I walked, not hurrying, to meet the man with the money.
When he had called, he had sounded rushed and nervous. And then he asked me to meet him where he was waiting about twenty blocks away. That didn’t feel right. If he was really as worried about something as he would liked to have portrayed, I would like to think that he would have wanted to meet closer. Someplace where he wouldn’t be standing still while I made my way to him. I could be wrong. It happens.
But I really felt that he wanted me to rush, to shake me up enough that maybe I would make a mistake. Possibly a fatal one. So I did not hurry. I didn’t mosey either, no point in that. But I made sure that I looked nonchalant, and I kept my eyes, ears and gut working.
I don’t know how I missed the alien.
It reached out from an alley and yanked me off the street. I shouted in surprise, got a look at it and shouted again in horror. I fumbled for my gun, but it slapped my hand away from my coat like I would slap candy away from a fat kid.
“No,” it growled. “Are you the man?”
“I-I’m a man,” I said, trying to gather my cool. “What man do you want?”
“Don’t fuck with me!” the alien said as it shoved me into the wall. “You look like the man. The man with the thing!”
“Ah, I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not being very clear.”
It shook me like a fat kid shakes Dorito crumbs out of the bag, and just as close to it’s mouth, which was lined with stainless steel shark-like teeth.
“I will eat your face and then I will feat on your….” It stopped. It dropped me to the ground, slick with garbage, and reached back to the sidewalk. It pulled another man into the alley. “Are you the man?” it growled, dripping with menace and thick yellow drool.
I crawled backwards out of the alley on my ass and pulled my gun. The alien and the other man were gone. I guess he was The Man.
I made it to the rendezvous. I hadn’t hurried, but I didn’t stop trembling until I stepped into the cafe.
“It’s about time,” the man with the money said. “And you smell like garbage.” He slid the thick envelope over to me.
I peered inside. The money was there with the photo of the man I was supposed to kill. I had a feeling that I had just seen that man get yanked into an alley.
No such luck.
No sleep. Fuck it.