An Invitation to Kill

The following is an extract (which may contain some language that could offend) from An Invitation to Kill by A. P. Grozdanovic. Available to buy on Kindle or Kindle app now!

He slammed the car boot shut, jumped into the driver’s seat, floored the accelerator and left the scene at speed. He retrieved the cigarette he’d jammed into the air duct earlier and took a long pull, inhaling the noxious smoke deeply.

What had he done? What the hell had he done? Shit! This wasn’t the plan!

Nick Mason’s Intermediary, Kosinski, had texted him a couple of days earlier from a burner phone and arranged to meet. They always met at different locations, never the same. Routine was dangerous in their line of work.

Kosinski got out of his car as Mason parked up. Kosinski’s squat, overweight figure looked as if it was going to burst out of the ill-fitting suit as he walked the length of the car park to the restaurant entrance. His bald head seemed to grow straight from his shoulders, with no discernible neck to hold it up. Mason joined him, and with a nod, they went inside.

The Star, a restaurant-cum-bar on the main arterial road, north out of town, was new to them both. On the right of the entrance was a small seated area. The bar was straight ahead, covering most of the back wall. The main dining area lay to the left. Light streamed in from the windows that stretched around three sides of the building. The parquet floor and wooden tables and chairs gave it a rustic, but spotless feel. A waiter welcomed them as they entered and asked if they would be dining.

‘Is the beer garden open?’ Kosinski enquired.

‘Yes, sir. If you’d like to come this way.’ They followed the waiter out of the side door, to the left of the bar, and into the beer garden. Kosinski had picked this location carefully. The garden was walled-in by a high wooden creosoted fence. A pathway split the grassed area in half. Wooden tables lay either side of the path on the grass. All the tables were available, meaning they would be alone. Kosinski chose the furthest table from the building. The waiter dropped two menus in front of them.

‘We’ll both have a Club Sandwich and a double brandy.’ Kosinski ordered without looking at the menu or conferring with Mason.

‘I’ll be back in a moment with your drinks, sir,’ nodded the waiter.

They remained silent until the waiter had disappeared inside the building.

‘So, what’s the urgency?’ Nick asked.

Kosinski looked nervously towards the door to the restaurant. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow. ‘We need a hit doing.’

‘What?! When?’

‘Like yesterday.’

‘It can’t be done,’ Nick cautioned. ‘Your people will have to wait until I’m ready.’

Kosinski’s hand slammed down onto the wooden table; his eyes blood-shot. ‘It can’t wait! Not this time. You’re gonna have to, I don’t know,’ he wavered, ‘condense your planning.’

‘No, can do.’

A tiny trickle of sweat ran down Kosinski’s forehead. ‘Do you want the job or not?’

‘Keep your hair on!’ Mason said, with the thinnest of smiles. Leaning in, he confirmed, ‘I’m interested. Look, when you say “yesterday”, what does that mean exactly?’

‘This person needs to disappear permanently.’ The agitation in Kosinski’s voice was palpable. ‘Like now!’

The door to the restaurant banged shut. It was the waiter approaching with their drinks. The conversation died between them while he placed a glass at either side of the table.

‘Your food will be here shortly, gentlemen. Is there anything else I can get for you?’

‘No, that’s fine.’ They paused for the waiter to leave before Kosinski continued. ‘Look! It’s a simple job.’

‘What you’re asking me to do is way out of my comfort zone. I’m a driver. I normally only do surveillance, drop-offs, getaways. That sort of thing.’

‘But, you’re perfect for this job.’ Kosinski took a gulp from his glass. The drink took his breath for a second before he continued. ‘There are hundreds of deaths on the roads every year. What’s better than someone dying in a car accident? Hit and run. Happens every day,’ he said casually.

‘A hit is a completely different ball-game, though.’

Kosinski looked around before adding, ‘Look, Mason, stop playing hard to get! What did you say to me when we first met?’ His question was met with silence. ‘I’d better remind you. “I don’t have a red line”, you said. “Anything goes”, you boasted.’

‘Killing is different,’ Mason admitted. ‘It’s not something I do regularly.’

‘But for the right price?’ Kosinski rested his elbows on the table, his question hanging in the air.

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