Leo wants to kill his boss, but what does his new boss want?
|“Give me another,” demanded the man sitting at the bar.
Hal, the evening bartender of the 12th Street Bar, sighed but did as asked, setting a cold draft beer and a shot glass of whiskey in front of his customer, an average man, of about thirty years. He seemed average in height, weight, and personality. Hal knew he came in every evening, had a drink and went home, but not tonight.
“You better slow down, Leo, that’s your third in about a half hour. What’s eatin’ at you, anyway?” asked the bartender.
Leo slapped another twenty-dollar bill onto the bar to pay for his drink. “I been fired, that’s what. Nine years I worked for that old skinflint. Nine years, I done worked in Boris Electronics’ Store, sellin’ TV’s and stereos, and telephones. And I was good at it, too. Only I had a little argument with Old-man Boris this mornin’ ‘bout how to use his new fangled computer system, and now I’m out of a job.”
Hal laughed quietly to himself. It was an old story to him. He had been tending bar for nearly twenty-seven years. It seemed he moved from bar to bar, from town to town, never seeming to stay long in any one place. Nine years. Well that was a long time. “What the hell, Leo, you been threatin’ to quit ever since I been workin’ here. So take it easy for a while. Sit back. Collect some unemployment. Another job will come along.”
“Yeah, yeah,” muttered Leo, as he downed the whiskey in one gulp and turned to the beer. He was starting to feel the effects of the liqueur.
An hour latter, pockets empty, and feeling no pain, Leo Hunt walked out of the 12th Street Bar, got in his old, red Ford Thunderbird, and drove home, somehow managing not to cause any accidents. Home was a rundown, cinderblock shack on the edge of town. A four plex, he shared with three other so-called families. Leo had the lower left hand apartment. A couple of waitress’ shared the one over his. A single woman with at least a half dozen kids was next to him and a young, newly married couple was over them.
He had never been in any of the other apartments but his was a small three-room affair. The front door opened into a dark, dingy, living room that held an old gray carpet. The mismatched easy chair and couch had been picked up at a thrift sore, but Leo’s pride and joy, a large flat screen television, had been bought with his hard earned dollars from Boris’ Electronics’. A fancy collection of video, DVD, and CD players sat on shelves connected to the television. There was an extensive stereo with huge speakers. All around were stacks of CD’s, DVD’s, and older videos, and music cassettes. There was even a huge selection of video games. He flipped on the stereo starting the sound of some gentle jazz, but switched it to some rock and roll.
In the kitchen, an older refrigerator hummed. A stained coffee cup sat in the sink, but over all the room was fairly clean, as was the rest of the place. Maybe it was rundown, but Leo didn’t see as that was a reason to let it get dirty, as well. He wasn’t as fussy as his Ma had been, but he did clean up some.
The bedroom held a double bed that squeaked at the slightest movement, and a broken-down dresser held Leo’s cloths. In here was another brand new CD player, Leo’s latest acquisition.
He moved on into the minute-sized bathroom, unzipped his fly, fished for his penis and peed into the discolored commode. He left the seat up. He always left the seat up. Why shouldn’t he? He was the only one who used it. Even when he was married, he had left the seat up. It really had made Millie mad. Leo hadn’t been upset when Millie had moved out and filed for divorce two years ago. He hadn’t seen her since.
Leo turned and looked at himself in the cracked mirror over the sink. He rubbed a hand over the course black stubble on his face. “Should shave,” he mumbled, slurring the words only a little. Millie had always wanted him clean-shaven. His beard was thick and grew fast, so he had to do it twice a day to keep her happy. Her and old Ed Boris. Well no wife, and now no job. He decided he’d grow a beard, and a mustache.
A mustache and a beard. Maybe that would give him some character. He looked at the pale, faded blue eyes behind the tortoiseshell-framed glasses he always had to wear. He took off the glasses and looked again but his eyes were the same. He just had to get closer to the mirror to see them. Maybe he’d try some contacts.
Running a hand through his lank, light-brown hair Leo took out a comb and combed it. A little long, but, yeah, he’d let his hair grow out, too. Funny, old Boris hadn’t yelled at him about that. And his earring. Millie and his boss had both objected to his wearing it. He opened the medicine cabinet door. There in one corner sat a small jewelry box containing a single diamond stud earring. Gingerly Leo took it out. The hole in his left ear lobe had never completely closed up, but he still had to force the sharp, pointed post through his ear. For some reason, maybe it was the liqueur, he enjoyed the pain. He snapped on the back fastener, and admired the way the diamond sparkled under the light of the naked bulb. He wasn’t sure it was a real diamond, but he had paid enough for it to be real.
Returning to the bedroom, Leo pulled of the dress shirt, shoes, socks, and pants Boris had always insisted he wear to work. In just his briefs, he went to the kitchen where he fixed a large bologna sandwich with all the trimmings. He even added a dab of hot salsa. With the sandwich and a bag of chips he plopped onto the couch. Using the remote control he turned on the TV. Rock music and cop shows. Yeah, that was what he liked, cop shows and rock music.
As Leo watched, it seemed the bad guys always got caught. Then Leo watched some local news program, and then some national news program. Gradually he began to realize that very seldom did the real bad guys get caught. Leo watched a couple of movies. The dumb bad guys always got caught.
Slowly an idea caught in a far corner of Leo’s brain and there it began to grow. By the early hours of the morning the idea had grown enough to slip from the unconscious right section of Leo’s brain and move to the left hand side. There it grew some more, until it was a fully formed notion.
The idea was that he, Leo Hunt would commit a crime and get away with it. He, Leo Hunt, could kill someone and never be caught. He was Leo wasn’t he? Leo, meaning lion and his name was Hunt wasn’t it. He was a lion and a hunter. He would hunt and he would kill someone and no dumb, stupid ass-hole cop would catch him. He was to smart for that.
But who would he kill? Of course, he would kill his former boss Ed Boris. Yeah, Ed Boris, you’re dead. You just don’t know it yet. This was gonna be fun. He pointed his forefinger like a gun. “Bang!”
But, aw-hell. He had just been fired today. No, yesterday. He would be the first suspect. He would have to wait. Take his time. Besides he’d have to set it up just right. He didn’t want to go off half-cocked, did he? Have to decide what kind of a weapon he would use. A gun, or a knife, or maybe poison, or a hit and run. Yeah, he’d take his time. Keep a watch on the old man. Learn his habits. Then when the time was right he’d make the hit.
In the mean time – well, maybe someone else would come along that would be good to practice on. Leo cocked his head and listened over the drone of the TV. Of course there was always that yapping dog next door.
Leo applied for unemployment and proceeded to fill out job applications at several stores that carried televisions and stereos. He made sure to put down the wrong address and phone numbers. Leo didn’t want to be bothered with employment right now. He had too much to do.
First Leo had contacted a friend of a friend and bought a pistol, an automatic.45. He thought it was a foreign make of some kind. The serial number and all information it had on it had been removed or scarred until it was unreadable. But that was all right. It was the way Leo wanted it.
He bought ammunition. Lots of it. And he used it. He found an area outside of town where he could practice shooting. So he practiced. And practiced. He made targets. Paper plates with bull eyes drawn on them, soda cans and cereal boxes. Leo became creative. He bought sheets of plywood and drew basic body shapes to use as targets.
When he wasn’t shooting he learned more about Ed Boris than he had ever wanted to know. He knew when he got up, left for work, went to lunch, went home, went to bed, and went to the golf course. Leo knew where Boris bought his groceries, beer, and gasoline. Leo knew where Boris went to church and when he babysat his grandkids. The obnoxious little brats.
One evening, after seeing the lights out in Boris’ bedroom, Leo went over to the 12th Street Bar. Hal brought over Leo’s usual, the shot glass of whiskey with the beer chaser. Leo noticed Hal seemed in unusually good humor.
“What’s goin’ on, Hal?” asked Leo.
“Leo, my man,” said the tall, skinny, bartender. He had a grin from ear to ear. “You still lookin’ for a job?”
“Well, yeah, I guess,” answered Leo. “You know of one?”
“I sure do,” Hal wiped the bar with a white towel. “Right here. I like doin’ the evening shift, but sure could use someone to open up for me. Thought you might be interested.”
“Well, I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout bartendin’. But, Hal, how come you’re doin’ the hirin’?”
“Yeah, I’m doin’ the hirin’,” bragged Hal. “Ain’t it great? I just bought this place. Closed the deal today.”
“You what?” said Leo in surprise.
“I just bought this place. I’m the owner, now. Think I’ll change the name. What do you think of Hal’s Place?”
So Leo went to work at Hal’s Place, formally the 12th Street Bar. It was only a six hour shift and was perfect to give him a look of respectability. It was an easy job and left him with enough time to target practice and keep an eye on Boris. Ed had even come in a few times, being real polite to Leo when he did.
Best of all was the supply of mice and rats Leo found in the storeroom. Hal laughed and called him a ‘bleeding-heart’ when he found Leo live-trapping the rodents. Leo didn’t want to explain to Hal he was using the rats for targets, live moving targets. The small mice were harder to hit and if he did there was nothing left to find, but a bit of fur and a few spots of blood. The rats were better. They were bigger, and didn’t run away as fast. He could take more time as he shot of a foot, or leg, or even a tail. Leo learned how to gut one with a single shot, or decapitate it cleanly. He was getting good at shooting his gun. It was so much more fun with the rats for targets.
At night Leo would lay in bed, listening to his CD player, going over and over in his mind how he was going to kill Ed Boris so that no one would ever suspicion that he was the murderer. Where would he do the evil deed, and how? Frequently his fantasies were interrupted by the barking of the neighbor’s dog.
At 3:17AM one morning he had all of the yelping critter he could stand. He got out of bed and stood naked by the kitchen window looking across the roughly fifty yards to where the dog stood tied to a dog house, under a large elm tree.
It was a Heinz 57 verity. Leo couldn’t even began to guess what breeds had gone into its mixed up lineage. Dirty brown in color, a splotch of white on its chest. Only about thirty or forty pounds, it had floppy ears and an almost curly coat suggesting some poodle in its parentage.
As Leo watched, it never ceased its relentless barking. Leo returned to his bedroom. Without turning on the light, he pulled on a pair of old torn jeans and a pair of tennis shoes, forgoing any socks. From under the bed he took out a briefcase and laid it on the bed. Opening it, he reverently took out the scarred, blue gray .45 pistol. Lovingly he checked the loads, replacing all six with fresh shells. He tucked the gun into his waistband feeling the smooth cool metal against the warmth of his belly.
Still with out any lights on, Leo slipped through the dark house. In the kitchen he unlatched the back door and stepped out. A street light threw just enough light for him to easily and quietly walk across the gravel and weeds to the neighbor’s yard. He hid by a large lilac bush. The dog barked loader, rattling its chain as it tried to tell someone, anyone, that Leo actually was in his territory.
Leo raised his arm. The sharp boom of the gun woke up the whole block, but the dog was quiet now. It lay in a crumpled heap, blood leaking from a hole between its sightless eyes.
The back door to the house slammed open and a light came on over it, illuminating a man clothed in only a pair of boxer shorts. Leo could make out the pink flowers on them. “What the hell ----,” yelled the man, seeing the dead dog.
Leo pointed the gun and fired again. Splinters flew from the wooden step the man stood on, stinging his bare feet and legs. He disappeared back into the house. Leo pulled the trigger once more, and the light bulb shattered, bringing darkness back to his neighbor’s yard. Then he returned unnoticed to his apartment to watch as a police car squealed up to the curb, red bubble light flashing.
A few minutes later, when the police knocked on his door, Leo pretended he had been asleep. Asleep with the headphones to his new CD player wrapped around his head and conveniently covering his ears so he didn’t hear any gunshots or even the cop sirens.
Still in just his jeans, he gave his statement to the cops and then watched from the steps of the small porch, off his front door. He was afraid he might do something to give himself away. He was ecstatic and deliriously delighted with himself. He wanted to shout and dance with joy. Leo would have given anything if he could have told those dumb, shithead cops that it was he, Leo Hunt, who had killed that worthless, yapping mutt. He could have killed the dog’s owner if he had wanted to. Maybe he should have. Yeah, maybe he should have.
Leo picked at the pealing paint on the wooden rail encircling the porch while the red light continued to flash. It wasn’t long before the police left taking the dead dog with them. Leo wondered what they wanted with the dead dog. He missed the flashing red light.
Hours later, he was still sitting there letting the wonder of committing a crime penetrate and flow over him. Killing the dog had been so sweet. So sweet he could taste it like sugar desolving in his mouth. Putting a bullet between that son-of-a- bitch’s feet had been even better.
A small Nissan car spun into the driveway, from the street. Brakes squealing as it stopped mere inches from where Leo sat. He jumped up in surprise, watching as a woman scrambled from the car and stumbled toward the staircase. She was crying, and almost fell. Courious, Leo went to her.
“Are you Okay? You need some help?” Leo would have liked to help her right into his bed. She was a good-looking broad even if she did have tears running down her face and a snotty noise. Her left eye was bruised, swollen almost shut. Her lip was also bigger than it should have been; a trickle of blood ran from it to drip off her chin. Leo would have loved to lick up every drop. Her shorts and tank top were torn and dirty, and her tennis shoes were untied, but Leo didn’t care. He only saw the way it looked like her big, heavy boobs were about to fall out of the to-small tank-top. He’d like to finish letting them out of their confinement. She gasped for breath, pushing her boobs up higher, trying to still her sobs.
“You’re Paula, aren’t you? You live upstairs, don’t you? Remember me. I’m Leo, I live under you.” Boy would he like to live under her, he thought, and licked his lips in anticipation. He wondered if he would have a chance.
“Yes,” answered Paula, glancing at him, but watching a large black Lincoln slowly pull in, so that it was blocking her car. A black man got out. He was short and kind of chubby, and his shaved head gleamed in the early morning sunlight. He wore expensive cloths, and alligator skin shoes.
He spoke to the women on the stairs. “Paula, Paula. Why did you run away? Didn’t we have a wonderful night together? Don’t you want to do it again?”
She started to cry harder again, clutching the railing. Leo saw one of her long blood red nails was torn and real blood was oozing from it. “Leave me alone, Nelson.” She shook with fear.
Leo moved closer to the foot of the stairs, and faced the man called Nelson. Until today he would have never had the nerve to confront someone like Nelson. “Paula don’t want you to bother her, no more,” he stated. He crossed his arms and stared at Nelson. “I think you need to leave.”
Nelson laughed. “Who’s your new boyfriend, Paula? Don’t tell me you like this longhaired, wimp better than me.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” said Paula through clenched teeth. “but I think I do like him better than you. Please, go away, Nelson.”
“Now, Nelson. Get out a here.” Leo was almost shouting. He didn’t like being called a wimp.
“Sure, fella, sure,” Nelson, still grinning an evil grin, got back into his car. He leaned out, “Hey, Paula, you’ll come back to me. You know you will. You liked it, baby. You know you did.” Then he left.
Over the course of the next few days, Leo noticed the black Lincoln parked near the apartment building several times. Once he heard crying from the apartment over his head, then the sound of something being broken and smashed, and yells and threats from Nelson, Paula, and her roommate, Vicky.
Leo had talked to the two girls, told them they needed to go to the police, not that he figured it would do any good. He was just trying to get into their good graces, or better yet their pants. He decided to take matters into his own hands. It would be good practice for when he finally decided to take out Ed Boris.
Following Nelson was easy. The man was over confident and totally self centered. He lived in a nice condo. Not real fancy, but nice. He took most of his meals at a nearby Italian restaurant. Of course that was where Paula worked.
It didn’t take long for Leo to realize that all of Nelson’s money came from drugs. A drug dealer would be no big loss to anyone. It looked like it was up to him to dispose of Nelson, and certainly no one would ever suspect him. Hell --- he didn’t even know Nelson, did he?
Leo told Hal that his big, old Ford was broke down, so he could borrow Hal’s nondescript, white Honda. He cruised the street where the restaurant was that Nelson liked. He didn’t have to wait long. Nelson drove the Lincoln by Leo, who was sitting in the Honda, without a second glance, parked, got out and sauntered into the restaurant. Leo decided to wait until Nelson came out. Let him enjoy one last meal.
An hour later Nelson emerged, a smile on his face, a toothpick between his teeth. Leo eased the Honda out into the street, pulling up right by the Lincoln. Nelson had his keys in his hand and was reaching for the door handle when the .45 bullet struck him right in the middle of his chest, turning his white silk shirt as red as his tie. Nelson’s mouth pursed into an O, and the toothpick slipped out to fall to the pavement, while Nelson leaned against his car.
Never hurrying Leo let the Honda drift on down the avenue. In the rearview mirror he saw Nelson’s body slide down the side of the Lincoln to lie in the street.
There was nothing on the TV about the dead, drug dealer and the only thing Leo found in the newspaper was one small paragraph. He was disappointed, but then he realized that no one would miss Nelson, especially not a certain waitress at a certain Italian restaurant. He had an urge to find out just how good the service was in the restaurant where Paula worked. He wondered if he asked Paula for a date if she would go with him. Leo was proud of what he had done. He wished he dared to tell her that he was the guardian (he thought ‘hero’ was a bit too strong) who had rescued her from the clutches of such an evil man. As before he was excited and had this terrific impulse to tell someone what he had done. He was exhilarated that he had been able to right one of the world’s wrongs. But, no, he knew it must be his secret, and only his. He had found his true calling. He was, indeed, a true Hunter.
With one killing under his belt; two if you counted the dog, Leo decided the time had come to take care of Ed Boris. It had been almost six months since he had been fired from his job and he figured all suspicion would be off him if – no, when he killed Boris.
He watched Boris’ home or the Electronics’ Store continuously, even calling in sick to Hal’s Place a couple of times. Leo knew he had to be ready for the opportunity at a moments notice.
Finally it came. Leo had sat and watched the Boris home for several hours one evening. He checked his watch. 11:08PM. He knew from long observation that it was his ex-employers normal bedtime. The lights downstairs went off. Then the lights upstairs went off. Leo started to leave, but on second thought, changed his mind. He eased out of the Ford and walked the hundred yards or so to the house. Maybe he could slip into the house and do the deed, making it look like a robbery. But Leo remembered Ed’s wife, Nancy. If he killed Ed in the house, he would probably end up having to kill the old women, too. The thought of killing her didn’t bother him. It just wasn’t in his plans. One thing at a time. He had to do this right to keep from getting caught.
As he worked his way under the trees and up to the house, he heard the swish-swish of an osculating sprinkler, and then he walked into the surprise of a quick, brief shower.
“Shit,” whispered Leo. That idiot Boris had left his sprinkler on. He moved on under the window.
“Edward, did you turn off the water?” whined a women’s voice. The bedroom window was open and Leo could clearly hear Ed’s wife.
Boris answered her. “Guess I forgot. I’ll go turn it off.” There was the squeak of bedsprings. Leo could imagine the fat man rolling out of bed.
A minute later Leo heard the front door lock snap and the door opened. The screen made a little slam as the spring pulled it back shut. Leo realized he was standing in the deep, dark shadow cast by a perfectly trimmed boxwood shrub, and the water faucet was at his feet. The time was now. It was time to kill Ed Boris.
Not thinking about trouble, Boris strode up to the faucet. His hand closed on the valve and twisted. The sprinkler was quiet.
“Hi, Ed,” said Leo softly, jamming the .45 pistil into Ed’s belly. The store owner’s eyes opened wide in surprise. Then showed surprise, as well as great pain as a bullet tore a path through his body and exited out his back, severing his spine.
Leo laughed in glee. He was glad Boris had seen who was killing him. He was glad the man would carry to hell the knowledge that he shouldn’t have fired Leo Hunt. Leo couldn’t resist firing one more shot. The dark spots on Ed’s pajamas spread rapidly as Leo returned to the Ford and drove off. Leo wondered how long it would be before the old women went searching for Boris.
It was several weeks later that Hal asked Leo to work the late shift for him one night. Leo didn’t like having to close the bar but he was still riding a high from killing Boris and readily agreed.
At 2:00AM Leo quickly ushered the last couple of customers out the door and locked it. He didn’t bother with cleaning up, deciding he would do it before he opened at noon.
The Ford was parked out back in the ally. Leo opened the back door, stepped out and turned to lock it. Unbelievably severe pain shot through him. He looked down to see a large butcher knife protruding from his belly. Leo grunted in agony, his hands uselessly reaching out to grasp at a wrist, as a hand closed around the knife handle, pulled it out, and stabbed the knife into his chest, slipping it between two ribs and into his heart.
“Damn, Leo,” said Hal, as he pulled out the knife. Blood dripped from the tip of the blade. “Here I done went and gave you a job when you was down on your luck, and what did you do. You started skimmin’ out of the money till. That weren’t right, Leo. That just weren’t right.”