Free Story: The Hitman Chronicles: The Protector (A Simone Gray Story)
The Hitman Chronicles The Protector: A Simone Gray Story
“I’m thinking about taking a job,” Simone said.
“What kind?” Duncan asked.
They’d gone to the range this morning to get in some target practice. Now they were in his basement armory, field stripping their weapons.
He’d taught Simone how to properly clean firearms when she was fifteen years old, before he ever let her fire a round. Now she could break down a weapon and clean and reassemble it faster than most people could scramble eggs. And she was the best shot he’d ever seen, bar none. He liked to say that his niece took to guns the way most women took to shoes. Of course there was no one he could say that to.
“Protection,” Simone said.
“Who?” Simone didn’t need to work. She had a nice trust fund thanks to the insurance money her mother—his late sister Charlotte—left her. And she’d picked up a million in cash working on a job with him a couple of years ago. But when Simone got bored she took work as a freelance bodyguard.
“Salomé. She goes on tour this fall.”
“Seems like she’d already have plenty of bodyguards,” Duncan said.
“Yeah, but this is a special deal. She’s been getting threats from Dime Killa.”
“I thought they were engaged or something.”
“Where’ve you been Uncle Duncan? They broke up months ago.”
“Maybe I don’t care what some rapper and his pole dancing girlfriend are up to.”
“She can sing.”
“Using Auto Tune to hide your voice isn’t singing.”
“Yeah well, anyway, she dumped him because he wanted her to get pregnant. That’s his rep: making babies.”
“Thus the tag Dime Killa.”
“It’s really sad, what music has come to. So why’s he threatening her?”
“Because she disrespected him. He’s got babies all over the country, maybe all over the world. His last CD, he was bragging in one song about how he was going fill Salomé with his seed and bust her up from a size six to size twenty-six. Well, Salomé isn’t about having babies. Her body is her meal ticket.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely not her singing ability. So he wants to attack her because she wouldn’t get pregnant and dumped him?”
“He said that before her tour is over she’s gonna be knocked up. He said him and his boys are going to run a train on her and make her the new Octomom.”
“You know what I think, Simone?”
“I think you need to upgrade the class of your customers.”
Tokyo, Japan Narita Airport VIP Lounge December
“I’m so motherfucking glad we’re getting outta here,” Salomé grumbled. “I’m sick of watching TV when I gotta read the bottom of the damn screen to know what’s going on. That shit gives me a headache. And I’m sick of these little ass people talking that ying-yang shit. And I’m sick of eating that bullshit they call food. Whoever heard of a fucking hamburger with pineapple on it? I’m mean, if you gonna try to serve American food, get the shit right, you feel me?”
Simone kept her face in her magazine, pretending not to hear Salomé’s griping and pretending that she didn’t see the disapproving glances from the other wealthy travelers in the airport’s VIP waiting area. The singer had been complaining loudly and non-stop since they’d arrived in Japan a week ago to begin her tour. Thank God they were on their way home. Well, at least back to the U.S. The American leg of Salomé’s tour kicked off in Tampa.
Simone liked what she saw of Japan. She decided that she was going to come back when it wasn’t for a job so that she could enjoy the country instead of listening to a prima donna bitching because Japan wasn’t America. Well, duh?
From the seat on the other side of Salomé Monique said, “Girl, I know what you mean. I’m dying to get me some real down home barbecued ribs. As soon as we get to the hotel in Florida, that’s what I’m ordering. And room service better have it, too.”
Salomé snapped her fingers. “Oh, wait—I forgot to tell you I had Tony change that up,” she said. “We ain’t staying in no damned hotel. We got us a nice rental house on the bay. Fuck being cramped up in some hotel suite.”
“Dag Salomé, that’s my job,” Monique pouted. “How come you didn’t tell me you wanted to rent a place? I would’ve set it up.”
“Because Tony said he knew somebody in Tampa. They work in real estate, and could hook us up in this house for a week. He said it’s a mansion with a pool and a view of the water and everything. So if I feel like strolling around in my dirty drawers or swimming laps buck naked I can do it without it making the papers, you feel me?”
“Girl, I hear you,” Monique agreed.
Monique was Salomé’s assistant, her right hand. Simone wondered what it must be like for her, working for Salomé when they’d started out together as equals in the girl group Fantasy’s Dream.
Fantasy’s Dream came out of the box hot eight years ago. Their debut release went platinum, and their second CD, released eight months later, doubled the sales of their first. It seemed that the music-buying public couldn’t get enough of the four sexy eighteen year-olds from Las Vegas. They performed their material in the manner of En Vogue, with each girl singing lead on various songs.
Their third album was a departure from the first two, because suddenly Salomé was the sole lead singer. That raised a few eyebrows because most people who knew anything about music knew that at best, Salomé had the third best voice in the group. Most felt that Monique was the real talent among the girls.
But Salomé had the face and the body, and she was willing to work it. The videos in which she was in front of the other three girls stayed at the top of the video show rotation. Radio play followed. Then Salomé posing nude for the website Hotties Online sent their third release’s sales through the roof. That one reached 20 million units sold worldwide.
The group was recording their fourth album when Salomé unexpectedly announced that she was leaving the group and going solo. The other girls finished the fourth album without her. Even though critics praised the group’s release as their best work to date and a sign that they were moving toward a new, more mature sound, the release bombed at the cash register. People didn’t want to hear songs about life and love. They didn’t care about vocal styling. They wanted to see Salomé shaking her stuff .
Salomé’s first solo album, titled Showgirl, stayed at number one for four months. Her second release, Booty for Beauty, certified her as a superstar. All other female acts had to acquiesce and hail the new queen. As for Fantasy’s Dream, poor sales meant they were out of the business.
The other two members of the group, Dion and Janet, were bitter about how things went down. They stated to anyone who would listen that the group’s downfall was because of their manager Otis Patterson, who was Monique’s uncle. They alleged that something had been going on between him and Salomé, and that’s why he’d put her up front and then had her go solo, leaving the group behind. They filed a lawsuit that went nowhere. The two girls dissed Monique, too, saying that she was too busy kissing Salomé’s ass to see what was going on right in front of her willfully blind eyes.
And all the while the world fell deeper in love with Salomé.
Salomé attacked the acting world next. Her first role was a small part on Law & Order, in which she played a crackhead hooker who died before the opening theme music played. Next came the lead female role in the remake of The Mack. It wasn’t much of a part, but it got her on the big screen. Now she was in competition with Corrine Bailey Rae for the lead role in The Minnie Ripperton Story. Rumor had it that the director wanted Ms. Rae for the role, but the studio was looking at who would garner the most ticket sales and were pushing Salomé.
Everything in Salomé’s life and career had been positive until she broke up with Dime Killa. His public threats about how he was going to knock her up were viewed by most as just thug posturing, a way for him to keep his name in people’s mouths and boost the sales of his upcoming release Rip ‘Er A New One. But Salomé wasn’t taking chances. She’d hired Simone to watch her back.
“You want me to go call and have anything at this house when we get there?” Monique asked Salomé.
Salomé snapped, “Shit Monique, how am I supposed to know what I’m gonna want to eat eighteen hours from now?”
“Well, I’m just thinking there’s probably not going to be any food there when we get there. I can at least have Tony get with his contact and put some groceries in the crib. You know you’re going to want something.”
Salomé sat back and crossed her arms like a spoiled little girl. “Shit, all I want waiting on me is some hard dick.” She elbowed Simone and said, “Ain’t that right, girl?”
Simone said, “I’m going to be too jet lagged to want to do anything but sleep. You should have at least one person from your security detail at the house so we can do shifts.”
Salomé said, “See, that’s what I like about you Simone—you all about business. That’s what I’m paying you for. But I know Lincoln’s gonna be in Cali when we get back. We’ll be all right, the three of us. It’ll be like having a pajama party, you know?”
Lincoln was Dime Killa’s real name. Lincoln Kennedy Jenkins. Originally from Valdosta, Georgia, though for publicity purposes he claimed Atlanta as his hood.
To Monique Salomé said, “Hey yeah, run out there and tell Tony to have his boy stock the place up with some groceries and a case of Crystal. When we get to Tampa the party’s gon’ be on!”
Simone went back to her magazine thinking that she couldn’t wait for this job to be over so she could go home. Bradley Beach, New Jersey had never looked so good.
The rented house was actually located in Clearwater Beach, across the bay from Tampa. As Simone followed Salomé’s limousine in her rented Jeep over the W. Courtney Campbell Causeway she made a call to New Jersey.
He answered and asked her, “How was Tokyo?”
“I’ll let you know the next time I go,” Simone said. “Not much free time on this trip.”
“That’s too bad. There’s a package waiting for you at Sunshine State Storage on Del Mabry Boulevard in Tampa. I’ll text you the address. You have GPS?”
“They’re open until nine. Ask for Joe. He’s expecting you. Anything else you need he can provide, but he’ll need a day.”
“Cool. Once I see where Salomé is staying I’ll run back. Thanks Uncle Duncan.”
“No problem. I ran the address for this place you’re staying. The owner is out of country more than he’s there. He pays the mortgage by renting the place out for use in music videos and porn movies.”
“Then it’s the perfect place for Salomé,” Simone laughed.
“Nothing, Uncle D. I’m gonna run. Talk to you soon.”
The house was a mansion, one of four on a quiet cul-de-sac. Simone noted that there was no thru traffic and no cars parked on the street outside the residences. That was a good thing. Visitor’s vehicles would be easy to spot.
Salomé claimed the master bedroom suite at the back of the house. Monique picked a bedroom three doors down. Simone picked a bedroom in between, and then walked the perimeter of the property and went through all the rooms to learn the interior layout. After that she drove back across the causeway to pick up her package.
At Sunshine State Storage the man named Joe led her to a closet-sized storage bay, retrieved the package, handed it to her and walked away without a word.
The package contained a Sig Sauer P299 handgun, four 12-round magazines, and a Florida registration for the weapon in her name. Simone didn’t know how Uncle Duncan was able to pull this stuff off, but he always knew somebody who could hook him up with whatever he needed wherever he was, and at a moment’s notice. She figured the people he used either liked him or were scared to death of him. Maybe both.
When Simone got back to the cul-de-sac she spotted a black Navigator with gleaming twenty-two inch rims parked at the curb between their rented house and their northern neighbor’s.
She killed her headlights and drove past the SUV. No one appeared to be inside. She drove past the mansion. No lights were on at the front of the house. Maybe Salomé and Monique had eaten and were in the bedrooms at the back of the mansion. Maybe not.
Simone drove out of the cul-de-sac and parked on the main street. She looked around. It was almost 10:00 p.m., and no one was out walking in the quiet suburban neighborhood. The Navigator in the cul-de-sac might not mean anything. Still, she loaded the Sig and slipped an extra magazine into her inside jacket pocket.
On foot she checked the Navigator again, looking through the windows at the seats and in the cargo area. The vehicle was empty.
Maybe the SUV belonged to someone visiting a neighbor, and for whatever reason decided not to park in the driveway or in front of the house. Maybe not.
She called Salomé’s cell phone. After four rings it went to her voicemail. She tried Monique’s phone and got her voicemail too.
Simone scrambled up the trellis at the rear of the house and swung over onto the balcony outside the landing between the first and second floors.
On her earlier walk-through of the estate she’d noted that the window on middle landing of the staircase was secured by a simple latch lock. The estate’s security system had been deactivated in anticipation of their arrival. Getting into the house through the window would be no problem.
She peered through the window. She didn’t see light coming from the first floor below the landing. From the second floor above she could see a faint illumination, most likely coming from the open door of the master bedroom, where Salomé was supposed to be.
This could be nothing Simone thought as she slipped a penknife out of her jacket’s side pocket. Maybe Salomé and Monique hadn’t answered their phones because they’d gone straight to sleep after the long flight. Maybe they were safe in their beds.
Coming to this house had been a last minute arrangement before they left Japan. Even if Dime Killa did want to go after Salomé, how could he find out where she was and get to Florida from California so fast? Simone didn’t think it likely that he had. But that Navigator parked out on the cul-de-sac where it had no business being was an alarm to her senses. It didn’t fit. And the women weren’t answering their phones.
As Simone used her knife to pop the window lock she decided it was better to be safe than sorry. Uncle Duncan had taught her to always plan for every contingency. She was getting paid to protect Salomé, and she’d already made one mistake by leaving her alone, even if it was for just a few minutes.
She slipped into the house and onto the staircase middle landing. As she closed the window she heard a muffled cry coming from above.
Simone went up the stairs as silently as a ghost with her back pressed to the wall and the Sig in her hand, ready. The cry sounded like it was close, maybe in the master bedroom.
She stopped four steps below the upper hall and peered over the edge of the top step. No one was in the second floor corridor.
The master bedroom’s double French doors were open on her left, and the lights were on in there. Farther down the hall Monique’s room door was also open. The lights were on there, too.
As quiet as a shadow, Simone eased down the hall to the master bedroom door and peeked around the jamb. The first thing she saw was the man at the head of the bed. He wore a ski mask. He was busy tying Salomé’s left wrist to the headboard post with vinyl-wrapped clothesline cord. Her right wrist was already secured. The superstar’s negligee hung off her toned body in tatters.
A sliver-gray strip of duct tape pressed over Salomé’s mouth muffled her panicked cries. Her eyes were wide with terror and leaking tears that made her mascara blacken her cheeks.
The singer’s eyes were locked on the second masked man, who stood at the foot of the bed with his back to the door, busy opening his pants. Simone didn’t see weapons but that didn’t mean the men weren’t armed.
The one at the foot of the bed said, “I wonder if this baby I’m ‘bout give you is gonna be able to sing?” Both men laughed.
From down the hall Simone heard Monique cry out. The intruder near Salomé’s head said, “Damn, that nigga must be tearing her shit up.”
The man at the foot of Salomé’s bed climbed on the bed and said, “I’m ‘bout to tear this bitch up.”
Simone moved into the room, swiftly and without sound. The man on the bed had his pants down around his calves and his back to her: an easy target. The other intruder saw her and yelled, “Hey!” but too late.
Simone sprang onto the bed, and using the footboard as a catapult, slammed the barrel of her Sig into the back of the head of the would-be rapist on the bed. He collapsed unconscious on top of Salomé without ever knowing he was in danger. Salomé screamed into the tape over her mouth.
The other man saw Simone’s gun and backed away in a hurry with his hands up and his eyes wide in the holes in his ski mask. Simone slid off the bed after him with her Sig in a two-handed grip, pointed at his face.
“No…come on…no…” the intruder pleaded.
“How many?” Simone snapped.
“In the other room, motherfucker. How many?”
“Get on the floor before I kill your ass.” The now terrified intruder dropped to his knees. “All the way down, on your stomach.”
““Don’t shoot me, okay?” the man begged. “We didn’t—”
Simone kicked him in his stomach, and he groaned and fell over.
She used the clothesline cord to hog tie the two men and the duct tape to gag them. Still tied to the bedposts, Salomé thrashed and shouted behind the tape over her mouth. Simone ignored her. For the time being it was better if Salomé was out of her way.
Simone ran soundlessly over the plush hall carpet, down to the other bedroom and peeked in. A man was on top of Monique on the bed, going at her hard. He was pounding Monique so violently that the bed shook with each thrust.
Simone had a sudden flashback to when she was in Paris, to the night when three American college students tried to rape her. Swallowing back her rage, she moved to the bed and shoved the end of the barrel of her weapon behind the rapist’s ear. The dude froze in mid-stroke.
“Get off her,” Simone growled through clenched teeth.
The rapist scrambled off Monique and off the bed. He said, “Hey, come on lady…it’s not—”
Simone used her Sig as a club to shut him up. The rapist grasped his head and groaned and collapsed to the carpet with blood streaming between his fingers.
Monique moaned, and Simone shot a glance her way. Salomé’s assistant wasn’t tied to the bed. She struggled to get up, but collapsed back down and lay naked and trembling with tears streaming down the sides of her face. There was no point in asking her if she was all right.
Simone spun the rapist onto his stomach and used the roll of duct tape she’d taken from the other room to secure his wrists behind him. Next she was going to call the police and have these bastards thrown under a jail.
Light and shadow dancing crazily over the walls made Simone freeze. She heard a sound behind her. Still on her knees next to the rapist she looked back over her shoulder.
Monique was staggering toward her with the nightstand lamp drawn back over her shoulder like a club. For an instant Simone thought that Monique was going after her attacker, but then she screamed, “Leave him alone, bitch!”
Simone ducked the lamp, shoved Monique back and sprang to her feet. “Monique, what the hell?”
Monique came back at her, screaming like a madwoman with her hands extended and her manicured nails curled into claws. Simone used a straight right cross to put her lights out.
All questions were answered outside the mansion, as the police escorted the handcuffed intruders to waiting cruisers. Monique was taken into custody with them, dragged to a police vehicle as she and Salomé screamed at each other.
“Bitch, you stole my career! You stole my life!” Monique shouted.
“You didn’t have a career without me, slut!” Salomé screamed back. “You ain’t good enough to wipe off my shoes!”
“The only thing your skank ass is good for is fucking!” Monique screamed back. “You fucked my uncle to get to the top, bitch! He made you a star because he knew you had no qualms about whoring out your body for a dollar!”
Salomé turned and smacked her ass at Monique and sneered, “And I do it so well. I’m paid, bitch! And what are you? You’re my ex-flunky on your way to jail!”
Simone watched and listened and decided that Uncle Duncan was right. She needed to upgrade the quality of her clientele.
The intrusion and attack on Salomé wasn’t Dime Killa’s doing. Monique had set it up. She’d called her boyfriend from the airport in Tokyo and told him where they’d be. She’d wanted him to use his friends to rape Salomé and to let Dime Killa be blamed for it. She’d planned to play rape victim also, even though she’d really just been fucking her man. She hadn’t expected that Simone would be able to stop them. She’d thought that at worst, the bodyguard would have been a rape victim, too.
When the police were gone Salomé glared around the cul-de-sac at the neighbors who’d come out of their homes to see what had disturbed the peace of their quiet neighborhood. She put her hands on her hips, bobbed her neck and shouted, “What ‘chall motherfucka’s looking at, huh? Yeah, it’s me. Sal-o-mé! Make sure you say that shit right when you talk to TMZ, motherfuckas!”
Simone shook her head and headed back into the house. She was thinking that you could take the girl out of the hood, but you couldn’t take the hood out of the girl.
Bradley Beach, New Jersey had never looked so good.
© December 2009