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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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Monroe reviewed his
conversation with Angela, replayed it in his mind. She had loved
acting in her early attempts at breaking into the profession but
had grown frustrated with it later on in her twenties. She had gone
back to school, finished her degree. And then she had hired a man
to shoot her, if Monroe’s train of thought was accurate. She had
said she did not truly miss acting as much as some might assume she
did, claimed that perhaps she had been ‘tricked’ into thinking that
life as a thespian meant more to her than it actually did. Tricked
by whom?

Monroe ran his new theory
around in his head: Angela quits acting. She tries to find a new
career even if her degree is tied to the theatre since it is,
presumably, what she knows best. Someone then tries to push her
back into the pursuit of an acting career. Angela can’t stand the
thought of another decade of frustration, of scraping the surface
but never really breaking in. She desperately wants a way out or at
least a delay to allow her to get her mind sorted out, something to
make her incapable of acting or auditioning or pursuing new
opportunities for a while. She thinks about injuring herself in
some way, not permanent but enough to put her out of commission.
But she can’t do it herself; she either lacks the courage or is
afraid she may do more damage than she intends. Then, somehow, she
hears of the suicide-hitman for hire. She finds a way to contact
him. She makes a deal with him. Twenty-five thousand dollars will
buy one bullet, one perfectly placed shot to the right shoulder,
just enough to give her a nice long break from the pressure being
applied by whoever it is that still wants her to be an actress. Is
it possible?

The pieces fit, Monroe
decided, although it amazed him to think that Angela could have
been desperate enough to risk being shot. How could she have been
certain the wound would not be slightly miscalculated and rip into
a major artery or shatter a bone or cost her an arm? Still, people
do stupid things when desperation rises to a certain level, Monroe
knew. He decided to assume, until he learned differently, that he
was close to the truth with what he had both discovered and
theorized so far. Tomorrow he would try to confirm his
suspicions.

Chapter 5: Mouse,
Waiting for Cat

 

 


If that’s you, Rick, come
in!”

Monroe had knocked and
Angela answered, pleasantly and quickly. Monroe pressed down on the
handle, pushed the door open, and entered her room. Angela was
staring out the window again, which Monroe had observed that she
seemed to do at every opportunity. It made sense to him and seemed
like the sort of thing a perpetual dreamer might do. She was much
less dressed than she had been the last time he’d seen her. No robe
this time, just a tank top and shorts. Her hair was down, the
injured arm was still in the sling, and she was barefoot. She
turned to face him.


Good morning!”


Angela. How do you feel
today?”


Not bad, and I can even
move my fingers a little bit now.”

Monroe looked down at the
hand that hung in the sling. The fingertips swayed back and forth
slightly. “Can you feel it, too?”


Somewhat,” Angela answered.
“It’s coming back, slowly but steadily I think.”


That’s very good,” Monroe
said, came closer to her, stopped and reached down to put his hand
against hers, the one in the sling. “If you keep improving on your
own, you’ll put me out of a job.”


You can always be my mental
therapist if I don’t need a physical one anymore. You seemed quite
good in that department yesterday.”


Well I’m happy to help
however I can,” Monroe said, “and I enjoyed our talk.”


So what’s on for today?”
Angela asked.


Can I ask you a question?
Do you trust me enough to answer it?”


Ask and you’ll find
out.”

She smiled as she invited
the question and Monroe realized she was flirting with him. He
stared at her for a moment; let his eyes go cold, back to business.
She saw the change in his expression and took a step back, pulling
away from his touch.


Who shot you,
Angela?”


Oh shit! You’re a cop!
Tomasi sent you, didn’t he? The two of you are double-teaming
me!”


No,” Monroe said. “I’m not
a cop, Angela, I promise.”


Then what are
you?”


Sit down,” Monroe said,
pointing to the bed. The ice in his eyes made plain that it was not
a suggestion, but an order.

Angela did as he said,
sitting down on the edge of the bed then sliding back, pulling her
legs up in front of her so her chin rested on her knees. Her
shoulders shook with upset and she used her good hand to balance
herself as she sat there trying not to cry.

Monroe sat down next to her,
not too close, but near enough that he could grab her if she tried
to get up or run or scream. “I’m with the government…and I have
some ideas about why you were shot.”


What ideas?”


Tell me this Angela: who’s
been pushing you so hard toward doing something you didn’t want to
do that you felt you had to resort to something so stupid as having
yourself shot to make them back off?”


You figured it
out?”


I think so.”


How much trouble am I
in?”


Not as much as you think
you might be,” Monroe assured her, “if you come clean with me. Who
was it that insisted on your acting career? Was it your
parents?”

Angela let out a long sigh,
a sound of surrender. “It was my mother mostly. She’d tried it when
she was young and failed and now she’s trying, I suppose, to live
life through me, but it’s her dream now, not mine any longer. I
couldn’t stand it anymore.”


And so,” Monroe said, “you
went to the trouble and the expense to get yourself shot? Isn’t
that a bit extreme?”


You might think so from
where you’re looking in,” Angela said, still staring down, looking
ashamed, embarrassed, leaning further forward and bringing her
uninjured hand in front of her now to fiddle with her little toe,
the physical activity subconsciously intended to partially distract
her from her fear and shame, “but I had to have a
break!”


Angela,” Monroe said with
his voice calm and steady but dead serious, “listen to me now. I’m
not here to arrest you or anything like that. I’m not going to tell
the police anything. All I want is for you to help me find the man
who shot you.”


Why do you care? What does
what happened to me have to do with the government?”


Nothing,” Monroe told her.
“This man, assuming he is who we think he is, has been going around
shooting people on request for years. Most of them die because they
apparently want to. If regular citizens are getting themselves shot
for personal reasons, then I truly don’t care what they do or what
their reasons are. It simply isn’t my business. But this man
recently stuck his nose far too deeply up the ass-end of
international politics. One of his contracts had far-reaching
consequences that cost hundreds of people their lives. In other
words, he’s gone from what might be considered assisted-suicide to
committing murder by association. That, I cannot allow. You may
have wanted to be shot, although I still think you could have found
a better, less dramatic way to have a vacation from your mother’s
interference in your life, but think of all the people in the world
who don’t want bullets tearing into their bodies, who don’t want to
die, who get caught up in wars that were not their idea! Help me
put a stop to that, Angela.”


And you promise,” Angela
asked, turning her head to look at Monroe with the beginnings of
tears in her eyes, “that I won’t get in trouble?”


Not by my doing, you
won’t,” Monroe said.

Angela fell silent for
several minutes, as if weighing, in her mind, whether or not to
speak further. She finally decided in favor of Monroe and began
again.


What do you want to
know?”


First of all,” Monroe
asked, “did you ever meet in person or see the man who shot
you?”


No.”


Damn,” Monroe said. “That
would have made things a lot easier. All right then, let’s start at
the beginning of the whole strange affair.”


Can we leave here for a
while?” Angela asked. “I don’t want to talk about it here. Can we
go for a drive?”


Will they let you leave the
grounds?”


Who’s going to stop us? I’m
paying them a fortune to stay here and you’re a secret agent or
something. Don’t you have a gun?”


Of course I do, but I can’t
just go around shooting whomever I please.”


Whatever, Rick. This time
you can help me get dressed so we can get out of here
sooner.”

Monroe could still see
flirtation in her eyes and her smile, even after he had scared her
with the truth. “My pleasure,” he said.

 

***

 

It was chillier than the
previous day and Monroe had the Lexus’s heat turned on as the
window was slightly open on the passenger side so Angela could puff
on a Newport. They had left the grounds of the rehab center and
were cruising along at a leisurely pace.


I couldn’t injure myself,”
Angela said. “I’m too much of a coward. So I went looking for a way
to have someone else hurt me. I knew there had to be a way and
money was no obstacle. I hired a private investigator and he very
quickly found exactly what I was looking for. I paid a few thousand
dollars for a phone number, and that’s how I contacted the man who
shot me.”


It was that easy?” Monroe
was amazed.


Getting the number was
easy,” Angela answered, “but getting what I wanted once I called
was much harder.”


In what way do you mean?”
Monroe asked.


Getting from Point A to
Point B once contact was made was quite labyrinthine.”


Describe the process to
me,” Monroe said, “exactly as you remember it.”


I called the number I had
been given,” Angela began, “and he answered. He didn’t tell me his
name, but knew immediately why I was calling. His voice was male
but he must have been using something to disguise it, because it
sounded flat, cold, like I was talking to a robot. He asked me if I
wanted to die and I told him that, no, I wanted to live but I
needed to be hurt, and I told him how I wanted to be hurt. He asked
if I understood how difficult it might be to injure me that way
without doing anything worse, but I begged, told him to name his
price, told him how desperate I was. And so he told me what the
cost would be and what I would have to do to get him to do the
job.”


And what was that?” Monroe
urged her on.


The next few days,” Angela
said, “were like some mystery movie, like I was a mouse and I had
to run all over the city with the knowledge that the cat was
watching me from some hidden vantage point. For two days, he would
send me instructions and I would go to certain places and wait for
further word. I think he was following me to make sure I didn’t
have police watching. They were simple, mundane places like certain
shops or parks or restaurants, and I’m afraid I no longer remember
the order in which I was made to go to those places. After all that
running about, he asked me what my schedule would be like in the
next week. I told him what I could, and I asked him when he would
do the job. He said he couldn’t tell me exactly when it would
happen, but that as soon as he had the payment, the deal would be
sealed with no opportunity for me to back out. I agreed and he told
me where to drop the money, and I did so. After that, I waited,
trying to go about my business as normally as possible.”


That must have been
terrible,” Monroe said. “The waiting: walking around knowing you
were going to be shot, but not knowing when or where.”


It was strange,” Angela
said, “but there was a sort of nervous anticipation, and not all
bad. I felt almost as if I was about to meet someone who had
promised me love although I’d only spoken with him from
afar.”


You, my dear,” Monroe said,
“are a very troubled young lady. So that was it? You dropped the
money somewhere and then, when you left that café, the bullet
struck!”


Yes. That was the end of
it. I remember a noise, pain, falling, and then the hospital and
that damn annoying Detective Tomasi.”


What about your phone?”
Monroe asked. “That would have traces of your communications with
this man: saved numbers, text messages and such, even if you
deleted them. Do you have that phone with you?”


No,” Angela said.
“Somewhere between being shot and waking up in the hospital, the
phone was lost. The one I have now is a replacement.”


What about the number you
called to make contact with this killer in the first place?” Monroe
asked. “Did you have it written down anywhere besides being stored
in your phone?”

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
13.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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