A man smokes on a high-rise terrace in Manhattan. Inside, two women have been shot dead.
|A cool breeze whirls past the man’s shadowed face, lifting with it the trails of his cigarette smoke. The view of Manhattan from the high-rise balcony takes his breath away. His grandmother used to say that New York at night resembles a giant jewel box, diamonds lighting the way through otherwise dark streets. From this vantage point in the sky on the forty-seventh floor, crystals and gems connect the bridges, apartments, parks and monuments that adorn New York. Downtown Freedom Tower pokes through the clouds. Uptown he sees the black hole of Central Park. Over the buildings and rooftops he sees the Palisades. Sparks of lightning promise a storm.
The man takes another hit of his cigarette, enjoying the freedom of smoking cigarettes on the balcony, far away from do-gooders who send him evil looks. Still energized he removes his leather gloves, unties his bowtie, tosses the black tux jacket over a terrace chair and rests his elbows on the terrace’s plexiglass railing. Aside from his heartbeat and his breath, no human sounds reach up here. Only wind and a view to die for. He takes a final hit of his cigarette, looks at the ashtray on the terrace table, then flicks the cigarette out into the void, watching the wind toss and tumble it, sparks flying as the butt wafts invisibly downward.
His job is done here, with little fuss and not much mess. His next job will materialize in the next forty-eight hours. Revenge never quits.
The man puts his leather gloves back on, turns the tux jacket inside-out on his lean body and walks back through the sliding door into the luxurious apartment. He locks the sliding door and out of habit uses his elbow to rub down the glass and the latch. The women lay where he left them, sprawled on their couches. The man enjoyed talking to them, they seemed bright and funny. A tray of cocaine, half gone, rests on a mirror on the table between them. The blond has her cell phone beside her left thigh, the brunette lies beside an overturned wine glass. He looks at them again and wonders what they did to warrant the double-tap bullets he put through their foreheads. It was a clean job, not a spot.
He looks at the cocaine. What’s the harm? he assures himself. He withdraws a twenty from his pocket, rolls it into a cylinder and sniffs a line. He inhales the cocaine deeply, feeling immediately its pulsing clarity, then places the twenty back in his pocket. He does a last look, double-checking the apartment for anything that might identify him. He leans over the blond and takes her cell phone, removes the sim card and drops the phone and sim card in his pocket. The brunette’s cell sits in the foyer table next to her electronic key card. He pockets them, too. No pictures. No texts. No identification. No evidence. He wasn’t here.
A final cross-check in the mirror confirms he is clean: He packed his bowtie inside a pocket, he turned his jacket from black to blue, he added black-rim glasses — plain glass, of course — and he put his rolled-up Yankees cap over his fade haircut. Now he looks like every man. He peeks out the glass viewer on the door. Nothing. He slips out and heads to the stairwell. He goes down ten floors, then uses the brunette’s electronic card to enter the hallway and take the resident elevator to the garage. He keeps his head down. He knows intuitively where the cameras are. In the garage he walks past the Jaguars, BMWs, Audi Quattros and a Rolls-Royce Wraith. Without a sound he sneaks out a service door and disappears, like a whisper, into the streets of New York City.