I meant to post this last night, but with a baby due any day now, stuff kinda gets thrown off. Anyhew, this is another excerpt from my book, Facets: Stories of the Mundane and the Weird, and falls into the mundane starting to stray into the weird. I mean, seriously, who kills people for money? Well, Valeria Mason does. Who is Valeria Mason? Read on...
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My name is Valeria Mason or Val for short. If you looked at the driver’s license I carried, you’d be taking to Lucinda Skye-Diamond. I’m a professional killer, self-employed for the past five years and previously employed by Shadow Operations, a covert ops unit run by the NSA. No one has ever heard of it, because, technically, it didn’t exist and if any one of us were caught, the government could plausibly deny any kind of connection to my organization. It was a good deal for the government anyway.
I was something of a prodigy because at 22, I was the youngest section chief in SO’s history and female to boot. I was considered a bit of an oddity, a female section chief in a male dominated agency, and, somehow, inferior, but no one could argue with the results of my crew, the Gang of Four.
It was me, Alana, Keiko Murashiri and Shekinah Banks. We were the only all-female work group in SO and everybody just assumed we’d fail or unable to do the job. Instead, we took on assignments that older, more experienced agents said couldn’t be done and pulled them off. To quote Shekinah, we had skills.
I was very proud of my accomplishments. Okay, so killing political targets and making them look like accidents isn’t exactly something to brag about (not that I could anyway, all that info was classified), but I was able to buy my Mom a house, go places I’d only heard or read about and work out all of that latent hostility I had.
What exactly was I hostile about? Well, my mom, Colette, and I lived in a trailer park in
where I was born and raised. While I was in school, I kept where I lived a
secret. Eventually, someone found out and that’s when the teasing and name
calling started. It didn’t matter that my Mom and I didn’t drive a pick-up
truck, were familiar with our dentist and we spoke proper English without a
hint of a Kentucky backwoods accent. To the brain dead, we were no-good,
redneck, trailer trash and unfit to be in the same school, hell, the same city
as those stuck-up, bourgeois, yuppie assholes. That’s why some of them wound up
with black eyes, broken noses and various injuries for saying those things to
me directly. Calumet City, Illinois
As a result, I wasn’t very popular in high school.
The only person who didn’t share that general opinion of me was Joel Petrucha.
He lived in a nicer part of
but he didn’t have the same hang-ups about class as most of our classmates did.
We used to hang out, help each other with homework and were more than just a
little attracted to one another. It really hurt my heart when his parents moved
out to Country Club Hills when Senior Year rolled around. We kept in contact,
but after graduation, I went into the military and then into SO and we lost
touch. I still thought about Joel from time to time, especially when a job got
really hairy. Did I mention that the house I bought for my Mom is in Country
Club Hills? Cal City
Anyway, I was a superstar in SO and pretty much had the run of the place. The higher-ups knew that I was able to plan an op and get it done with a minimum of cost to the agency in equipment and man hours. Unfortunately, politics tended to dictate what SO did as an entity. I hate politics. I know they’re a necessary part of the job and are, in fact, the reason for the job, but they get in the way of doing what, or who, needed to be done.
The breaking point came when Alana asked me to back her up on taking down Victor Ortega, a Colombian drug lord who’d murdered her parents because they wouldn’t let Alana be one of his mistresses. She’d made a vow to one day kill the man who’d killed her parents and finally she’d found her chance.
Since this was a personal vendetta and Ortega wasn’t officially a target in Uncle Sam’s War on Drugs, there was no way SO was gonna foot the bill. They didn’t have to, though. I knew the right people to go to outside of the agency and had enough favors to call in to get us what we needed. At first, it was just gonna be me and Alana, but when Shekinah and Keiko got wind of our little job, they dealt themselves in. Alana was against it at first, but the rest of us knew that to take down Ortega, she was gonna need all the help she could get.
So, we went to Medellin, did the deed and got out. Ortega’s death caused all kinds of ripples that got back to the States, because he was a major player and we’d just stepped on the DEA and ATF’s toes. When all the shit came down, I kept Alana, Shekinah and Keiko out of it and squarely put all of the responsibility for the rogue op on me. Alana didn’t like it, but I assured her that I was ready to leave SO far behind. When they asked me to step down, I gladly left and Alana went with me. They didn’t know that we took a fairly large chunk of Victor Ortega’s money with us.
After about a month, I got bored. I didn’t miss the red tape, but I missed doing the work. I approached Alana with the idea of going into business as professional killers. She didn’t like the idea at first, because she didn’t want to kill anybody anymore.
I came up with an idea: Alana’s great with computers, while I’d do the actual jobs, she could help with booking clients, research, and run a legitimate computer consulting business that’d provide a safe front for my little operation. ‘Lana took to the idea like a flower to sunlight.
My reputation as a former government spook helped get the ball rolling and soon I was getting more offers than I could handle. Alana reluctantly took on some of the work and, no pun intended, we made a killing.
It’s been cool, but I’m starting to not like the work now. It isn’t fun anymore. The money’s great, but all the anger that used to fuel me is gone and I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t in The Life. I felt isolated from normal people. Telling the person in front of me in the checkout line at the grocery store that I’d once killed an African dictator, by giving him a Colombian Necktie wasn’t an option.
My phone rang. It must be Lana wanting me to bring some pastries from Junior’s home with me.
“You know those cheese dainishes are gonna go straight to your thighs, chica.” I joked.
“I have no interest in confections, Miss Mason,” a deep, gravelly voice said.
“Who the hell is this?” As soon as I asked, the identity of my surprise caller clicked into place. You should recognize the person who’s signing your paycheck.
“Never mind, I know who you are now.” I said. “I’m busy with the job you gave to me, in case you were wondering.”
“Good. I have a change for you to implement immediately.”
“What’s that?” He told me and hung up. My shock and disbelief lingered long afterwards. I took a quick glance at the trail, saw that my mark had arrived and this job was going straight to hell.
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