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The Hunt Begins (A Lance Drecker Story)

The Hunt Begins (A Lance Drecker Story)

A Story by J. W. Hester

A foreign assassin closes on his prey during the early 1900's.


It was a typical sweltering day in Little Italy, or at least it was what Frederick had decided was typical. His wide-brimmed hat he usually wore shielded his face from the hot noon sun, but being unaccustomed to this miserable weather, his coat was now draped over his arm.

Working his way down the crowded street, passing vegetable carts, mothers shopping and gossiping, children getting up to no good, and jobless men, Frederick longed for the silence of his private library and the comfort of his pipe. He’d been away from his home in Germany for 7 years, ever since his employer sent him on this wild goose chase, but he’d finally tracked down his quarry.

After all these years, and all the leads, all the loose ends, and all the failures. After all the angry and berating telegrams from his employer when he’d lost the trail, he had finally managed to track down the man he’d been searching for. He had been through too much, lost too many comrades, and sacrificed too much to track down this person whom his employer wanted dead. The man left such a trail of blood and body bags behinds him, it wasn’t hard to see why his boss wanted him gone.

Wiping sweat from his brow, Frederick caught sight of the green bricked tenement building his source had clued him into. Shoving through the insufferable crowds he worked his way towards it, trying hard not to allow the pistol he had concealed in his inner jacket pocket to get knocked out. Frederick wasn’t a fan of using guns in his work. He was a gentleman, and preferred to dispatch his targets with efficiency and respect. He held no malice towards his targets, it was just business after all, but this target was different. This time he decided to relax his uptight restrictions and forgo the flood of pleasure he normally would get from a successful kill.

Frederick approached the front door to the building, where a large dark-skinned Italian woman sat fanning herself and shepherding her children by periodically yelling commands at them in a string of words in a language often misidentified as “Romantic”.

“Madame? Madame!” Frederick said interrupting her latest motherly guidance.

The woman finished her words, turning to him with an expectant and annoyed look on her face. After all, she had places to go and things to do.

“Madame, I was wondering if you might be so kind as to tell me if you have seen a man living here who didn’t, um, belong here?” Frederick was banking on the possibility that this sweaty cow of a woman could speak enough English to help.

“You look like a copper” Said the woman eyeing him top to bottom.

Frederick heartily laughed, “No, no, no, Madame! I assure you, I am not law enforcement. I am looking for an old friend of mine. His mother is ill and he hasn’t returned any messages by mail.”

“Oh no, I sorry! I not surprised. Mr. Drecker is lazy mean man.” The woman stood up with some effort, folding her arms as if Frederick was going answer for all of Drecker’s missteps in Madame Meatballs little world.

“He is handy man for building.”

“Excellent. It’s good to hear my old friend is keeping busy. Do you know if he has anyone living with him? What room is he staying in, please?” Frederick was getting anxious. Drecker was so close!

“No, no. He live alone. You know what he do? We try to make food for him sometimes. He tell me my food too spicy! TOO SPICY! My food perfect. Grandmutter taught me! I tell him my door not working right. Two weeks to fix. I tell him my toilet not working, still not fixed. We have to use sister’s bathroom.”

Frederick was contemplating adding Madame Moo Moo to his hit list for the crime of stealing his precious time, but reminded himself he’d be relaxing on a ship heading home by the end of the week as soon as he could report to his employer that Drecker was dead. For now, he would right Madame Manicotti’s wrongs.

“Oh my, my friend has strayed. Do tell, Madame, which room does he live in?”

“Next door to me. Room three four.”

“Thank you, Madame. I promise you I will help my friend remember his manners.” Frederick stepped past the woman, his pistol weighted coat swinging from his forearm. With the door shut behind him, Frederick entered a world of new, rancid smells. The bovine on the front steps was now thankfully muffled by the closed door. He began up the stairs heading for the third floor. Frederick stepped lightly up the stairs with a well-practiced lightness, though he couldn’t imagine how he could be heard over the din of noise from all the families in this building. This wasn’t amateur hour, however, and Frederick would use all of his training and years of experience to erase this man.

He silently stepped past boxes, mattresses, toys, strollers, and many other bits of junk and refuse on his way up. He was spider-like when on the hunt, eyes wide-open and darting at every bit of movement and sound. He’d spotted exactly 11 rats, heard 3 spousal arguments, one get violent, two kids playing with a rubber ball, and a window shatter.

The third floor was mostly free of debris, except for a bicycle and a couple chairs with a can for cigarettes. Room 34 was in the corner next to room 33, where the sweet scent of vegetables and spices sat heavy. Not a sound came from room 34, leading Frederick to believe it empty, but “assuming” was the worst mistake to make in this business. He retrieved his pistol and draped his coat over the back of one of the chairs.

Frederick lightly gripped the door knob, listening for any reaction, and turned it opening the door. The hinge began to creak, prompting him to act quickly, aiming his gun around the room. Nothing. He stepped through the sparsely furnished room to the kitchen, then again to the bedroom, both empty of human life. His heart began to sink.

Again I missed him, Frederick thought. Home seemed even further away. Suddenly a low sound could be heard behind a shut door. The bathroom! Frederick, not wanting to lose his advantage walked with purpose to the door, and with practiced urgency he kicked the door open and entered, his pistol leading him.

“What the hell! Not now- oh "errrrgh” said a grizzled man sitting on the toilet, squelching noises escaping from beneath him. Frederick could no longer hold the gun with both hands as his eyes began watering and his mouth began to water as if to lubricate in preparation for his lunch taking a reverse course.

Drecker sat doubled over on the toilet, his hand up to stop his intruder. A look of pain across his face. This was the man Frederick had been searching for?

“Buddy, you must have the wrong place. I just " oh god” A series of successive plunks followed.

“Mr. Drecker,” Said Frederick, fighting his urge to heave, “ I know I have the right place. My employer has spent some considerable money for me to find you and end you. As I am a gentleman, I will allow you to, ahem, finish.”

“A gentleman? HA! Then as a gentleman, give me the " “ plunk, plunk, plunk, “ " courtesy of telling me who wants me dead?”

“You know exactly who. He has great plans. You’ve seen the papers, yes?” Frederick sat his pistol down, judging Drecker too weak to put up a fight.

“War in Europe? Yeah. Phew! If we shipped Mrs. Caprelli’s lasagna there, war would be over. Her spices could choke a donkey. Say, brother, could you pass me one of those towels so I can go out right. I’d like to die with some dignity.”

Covering his mouth, Frederick reached into the bathroom for a towel hanging on the wall when Drecker grabbed his arm, pulling him off balance and throwing him into the bathtub. Pulling his pants up, Drecker made for the pistol just outside the door when his right foot was pulled from behind him sending him face down on the hard tile with a loud smack.

Frederick stumbling over him for the gun and was about to turn the tides when he received a shoulder to the gut from the recovering Drecker. Shoving him against the bathroom wall, Drecker socked Frederick in the face, then in the gut, before throwing him against the shower wall so that he was no standing in the shower dazed.

Looking at the gun which he now could easily reach, then looking at Frederick, Drecker got a glint in his eye and a smirk on his face. That’s when Frederick realized that Drecker was loving this. He hadn’t been evading him all these years. He loved the fighting and killing. He was more bloodthirsty than Frederick, so much so that Frederick realized that he was outclassed in viciousness. He probably hadn’t even known Frederick was seeking him. He would have welcomed this fight long ago.

Poor Frederick realized all this at the same time that Drecker, smiling and yelling like and excited child, charged into his chest, shoving him hard into the wall, chunks of drywall falling down amidst the sound of cracking wood. Drecker shoved him repeatedly against the wall, until there was no wall left, both of them falling into the adjacent apartments bathroom. Stumbling up, Frederick steadied himself against the wall and went for the handle when a force from behind pulled him down to the floor again. Heaving breath against the floor and looking up through the blood flowing down his face, Drecker’s vicious grin and sharp eyes stared at Frederick, assuring him it was time to make peace with his creator.

Drecker lifted Frederick up by the shoulders, lifting the toiler seat to reveal a horrible brown/black mess, dotted with corn and tomato chunks. The smell literally choked him as he blearily fazed in and out of consciousness.

“Your employer? Yeah, I’ll let him know how you died.” Drecker said breathing heavily. He shoved Frederick’s face into the mess of awful, the breath bubbles churning things long forgotten in the bottom of the bowl. As Frederick lost his grip on life, his mind peacefully wandered to his home library, sitting in his chair, feet resting on his ottoman with a book in his hands and a glass of wine on the table. Then blackness.

The threat over, the smell final got to Drecker. “Woof”, he proclaimed, holding down a wretching. He quickly rinsed off the blood from his face, grabbing a wash rag from a bin to hold against his head. Stepping out the bathroom door, he was quickly faced by Mrs. Caprelli’s dumb-struck face.

“Oh, uh. Took a look at your toilet. Thing’s loaded.” He said shutting the door.

Mrs. C stared, mouth agape.

“Gonna take a few days, maybe a week to fix. Better not go in there.”

Stepping through the home, he walked past her, her mouth still hanging. Just before he left through her front door, he turned and said, “Oh, and Mrs. C, lay off the spices, will ya?”

Drecker packed his meager belongings and left Room 34 for the last time. Stepping out into the bustling street, he sat his bag down and stuck a cigar in his mouth. Striking a match he puffed his cigar alight and drew in deep.

‘So my father has grand plans in Europe. Plans big enough to start a war.’ Drecker thought.

Big puff, he picked his bag back up.

‘And for some reason he needs me out of the picture’.

Drecker began down the street in the direction of the docks.

‘Guess it’s time for a family reunion’.

© 2017 J. W. Hester

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Very interesting and entertaining. Enjoyed the cultural backgrounds and the detective work.

Posted 10 Months Ago

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Added on October 3, 2017
Last Updated on October 3, 2017