Authors: Christopher Smith
They walked down a long, industrial-looking hallway.
The offices on either side of him were
The same went for the
sitting area that took up the middle of the space.
There were no voices, no sounds other
than the drum taps of their own feet on the marble floor.
He didn’t find the absence of others completely
unusual—it was, after all, the Lord’s day.
But Manhattan Enterprises hadn’t died
when its founder, Louis Ryan, was gunned down in a foiled murder attempt three
years ago at the opening of The Hotel Fifth.
Spocatti expected to see a few people here, those eager
climbers who worked through their weekends hoping their superiors would notice
and potentially promote them.
this floor, at least, was empty, which told him plenty.
They cleared it for a reason.
He was here to meet one man and that man
obviously was working under privacy.
They stopped in front of a large stainless steel door.
“I’ll need your gun and anything else you might have on you.”
Spocatti opened the light blazer he was wearing and removed the Glock
G23 from its holster.
He dipped his
hand into an inside pocket and took out two magazines and a speed loader.
He handed them over.
There was a five-inch knife fastened to
his left calf and another Glock G23 on his right calf.
He gave them to the man and then reached
behind him and pulled out his favorite Glock G19, which was strapped to a belt
around his waist.
“I think that’s it.”
The man put the weaponry on the table behind him.
“Would you mind if I check?”
“I expect you to.”
Spocatti held up his hands and got the pat down.
He was clean.
The man picked up the G19 and admired
“I always wanted one of these.”
“Despite what you hear, it’s better than the G23.
It’s more precise.
It feels better in the hand.
The weight is correct.
While that could just be personal
preference on my part, I doubt it.
Since I used it the last time I was here, I figured I’d bring it along
and show it the city again.”
“That’s kind of you.”
“It’s good to see the city every now and then.”
The man motioned to the door.
“Mr. Cullen is inside.
He knows you’re here.
I’ll be just outside if you need
Spocatti caught the veiled threat and stepped into the room,
which was bright with sunlight.
James Cullen was seated at the far end of it.
He was a middle-aged man, somewhere in
his fifties with a crown of silver hair.
He was dressed in a beautiful dark blue suit that Spocatti himself
wouldn’t mind owning.
stood to come around the desk to greet Spocatti, Spocatti couldn’t help
noticing by the way the man walked that one of his legs was prosthetic.
“Lost it to cancer,” Cullen said.
“Miss it terribly.”
“I imagine you would.”
“You should see me going through airport security,” Cullen
“It’s a nightmare.
One of these days, I’m going to take the
damned thing off, send it through with my shoes and wait for the fallout.
There was a sparkle of
mischief in his eyes when he held out his hand and shook Spocatti’s.
“Good to see that you have your legs.
And I assume that Jason took your arms?”
“So to speak.”
“I’m happy you decided to come.
I wasn’t sure whether you would.”
“Last time I wasn’t exactly successful.”
“The body count suggests a degree of success.”
George and Leana Redman are still alive.”
“And Michael Archer.
Did Louis get in the way?”
“You could say he was never part of the solution.”
“Well, you can rest assured that I’ve never been one to
I’m also not, as they
say, as emotionally invested as Louis was.
In the event of his death, he trusted me to carry out the orders in his
There was a provision in the
will that demanded I wait until the third anniversary of his death, which was a
week ago, to carry out the instructions he held for me in a safe deposit
I’m the only one with access
to that box and I’m the only one who knows what those instructions are.”
His face brightened.
“But I bet you can guess.”
“More dead Redmans?”
“That’s one way to put it.
And, yes, at least what’s left of them,
as well as a host of other assorted types.
Given the tenuous circumstances Louis put himself in, he at least was
smart enough to plan for a future in which it was
who died that night
and not George Redman.
He was aware
that anything could go wrong and so he prepared for it.
I admire his forward-thinking
Just because he was shot
dead by those awful police people doesn’t mean he needed to stop what he
“But he was wrong,” Spocatti said.
“George Redman didn’t kill Ryan’s
Redman’s wife did it.
She admitted to it and is in prison
because of it.”
“So she is, but Ryan didn’t know that when he died.
He thought it was George.”
He held up a finger.
“About Elizabeth,” he said.
“As you’d expect, she is a model of good
behavior in the clink, even when she’s scrubbing toilets with those little
brushes they give her or when she’s serving the other inmates their ladles of
swill during the dinner hour.
They probably call it
Anyway, none of that
Louis hated George.
Even if George didn’t kill Anne, he’d
still want Redman dead, right along with the rest of his family.
Or what’s left of them.
I know that with certainty.
I know it in my bones and I can feel it
in the toes of my fake foot.
just go forward with it.
death, he funded a special account that will fuel what he wants done now.”
“And what is that?” Spocatti asked.
Cullen handed Spocatti a sheet of paper.
On it was a list of ten names.
Spocatti read through the list and then
stopped at the final line Ryan had written in his own hand beneath the
“He wants this done in a
“Sooner if possible.
I think he hates the fact that they’re still enjoying life while he’s
just a pile of ash.”
“There are ten people on this list.”
“Yes, there seems to be.
Is that too much of a burden?”
are the restrictions?”
that’s not exactly true.
be good if you got some sort of photographic evidence after you killed
That would be nice to have on
He pointed at a name on the
“With the exception of her,
each person is grand enough to warrant a grand obituary, so I’m not concerned
about seeing their names in print.
But a photo or two of the grisly aftermath?
Between us, I think the world should see
their dead faces.
I can make happen on the Internet, if only for Louis.
We were friends for years.”
“Did you play Topple the Conglomerates together?”
“Did we what?”
What’s the payment?”
“Twenty million dollars.
If you agree to do the job, you’ll receive half now and the other half
later, when I confirm that the job is done.”
“I know some of the people mentioned here.
Who are the others?”
“Just people Louis hated.
You know, society types who snubbed him
because he was self-made and thus, in their eyes, worthless despite his
Board members that
prevented a business deal from happening.
A love interest he once had that never panned out because the woman
expected marriage, of all things.
Louis was very sensitive.
think he got a kick out of revenge.”
“Even in death.”
And what better way to get it, really?
Nothing to fear.
This time, he’s safe in the arms of
heaven and able to watch it all unfold at a distance.”
“Did you just say he’s in heaven?”
“I thought so.
When do you expect me to get started?”
“Straight away means today, which is impossible.
I need to know where these people
I need to know where they
eat, work and sleep.
I need to plan
for each death.
something you just toss at me and expect it to go down smoothly with no thought
That’s not how I work.
I won’t be visiting Elizabeth Redman in
the clink, as you say, for you.”
“How many days of thought do you need?”
can pull this off for you within a month starting from today.”
“Within a what?”
“It’s a month or I’m out.”
And Cullen clapped his hands.
A month it is, then.
Given the size of the list, I thought
you were going to ask for two, which would have driven me to a bar.
Not that you wouldn’t have found me at
He reached in his
pocket and handed Spocatti his card.
“You can reach me at that number at any time.
It’s exclusive to you.
I will always answer, just please make
sure it’s worth my time.”
Spocatti watched him cross to his desk and sit at his
“At which bank do you
want the money deposited?”
“We haven’t agreed on money yet,” Spocatti said.
“You gave me your number.
Now I’ll give you mine.”
Cullen looked up.
A mix of confusion and expectation bloomed on his face.
“The job will cost you fifty million,” Spocatti said.
“Twenty-five million now, twenty-five
million when I’m finished.”
That’s a lot of money for someone who
couldn’t complete the job the first time around.
George and Leana Redman are still
So is Michael
In a matter of weeks, Leana
Redman opens her own hotel on Park.
George Redman’s Redman International continues to thrive in a difficult
He’s happily putting up
that ridiculously giant skyscraper over on Columbus Circle.
Those three are soaring while Louis is
“As you mentioned, Louis tended to get in the way.”
“Was it just Louis’ fault?”
“I think he knows it was or he wouldn’t have requested me to
finish the job without him.”
“It’s fifty million or I’m back on a plane, Mr. Cullen.
There are many other jobs available to
Many other swells to send to
I’m a man in demand.”
“Very well, then.
But I need
you to agree that you’ll pay particular attention to George and Leana when you
take them down.
I want a spectacle.
I want something big.
Louis would have demanded it.
And they must die last.
Do the others first.
Are we clear?”