Prompt Day #351: Spoil a surprise party with murder.
The Lead Anniversary
“Twenty-five years is a long time to spend with someone you can’t stand.” It was the last thing Maryanne White said to him before the money was exchanged. It struck such a cord that he would never forget it. That and the fact that not only had she hired him to kill her husband on their anniversary but planned the most outrageous way to go about it he’d ever heard.
“It can’t be one of those muggings or robberies. No one would believe it. I mean, look at him! He’s such a bum, who’d even assume he had money to steal?” Taladay remembered the sneer on her face as she said this. Maryanne White was dressed and accessorized immaculately. He knew she was the kind of woman that expected better from her friends and family.
“Do you have a silencer?” She’d set the meeting up at a local coffee shop, right out in the open as if they were there for a business meeting. He’d almost spit his latte all over the table when she asked that.
“Jesus lady!” he admonished “You want to get us both thrown in jail?” She ignored him. She held a pen and a leather bound notebook lay open in front of her. The left hand page was filled with numbered and neatly printed questions of the caliber she’d just asked, the right hand side had a hand drawn map (probably to scale Taladay thought), dates, times, contact numbers, and an address.
“Do you have a silencer?” she asked again, tapping the pen on number two. Number one had been ‘how good is your aim?’.”
“Of course I do” he hissed.
“Excellent. And do you have,” she paused and assessed him, “appropriate attire that would allow you to blend in at a semiformal dinner party?”
“Lady, I ain’t takin’ you out on a date here.” He said leaning towards her to keep the conversation private. She repeated herself and he nodded. The questions went on. Could he be discrete in a crowd, could he fit through a standard window, etc? He answered in the affirmative again and again. She held an envelope out to him.
“This is an invitation to our surprise 25th Anniversary party that my friends are throwing for us.” He took it and opened it.
“Not much of a surprise if they sent you an invite.” He said
“They did not send me an invite. They sent my brother one. But my brother died a year ago. They do not know this of course and the address I gave them went to a PO Box that I had obtained.” She tore the piece of paper out of the notebook that contained all the important information. “Margery Moss thought she was so clever telling me she needed the address because she wanted to send him a flyer about her husband’s run for the Senate. Meanwhile, they hand me a card with a certificate for dinner at The Riverdance and tell me reservations had already been made for 5:00! Five O’clock? Please. I knew right then they were planning a surprise reception at our home immediately following. It is just like them to be that stupid.”
Taladay tried to pay attention, he really did. Usually, when someone hired him to do a job, they wanted nothing more than to hand over the money and get the hell out of the picture. They let him ask all the questions and manage the murder how he saw fit. But not Maryanne White. She went on with her explanations until his latte was cold and he held up a hand.
“Lady, just tell me where to be and when.” He made an exaggerated look at his watch hoping she’d get the point.
“Well, I hope you’re better at killing than you are listening.” She said. “I already told you, you will be at the house in hiding well before the party and stay in hiding. When we return, people will turn out the lights and hide in order to jump out and surprise us. We will walk in; Charles will be on my right, he is always on my right. You have to shoot him as everyone yells surprise and in the chaos, you must disappear.” She sat back, quiet for the first time since they’d met, a smug look of satisfaction on her face.
He had to admit, it was a good idea but also his most challenging.
“This is going cost you…”
“Of course” she interrupted. “I’d assumed as much.” She held out the torn page and he took it. She reached out and grabbed his hand in both of hers. The gesture surprised him; it was so genuinely human. “Twenty-five years is a long time to spend with someone you can’t stand.” She said. He noted the redness in her eyes. Suddenly, he felt bad for this woman who had wasted her entire life with a man who wasn’t what she wanted even if Taladay imagined she wanted far too much for most men.
“Just make sure he is on your right, I won’t have time to think, you understand?” she nodded. He saw the tears welling in her eyes and suspected that she couldn’t speak for fear of falling apart. She closed the notebook, laid a thick envelope on top of it, and walked out of the coffee shop.
Taladay had been hiding between the couch and the wall. His legs were falling asleep and his shoulder was aching. He had to hold his breath a number of times in order to hear the conversations around him. He had let himself in right after the Whites left for dinner and ensured his exit route and found the best hiding place. He had night vision goggles in order to aim before the door opened. He needed a clear line between him and the door too. That would require him to get closer to the door as soon as the lights went out. He’d planned everything out, and tried a dry run before the friends arrived to start decorating.
The lights were out and Taladay was up and over the couch. He allowed himself to get lost in the chaos of party-goers hiding themselves. The gun was out; safety off. He aimed to the left just short of the knob. The door opened. The lights came on. The crowd jumped and yelled surprise. Taladay shot at the same time Charles White grabbed his wife, spun her 180 degrees and dipped her for a kiss.
The bullet passed through Maryanne’s head so that by the time Charles had his lips on her, he was kissing a corpse.
“Fuck.” Taladay thought. He hesitated no more than a millisecond. Long enough to recognize his mistake and decide that he’d come here to do a job and would not leave until it was done. He put Charles out of his misery too. After all, twenty-five years was a long time to spend with someone who can’t stand you.