck in a newspaper that was just dropped off.
“Gonna do it tomorrow. That will be that,” the silver-headed man said as he took another bite of egg sandwich.
The cook, his back to the men, kept on working. Spraying water on the steaming grill and scrubbing with a heavy-duty pad.
“Not worth talking about,” the fat man said in a quiet voice. The waitress shuffled over to top off both men’s coffee, spilling a bit on the Formica table. Both men eyed her as if to say go away, we’ll call you if we need you.
“How old is this cat?” the fat man said, wadding up his napkin and tossing it in the middle of his plate.
“Old enough to limp around the house and shit on everybody. Who knows, maybe sixty or seventy,” the silver-headed man said.
“Practically dead already,” the fat man said, smiling and sliding his plate forward. His cheeks jiggling as he snorted out a laugh.
The men rose from the booth, laying down whatever coins they had in their pockets for a tip. They grabbed toothpicks and slid on their dark coats, heading out the diner door into the fading night.
“Wouldn’t figure those two for cat lovers,” the waitress said to the line cook. “Had a cat once… Princess. Put her down too. Got cancer and started to lose her hair. I’m taking five for a smoke. Holler if you need me.”
The morning sun reflects off the pool and shines onto a large bank of windows lining the back of the house. A silver-headed man in a dark suit opens a patio door after picking the lock. His gloved hands ease the door open and he enters the house quietly. After carefully closing the door he reaches into his suit pocket and pulls out a two-foot piece of piano wire and moves toward the stairs.
The top stair creaks as the silver-headed man steps onto the landing. A dark man whistles as he sits up from a leather chair in the hallway. The shotgun’s spray hits the silver-headed man in the chest and neck. He falls backwards against the wall and railing. Air leaves his lungs.
The man holding the shotgun walks to the edge of the stairs then to a bedroom door and looks in on an old man now sitting up in bed.
“It’s all right, sir. Some cat came through the back door. Won’t be much of a problem now.”
The old man lifts his legs slowly out of bed and tries to stand. The dark man hurries over and helps him to his feet.
“Yes, but there will be others.”
He pats the younger man on the cheek and smiles into his brown eyes.
Joshua Tate is a purchasing manager for a Fortune 500 company during the day and an aspiring writer at night after the kids go to bed. He has two wonderful boys and a great wife that inspire him every day.