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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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No, he decided, let it
continue. Wait. Be patient. Draw the bastard out and see where the
dice come to rest.




On the eighth day, the call
came just before noon. Monroe had actually been drinking some of
the scotch he had stocked up on, just a bit though, as most of it
had discreetly gone down the drain.

Monroe picked up the phone.

So sorry to learn of what
happened to your wife,” Simon Scythe’s mechanized voice said. “She
was lovely. I enjoyed looking at her image when I visited your home
last night.”

Do we have a deal then?”
Monroe asked, pushing impatience to the forefront of his

We do indeed,” Scythe said.
“You have fallen far from your pedestal in Paris, haven’t you,

As low as it goes,” Monroe
said. “Now what do I have to do to get you to help me? Spit it out
man! I can’t take this dancing around the subject any

I need the money, Richard.
I’ve had a good long look at your financial state, too, and I think
a nice round sum of three hundred thousand will settle this

How do I get it to

I only accept cash, so
you’d better call your banker,” Scythe said.

Give me two days to get
that in order,” Monroe said. “Once I’ve got it, what

In forty-eight hours,”
Scythe told him, “I’ll call you again and arrange for you to drop
the money exactly where I tell you to.”

And then you’ll shoot

No,” Scythe said. “And then
you’ll be on my schedule, but I never reveal the exact time or
place where the shot will ring out. But you have my solemn promise
that you will die very, very soon after payment has been made. I am
always true to my word. And let me say again, Richard, I was very
sorry to hear about what happened to your wife.”

Thank you,” Monroe

So,” Scythe asked, “did
they ever catch the one who fired that shot in Paris?”

Not to my knowledge,”
Monroe said, “but I’ve been out of the loop for some time now. And
to tell you the truth, I don’t give a damn about revenge. I just
want to get to where she’s gone to, as quickly as

In that case, Richard,”
said the invisible killer, “I’ll be happy to provide the ticket
once you’ve paid for it. We’ll talk again soon.”





Online banking has changed
the way the world does its financial business and Monroe took full
advantage of that modern convenience. In a few hours’ time in front
of the computer, Monroe had managed to consolidate the requested
three-hundred thousand dollars needed to seal the deal with Simon
Scythe. The full sum had been transferred from its various homes in
Europe and the United States to sit together in one account in one
bank which had a branch in Boston only a few minutes’ driving time
from Monroe’s residence. He then called the bank manager to
schedule an appearance for the next afternoon to withdraw the large
amount, requesting that it be made available in bundles of hundreds
ready to be packed in a single briefcase.

When the banking business
was done, Monroe relaxed for the rest of the day, as much as
relaxation was possible for a man on such a mission. He went over
the details of his plan in his mind, checking and double-checking
for potential problems and saw no obstacles except any suspicion
which might arise in the mind of the target, although he foresaw no
great chance of such worries causing much of a problem. Monroe’s
instincts were telling him that Scythe was already enraptured by
the idea of that three-hundred grand and greed would overshadow
caution. When the afternoon had been spent thinking and waiting and
evening was there, Monroe got up and went out. He had another task
to complete before picking up the money the next day. He knew he
would probably be followed and he had already figured out how to
get what he needed without his true intentions being suspected. He
would not even be driving this time, as the things he sought could
be found only a few blocks away.

Chapter 7: Line
and Sinker



Fenwick’s Tavern is an
old-fashioned Boston pub. In business since shortly after the
revolution, the place is something of a landmark. It had also been
one of Monroe’s favorite watering holes in his younger days and he
could recall its interior layout even after many years away from
the place.

Monroe walked the seven
blocks to Fenwick’s and went inside. It was a weeknight and the
joint was only half full. He walked in and wondered if Simon Scythe
was watching him from across the street. It did not matter if he
was, Monroe decided, as long as he did not follow him inside.
Monroe went to the very end of the bar, far enough back that he was
sure he couldn’t be seen clearly by anyone looking in the front
window. He ordered a scotch and took a few slow sips. After nursing
that drink for fifteen minutes, he left the half-empty glass on the
bar with a generous tip. He went not to the front door to exit, but
to the back of the bar where the restrooms were. Hoping it had not
been remodeled since his last visit to the place, he entered the
men’s room.

Monroe entered the second
stall, closed the door behind him, and forced the window open,
making a space large enough for him to slip through. He landed six
feet below the window in the narrow alley that separated the rear
wall of Fenwick’s from the rear wall of the building that had its
back to the tavern and its front facing out on the parallel street.
That parallel building happened to be a shoe store, expensive and
fashionable, but it was the shop three doors down which interested

He entered the pharmacy and
began to search the shelves, having already written his shopping
list on the fabric of his mind. He selected a few small cans and
several bottles, all common over-the-counter remedies for minor
ailments, paid for them, and went back outside. Returning to the
alley between the shoe store’s rear and the spine of Fenwick’s,
Monroe hid the bottles and cans in his jacket pockets, climbed back
into the tavern bathroom through the still open window, and made
sure to flush on the way out of the stall, for the sake of realism,
despite not having made a deposit.

He went back to his
barstool, had a second round of scotch, tipped again, and left the
place for the walk back home.




When he arrived at his
apartment, Monroe went straight to his bathroom and shut the door
behind him. It was the smallest room in the place and the one which
he had searched thoroughly enough to be absolutely certain that
Simon Scythe had not bugged or otherwise rigged for surveillance in
any way. He took the pharmacy wares from his jacket and placed them
in the medicine cabinet. He undressed, showered, and left the
bathroom to retire for the night, satisfied that the prelude to the
acquisition of the briefcase of cash had gone well.




The bank business went as
smoothly as the trip to Fenwick’s and the pharmacy had. The bank
manager had the money ready, three thousand little portraits of
Benjamin Franklin, neatly stacked in bundles and bound in paper
wrappers. Monroe signed for the cash, had help from the bank
manager placing it into the briefcase he had brought with him,
assured the manager that he did not want a guard to see him to his
car, drove the Lexus back to his apartment, and carried the case
undisturbed up to his floor. When night fell and the apartment was
dark and safe from any cameras Simon Scythe might have installed
during his break-in, Monroe took the briefcase into the bathroom
and leaned it against the wall to wait there until it was time to
prepare the case’s contents for delivery.




The expected call came
precisely when promised: forty-eight hours after the last contact
between Monroe and Scythe.

I know you have it,” Simon
Scythe said.

Yes,” Monroe told

I want it

Name your time and

I saw you get a drink last
night, Richard.”

I’m not surprised to know
you were in the area.”

Since you seem to like
Fenwick’s, Richard, let’s do it that way. That old tavern can be
our special place.”

Whatever you want,” Monroe
said. The condescending tone in Scythe’s voice was making him itch.
“Let’s close this deal and get it over with.”

You’re in a terrible hurry
to die, aren’t you, Monroe?”

Damn it! When and precisely
where are we doing this?”

There is an alley that runs
behind Fenwick’s,” Scythe said. “In the alley is a dumpster. You
will bring the money there tonight at nine, Richard. You will make
certain that no one sees you enter the alley; I’m sure the skills
you acquired in your old profession will help you with that. You
will deposit the case behind the dumpster, out of sight but within
easy reach for it to be dug out. You will then leave the vicinity
immediately and return to your home. I will not come for you
tonight, but you have my oath that once I have received payment you
will not have to endure your misery for very much longer. Are we
both on the same page, Richard?”

We are, Simon, and thank


Monroe went into the
bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet, taking out everything he
would need for the next phase and placing all the items atop the
closed toilet. He slipped a pair of latex gloves over his hands and
a small surgical mask over his mouth and nose. He took a small
plastic cup and sat it on the edge of the sink. Then he looked to
the collection of bottles and cans he had brought home from the
pharmacy the night before, thinking over the ideal order of

Into the plastic cup he
sprayed a half inch of canned athlete’s foot remedy to begin with
the liquid base of the solution he was preparing. He then opened
several bottles of pills and ground their contents into a fine
powder by wrapping the handful of pills in a towel and stepping on
them. This powder was added to the liquid and stirred. More spray
went into the cup next, followed by more pills made into dust.
Monroe’s method was simple enough: millions of people all over the
world use all sorts of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals every day.
Many of those people use more than one such product on a daily
basis. But it is very, very improbable that any particular
individual will accidentally combine just the right six or seven or
eight medications in precisely the right way to create a mixture
that can cause illness by contact with the bare skin or by
ingestion of a small amount. Monroe, however, knew just how to
create such a concoction. In the business of stealing secrets and
occasionally dealing out death, it is possible for a situation to
arise wherein the most common, ordinary, mundane items must be used
as weapons. This includes using golf clubs as bludgeons or letter
openers as daggers, but the same idea can easily be attached to
poisons. Monroe recalled his chemical training from years earlier
and put it to good use. The solution was soon completed and he used
a spare toothbrush to carefully spread it on the edges of the
stacks of bound hundred-dollar bills where it would dry into an
odorless, colorless coating that, when disturbed by the inevitable
thumb-shuffling of the bills by their pleased new possessor, would
waft up into the air for inhalation or, failing that, would make a
tiny meal when the finger that had done the shuffling
absent-mindedly came into contact with the lips or the

The effect, Monroe knew,
would be sickening, though not lethal. He had no intention of
killing Simon Scythe outright, at least not yet. He wanted to have
words with him first. And he wanted those words to be exchanged
face to face.




Except for Monroe having to
wait in the shadows for nearly ten minutes while two Fenwick’s
employees stood in the alley behind the bar smoking, the drop went
easily. Monroe entered the alley from the shoe store side, scurried
over to the dumpster when the coast was clear, and placed the
briefcase in the predetermined spot, sliding it just far enough
behind the large metal trash container to keep it out of the
incidental sight of anyone who happened to wander into the alley.
He got out of there fast once the drop had been made, certain that
Simon Scythe was watching from somewhere, although he saw no
concrete signs of surveillance.

Monroe went straight home.
He went into the bathroom, the one safe place, and turned the tub’s
faucet on to create a background buzz for further concealment of
sound. He called Mr. Nine.

How goes it?” the old
soldier turned senior spy asked.

Smooth progress so far,”
Monroe said. “I’ve…”

No need for details yet,”
Mr. Nine said. “But you must need something. What is

The flow of information,”
Monroe said. “Can you tap police and ambulance chatter and hospital

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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