By Mark Cunningham
The sun was warm by the afternoon of Woody Woodbine’s funeral. Many had worn jackets, taken off beneath the twin elm trees from whose entangled branches the Woodbine ancestral home took its name.
“I knew Woody Woodbine for almost seventy years.” The voice was weak. “Woody was a good egg. Always up for a lark. Paid for rounds more than most.” There were weak grumbles.
Jurgen Goellner, crisp in white wait-staff jacket, held a tray, nodding with an affable, fawning smile, behind which were things that would cause recoil even in those unaware of the Mauser in his pocket or stiletto in his shoe. Goellner had lived long enough to get an AARP card by being prepared.
“The first time I met Woody was at Choate of course…”
His target was there; Goellner keyed a cell phone.
The target looked down; shook his head slightly. He whispered to the woman standing next to him with red hair and a look of understated urgency that was surprisingly attractive. The target turned and walked towards the house, trying so hard to be quiet and inconspicuous, that everyone there turned to look at him.
“It was at Yale though, that Woody came into his own….”
It needed to be an accident, and in Goellner’s experience, the best accidents were sudden and freak in nature. Nobody ever questioned freak accidents because everybody was busy trying to explain them. He considered an accidental decapitation involving a metal pipe through the driver’s side window of the target’s Prius, but in the end a simple fall on the pavement was chosen. All it would take was spilled water and proximity. He would pull the target down as he walked by. Goellner had calculated the right angle to pull by averaging the target’s weight, height and posture, and the hardness of the pavement. The skull would shatter, slicing synapses into clumps of wet confetti. The spilled water and the cell phone would fill in the gaps.
“At a funeral; can you believe it?”
“We know who murdered your Grandfather.” Goellner spoke into the mic in his jacket, connected to the approaching target’s cell phone. The target stiffened, just as a tall, thin man began jumping up and down and pointing at something over his shoulder, speaking in Romanian, a language from Goellner’s past. Goellner looked, then used the distraction and reached back, grabbing the target’s hands and pulling up into a flip. He heard the skull crunch with a wet and satisfying plop. He looked down and blinked. It wasn’t the target. It was some guy that must have just come out of the bathroom, only now his brains were cooling in the warm sun. The target was just ahead of him. Before Goellner could even register disgust, he saw a man across the lawn clutch his chest and fall on the ground. Just behind him, he saw something that caused him to forget about the bungled job, and just stare. He saw Skendar Lazar staring back.
Waxings note: This entry, specially written for the 500-word challenge, sits within an intriguing world introduced by Mark Cunningham and Kimberlee Akimoto in Tangled Lines: The Prologue.