The rubber soles of Zora’s black boots issued no sound on the tarmac and eased the pressure in her joints. The cold December night had required layers of clothing. She’d remove the parka with the Beretta in its pocket upon entering her helicopter. Zora’s stride matched the pace of Santiago, the pilot, whom she had just met. His role was to fly her to a safe house, then deliver the body to a hideout.
Weeks ago, Zora had told her boss: “This is my last job. Cash up front. An endless flow of drugs to let me live pain free.”
“Okay, but you’ll miss it. Fifty-two is too young to retire.”
“My body feels 82, André. It’s time you lead, and without me. There are others who can do what I do.”
Zora had skills out of his reach: sharp shooting, languages, piloting, disguises. She excelled at disposing of bodies. André, the schmoozer, had contacts, and wrote contracts. He laundered money, and invested wisely. They had been an effective team.
As she and Santiago climbed into the cockpit, he said, “I’m glad you killed the bastard. That family needed to lose their only son and feel some of the pain they’ve caused.” He spat on the body bag zipped tight, and spread out on the back seats. She ignored that insult. What this pilot and her boss did not know was that Zora loved that family better than her own. Zora staged their son’s murder, placed a swimsuited Barbie doll—her signature—in the crux of his arm, ensured TV coverage. Her boss wanted the body for leverage—the specifics of which she did not want to know.
In the cockpit, before buckling, as she wriggled her arms out of her jacket, she flipped the gun’s safety off and said to Santiago, “Who is coming on your left?” He turned and probably felt only a thump to the back of his head before death.
Zora’s cheeks burned, a familiar flush after an assassination.
She rushed to unzip the body bag and free Luca Fontana. He kissed her neck and lips. “Grazie, mia cara.”
Together at last, but she had to keep a cool head.
“Dobbiamo aspettare, amore mio.” We must wait, my love.
His breath, a tang of garlic and cigar, made her think about her present for him—a German antique guillotine cigar cutter. She’d give it to him later along with a box of mints.
They hefted Santiago into the body bag, placed the Barbie doll inside his bomber jacket, and would later shove his body into the Ligurian Sea.
Fitting, she thought—that was her last Barbie doll of her childhood collection, and this was her last job.
When Santiago’s body washed ashore and the Barbie doll-murder publicity went viral, her boss—her brother—would know of her betrayal. Luca had even better access to the drugs she needed, and a talent for disappearing.
Kay Rae Chomic is a novelist (A Tight Grip), and writer of flash: Ellipsis Zine, Every Day Fiction, Hundred Heroines, Retreat West (shortlisted), LISP (semi-finalist), The Dribble Drabble Review, Storgy Magazine, Crack the Spine, Five:2:One, 50-Word Stories. Kay lives in Seattle dodging raindrops.