This story is the latest in this series………………
It’s been 105 days since I dispatched the odious individual.
I don’t like to use his name because that tends to make him seem real, almost human; and he wasn’t. Okay, he was real, but he had a long way to go before he qualified as human.
You probably think that this low-life has been on my mind a lot over the past 105 days; well you’d be wrong.
I thought about him when I attended my friend’s memorial service, and I think about him whenever I wash this dress, but that’s it.
It’s funny the things you think about when you are planning something major in your life.
For example; do I carry the gun in my coat pocket or my handbag?
For a while, I was leaning towards the coat pocket.
I was thinking of Bette Davis pulling the gun out of her dressing gown and walking down the steps while pumping that bloke full of bullets. She kept pulling the trigger even after the revolver stopped firing. I liked the visual and I considered it, but my little automatic wouldn’t do that so I abandoned the idea. And besides, Bette Davis was not worried about being caught; I was.
Naturally, I thought a lot about my wardrobe.
You probably think that I just picked up the green coat, black gloves and the red handbag. Not at all; I gave it lots of thought. The most important consideration was what would I look like in the papers if I got caught? My mother, yours too probably, always said I should wear clean underwear when I went out in case I was in an accident, that way I would not embarrass her; people would not think that she was a bad mother.
Quite apart from appearances, I needed to feel confident, and nothing makes you confident like a good, well-matched outfit.
The red dress was the final piece of the puzzle. I kept my coat done up, so no one knew I was wearing it, but I knew.
The shooting made headlines for a couple of weeks.
The police were baffled.
Then there was talk of blackmail, but the odious individual’s family threatened to sue so the word ‘blackmail’ stopped appearing in the papers.
The homeless guy was under suspicion for a while, especially when he was found pulling a wad of notes out of the hollow of a tree. He explained that he had won it on the horses. No one believed him, but he was quickly cleared as a suspect, largely because he only had minute specks of gunpowder reside on him, and this was consistent with having been close to the shooting.
When they searched him, he didn’t have a gun, but he did have an extensive collection of French postcards from around the time of the Great War.
They belonged to his great-uncle who went missing in action. The postcards stayed in the family and were practically the only thing he had left that linked him to his family; at least that’s what it said in the feature article in the Weekend Age.
He was a celebrity for the required fifteen minutes.
He made a little money — then he was quietly put aside as his place was taken in the public’s imagination by a drunk, violent football player, then a racist pop star, then a politician who told the truth about having lied.
The blackmailer didn’t leave a list — either that or the police couldn’t crack the encryption on his laptop.
I know that you think this is unlikely.
The police have lots of resources for such things, but there are such things as unbreakable codes.
Apparently, Russian spies were particularly good at this during the cold war.
In typical Russian fashion, they took a simple approach.
They saw that the German and Japanese codes had been broken during the war despite extremely sophisticated mathematics and mechanical devices.
The Russians opted for the ‘pencil and paper’ approach.
They simply used a book code.
If you didn’t know what book they were using, it was virtually impossible to break the code.
The Americans were so worried about this simple technology that they embarked on a program whereby they digitised every book ever printed so that their computers could run any code that they came across.
Knowing this, I smiled when the news broke that they were recording every phone call.
The Yanks don’t muck around, and they have very deep pockets. Imagine how much it cost to put every book ever printed onto computer. Imagine the meeting where some junior clerk first suggested the idea. Imagine how powerfully simple a book code is if they went to all that trouble.
Somewhere, in a warehouse, there is a laptop in a box just waiting for some computer person to have one more go at cracking the code.
I wonder which book he chose? I wonder if the police have thought of a book code? Maybe they just ran out of recourses.
However it happened, they didn’t come knocking on my door.
I’d been practising in front of a mirror.
I needed to be sure that my expression was just right.
I did not want to give myself away.
In case you were wondering, I carried the gun in my bag because, when I practised drawing it smoothly and dramatically from my pocket, it kept getting caught on the lining. I looked like an amateur tugging away at the pocket, trying to get the gun loose.
The handbag worked out to be a better choice.
The homeless guy was true to his word and didn’t give me away.
Many people might have shot him as well.
I understand that it is dangerous to leave loose ends lying around, and nothing is more loose or ‘endy’ than an eye-witness.
But I looked at it this way, he wasn’t the person I was after and somewhere, sometimes you have to trust someone.
He seemed like a good bloke, and he didn’t let me down.
My washing is probably dry, so I had better bring it inside, I don’t want to leave it out overnight, but first I should see who that is at the door.
Painting by Kenton Nelson.
I could really go a coffee about now?