The scoundrel sat in a dingy, smoke-filled room, in a building more uptown than any other in the city yet most downbeat. As music played faintly and distantly on the vinyl player in the corner, he nursed his drink contemplatively. He gloated, in a twisted sense, at how the very bar he sat in was his safe and comfortable place, where he revelled in his triumphs and victories. There was a certain “peace” to be found in the sight of the oblivious denizens that frequented the place, unaware that their home ground was an underbelly of depravity.

Three gunshots rang out, well within a mile of the club. The man’s mirth multiplied, and he smiled widely as he downed the swill in front of him almost to the tempo of the gunshots, as well as that of the music that continued to play heedlessly. Had the screams of the people not drowned out the music’s crescendo, the scene would have been more dramatic. In the scuffle, all that could find their way to the exits did; some escaped through the very alleyway where death stood, and might have known it on closer scrutiny, but paid no mind in their flight and fright. A sudden stillness overtook the room, as only the bartender, casually tapping a barrel like he still had a full house, and the scoundrel, remained.

The antique grandfather clock, wildly out of place in its environment, struck twelve, ushering in a silhouette that stood at the door, her sultry scent nearly overpowering the putrid cloud in the room. She swayed lithely from side to side, the red fur coat she wore sweeping the floor, and approached the sole remaining customer. Needing no introductions, the two acknowledged each other as the raven-haired beauty seductively took her coat off and laid it on the bar before sitting dangerously close to the scoundrel. She made bedroom eyes at the bartender as he came up to her, possibly to take her order or simply drawn to this new mystical presence in his establishment. The large jewels she wore called attention to an even brighter red than her coat, splattered across her neck and at the front of her dress. She maintained strong eye contact with the barkeep, except this time her expression was inexplicably sinister, and the man knew not to ask questions. 

As soon as her glass was empty she simply turned to her collaborator and asked for her dues, saying all that needed to be said about her job being done to perfection and completion. She had never failed to impress the scoundrel, but had long ceased to surprise him. The smoking gun had been disposed of appropriately,  which the man continually questioned the woman about in a bid to reassure himself that this was yet another clean operation. To finalise the meeting he threw a tip on the counter, which was merely a fraction of what the woman had happily bagged that evening.

The duo then left the establishment together, arm in arm, but both with very different ideas on how the night would end. On his arm the scoundrel had a voluptuous siren at whom he couldn’t help but smile greedily, knowing that the business portion of the evening was over. On her arm, the siren knew she had a lamb heading to the slaughter. She smiled back in earnest and concealed malice. They walked down the darkest alleys and turned the sharpest corners; for the main roads, with their streetlights and proximity to the suburbs and masses, were no place for them. Round the last corner, a bright light shone, almost too bright for those sombre streets. A uniformed officer came into view, and before he could react the scoundrel was in handcuffs and on the ground.

He struggled for everything he was worth and all he could see of the woman were her impractically long stilettos as she stood facing yet another uniformed officer. The woman was thanked for her co-operation and reassured of the hefty reward she’d been promised for turning in the “elusive crime boss” along with proof of all his exploits. The subdued scoundrel was too dumbfounded to spit out all the questions and profanities that formed in his mind. With a wink at the officer, which, like before, said all that needed to be said, she turned on her heels and left; the last the betrayed ever saw of her was her figure fading out of view.

And as the scoundrel was whisked away, checkmated, the assassin in red stole away into the cold, dark night.

~ Wanjihia.


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