Tricks, ...
dancing to a different drummer

The self-important man was too absorbed in yelling on his cellphone, as he got out of his car, to notice that death was watching him, out of the shadows and the early evening whispers of fog.  His three bodyguards were soon distracted as well.  The first guard getting out of the car noticed the street whore leaning against the building, who seemed out of place in the financial district of downtown San Francisco. Yet, when she fumbled an attempt to light a cigarette, and then leaned over to pick it up again, his eyes went away from her over-painted junkie face to the cleavage now exposed.  Her garish shoulder bag fell off as well, crashing onto the sidewalk with a loud clang.  The other guard noticed her too, but was drawn into the play when she bungled picking up the bag, and almost lit on fire the falls of wig-hair across her eyes, in a second failed attempt to start to smoke.  Then, when she next, seemingly absentmindedly, reached down to the lower edge of her excessively short shorts, to scratch the inside of a thigh, his eyes followed that movement too, coming to rest where a tuft of pubic hair could now be seen.

Only the third guard - the driver, holding the important man’s door open, noticed that the hand that wasn’t scratching, was death reaching inside of that large garish bag.  While he too carried weapons, he knew right away it was too late.  Her other hand pulled out a silenced twenty-two, and killed all three of them, with highly accurate head shots, in less seconds than that.  As the three guards fell, she continued walking toward them, steady now on those impossibly high platform shoes.  The self-important man looked up and glimpsed, for only a moment, the shiny round circle of the open end of the silencer, with its inner black hole of darkness.  There was just enough time for him to imagine he could see the bullet leave the gun.

With a slight turn she caught the driver, who had  conveniently paused - on his knees - his slow motion fall to the sidewalk, took the car keys from the pocket in which he had placed them in a move a serious pickpocket would have envied.  Cat quick she opened the car door and drove away, before the hysterics in a slowly gathering crowd could begin to scream.  The limo was then just one more black town car on streets also full of yellow taxis, as the nighttime's pirates and wolves - the hard driving and partying stock brokers and bankers - began to fill up the local bars.

She took off the wig while she drove, and, when waiting in traffic as necessary, removed the makeup.  The limo she took to a drug business friend’s chop shop, and changed clothes, seemingly shyly, getting very naked in front of the mostly Latino mechanics.  They too were fascinated by her style, and whistled appreciatively, for she was a classic blond looker of the old school, that any Hollywood agent would have signed in a heartbeat, ... if it had been 1940.  A couple of them noticed some scars on her lower back.  Sans underwear, she pulled a very tight and short black low cut evening dress from the bag and then drew it over her head.  Next from that magicians hat of a bag came some black five inch heels, a string of real pearls and a dark designer clutch purse.  The not longer relevant clothes, shoes, and bag, she left in the chop shop’s dumpster.  The gun and the cell phone she dropped in a large barrel that collected used oil, which would later also disappear.

A cell phone call previously placed, while she was still driving to the chop shop, brought a taxi there, and she smiled to  cheers and looks up her skirt as she coyly entered the taxi and exited that scene.  She could have batted her eyelashes, for she had just fixed her face, but that would have been too much, and perhaps ruined the total desired effect.  Twenty minutes later she was right back where she had previously waited, and said hi to a couple of detectives handling the chaos of dead bodies.  She then entered the building carrying the clutch bag, which along with another burner phone, contained a special tool with which to complete the task at hand.    To the cops she was just another party girl out for a good time.  The witnesses had, after all, to a man - or woman, described a junkie hooker as the shooter.  

The tool was a type of knife of her own design and manufacture.  It looked more like some kind of smaller than usual hair-spray container, yet hidden inside of it was a six inch ice-pick like blade, held delicately in place in front of a powerful unopened spring.  Forty floors up she meet the client, who was also distracted by her blatant sexuality, and who gave her a large Neiman Marcus shopping bag, with half a million in cash in small bills inside.  She let him fondle her a little, and then pulled the faux hair spray out of the clutch purse, saying she had to go, but needed to fix her hair first.  Moving even closer against him, she reach down with one hand stroked his trouser front, so that he didn’t notice her other hand place the device next to his ear, near his temple.  He was dead before his body hit the carpet.  The client had thought he owned her, but for this gig he was just one more loose end that needed cleaning. 

By the time she was back on the street, the Friday night debauchery was in full swing, and she fit right in.  Smiling once more at the detectives, she hailed a cab, directing it toward a private airport down the peninsula, where her personal Cessna Turbo Skylane  waited, gassed and ready.  The cabby got a handful of cash from the shopping bag, his biggest tip of the week, partly because he didn’t talk, or oogle her.   She was in no hurry and did the usual disciplined and careful pre-flight checks before taking off.  Once north of the San Francisco Bay area, the fog dissipated, and the sky was clear.  Four hours later she was home, landing on the well lit private grass field inside her Christmas tree ranch in the Trinity Mountains of Northern California.  While the four-seat plane had been on auto-pilot she had changed clothes again.  When she stepped out, she looked more like the somewhat well known local pot farmer that she was.  Good hiking boots, tight jeans, and a boy’s cotton plaid long sleeved shirt, covered partially by a open down vest, for the air at this elevation was brisk.  Her partner, Fay, was waiting in their jet-black four wheel drive hummer, tricked out with lots of lights and chromed bumpers.  Fay got out and greeted her, saying: “How’s Tricks?” ... a private joke, before they embraced.

On the way to their cozy - but not small - log-cabin-like home, they discussed the new ad campaign, where Tricks’ services were to be listed in various  mercenary magazines: “Lesbo cleaner for hire.  Excellent references.  Trained in Afghanistan.”  Codes to a dark-net Tor account were included in the ad.  Once home, a moment of wine and homemade cheesecake was enjoyed, before the ritual candle-lit naked cuddle on a real bear rug in front of a delicious fire.   The two entwined bodies, one black and one white, would have sent a photographer of erotic art into ecstasy, accept for the fact that Fay was missing a part of a leg, from below the knee down, and neither woman shaved anything.

The fact that the self-important man, and the client who had wanted him dead, were both in the upper levels of the finance industry, and had escaped prosecution in spite of all the harm they had caused, ... that fact led to some sober discourse from both Fay and Tricks, during the afterglow of sex.  Another glass of wine was raised, and Fay proposed the toast: “To justice” she said.  To which Tricks replied: “And to tough love too”.  Laughing, Fay whispered in her lover’s ear: “What’s the difference?”

Fay had wanted to talk local business, saying that some of the women, employed to individually groom the marijuana plants hidden in and among the forest of pine trees, wanted more money for this lonely work.  But then Tricks dumped the Neiman Marcus bag over Fay’s head in a shower of green, and giggles won the day.  They would have slept in very late the next morning, rising to sunlight playing with the trees, except for a bout of PTSD nightmares for Fay, and a long necessary for healing discussion of memories from when they met in Afghanistan.  Expecting something else, they found there not only a vicious foreign enemy, but also too many male pigs in their own army, whose rapes of Fay had only stopped when Tricks’ first officer kill forced a reconsideration.   Afterward, the two were suspected to be dangerous, but no one could prove a thing, and they were left alone.  Even the sexually harassing comments had ceased.  Tricks had used a knife, and done the first deed up close, personal, and in the deep dark of night.  The second - a few weeks later - equally skillful and of an even a higher rank, sealed the deal, and brought some much needed attention to an army division not well overseen for its egregious misogynist leadership.

By the long months of their second tour they had a rep.  Not for the wanton killing so much - there were whispers, but for courage under fire and so they found membership in the company of brothers in combat.    Both came home with two purple hearts each, and after Tricks made herself useful in the Northern California drug wars, they earned enough money to start their own business and acquire completely new identities.  They stayed away from the system - no going to derelict VA hospitals, and when forced reup papers were sent out, they were successful outlaws, completely off the grid, and could not be found.  Even drug seeking satellites could not distinguish the all year’s long green of the pines, from the color of the brand of potent California weed they grew and sold.  While Tricks had the martial skills their collaboration needed, it was Fay who turned out to have the creative green thumb.   Their chief California outlet was the Latino biker gang that operated that chop shop in Hunter’s Point in San Francisco.  This gave them distribution throughout the Western States. 

The world had conspired to rip away the moral teachings of their youth, without compromise or gentleness.  So, they joined forces, made up their own rules, and not only survived, but succeeded in a very difficult life they never could have imagined as little girls, although both were from rural trailer parks in southern States.  That shared troubles, in a far far away war zone, brought them together, the core fact of attraction was something only they recognized in each other.  They were wise beyond their years, and far more intelligent than their use of language might have implied.  A cover never really tells you much about a book, until you open it up - gently - and carefully learn to read it in adoration of its wonders.

All the same, the future still had uncertainties, for Fay, with Tricks for backup, that morning was invited to a meeting of off the books pot growers, to make decisions and plans concerning the future of the business, now that legalization was changing all the rules and balances among the various competing interests.  The Northern California pot wars were not over - they had just gone quiet for a time.  After some talk, the two women decided to retire, they had had enough of wars.  The ranch would be sold, the labor problems taken over by someone else, and maybe they would just go back to living in trailers once more.  What did they need?  They had each other, Fay could garden, Tricks could handle the technological aspects of living off the grid; and, in a pinch, she could always do some more gigs.  Why keep looking for trouble, when it was sure enough to find you on its own anyway.