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Authors: Mark M. DeRobertis

Tags: #murder, #japan, #drugs, #martial arts, #immortality

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BOOK: Killer of Killers
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Trent recognized his opportunity. He entered
the restroom and spotted Benjamin
‘Steely’
Stiles at the
furthest urinal. Locking the door behind him, he waited with a
quickened pulse, surging adrenaline, and a sobered resolve.

The ex-football star turned around and locked
his eyes into Trent’s. Having never met, Trent knew he wouldn’t be
recognized, nor was he. Stiles picked up his leather bag and
started toward the door. When Trent made no effort to step aside,
Stiles stopped and faced him squarely. He stood much taller and
outweighed Trent by more than a hundred pounds, but his expression
was not of a man assured. He reached for his coat, and Trent
reacted instantly. A clamping grip of Stiles’ shoulder, followed by
a sudden twist, left his pinstriped arm disjointed before it
touched his lapel. Seeing how Stiles goggled his now useless arm,
Trent was convinced no one on the gridiron ever moved like that.
This was going to be easy.

Stiles dropped his bag and threw a desperate
punch. Trent parried the blow and countered with finger strikes to
the neck. The rapid jabs split the triple scalene muscles, first
left, then right, as he swerved around the mammoth torso.

At that moment, it was over. Though Stiles
remained upright, he was dead on his feet. From behind, Trent eyed
the striped suit impressed it still stood.
‘Steely’
Stiles
was
‘steely’
indeed, but in the next moment, he crumpled to
a lumpy heap beside his black bag in the pathway to the exit.

Trent’s heart pounded with exhilaration.
Vacating with expediency was in order, yet he lingered to view the
multi-jeweled corpse. There were fancy rings, bracelets, and
several necklaces, one of which featured a gold medallion.

His first kill—
and it was
flawless
.

At once, Trent’s speeding heart slowed, and
the excitement passed with his prey. He released the bolt, but the
well-dressed carcass blocked the door. Glancing down, Trent eyed
the medallion. It displayed a prominent relief of the figure eight.
Overcoming an urge to snatch it, he focused on the exit, forced a
breach, and wriggled through.

* * * *

Inside a quick-stop tavern amid the airport
gift shops, a mustachioed man with a scar on his face propped
himself up on a swivel stool. His name was Amman Bey, and he lined
his four empty shot glasses over the countertop. While chugging a
fifth, he heard the multiple clicks of a woman’s high heels. He
spun around, surprised. It wasn’t who he expected, but she carried
the black leather bag.

Before Amman could react, the woman dropped
the bag and handed him an envelope. Without a word, she turned and
walked away. Following a quick surveillance of his surroundings,
Amman drew a stiletto from his coat and sprang its shiny blade. He
slit the envelope and removed its contents—a long chain with a gold
medallion. Standing a full head taller than the other customers, he
picked up the bag and departed from the tavern. There were too many
people he needed to see. And he was already behind schedule.

 

Chapter Two

The Blond Detective

 

Relaxed in his airline seat
next to the aisle, Trent was content for a mission fulfilled. A
multiple murderer who had escaped justice did not escape him. He
supposed the body had been discovered by now, but no one could know
the cause of death until an autopsy hit the books. Even then he
wasn’t sure the coroner’s report would be accurate. Only a diligent
examination might disclose the crushed internal arteries that
blocked oxygen from the brain.

Trent gave it no more thought because
something else absorbed his mind. The passenger sitting next to him
was a strikingly beautiful young lady apparently traveling alone.
He had no inclination to flirt, yet he sensed an irresistible
attraction the moment he sat down. Living his entire adult life as
a bachelor in Japan afforded no shortage of pretty Asian paramours,
but something seemed different about this woman, and it wasn’t at
all unpleasant. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

For starters, she wasn’t Asian. She was fair
complexioned and had long blond hair, straight and full. Blue
diamond eyes of a goddess glistened with vibrancy, even as the
sparing use of make-up bared innate humility. Trent made a point
not
to look, because her face and figure made it difficult
to
stop
looking. Regardless, he wasn’t in the mood for idle
banter. He wanted to be left alone and hoped she felt the same, but
with an ethereal gaze, she turned toward Trent and said, “Hi, how
are you tonight?” The melodic and soothing voice, combined with the
alluring charm of her eyes, seemed almost magical.

“Hi,” Trent responded with a polite
smile.

“Are you a football player?” she inquired
with a smile of her own.

“No. Why do you ask?”

“Because you look like one. You have the
shoulders of a hard hitter.”

“Is that so?” It was interesting, Trent
thought, her choice of words, but still he looked away, hoping to
convey disinterest.

“My brother used to play football,” she
continued, clearly undaunted. “He was really good, too.”

Trent couldn’t just ignore her. Twenty years
of Japanese etiquette saw to that. “Did he play pro ball?” he
forced himself to ask.

“Yes, for Baltimore. Josh Jones.”

“Left defensive end when they won the
championship. He retired a couple years ago, right?”

“Right. Are you a fan?”

“Not really.” Trent didn’t want to talk about
himself. He had to think of a question to make the conversation
about her. “So tell me, um... Are you a professional
cheerleader?”

Only scrunched eyes of disbelief accompanied
the young lady’s silence. Trent found himself on damage control. “I
mean you could pass for one.” That didn’t seem to help.

“I’m a cop,” she said.

Trent responded with a double take. “A
cop?”

“Yeah, what’s so hard to believe about
that?”

“I didn’t say it was hard to believe. It’s
just that...” Trent looked away because he didn’t want to talk
anymore, especially to a cop right after killing someone. It didn’t
matter if Stiles had it coming. The law would call it murder, and
the irony, to Trent, seemed brazenly obvious.

“It’s just that what?”

It was clear to Trent she wouldn’t let it go,
so he figured to say the words she expected to hear. “It’s just
that I never saw a cop as pretty as you. But I suppose you’ve heard
that line a thousand times already.”

“Not a thousand times, but I have heard it
before,” she affirmed, seemingly no less delighted for hearing it
one more time. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Trent.”

“Well, hello, Trent. I’m Samantha.” She
reached out a hand.

“Samantha Jones?” Trent shook her
fingers.

“Yes, Samantha Jones. And you are
Trent...”

“Trent Smith.”

“That’s interesting,” she chuckled.

“Yes, isn’t it?” Trent had enough of the
small talk. More than ever, he didn’t want it to continue, but he
didn’t want it to be evident. He may be a killer, but he wasn’t
rude.

“So, Mr. Smith, what do you do?”

“What do I do?”

“You know. Are you a doctor or a lawyer? An
engineer?”

“What do I look like?”

“I told you. You look like a football player,
remember?”

“You did. No, I’m a teacher,” he said,
steadfast to provide no details. Though she was charming and
drop-dead gorgeous, Trent was not prepared for company and wished
the talking would cease.

It was a wish granted when the captain’s
voice sounded electronically, advising the passengers that take-off
was imminent. The flight attendants gave their performance of
emergency procedures, and Trent was relieved for the finished
conversation.

Shortly after lift-off, however, Samantha
ended the respite. She asked, “Are you leaving or returning?”

“Returning.”

“I’m returning, too, but I can’t say I look
forward to it.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m working on an assignment that just hit a
major snag. The person I was supposed to meet... Well, let’s just
say he didn’t make it.”

“So who were you supposed to meet?”

With eyelids descended, she answered,
“Benjamin Stiles.”

Again, Trent responded with a double
take.

Samantha added, “Yes,
that
Benjamin
Stiles.”

“I thought the whole deal regarding Stiles
was finished.”

“His case is closed, it’s true, but he was
cooperating with us on an unrelated investigation.”

“I didn’t think he was cooperating with
anyone. The bum was living the high life since his acquittal,
giving his middle finger to just about everyone.”

“Yes, that’s Benjamin, all right, but it
doesn’t matter anymore. Like I said, he didn’t make it.”

Trent frowned. Was Stiles really cooperating
with the police? Was this policewoman aware, somehow, that Stiles
was dead? Her eyes flittered as she spoke. Something wasn’t right.
“Where was he supposed to meet you?”

“At Luigi’s. It’s the Italian restaurant at
the airport. We were supposed to meet there and then fly to San
Francisco.”

“But everyone knows that Stiles is a New
Yorker. Was he already in L.A., or was he flying in from back
East?”

“He was supposed to arrive from New York via
Minneapolis.”

Trent had learned of Stiles’ arrival at LAX
after a stopover in Minnesota, but the flight to San Francisco that
same evening was a well-kept secret. He had one more question. “Why
didn’t he just fly straight to SFO?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss it any
further,” Samantha replied. “All I can say right now is that it
is
finished as far as Benjamin Stiles is concerned.”

The words were smug, and to Trent it was
clear. She knew the man was dead, and he started to wonder if he
was a suspect. He was convinced not everything she told him was
true, but how much wasn’t, he couldn’t be sure. “So what’s your
department?” he asked. “Homicide?”

“Yes, I’m Samantha Jones, Police Detective,
and a two year veteran in the Homicide Division. I’ve been a cop
for nine years, though.”

“Are you a San Francisco cop?”

“Yep.”

“Then why are you flying to Oakland?”

“Because that’s where I live.”

Trent nodded, but he still had the feeling
something wasn’t right. Even so, he ditched his curiosity to avoid
steering the chat back to the slain athlete.

* * * *

The flight was short, and that was fine by
Trent. After landing, he was rising from his seat when Samantha
said, “I would like to see you again.”

Trent turned around and responded, “I would
like to see you again, too.” He wasn’t really sure if he meant
that, he said it without even thinking. Still, Samantha looked
pleased to hear it as she stood up and handed him a business card.
She was taller than the average woman, maybe five feet, seven, he
guessed, not including the heels.

Trent walked with Samantha across the loading
bridge, and once they reached the concourse, a towering gentleman
stood out in the crowd. Trent recognized the ex-football star and
looked on as Samantha hugged him. Then she pulled back and said,
“Josh, this is Trent Smith. I just met him on the flight from
L.A.”

“Pleased to meet you,” the giant man
said.

Trent noted he was even bigger than he
appeared on television, standing well above everyone around him.
Trent placed him a foot taller than his sister and put his weight
near three hundred pounds—and every ounce of it rock solid muscle.
His blond hair matched Samantha’s, and his clean-cut countenance
showed a clear family resemblance.

Trent shook his hand and felt the natural
power of a pro lineman, but his own iron grip seemed to surprise
the former sportsman. “That’s quite a hand shake,” Josh remarked.
“What are you made of, steel?”

With narrowed eyes, Trent answered, “Isn’t
that what they said about Benjamin ‘
Steely
’ Stiles?”

Josh hedged, and then responded, “Yeah, we
called him ‘
Steely
’... But to those of us who knew him, he
was just a big cupcake.” He tossed a baffled glance to
Samantha.

Samantha added, “Josh finished his career in
New York as a free agent.”

The tension was palpable, and Trent didn’t
know what to say at that point, so he simply nodded and spoke no
more.

It was Samantha who broke the chill. “Well,
call me.”

As if that was his cue, Josh took Samantha by
the arm and turned to leave with her in tow. He grumbled, “Nice to
meet you, but we have to go now.”

Again, Trent nodded and watched them vanish
in the crowd. It was time for him to do the same.

* * * *

Josh Jones sat with his sister in a black
limousine as it shot across an Oakland freeway. He saw in the
mirror the driver’s eyes, and was content that the soundproof glass
kept his discussion private. He posed the question, “So who was
that guy, anyway?”

“I’m not sure, really,” Samantha said. “The
most I could get out of him was that he’s some kind of a teacher,
but I could never find out what he teaches, or where.”

“A teacher? Not a chance. No teacher walks
into a restroom and kills Benjamin Stiles, and then walks out like
he just took a piss. He must work for someone, and we’ve got to
find out who.”

“Well, I have this.” From the purse on her
lap, Samantha produced a clear plastic cup.

Josh crumpled his brow. “What’s that? Are ya
gonna give it to him for a sample the next time he goes into a
restroom?”

“It’s the cup he drank from on the airplane,
dummy. I can get forensics to trace his fingerprints or even his
DNA, so we can find out who he really is.”

“At least that’s something,” Josh
conceded.

BOOK: Killer of Killers
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