Hitman and Ruby Moon
William Starr Moake
Hawaii is a real trip. I've been in Honolulu for a month now and
I still can't get over the weather. It's February and temperature
is in the low 80s every day. Back in Detroit it's as cold as a
witch's tit and the snow is blowing. I feel sorry for Nolan. He's
paying me to lay on the beach in paradise while he hoofs it through
sooty-colored slush. I should be paying him to follow Huntley,
the snitch who rolled over on him when the feds infiltrated their
was easy to find. I figured he would head for the fun and sun
and after I checked the flights to Mexico, I found him listed
under his mother's maiden name at United Airlines. A one-way ticket
to Honolulu had been purchased from a travel agent in the burbs.
The stupid bastard didn't have the sense to leave Wayne County
to make travel reservations.
told me to keep track of Huntley and wait patiently until I found
the right circumstances. Hell, I would gladly wait years in this
place. It has to look like an accident so Nolan won't get any
more heat from the FBI. After I found Huntley, I took a hotel
room directly across the street from the highrise building where
he rented an apartment. I can see him from my window when he sits
on his lanai looking at the ocean. He doesn't have a clue that
anyone is watching him. I've followed him all around the island
in my rental car and not once did he ever look in his rear-view
mirror. Huntley thinks he's safe because he made a deal with the
Detroit cops to vanish 5,000 miles away until it was time to testify
in court. Sooner or later I'll catch him alone and he won't see
the meantime I'm content to soak up the tropical ambience. The
hotel manager thinks I'm a businessman from Chicago taking a long
vacation on the advice of my doctor. The truth is I am getting
older and I'm starting to think about retiring. You can't stay
alive in my business if you get careless and I'm not as sharp
as I used to be. I could do a lot worse than Hawaii when it comes
time to call it quits. I like the way Hawaii makes me feel. It's
so laid-back and comfortable I'm more relaxed than I've been in
even met a woman I dig. Her name is Ruby Moon and she could easily
pass for a wet dream: five-foot, nine inches tall and exotically
beautiful with long black hair and almond eyes. She's mostly Korean
with a little Hawaiian and haole (as they call whites in the islands)
thrown in. She works as a call girl in Waikiki. The first time
I talked to her in a bar she got mad when I said she looked like
a dragon lady.
the hell does that mean? I'm not Chinese."
Korean. Not all Asians are Chinese."
we start over? My name is Jack Bryce."
I tried to shake hands with her, she stared into my eyes and didn't
move a finger.
do you want?"
buy you a drink."
already have a drink."
not making this very easy."
you sure you can afford me?"
daddy died and left me the farm in Iowa. You want to see the deed?"
tried hard not to smile, but I knew I had her.
better. Now tell me what you're drinking."
should have guessed."
I ordered a refill from the waiter, she said: "What are you
doing in Honolulu, Jack Bryce?"
here to kill someone."
get a kick out of telling people the truth because they never
believe it. She played along, smiling the whole time.
seriously doubt it."
did he do?"
not talk about the jerk. Tell me your name."
kidding. Is that your real name?"
is a highly-respected Korean name."
father thought I resembled a jewel."
was right. You're gorgeous."
see Ruby a couple times a week when she's not busy. I take her
to a fancy restaurant for dinner, then we go dancing at a nightclub
or take in a comedy show and usually end up in my hotel room.
She's expensive, but I like her and I think she likes me, too.
Once, as she was leaving the hotel room, she refused to take the
five hundred I peeled out of my wallet. She said that night was
a freebie because she had an especially good time. Of course she
had no idea that Nolan was paying for everything, including her.
I have a virtual blank check with him because I'm saving his ass
from prison. He puts money into a bank account I withdraw from
anytime I want to with no questions asked.
is young enough to be my daughter if I had one, but she doesn't
mind the age difference. She's used to dealing with older men.
If I put any effort into it, I could probably fall for her in
a big way.
first things first. I'm here to take care of Huntley and I can't
afford to get scatter brained about it. This might be my last
job and I intend to do it right.
thinks he's a lady killer, but he couldn't score if his life depended
on it. I ate lunch the other day at a sidewalk cafe in Waikiki,
watching Huntley strike out twice with young women tourists on
the beach. He has a wife back in Detroit, a real woofer who left
him for a nightclub bouncer. He could do better if he combed his
hair once in awhile and bathed more often. I don't understand
these young guys. They think women like the sloppy look. Two days
of whiskers and no socks went out when "Miami Vice"
ended and Don Johnson got fat. Nowadays women want a man who looks
like he works on Wall Street.
lunch I walked back to my hotel and did a double-take when I saw
who was waiting in the lobby. Nolan climbed out of a rattan chair
and shuffled over to me. He didn't look happy.
the hell are you doing here, Frank?"
up on you."
want to queer the whole thing? Huntley is right down the street."
go to the bar. It's nice and dark in there."
took a booth and ordered double Scotches.
this all about?" I asked him.
wanted to find out what's going on."
staying close to Huntley."
haven't called in two weeks."
the fuck do you want -- a daily report?"
it easy, Jack."
don't work that way."
been spending my money like I was printing it on a press."
are expensive in Hawaii."
are you gonna make your move?"
the time is right and not a minute before."
long will that take?"
drank half of my Scotch. "Why don't do Huntley yourself while
paying you to do it."
leave it to me and go back to Detroit."
got a right to know what's happening with my money."
not the deal we made."
don't need this shit with the DA breathing down my neck."
whining. I know you can afford it."
sipped his drink and stared at me. "You should be careful
how you talk to me, Jack."
up. This conversation is over."
the lobby I took his arm and led him outside, which he didn't
is this --?"
going to the airport," I said, flagging down a taxi.
hell I am."
opened the door and shoved him into the back seat. "After
you get back to Detroit, give me a call and let me know if you
want me to handle this job. I don't care one way or the other,
but I'm not listening to any more complaining."
slammed the door and told the driver to take him to the airport,
then I watched the taxi pull away. If there's one thing I can't
stand, it's a client who snivels about money. Nolan was paying
his lawyers twice as much as me and the best they could offer
him was a few years less to rot in prison. I could get him off
scot free with no witness to testify against him. Nolan had his
priorities all wrong, but like most damned fools, he couldn't
night I had dinner with Ruby Moon to try to forget Nolan and Huntley,
but it didn't work like I hoped.
the matter?" she asked.
It's not important."
know you want to tell me."
grinned at her. "You must be psychic."
a matter of fact --"
think I lost my job."
not going to kill anyone?"
it a big disappointment?"
the money would have been fun to spend."
business are you really in?"
the family farm in Iowa."
ahead and ridicule me. I don't care."
right, keep your secrets. I have secrets of my own."
an open book if I ever saw one."
think you know me, but you don't."
don't I know?"
studying to become a nurse. I take classes at the university."
don't believe me."
think I'm too stupid to learn nursing."
think I'm a stupid whore."
pulled her hand away when I tried to touch it across the table.
"You're wrong, Ruby. I like you a lot."
you think I'm stupid."
you stop saying that? Why are you getting so upset?"
could see angry tears forming in her eyes. She looked like she
sick of everything," she blurted out.
want to leave?"
your crummy hotel room, right? All we do is fuck there."
don't have to do that. Where do you want to go?"
wiped her eyes with a napkin, smearing mascara. "It doesn't
paid the check and got a taxi outside the restaurant. In the back
seat Ruby took off her shoes and curled up beside me, wrapping
her arm around my waist. All of a sudden the anger was gone she
looked like a little girl.
we drive around the island?" she asked.
driver looked at me in the rear-view mirror. "That's a little
start driving," I told him. "When you run out of island,
turn around and come back to town."
way you wanna go?"
your pick. And there's a hundred-dollar tip if I don't hear another
word out of you."
the mirror I could see the driver smile and zip up his mouth.
never got a call from Nolan and the next day there was ten grand
more in my bank account. Although he wasn't as stupid as I thought,
he couldn't admit he had been wrong to come to Honolulu and bug
me. The truth is I don't like Nolan at all. I've done a couple
jobs for him and he always came off like he was doing me a favor
when he paid me. He'll end up behind bars or dead because he's
got his head up his ass. He thinks he's a big shot, but he's just
a little man who got lucky in a dirty business. One day he'll
piss off the wrong person and get what he deserves.
thinking about the situation, I decided to let Huntley off the
hook. He didn't deserve a break any more than Nolan, but I was
feeling generous once I made up my mind to retire in Hawaii. Besides,
I didn't want the local cops looking for me if anything went haywire
in the hit. You can't retire in a place if you have keep looking
over your shoulder.
night I waited until I saw the lights go out in Huntley's apartment,
then I hurried across the street to catch him as he was leaving.
stopped on the sidewalk and turned around.
the hell are you?"
your guardian angel," I said, pulling out a cigarette. "You
got a light?"
don't recognize you. How do you know my name?"
lit the cigarette with my own lighter. "I've been following
you for a month."
looked like a deer in the headlights. I put my hand in my jacket
pocket, which happened to be empty.
even think about running. You wouldn't make it five steps."
looked around nervously. There were no other pedestrians on the
street, just a lot of car traffic buzzing by.
man. I'm here to do you a favor."
do you mean?"
paid me to kill you, but I'm gonna let you fly away like a bird."
started backing up. "I don't believe you."
can't stay here in Hawaii and you can't ever go back to Detroit."
away from me."
have to get lost in some out-of-the way country that Nolan has
never heard of. And you have to leave tomorrow morning."
not going anywhere. You won't shoot me on a public street."
not listening to me, Huntley."
started backing up again. "You're bluffing."
trying to help you. Use your head for a change."
knew he was spooked, but I couldn't believe what happened next.
He sprinted into the street and made it about half-way across
before a van slammed into him. He bounced several times on the
pavement and came to rest on his stomach. His arms and legs were
twisted out of place like a rag doll.
van driver was an older Chinese man who began babbling hysterically.
"You saw!" he shouted at me. "He ran right in front
it easy, pop. It wasn't your fault."
man!" he howled. "Right in front of me!"
stuck around until the cops showed up. I didn't want them tracking
me down as the witness who disappeared. I told the investigating
officer I had been asking the victim for directions to a restaurant
when he bolted into the street.
did he do it?"
don't know. Maybe he had a hot date."
cop seemed to buy my story and while we were talking, the ambulance
arrived to pick up Huntley.
he dead?" I asked the cop.
still breathing, but he don't look so good."
are they taking him?"
I ate supper at the hotel restaurant, I went to the hospital to
check on Huntley.
you a relative?" the nurse at the front desk asked me.
his uncle. I just heard about the accident."
sorry to have to tell you that Mr. Huntley expired shortly after
mean he died?"
I'm afraid so."
back to my hotel, I realized I had pulled off the perfect hit
by accident. It was almost funny, especially since this was my
last job. I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for Huntley --
the first time I had ever felt like that about a mark. All he
had to do was disappear and he was home free, but he was too rattled
to believe me. Some guys are born losers.
wanted to put everything behind me and start a new life in Hawaii.
I've been doubled up like a fist for the past twenty years because
of my work. Skill or dumb luck or a combination of both got me
through all those years in one piece, but it's time to unclench
and move on to something more peaceful. I have enough money socked
away to live comfortably for the rest of my life if I don't turn
stupid with it. Maybe I'll try a legitimate business with not
much down side, like import-export in the islands. I'll make sure
Ruby keeps going to those college classes so she can become a
nurse and get out of hooking for a living. She's way too brittle
for that kind of business.
was a carrier pigeon delivering his last message to Saint Peter
or the guy with horns and hooves. If I was a gambler, which I'm
not, I'd bet that Huntley is smelling sulfur right now.
sent a telegram to Nolan today:
the job is finished. You keep the final payment. I'm retiring
in Hawaii -- sun, sand and a girl named after a heavenly body.
You get the picture. I don't wish you were here. In fact, if I
ever see your face in the islands again, I'll come out of retirement
just for you. Seriously, Jack."
grew up in Michigan and worked as a journalist for several years
in South Florida. After majoring in anthropology in college, he
traveled extensively, freelancing as a travel writer/photographer.
Moake is the author of three books of fiction, two novels and
a short story collection all published since 1999. When he is
not writing, Moake works as a freelance web designer and software
programmer from his home in Hawaii, where he has lived since 1972.
William Starr Moake
Hitman and Ruby Moon
© 2005 by William
All rights reserved.