Thursday, May 18, 2017

Robert Ellis: THE LOST WITNESS, My Favorite Hit Man Makes His Debut

Nathan G. Cava watched the Mercedes pull into the drive and vanish behind the grove of oak trees. But it was the Ford Explorer with darkened glass following the Mercedes onto the property that he found so disturbing. As the gate closed, he pulled into a construction site just across the street. Someone wanted a new mansion, so they tore the old one down. Nothing was left but a ten-foot wall protecting a bunch of dirt.

Welcome to the Westside. Swimming pools and movie stars.

Cava made a loop, his Hummer grinding up the loose soil. When he had a reasonable view of Fontaine’s place, he slammed on the brakes and watched the cloud of dust rake across the hood. Then he reached for his binoculars, steadying his view through the trees with his elbows pinned to the steering wheel.

Fontaine and his girlfriend from the office were heading for the front door. The two men riding in the Explorer were walking around both sides of the house, sweeping the property.

It looked like the Beverly Hills doctor had hired a pair of bodyguards. All of a sudden things were getting dramatic. And Nathan G. Cava didn’t like dramatic.

He wondered what spooked Fontaine, and figured that it must have been that story they ran on the news last night. Cava had seen it on one of the stations when it was rebroadcast at 1:00 a.m. He’d just returned to his apartment, popped an Ambien CR and was lying in bed waiting for the drug to take. That’s when he learned that there had been a witness. That part one of his three-part Hollywood deal wasn’t exactly done yet. There was another loose end. Another screw up, just like all the other screw ups he’d endured while overseas.

Someone had been hiding in the parking lot Wednesday night and had the balls to take that picture. The quality of the photograph ate shit and wasn’t worth worrying about. But someone had been lurking in the shadows. Someone had been watching him. No matter how dark it may have been that night, odds were that the witness saw his face and probably knew the make and model of his car. As he played back the night in his head, he had to admit that he’d been a little nervous, a bit rusty and not exactly up to par. He hadn’t expected her to be so young or pretty. And he didn’t expect her to smile. He had seen her do it through the window when he walked by. He could see the spark in her eyes.

Even worse, he wasn’t really sold on the reason he had been given to talk to the pretty girl and take her life. It felt a lot like the reasons he had been given during his three tours of duty. When he did the math, it never really added up. Especially the two additional years he had spent in Eastern Europe, where he had been given the nickname Dr. Neat. The truth was that he considered himself a physician – not an information specialist who interviews people and delves into their past with the aid of special tools. Although he had followed orders, he hated the nickname and the people who gave it to him. It felt more like a burden than anything else. A burden placed on him by people he couldn’t trust because he knew that they didn’t have souls and were using him.

Cava needed reasons to do the things he did. The more personal, the better. And if he couldn’t be given a reason, he needed to find one on his own. Something with more resonance than money. Something more real and less tarnished than For God and Country. Sometimes he found the reason the moment he looked at a person. But usually it took a couple of days to smoke out and feel true. It was part of the creative process. The thing that kept him sane in a world that had stopped spinning eight years ago. The thing that protected his core deep inside. The core no one could get to. No one could catch or reach or run a jet liner through.



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