The black Cadillac slid quietly into the shade of the towering palmetto trees bordering the property of the historic waterfront mansion. Jed stepped out from the black leather back seat exhausted but careful of who may be watching. To the tourist bustling about the holy city it was nothing out of the ordinary but to the nosy neighbors it raised only more suspicion.
Tall and muscular sporting jet black hair and piercing blue eyes, Jed had no lack of admirers of either sex but he only swung one way. Eyes piercing as they were now swollen from the lack of sleep from another long night on the beat, literally.
Jed was never a violent man being aware of his size but justified his actions as more of a duty to defend. He kept a tight circle of friends and those closest to him were few but comfortably referred to him as the Dunder Chief, the misunderstood lyric of the old AC/Dc song. He didn’t mind though, he knew there were worse things he could be called and probably was.
As Jed slowly unlocks the heavy, ornate door he crosses the threshold to the mudroom adjacent to the chefs kitchen. “Boy, you got to keep better hours or at least let me know when y ‘all comin back so I know what and when to cook! I hope you had more than ice cream. Where is Mister Ray?” Miss Mary was quite anxious about another night without her boys at the dinner table and well aware of their eating habits.
Jed ambled slowly toward Mary with tired, wry smile and kissed her upturned cheek. “Ray is parking the car and will be in shortly. I think I am going to take a little nap, I am too tired to eat right now.” Mary turned back toward the refrigerator shaking her head and muttering as she put last nights left overs away.
Jed sheepishly smiled as he turned and walked to hall. As he began to climb the mansions ancient, wooden steps he muttered to himself “this is the last case, I swear” as he lumbered up toward his waiting bed. As he cleared the landing, his android buzzed his right ass cheek from inside pocket of his tattered jeans reminding him for the one hundredth time there is another text from Ashley he is ignoring.
“I know I am in deep shit now” Jed mutters with an exhausted sigh. Another date he blew off with his overly needy girlfriend for the opportunity to seal the deal for a desperate client.
Last nights run was an easier one than they have been lately. This freak never saw it coming but deserved every ounce of water his corpse would absorb at the bottom of the Ashley River. “I fucking hate a woman beater” he mumbled as he collapsed on the pillow top mattress of the old rice planters bed.
It was three o’clock in the afternoon when Fred, Jed’s rambunctious golden retriever wakes him with excited kisses on Jed’s half buried face. “Hey buddy, I missed you too” he said as he calms the dog down. “Come on, we’ll go to the park, you need to shit and I need to clear my head.” Jed changed his clothes to the sound of Fred thumping his tail on the heart pine floor as he patiently waits for his master.
The sun was high and warm but the sea breezes kept the mosquitos at bay as Jed and Fred made their way through Battery Park. Lazily strolling passed the beautiful white gazebo Jed stops to watch a newly married couple and their gushing entourage having pictures taken of their special day. Jed shudders at the thought of that kind of commitment and recalls last nights take down.
A single wide trailer at some point was probably white but sat covered in dirt and mold and smelling of regret. His “client” was a young woman, blonde hair and baby blue eyes when they weren’t bruised. Sporting two young boys under the age of three. The target was her “man”, a late twenties thug wanna be. Man being an operative word for a worthless piece of shit who couldn’t even pull off Vanilla Ice. Sadly though he was just “man” enough to knock hell out of her when he was drunk.
Her name was Katie or some such shit, Jed didn’t keep track anymore. Jed set her up with an easy contact system; he gave her an old flip phone that had one phone number saved as “Santa Clause”. They agreed to this as it was inconspicuous enough that “Ice” wouldn’t notice it for anything other than a toy.
Katie was a case he had been give from an ally deep inside the local police department. “Ice” was a useless douche bag, dumb enough to get into trouble with the law but just smart enough to be able to skirt the fringes of it to continue to be set free.
As fate or karma would have it, Mr. Ice came home drunk yet again and in a fighting mood. Katie did her best to keep everything calm to prevent another ass beating but the children began to fight over a toy resulting in one of them crying. That’s when Ice grabbed the “toy” phone and said “that’s it, I am calling Santa!”. Before Katie could grab the phone from his hand, Karma got a phone call.
Like countless times before, the ring tone let Jed know it was go time for another wanna be badass to meet his maker. It became like clock work for Jed and Ray. The route and all contingencies planned for when it came time to move.
The drive was casual, no need to speed to raise awareness besides, they weren’t that far away. It would be good for the victim to remember one last time why they hired Jed in the first place. As Jed and Ray drove the dark, dank lowcountry back roads they sang “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks as it played over their favorite country music station.
Katie saw through the small kitchen window the headlights of the Cadillac shutoff as it slowly rolled the last few feet of driveway, she gathered up the boys and ran down the hallway into the bedroom locking the door behind her. She huddled on the floor with her boys, her stomach knotted from nerves.
Katie could hear the creek of the dilapidated wooden steps as Jed walked up to the front door. Throwing the ill hung door open, Ice had no chance as Jed escorted him down the steps to the waiting car. Okay, maybe it was more like Jed coming through the door like a pissed off gorilla grabbing Ice without warning and throwing him down the steps. Either way, Ice laid motionless in the trunk; hands and feet tied and duct tape over his mouth.
When the takedown was complete, Katie met Jed at the door and handed him the flip phone. She tried to reach and give Jed a hug but he sternly waived her off and said “no touching, no talking and forget me when the door closes or you become the victim.”
Jed hated giving that speech especially to these young ladies who made stupid decisions but it was necessary to protect himself.
Killing Ice was easy, intoxication slows the heart so suffocation was rather quick and he was a corpse before Jed and Ray arrived at the Leeds Avenue boat landing. They used this landing because it was an area where people expected bad things to happen after dark. The folks that hung out there when the sun went down were usually homeless or strung out druggies but always loyal to the “Caddy”.
Jed put the corpse in the mooring john boat and Ray idled them up the Ashley river to a creek that was freshly dredged. Binding cement cylinders, castings from test cement used in the making of the Ravennel bridge to Ices’ lifeless body, Jed slid the corpse into the creek. Watching Ice slowly sink below the surface his eyes staring blankly towards his heavenly home, Jed suddenly felt hungry.
With the job complete, Jed and Ray slid exhaustedly into the Cadillac. “You thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Ray. Jed grinned and said “yeah but if Ms. Mary finds out, Ice may have companions.” Ray laughed and said “the secret is safe with me my friend, I don’t need her cutting my ass, there ain’t much left!” Laughing, they headed from the landing to the Baskin and Robbins.
The anxious pull from Fred’s leash brought Jed back to the present. Jed smiled at his four legged brother and the pair began their walk back home. When Jed opened the door, he found Ashley waiting for him. Jed reached down and released Fred from his harness and the dog trotted happily toward his water bowl, freshly filled.
“I texted you so many times last night and you never even texted me back once!” she said obviously annoyed and damn near tears. Jed stood staring at her patiently waiting for her next sentence that invariably would be coming any second now. Ashley was never short on sentences when she was bitching about something.
This time however she stood staring Jed in the eyes waiting for his sorry excuse that she became accustomed to receiving. Knowing he fucked up again, he acknowledged her right to be pissed. He simply shrugged his huge shoulders and said “I’m sorry, I should have texted you back but I had a family emergency and I forgot all about our date, my phone…everything till just now. Do you really think I would sink so low as to not call you and cancel if something less pressing came up? Give me some credit, but family comes first. I should have called when I got in a little while ago but Fred needed to go out and I was planning to call when I got back.”
Ashley quickly changed her demeanor to a softer understanding tone. “I am so sorry, is everything alright, is everyone okay?”
“Yeah, for now” Jed replied relieved his bullshit story stuck. He offered no other details to keep it simple, the less he had to remember later on. Ashley covered the short distance between them throwing her arms around him and kissing his cheek.
“What do you say I take you to dinner to make up for last night” offered Jed with smile.
“I will take it!” replied Ashley, grateful for the date and a free meal.