I snorted at Gabriel, incredulous. In the first moment his proposition seemed too ridiculous to take seriously. I guess most insanely evil things do seem that way at first.
“What are you suggesting, some sort of Assassins R Us?”
Gabriel laughed, truly appreciating the joke.
“That’s one way of putting it. It can be death, it can be theft, it could be fraud, it could be all sorts of things. All the things people might want to do, or want done, but are afraid to do themselves because they would get caught. And we won’t.”
I shook my head at him. “You don’t need this Gabriel, you’re fucking rich. What’s in it for you?”
“Fun” he replied simply, “The challenge. The art. I thought you of all people would get that Peter. Hey, you said you wanted to do something new and interesting and vital, something that was screaming out for a man of your talents.”
I was confused now. Partly horrified, partly stunned, partly curious, it was a strange and disorienting combination of emotions.
“But it isn’t my talent Gabriel, it’s yours, and hers,” I replied, looking at Natalie. She was just watching us, calm, confident. She already knew she had me, and therefore so did Gabriel, if they found a way to convincingly include me.
“Not entirely Peter, you’re too modest.” Gabriel laughed. “After all, you’re the guy with the ideas right? Right?”
“Right,” I allowed, waiting for him to go on, feeling outclassed but not wanting to admit it.
“And you are resourceful, you can maybe help us find clients…”
“I don’t know any would be criminals Gabriel…”
“Give it time. You find anything you put your mind to, we all know that. You’re also the guy with the eye for things.”
I stood up and walked away from them as though that would free me and clear my mind sufficiently to think straight. By God I wished I hadn’t drunk anything that night. I’m never at my best when I’m drunk.
“It doesn’t make sense Gabriel. It’s flattering but it’s stupid. You can come up with ideas, you can find the clients, you could do it all. Why include me? Some kind of on-going favour? Carrying the cripple with the superheros, or supervillains, or whatever? I can’t even see that. An amoral person won’t feel that kind of gratitude will they, not really?”
Gabriel laughed and looked at Natalie.
“He really is quite smart isn’t he?” he said to her. She nodded sagely and looked over at me, and I swear, I wasn’t imagining the kind of pride she had in her eyes, like she really was proud of me in some way. Of me. At that point they had me, really, but I wanted to hear Gabriel out.
“Peter, you are right. I’m not pre-disposed to gratitude any more than any of those other finer emotions really. But I think this will be fun. And I want it to be as big as possible. We both do. Natalie and I, to do this, we don’t want it just to be us. We think there’s others of us out there. We want to find them..”
Ah ha! I understood.
“And you might be able to do that alone, but you can’t make contact with them.”
“Assassins R Us need an intermediary to have any company growth.”
Gabriel grinned. “You’ve got it Peter. All companies should grow, and we should have, we want, we crave company. And like I said, we needed you to get to each other, and we still need you, to get to others.”
I laughed, slightly derisively.
“Who’d have thought?” I asked no-one in particular. I looked out the window of Gabriel’s apartment to the sweeping views below. Our playground, possibly, the playground of the new gods.
“What the hell!” I said.
Gabriel had, as always, anticipated me and handed me a refreshed cocktail. Natalie stood beside him. He held up his glass and we followed, like musketeers.
“To our new recruitment manager,” Gabriel quipped.
The glasses met in a flash of light and we laughed.
I’ll leave you my card. It is pretty plain, as you’ll see. It pays to advertise, but not so overtly if you are in the business I’m in. Our business name, of course, is far more obscure and subtle than our original version. You’ll understand that. Now you know the story, I’m sure you’ll be confident of our professionalism and that you need not be concerned about us failing in any way.
You can think about hiring us. But I already know you will. We’re a sure thing. And hey, we know where you live, and you literally can’t see us coming.
Well, you can’t see them anyway. And there’s six of them now. To tell you any more of the story would have been repetitive. And Gabriel’s still the leader, and Natalie is my favourite. I don’t have as much fun telling anyone about the others.
God, I love being the guy with the ideas and the eye. It can take you anywhere. And as I said, on that clear day, the day you finally realize what that potential could be and how strange the world really is, you really can see…forever…..
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015 All Rights Reserved