THE HIT • by L.E. Elder

They were wearing off-the-rack suits, the men they sent to kill me this time. I made them immediately. They were scanning the patrons without a glance at Mystique working the pole until they spotted me at a side table nursing my Manhattan.

Still, I was taken aback. Such men. In such suits. Had my status declined so far?

I let them settle in. They picked a booth, the amateurs. I’d have to account for the time it would take them to scoot out.

I leisurely finished my drink. Mystique’s G-string had long been discarded, so I tucked the ten between her titties and kissed the air as I headed for the back exit. I didn’t need to check the mirrors behind the stage to know they were scrambling to follow.

Past the men’s room and the utility closet was a door to the alley. The handle warned an alarm would sound, but that was bullshit.

I stepped into the cool night, moved left of the door and waited. There was almost time to light up, but I didn’t want to get careless. Cheap-suited assassins came prematurely. I glanced at the half moon emerging from the clouds and took a deep, bitter breath. Maybe it was time to pack it in. Maybe I was so far off my game that I was a joke, fit for carnival clowns to kill.

I pulled the 9mm from my belt. Gripping its well-worn butt relaxed me. I gave the silencer a final twist and pointed it at the exit.

My timing was perfect as usual. They blundered through in tandem and I gave each a round in the temple before they ever saw me. They fell heavily on the asphalt. I kicked their legs aside and closed the door.

Those suits. Jesus. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Where could they have gotten them? K-mart?

I felt the twinge before I heard the puff. I’d always thought it would be the other way around.

Then I was on the ground, beside my ill-suited assassins. My eyes focused on the moon, now quartered by the clouds. It looked strangely close. Like I could reach up and touch it.

I tried, but I couldn’t move my body.

I could still turn my head. I let it fall in the direction of the footsteps. A pair of shoes, two-toned John Lobb Oxfords, stepped towards me. Silk socks peeked, for a moment, beneath exquisitely-tailored pants, Brioni, if I had to guess from my vantage.

I didn’t feel the second bullet at all.

L.E. Elder usually writes short stories for first graders. Elder’s stories for grown-ups have appeared in Ideomancer and Literary LEO.

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