Walton picked up the gold amulet and closed his eyes. It began to get warm. Then hot.
The waves of memories washed over him like a Tsunami. It was just like being back in Dallas. The motorcade, like an uncoiled python, crept down the boulevard. Walton was on a grassy knoll, crouched over, a high powered rifle in his hands.
And then the splash of red. The screams melding with the sirens. Walton shook, as if he’d been electrocuted. He wrenched his eyes open and threw the amulet to the ground. Blisters appeared on the palms of his hands.
Mercury sat in the red leather armchair, peeling the hard-boiled egg with his long fingernails. It was a habit he’d picked up from from a film he’d seen. One of the many. The raincoat and the sunglasses he wore, for example, were his, well, homage, to Chow Yun Fat after a recent Hong Kong action film binge. The bleached blond hair was a nod to Tom Cruise in ‘Collateral’.
Immortality meant that Mercury’s habits needed to be chewed up and spat out with regularity. But this one, the egg peeling trick, had stayed for over a quarter of a century. It had been, he thought, a fairly realistic film although Lucifer had loathed it .
Walton picked up the bottle of Scotch and guzzled down a mouthful. Ten years of sobriety down the river. But then it wasn’t everyday you had a meeting with an angel of death.
He leaned against the wall and noticed that the blisters were fading.
‘Well, ‘ said Mercury, in his best Hugh Grant accent. ‘Did it make you feel nostalgic for the good old days?’
Walton shrugged but he knew that it had. He’d had a taste of the times when he had the power of life and death over people. The days when he’d felt most alive. Before the CIA had cleaned up it’s act and sent him off in exile. To Europe, of all places. France. Walton hated France. He hated its smell. Its sounds. Its food.
‘So, what’s the deal?’ he said.
Mercury popped the egg into his mouth and swallowed it whole. Walton held back the disgust as he watched it make it’s way down Mercury’s long thin throat. Mercury certainly didn’t look like Walton’s idea of an angel. Grey skin and shiny black eyes – like a taller version of one of those freaks that they kept in Roswell.
Mercury burped. The room smelled sour.
‘Well, Mr Walton,’ said Mercury.’ We, my employer and I, are recruiting. A small, select group of professional, ahem, liquidators. Rather like the Dirty Dozen except we’ve chosen four. Four of the best.’
‘And what’s the mission?’ said Walton, knocking back more booze.
‘Oh, there will be a series of missions,’ said Mercury, wiping his mouth with a silk handkerchief. ‘Commando attacks on high profile targets.’
‘And when will these missions begin?’
‘Oh, Mr Walton, isn’t it obvious?’
Walton shrugged his shoulders. ‘Beats the hell out of me.’
‘Two thousand and twelve, Mr Walton! Like in that Nicolas Cage film where no one smokes, even though it’s the end of the world? Have you seen it? Rather droll, actually’
‘You mean that’s true? All that Mayan Prophecy shit?’
‘Deary me, no, no, no! The Mayans didn’t have a clue. No, but Lucaf … er, my employer.. thought it would be a bit of a wheeze if we stirred up a bit of mischief around that time, feed people’s paranoia. Take out a few world leaders, that sort of thing. Not a bad idea, don’t you think?’
‘Well, you know, I’m flattered and all,’ said Walton ‘ But, in case you haven’t noticed I’m getting on a bit. I’m eighty seven this July. My joints ache and I get short of breath just bending over to tie my shoe laces.!!’
‘Ahh, but Mr Walton, in the next life you will be fit and health. Fighting fit! More powerful than you could imagine!’
‘The next life? What the hell are you up to?’ He automatically pulled out his Walter PPK and pointed it at Mercury.
Mercury smirked. ‘Oh, no not us, Mr Walton. A laundry van at the end of the month. Very messy, I’m afraid. But you will, however, be very drunk and you won’t feel a thing!’
‘Indeed. We just need you to sign a contract before you pass over. So that you’re not poached by the other side. They’re a sneaky bunch, to be sure.’ He waved a piece of paper in the air.
Walton sat down on the sofa. Dust floated up and hung in the air, caught by a shard of Autumn sunlight. He’d been living clean for a long time now. Clean. And safe. And bored. It didn’t take him long to decide.
‘Gimme the pen.’ said Walton.
‘Oh, terrific,’ said Mercury passing a black fountain pen to Walton’s trembling hand.
Walton signed and handed back the paper to Mercury who pocketed it in a flash before putting on his sunglasses.
‘Where are you off to now?’ said Walton, draining the bottle of whisky and thinking of how he was going to go on one hell of a bar crawl for the next month.
‘Ah, best not say but it’s as hot as hell where I’m going. Well almost.’
Mercury flapped his raincoat which transformed into black, leather wings. The wings flapped and beat twice and then he was gone in a ball of fire.
Walton sniffed. Fire and brimstone, he thought. He was looking forward to to starting smoking again.
(c) Paul D Brazill 2010.
Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives in Poland. His work has appeared in a number of print and electronic magazines and anthologies. His story Guns of Brixton was included in the 2011 Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime. He is the creator of the Drunk On The Moon series and has recently released two short story collections, Brit Grit and 13 Shots Of Noir. His blog is YOU WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN’T YOU?