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He stood relaxed behind his securely closed screen door, waiting expectantly for the tall stranger to explain his presence so early in the morning.
"How are you, this wonderful, fine morning? Would you be Brian Mussellton?" The Visitor asked pleasantly.
The elderly man of the house nodded his head to acknowledge the veracity of the question.
"Could be… and who might you be, and what is it that you want of me? Especially so early in the morning." He replied somewhat suspiciously.
"You formerly worked at Stellar Engineering in Darwin. NT." More a statement, not a question.
"Please identify yourself before I answer any more of your questions. If not, then you can go. Now!"
"Umm... Sorry... George Bennett." The stranger struggled with his clip-board so that he could fumbled in the inside top pocket of his business coat to extract his identification, so it seemed. "... umm... formerly of the Northern Territory Police Force. I now work for a Private Investigation Firm... Integral Intelligence Services, Mr Mussellton. An Engineering Firm in the Territory have hired my firm to locate all previous employees.... seems that there is some Super, Long Service Leave payments and Holiday Loading money owing to all the Staff who weren’t paid out when the Firm went arse up."
Not bad off the top of my head, the tall man thought to himself.
His quick thinking pleased him.
"Well, Mister Bennett. Have you some form of identification...and to set the record straight, I've never been to the Territory... though I plan to get up around those parts now that I'm retired... I've hardly been out of this State. I've been in the Public Service all my life and have just recently retired... I should get to NT and other beautiful parts of this country if my plans for my retirement years work out... there must be another Brian Mussellton, as good looking as me and one lucky bastard by all accounts, one would hope with a name like that, whom you seek." This said with a smile on his face.
That was the last words that the man ever uttered. Pleasant and comical as they were!
Shock, disbelief and then pain wiped away the smile on his recently shaved countenance.
He was shot twice through the chest at point-blank range with a 9-millimetre Pistol. The force of which threw him backwards up the Hallway of his modest double fronted, double garage, brick veneer home of forty years.
The Shooter stood momentarily at the door watching the pool of blood enlarge to soak the timber flooring of the narrow entry Hall. He glanced at the neatly made holes in the insect screen as the bullets had torn through the flimsy material of the screen door.
A scream of utter anguish and terror bought him back to the present. A figure emerged from the gloom of the inside of the house to stare at the prostrate figure bleeding to death at her feet.
The tall gentleman slipped the pistol into its holster under his arm as he walked quickly from the property.
He thought absently to himself of how predictable and silly people were.
If he had asked his 'target' straight out was he Brian Mussellton who had recently retired after a life-time in the Public Service, the chap would have gone on the defensive straight away. He would not have furnished the details that he had, for the Shooter to be able to positively identify his man.
This added insurance, as the photo that he had been given of his quarry, was grainy and blurred.
Obviously taken from a great distance and in somewhat of a hurry!
Silly. That's how he viewed the general populace! Just plain bloody stupid and too trusting.
He slid into the driver's seat and started up the car as he noticed several people pointing their smart phones towards him. People still in their night attire, bought out onto their front porches and driveways by the unmistakeable sound of two shots; one straight after the other reverberating around the quiet street in the brisk morning air.
A foreign sound to many.
He would abandon this vehicle within five minutes, only a couple of blocks from here. He'd also discard the hat, the wig, the false moustache and glasses and the business coat and tie.
'A changed man,' he thought to himself.
A hint of a smile on his face at his own adjudged cleverness. He had no idea who his Client was in the scheme of the world, or why it was necessary the 'target' be terminated. It didn't matter to him either way, as long as the money for services rendered was received. He had already received a 'down payment' of twenty large with another fifteen plus three for expenses due him.
He had no reason to think that the remainder would not be forthcoming.
It was then that this little worm invaded his thoughts.
He had thought it before, as he had staked out his 'target'. Getting to know his movements. His habits. The chap looked vaguely familiar, though it wouldn't click into place. He perhaps should have done a little snooping into the background of the guy just to satisfy that unease. No time for that. The Client was most insistent on a result as quickly as possible that precluded any such silliness. And besides, he normally desisted from obtaining too much background on his target. It gave substance to a face. A person.
He didn’t want for that.
His journey took less than several minutes. Only several quiet suburban blocks were involved.
He drove the car slowly into the small Parking Area of a local Playing Field. Pleased that the area was around half full. No-one was loitering thankfully, with most having dropped off their precious 'little ones' at the adjacent Pre-School establishment and gone to join the girls having coffee; or a shopping 'bee' or running laps of the playing oval.
Perhaps a few might work, he thought absently to himself.
He slipped out of his coat and took off the masks of his trade, placing everything into a large plastic garbage bag which he securely tied off. He stood beside the car as he put on another casual jacket to hide his gun and holster, depositing the garbage bag into the boot as he extracted a small overnight bag. He wired up the petrol bomb, and closed the boot before walking briskly to a nondescript, small, white Hatchback.
If the thing worked correctly, it would explode into a fire ball within thirty minutes.
His immediate hope was that no-one else was around or near the car when this happened.
It would be a nasty way to die.
As though two bullets to the chest was a more humane way to go out!
He drove slowly out of the parking area and was joining the main arterial road as several Police vehicles sped past with lights ablaze and sirens careening their monotonous tune.
He headed towards the south bound motorway.
His contract completed.
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: