The alley was full of the sounds that come with a foot chase in the rain. Heavy breathing, shouts to stop because it’s the police that were running after the criminal, the crack of thunder followed by the loud roll of thunder that made it the alley feel like the worst place in the world to be. Mists rolled up when the rain hit the hot pavement and the humidity rolled over and sighed as it settled down for the night and became simply stuffy rather than feeling overwhelming. All these things meant nothing to the two people meeting behind the back of an old deli at midnight. Two men were both standing in the dark were talking quietly and occasionally being illuminated by lightening.
“Did she see you?” The taller of the two asked, taking a long drag on his cigar that illuminated part of his face as the rain dripped off the hat he was wearing. His partner in the meeting gave a little shiver that was caused by both the rain and the fact that even half the man’s face scared him.
“No and I’m insulted that you asked.”
The tall man chuckled. It was low, obviously filled with the mirth of a man who’s used to filling his every move with malice and terror. The shorter man shuddered again as the tall man flicked his ashes off his cigar.
“You fear me.” At the shorter man’s nod, he continued; “This is good that you fear. I have earned it with the things I’ve done, but you have nothing to fear from me. You’re dead.”
“Not as dead as every one thinks.” His companion replied, with a little smirk and he adjusted the hooded rain slicker he was wearing so that the hood was pulled farther forward.
“Dead enough for what I need. Where’s the packet I asked you to get?” The tall man’s companion passed him a large file with a rubber band keeping it together.
“It’s all there and was just where you said it would be. As was the security system. You were right, she never changed the pass codes on anything. I was in and out within a few minutes while she was taking your little ones to soccer practice.”
“That is good news.” The tall man put the folder in to the leather briefcase that he was carrying and then reached in to his trench coat pocket for a large envelope, passing it to the shorter man. “Your fee is all there. I’m assuming you can be reached at the same number if I need you again?”
“Yes, it hasn’t changed in seven years, why would I change it now?”
The tall man unbent enough to laugh with a little warmth and took another drag of his cigar. The embers illuminated his face again, this time the scars on the tall man’s face didn’t make the other man shudder in fear. The lightening flashed again and the light showed a little more of the man’s face. A clear, green eye stared at the shorter man and saw the fresh, clean shaven, angular face of the shorter man who’s blue eyes were filled with fear and mirth. It was a good combination that the taller man liked to establish with everyone.
“Still the same, even in your supposed death.” The shorter man smiled at that, finally relaxing only a little.
“Death is oddly freeing, even if it is in paperwork and a new face only and not a total rebirth. You should try it, maybe take the little lady and kiddos to Japan. I hear extradition is very hard to secure for the U.S. right now.”
The tall man smiled, took the cigar out of his mouth again and looked at the ashes before flicking them off.
“I have unfinished business before I take your route to freedom.”
“I hope your business doesn’t level half the city like the last time. I spent months cleaning up that shit when I was alive; I’m not doing it while I’m enjoying my death.”
More laughter surprised both men, as it came from a memory that they both shared. There was no malice in either man’s voice or actions as they shared the moment. Just as it ended, there was another crack of thunder and the rain started to come down harder. The men looked up at the sky and took the hint. Without saying another word to each other, both men shook hands and walked away. The taller man walked out of the alley to the north, the shorter man let himself in to the building that backed up to the Deli. Neither man saw or, if they did see, mentioned the man tailing the taller of the pair.