By John Clise
He’d been sent to Paris to handle a job that either no one else wanted, or no one else could do. He was the leftover man. The guy you called when there was no one else to call. He was the guy you didn’t want to acknowledge, but knew you could count on regardless. He took the call, hand knew the job itself would take a phone call and a short meeting over dinner to complete the detailed instructions on the situation. His kind of people didn’t waste a lot of words on pleasantries or other communications for that matter. It was all details, and they’ll get a call when the job is done. That call usually came from a cleaner.
If he had to handle a situation, the price went up. Way up. When his personal services were required someone had fucked up royally.
The choice of life he made probably wasn’t right. Killing people isn’t generally accepted as a good or right thing. He’d justified that bad people should die, and he was probably was right. The horrid shitballs he managed probably did deserve to die. Likely more painfully than he had ever administered. They were the scum of the earth. They were child pornographers, human traffickers, sex peddlers, conmen and women, people who were just the dregs. His shoulders were broad. Killing people who deserved to die was never an issue to him. He lost no sleep.
He’d long ago given up the thoughts of death meaning someone was losing everything they had or would ever have in life… and life itself. The tears cried by a wife, children, friends… that’s was just payment. It was just part of it. He acknew it could be his fate some day, though there would be no tears.
He was walking back to his hotel, taking in the sights and sounds of the Paris nightlife when the skies burst open with rain. He ducked into a nameless club to escape the rain.
He stepped through the door and into what seemed like a Crime Noir Films from the 1950s. The room was sparse with patrons. It was smoky. There was sultry jazz singer at the mic. Her voice was like velvet. Between songs she simply said “Nous sommes Sade. Nous serons ici jusqu’à ce que la pluie cesse.”
There was a tall, dark bartender mixing the drinks. He set his own sultry tone as demonstrated by the few women and a man sitting there hanging on his every expression. He fell in love with moments like this, as his career choices had made real relationships too problematic and dangerous to others.
He found a seat with a wall to his back near the fire exit, and a 180 degree view from the front. His tactical thinking rarely ever stopped.
Soon after a short conversation with the waitress he found himself sipping Remy Martin XO, smoking a La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse cigar bathing in the fullness of the moment.
She’d ask if he had a cognac preference. He merely responded “Choix du concessionnaire,” bringing a smile and laugh to a tired face.
The slightly warmed cognac went down smoothly. Quite smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, he suspected he’d likely need one or two more.
He sat listening to the music, enjoying his cigar, watching people trickle in likely to get out of the rain, and verify what social media rumors said was Sade was playing a small club without notice.
Suddenly there was a beautiful, young woman appeared before him asking if she could sit with him. She was thin and willowy in her presentation wearing a red dress and black heels. Her diamond earrings were clearly pastes, though they weren’t bad coming from a likely street vendor peddling them as legitimate stones. Her angelic face betrayed the worldly presence she was attempting to show off.
“Puis-je m’asseoir avec vous,” she asked almost in a whisper. “Oui bien sûr. S’il vous plaît, faites-le,” he replied.
Sitting down quickly she asked if English would be easier. “Comme vous le souhaitez jeune femme,” he said.
“Are you here to escape the rains, or possibly listen to Sade on stage,” he asked. “I was… how do you say… looking for a friend… ,” she said. “What kind of friend,” he asked hoping to define her intent. “A friend from art school,” she said. “we were to meet to celebrate our birthdays, but she must have been delayed by the rains.”
“I’m Danielle,” she said “It means God is my judge. I guess if you believe, He is everyone’s judged. What is your name?”
“Henry,” he said stoically. “Just here in Paris for a few days on a holiday I suppose. Nothing special. I slipped in here, as you did, to avoid the rain.”
“Would you like some champagne,” he asked. She answered that she’d never had any before.
In just a few minutes they were enjoying an $800 bottle of champagne.
Danielle seemed to be cold. As the waiter passed, Henry asked “Mettriez-vous ce manteau sur mon ami?” The waiter took the jacket, and paced it around his young friend as he said “Bien sûr, monsieur.”
“Merci,” she said. “You are a very thoughtful, and handsome older man,” she said to Henry. “Merci,” he said smiling. “You are a beautiful young girl” She looked down blushung.
Henry decided at that moment she wasn’t there to kill him, or to lead him into a trap. She was just an innocent art student who’d come in to escape the rains.
His phone rang, and he answered it holding up a finger to let her know to hold on. “Bonjour,” he said. Listening for a few seconds he answered “Excellente.” He hung up.
The job was done. two shots to the back of head. It was confirmed by the cleaner. The kill was good, and the scene was clear.
He made one call. “Сделано.” he said and hung up.
“How’s the bubbly,” he asked. “Bubbly,” she said laughing crinkling up here nose. “It makes me feel a bit silly,” she said. “That’s what it’s supposed to do,” he said smiling.
He sat there amused by this young beauty as she drank more champagne, tried to smoked what was left of his cigar and took a deep gulp of his cognac. After the big sip, her eyes widened to the size of silver dollars making Henry laugh out loud.
She was clearly feeling no pain. She talked about everything as he listened smiling. She reached out and took his hand tightly noting “that he was an extremely sexy man,” as she made eyes at him. He was well aware of the effect he had on women. Due to a grotesque injury to his groin he was unable to deliver on the sexual side of the attraction. He usually just dismissed women and moved on. For some reason he saw something in this belle jeune fille that he liked. She was so honest as she talked about art school, family, friends, life, love, dreams. It was intrigue, he thought… or mild happiness. Or it was just carefree. It was something he hadn’t felt since he was a teenager. He kept an eye on the door, but he smiled and laughed as he hadn’t in years.
after a while they made their way back to his hotel, though he ended up carrying her the last few blocks, to the elevator, and to his room before dropping her in a chair in front of the window with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
“Je suis désolé d’être si étourdi maintenant,” she said. “Rest a moment there,” Henry said putting up his coat. He turned up the heat, and covered Danielle with a blanket.
He sat on the bed, on a rainy night in Paris, with jazz humming in his ears, having a few drinks, watching Danielle sleep, knowing this was as good as it would ever get. He smiled. It was perfect. He moved Danielle to the bed, and covered her. She woke up momentarily and smiled. “This is so comfortable,” she said.
Henry watched her as she drifted back to sleep thinking about what it would be like to stay in Paris to pursue a relationship with this angel. He knew that wasn’t at all possible, though he did give himself the chance to sweetly think it over as he drifted to sleep for a few hours. He hadn’t really slept in years. On this day, he would sleep three full hours without waking up.
When he woke he found that Danielle had found her way to hid chest. She was curled up like they were a couple. She was sleeping so deeply so close to him. He just laid there enjoying the whole thing.
Later after she woke up, they had an enormous room service brunch. Henry had ordered new clean clothes for Danielle, and arranged for her dress to be cleaned and delivered to her school. Her fellow students would be perplexed by he mystery of it all, he suspected.
They ate, laughed, watched the clouds go by, enjoyed the view, and finally it was time for Henry to go to the airport.
“It seems like we’ll never see each other again,” Danielle said. “I would say, sadly, you are right,” Henry replied.
She looked into his eyes, wrapped her hands around his neck, and pulled his lips to hers. They kissed deeply passionately, and one time forever.
“I’ve never been kissed so well,” she said blushing deeply. ” Could I have just one more?” They kissed again. Even deeper and more passionately.
“I could fall in love with you, I think” she said. “Where are you going now?”
“Somewhere with clear blue water and no memory,” Henry said.
“I hope you find it,” Danielle said. “I think it seems you deserve it.” She kissed him once more hoping it wasn’t the last time, but knowing of it was she wanted all she could have.
A few weeks later, she recieved a parcel from Zanzibar with a plane ticket and several thousand dollars enclosed. The only message was written on stationary from the hotel. It said only “I bought a boat.”
A few weeks later she was standing on a beach in a bikini, floppy hat, with a shoulder bag, and oversized sunglasses looking across the water at a much more tan, and more relaxed man she’s met on a rainy night in Paris.
She waved wildly at Henry as she waded into the water. He dove into the water to meet her mid trip.
They spoke no words, but they kissed wildly and passionately there in the crystal blue water that had no memory.