Working Life. Short Story.

“Ok, so tell me about your numbers this week?”
“Well, I know they’re down, but really, they are in line with the average. It just looks like less as I had less clients this week.”
“Surely less clients means you have more time to focus on each individual and therefore provide a better service?”
“Yes, in theory, however the jobs were extremely complicated and needed a lot of planning.”
“Yes and you should have planned for that accordingly.”
She smiled, it was a small smile, brittle and harsh.
“Um. Yes. However, you will see that the clients who were dealt with were more than happy with the results.”
“Yes, and what about those who did not get what they wanted?”
“All the time sensitive tasks were completed first.”
“Everything is time sensitive when you’re dealing with death. Not all our clients want to spill to you about every little thing. Everything is important. Now. What are you going to do?”
“I’ll complete the rest of the jobs, apologise for the delay.”
“And?”
he sighed, “And I will offer a partial refund for my slowness.”
“Hmm. That will have to do. Get to it and make sure they are all done before the day is out!”
He nodded, then left the room, he waited until he was down the hallway before he started grumbling under his breath. She was just an old bitch. She didn’t know what it was like in the real world, she didn’t know what it was like to have so much pressure on you. Not anymore. When she was doing it it was all cloak and daggers, she might see one client a week if she was lucky. Now they were expected to deal with four or five and that was on a slow week. Someone ought to. He stopped and realised where he was. He knew they could hear him, everyone knew that and it didn’t bother him all that much. No one minded the odd grumble here and there, but if he finished that sentence he would be out the door and dead within an hour. Thomas took a breath and stood up straight. First he’d go to his office and take a quick look over the details. He didn’t want to screw up any of the jobs, he was already losing out on them as it was. Well, of course he was still making a profit, but he was one of the top earners in the company, he didn’t want to take any financial hit, whether or not it affected his lifestyle was immaterial. It made him look bad. He had an off week and he was willing to admit that, everyone had one now and then. It wasn’t a big deal, no one else was expected to return some of the money.

 

In his office he grabbed the active case files and spread them out on the desk, it would be easier to decide who to do first. Luckily they were local, if he had gotten somewhere exotic he would have avoided this whole mess. He didn’t like the exotic locales though, they were more dangerous. Other, less scrupulous companies trying to muscle in, the locals themselves being violent or wanting bribes to look the other way. Sure he could just bribe the local police and politicians but it slowed him down, made things messier. No, the exotics were mostly for the newbie’s. Make them think they’re special or important. No one ever had the heart to tell them it was just a test, see if they could survive out there by themselves. Seven out of ten came back, but those other three obviously weren’t suited to the life. Not everyone was and there was no shame in that. Thomas was very well suited to it, he was providing a public service to people and getting well paid to do it. He didn’t have any problems with killing, he knew how truly terrible some of the people were. He disassociated himself from them, he didn’t learn about who they were or what they did, he didn’t need to know so he didn’t care to know. It made it more difficult to off someone when you knew they had a wife and kids depending on them. Sometimes they deserved it, other times they were just poor bastards who saw or said the wrong thing at the wrong time.
With everything in order, he set out to do the job. He’d get all of these people done before lunch if things went well and he foresaw them going very well. No one ever saw him coming, even those who took precautions. Of course a lot of them were too poor to take proper precautions, have a protection team and a safe house. Those who were able to afford those kind of things were a little harder to get rid of, but they always slipped up. Usually sooner rather than later. It was hard to stay vigilant twenty four hours a day. Particularly when nothing was happening. Thomas always like to wait three or four days for those cases. Lull the teams, make them think nothing was coming or the employer was just paranoid. More often than not the teams were right. And they got paid either way, they just didn’t get paid their bonuses. It didn’t affect their bottom lines either as they just erased all records that they were employed by the recently deceased and went on charging a fortune to protect the rich assholes from all the other rich assholes.

 

Thomas’ first target was a man in his mid forties, school teacher. He even looked like a right prick. Something about his moustache that Thomas instinctually disliked. The teacher was probably feeling up the young girls in his class. He’d make this one easy on the kids. He didn’t want them seeing any of this shit.
He approached the front gates and let himself in, then at the office he stopped briefly and showed his false credentials. The receptionist nodded and buzzed him through. As an inspector he’d have access to everything. All he had to do was dump some poison into the fuckers drink and it was all over. Something that was slow acting, giving him enough time to get home, or at least be alone in the school when it happened. Thomas smiled to himself, he could already feel it, today was going to be a good day.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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