The Hands

It was a warm and sticky night, the kind where the air felt like it was leaving a residue on your body the second you went outside of your apartment. I watched the condensation drip down the window and smirked, good thing my job had a working AC I thought to myself.

I was a security guard at a hotel, nothing fancy, but it paid the bills. The hotel was one of this middle of the road places that you’d stay and forget everything about after a week or two. After a few nasty break-ins and other incidents, management had decided to hire some guards on a case by case basis whenever they needed that extra bit of security or when there were big conventions happening.

And if you’re wondering why conventions in particular, well then you just have to attend one. Those things get wild as fuck sometimes if it’s the wrong people hosting them and that’s when me and my guys step in and straighten up the whole thing. Easy work, easy money. Sometimes one of the working stiffs take a swing at you, thinking they’re Conan the Beerbarian, but a whack or two with a stick and they calm right the hell down. Management always has our back when that happens too and they’re more than happy to put down any fees for destroyed inventory that we might suggest too.

This Friday night in particular had been just a general call-in, no profile, no nothing. No convention, no dignitaries, nothing at all. As luck would have it, me, Quint and Slade (three perfect miscreants who were good enough to stop the riff-raff from getting in, but not serious enough about our jobs to ask for a raise) had drawn the shortest straw. Great.

But every cloud has a silver lining, even in our shitty job. After most of the regular staff had left for the night, we settled in with a good game of poker and got something to drink from the bar. I knew the barman and he was kind enough to let us get away with it, provided we were discreet about it.

A few hours later, I was walking around the outer perimeter of the hotel when I noticed that the usual radio chatter had stopped. OK.. that’s a thing, I thought to myself. They’d usually report in at least once every 20 minutes with something, but all I got was dead air. I wasn’t about to take any risks, so I circled around the place to get a birds eye view of where they usually patrolled the heaviest, since probability indicated they’d likely be there. Besides, I’d often thought to myself that if I was looking to get in, that’s when I’d take out any guards first.

Yeah yeah, I think too much. But then again, I never patrol the same static route more than once either and look at me now eh? At least that’s what I thought to get my head into the game as I sped up and started moving a bit faster to find ANYONE doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

I got to the small stage where they’d put on plays. It always creeped me the fuck out in the evenings. I don’t know if it was the masks with their fucked faces or the smell of old fabric and polished wood, but the whole area had this weird abandoned feeling that I didn’t like. I stared at it all, props, seats, flat mountains and fake balconies and I shook my head. Then my eyes found what they were darting around for and my heart sank in my chest down into what felt like icy waters.

Splayed across the stage was Quint, he was positioned in such a way that told me that he was definitely dead. I took a few moments to check the place, still creepy, still empty and I looked back at his body. The way he was sprawled over the floor meant someone had done a serious number on him. I touched his body and noticed it was cold already, not good. My chest now felt like it was sinking into the Marianas trench, this was not some punk breaking in to score some cheap booze apparently.

I silently snuck over to where Slade would be, hoping I would have better luck there, two against one right? I have to confess, I really like the guy even though he’s a raging homophobic and his gay jokes get tiring after a while. Still, most of the time he does the right thing and I respect him for that.

The icy feeling in me got even worse as I saw Slade, or.. rather the body of him. Neck had been broken or he’d been strangled. Who the fuck could have done that? I still went over to check on him and noticed he was very cold.. whomever had killed them had been here for a while. And here my mind raced in a way that brought me back to school for a second, I almost heard with a creepy realistic recollection the words “Your mind always goes racing off everywhere, you need pay attention to this class if you ever want to pass!” coming from the teacher of my math class.

This time I wished my mind hadn’t gone racing, because I really quickly put a number of things together: These two had been dead for quite a while for their bodies to start getting cold and I’d been hearing them both on the radio until just recently when they’d both stopped abruptly.

My mind kept racing, I was powerless to stop it, stacking one fact after another, testing another theory one after another until it with a soundless click it all fit together.

The thought dawned on me that maybe I hadn’t been hearing them at all the last couple of minutes. Their dialogue had seemed.. off in some way. I’d chalked it up to all of us being tired as fuck since we were pulling a double shift from another location, but now I realized that the someone that’d taken them out probably had mimicked their voices while doing so.

My chest now felt like it contained liquid nitrogen. I started to shiver and I wasn’t stupid enough to pretend that it wasn’t anything else than plain old fear.

I heard someone behind the bar and pulled out my gun that felt suddenly very small to me. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, rent-a-cops don’t get to keep guns, but that never stopped me from keeping my ”shit-hits-fan” insurance on me, and this evening I was very happy about having skirted that particular rule. I crept up on the liquor safe and found a wiry guy trying to get the dial. I told him I had a gun and that I would shoot him at the slightest provocation and to quietly get on the floor.

He started to get down, but then tried to turn around to get at me. I slapped him quickly in the back of his head with my revolver and knocked him out cold. Better than what he deserved, the asshole. I should have shot him and called it self defense, but now he was out cold and now I didn’t have the stomach to do it anymore. But ridding the world of this cold-hearted bastard would have been a service.

However, my meager sense of duty compelled me to head back for the main safe, because I suspected now that management had pulled a fast one again.

A fast one means that they were storing something ridiculously valuable in the safe and that obviously someone had figured it out. It was typically an insider job at work. What I didn’t get was why, insurance on that safe wouldn’t cover anything over half a million dollars anyway. I guess management had lied to a client again, but what was worse was that they lied to us guys too. It wasn’t a secret when management tried something like this since we’d increase security on those days anyway. Just didn’t make any sense.

Click Click Click Click my mind silently went, almost flipping through possibilities with a kaleidoscope style of fitting the facts together.

I groaned internally when it hit me: they wanted to keep this under wraps in the fear that increased security would attract more attention. Or maybe it was just plain old greed at work or maybe they just didn’t trust us with this juicy morsel at all. Fuck I hate management, you can’t fucking trust those guys.

While this was unfolding in my mind, I had gone back to Quints body at the stage and I quickly went into the kitchen to reach the office behind that. In there, I stumbled upon a guy that looked really afraid when I bumped into him (I nearly shat myself in fear too) and I pulled the gun on his face. He was shaking like a leaf while I told him with a authority I didn’t feel at all to take things slow and to get on the floor.

He instead sat down and looked crestfallen and started to explain in a panicked voice that he wasn’t getting paid enough for this shit. He gave me the look I recognize, the crook that’s given up. But I kept on my guard and asked him how many people were there. He said there was one guy at the other safe and that it was himself and that it’d been a bad idea. He then started telling me about the plan without me even asking about it. Typical amateur.

I’ve busted so many fucking kids over the years that never learned to shut the fuck up, if they’d only been quiet, most of them would have gotten off scot-free. I mused about this to myself as this guy kept droning on about some shit management had put into the safe. And yeah, total fast one that they pulled again. My eyes widened at the number he mentioned though, I could see why they’d tried for it. And when he mentioned knowing the janitor.. everything clicked into place. Total amateur hour.

I was ready to start calling central for backup (and to secure my own arrest bonus which would be ridiculously high for this one since they’d have to pay me to shut up about the thing in the safe) when all of a sudden mister amateur handily knocks me over in a fraction of a second.

Fuck, I relaxed, fucking rookie move. Can’t.. believe it. How?

As he stood over me, he suddenly seemed so much taller.. and bigger.. what .. so hard to think. Dizzy, he’d hit me right where .. ah, so dazed, have to get up.

A kick in the ribs sent me back into consciousness and also a loud crack made it clear they were broken too. Pain blossomed across my side and I found it impossible to move since the sensation was overwhelming at this point.

As he looked down on me, I saw his hands.. saw his fingers being scarred.. oh god, how could I have missed it? This guy was the pro, not the other one. I had been lured into a trap. But he could he had known what to say? Of course, he’d been talking to me all night, possibly spying on me and deciding my routes were too random to risk jumping me. This guy was sharper than a razors edge.

Then something else also hit me, this guy was not just a pro, he was something else entirely. And at that point, that’s when I realized I was dead. He saw it in my eyes and propped me up against the counter. He hit me in the gut just right to send the last of the air out of my lungs, almost in a friendly manner. I could almost hear his fist make the excuses when it hit me. ”I’m frightfully sorry old chap, but I really have no choice in the matter..”

He then lifted up my head and looked into my eyes. I saw my death. My executioner. I I tried to beg, but all that came out was me mumbling ”make it quick, please.” And he nodded, we both knew. It was OK, it was the law of the jungle. He was clearly the top predator and I was the unfortunate prey. At least I had the good sense to understand this relationship and what it meant.

A shadow of a smile crossed over his stony face as he held my face with his hands in a firm grip. And I thought to myself that it was amazing how incredibly soft his hands were. Like a doctors hands. So careful, so delicate, so amazingly lethal. And at that moment, it struck me that this was perhaps the most intimate moment a human could ever have, to be ended by another in total understanding. Tears welled up in my eyes and his thumbs went up the sides of my nose. It wouldn’t be long now. Soon I wouldn’t be.

Darkness.

I woke up to someone shaking me roughly. I looked up all bleary eyed and in amazement at the cop that had awakened me. I knew instantly I had been spared since it was light outside. What I didn’t know was why.

The ensuing investigation was a farce, I kept my mouth completely shut, quit the job after a few token weeks of work and then moved across the country. I met someone there, a sweet woman. We’re together now and it’s definitely the real thing.

What still gets me though is that I know I would be lying if I said I considered us to be truly intimate with one another.

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