(An aside from a longer piece, with a character who’s yet to appear in the sequence o pieces I have written and am writing. No, he’s not as friendly as Ron)
‘Where’s my gold?’
Pitt looked up, finger still knuckle deep in his left nostril as he sneered with disdain.
He chuckled as he studied his finger, pleased with himself.
‘You weren’t supposed to be in a position to collect your cut,’ he said.
Franklin shook his head with sadness as he stepped forwards, almost skipping towards him. Pitt found him comical, being just shy of 4 feet tall, but he had seen what the man could do with a knife. He figured it was the limits of the halflings ability but he glanced at his men, hoping they paid attention to the flash of a knife.
Franklin was difficult to look at but Pitt swallowed and made the effort. Scars ran across and down his face, shadowed by beard except for where the tissue had been insistent on denying the modest cover of hair.
‘Now that’s just rude, sir,’ he said.
Pitt raised his eyes to the white scar across his forehead. He wore hair long and over his eyes to cover it, the weakness was reassuring.
‘Nothing personal, part of the instructions,’ he said.
Franklin chuckled which made the pair of bodyguards flinch, hands reaching for the swords on their hips.
‘Your instructions,’ he said.
Pitt saw the hope this could become someone else’s problem and went with it. He shook his head.
‘The client wanted no traces left,’ he said.
Franklin sighed and massaged his cheek as he looked down his nose and glanced at the bodyguards. There was either dead tissue there or it was a sign he was mad.
‘Now this is where you give me all you’ve got on them,’ he said.
Pitt ran his tongue over his lips as he considered the future. How fleeting it might be.
There were other clients. He could make something up but he needed to get to a point where he was alive to do it.
He gave a name.
Franklin chuckled. Pitt noticed how the shifting glances between the bodyguards had been joined by his hand pointing between the two. He was mouthing something as he stepped closer.
Pitts stomach burned with alarm.
‘You’ve got your name, Frankie,’ he said.
Franklin stopped and all emotion fell from his face as he stared into Pitts eyes.
‘Who’s your favourite?’ he said.
Pitt closed his eyes and shook his head.
‘I’ve no children, and I pay for my women, so there’s that to consider,’Pitt said.
Franklin gave a slow, contemptuous blink as he shook his head.
‘Of these two men, who has your favour?’ he said.
Pitt jolted with alarm as he turned to his men, ready to command them to defend themselves.
Franklin had worked out the minimum distance to stand between both men and be in range. Pitt had been focused on how close he was moving to him. A mistake he would pay for, but not with his life.
He turned his hands and swept up the curved glass blades, hilts following the curve of his palm as he crouched down into a horse stance. Lifting his right foot, he slammed his heel into the side of the right sided man’s knee and felt the gristly push of snapping tendons and breaking bones as he stabbed the tip of the blade into the thigh of the man on his left. The blade slid through the meat,severing the artery there as he reached down, fingers shining with blood as he shrieked and tried to stop the bleeding. Franklin shifted to his right, swung his left blade out of the thigh and opened up a deep wound in his armpit, opening the musky leather and the sweating, hirsute flesh beneath on its arc of ascent. With his right hand, he stabbed the second man in two opportunistic jabs, striking him in the groin and then the throat as he fell, still aghast at the scale of his injuries. Both men fell down onto their faces, shivering from the near instant blood loss.
They were dead within a minute. Franklin replaced the knives in their holsters as he smiled at Pitt.
‘Ah made the decision for you, plus they let me get close, that’s sloppy work and y’all deserve better,’ he said.
Pitt nodded and hoped it would be enough.
‘Well, look I can.., Pitt looked around, grabbed a cloth purse off the table and tossed it to him. It felt heavy but Franklin caught it and had it open before Pitt saw him catch it.
Franklin smiled to himself in a way which nauseated Pitt. When he looked up, it was all he could do not to beg.
‘I’m sorry, I messed up but I’ll be good to you,’ he said.
Franklin slipped the purse into the pocket of his coat.
‘You will, because ah know you’ll never be so unwise as to try something like this again,’ he said.
Pitt smelled the blood and spore of his men’s bodies. The blood would stain the carpet, and he was weighing up what this would cost him.
‘Never and I’m looking forward to working with…I mean, for you,’ he said.
Franklin’s smile widened into a grin which brought tears to Pitts’ eyes.
Franklin bowed from the waist, and with a quick glance at the floor to avoid getting any blood on his feet, turned and left the room.
Pitt stayed in the chair for a long time. He considered retirement but he knew Franklin would find him. The numbers were promising though, if he took out the client. These broken glass reveries drew his mind away from what had happened even as his eyes streamed with tears. The door opened and he did not look up.
When his maid came in, he smiled at her before he saw her expression and then heard her scream. Pitt laughed at her and found he couldn’t stop, until the apothecary was called, and he was forced to swallow a reduction which sent him into a deep, complete sleep.