Second-Hand Rumors~ Chapter 12

     In the world according to Liam, work existed for two reasons, money reasons and social reasons. People went to work in order to socialize with their peers and make money in order to eat food and do whatever normal people do. That lack of peers was the core problem behind Liam’s distressing lack of a social life. His interaction with his “co-workers” was limited to pinching wallets, sometimes with a thrilling foot race thrown in for friendly competitive sport. Thieves weren’t alone in that solemn and lonely path they chose. Assassins, too, had limited time with their work friends before their relationships came to a close. Thankfully, there was a solution in most cities. For the criminally ambitions and socially minded, every city had a job board for the more nefarious industries. Liam never bothered visiting the New York City Board. This was partially because these days, he was on forcible retainer for Simon Nair and secondly, because Liam never had the ambition to go for the big jobs.

     The files Simon gave him on his three current marks had almost nothing useful. Truthfully, they contained a wealth of information about three people who shared names with the folks he sought. It bordered on obsessive in many respects, everything from useful facts like work habits to the profoundly useless, like dental records. Liam was doubtful any of it would be helpful, because they didn’t have any peers either. Getting booted from one of the Five Families translated into disgrace for life. The thing about being disgraced is that it changes a person. Information on the people they used to be was useless. Liam needed to know what type of people he was dealing with now, and that meant going to the Board.

     New York City’s Board was especially old, having been established when the English were still in control of the colonies. It changed hands a few times over the years, but thankfully Liam was on good working terms with the current operator. If anything, the Board had fallen out of vogue lately because hiring out you’re average ne’er do wells had been taken over by the henchman equivalent of Wal-Mart. That was an organization Liam was on decided less good terms with.

     Outwardly, the Board existed as a used book store and tobacco shop. It was nestled between a nail salon and a pawn shop just off a large street in Queens. When Liam arrived, it felt as though he had never left. Unlike most stores, the front desk sat at the very back of the store. As soon as you entered, bookshelves obscured your view of the rest of the store. Every shelf was crammed full of old, faded books from the ceiling to the floor. The owner smoked like a chimney in deep winter, and the whole establishment was permeated with the smell of his pipe tobacco. The books reeked of it, the carpets had been fully saturated and the edges of many of the shelves contained small white piles of ash where the owner had absently knocked his pipe out.

     At the back of the store, a small desk with an old cash register sat empty in front of yet another enormous bookshelf. The Board didn’t exactly have a password, per se. It took a bit of searching to find what he was looking for. You just needed to know which book got the board open. “Crime and Punishment” was the ticket this time around, because the current owner considered himself something of a funny man. Walking the book up front, Liam placed it on the sizable counter and tapped it twice to get the attention of the slight man behind it.

     The desk top was a disaster area, with piles of books, broken detritus and coffee mugs covering the entirety of the surface. Somewhere behind them, located on a stool which Liam couldn’t see, was the old man who ran the place. Liam had always called him Gramps, even though Liam was probably older. It’s not that he had never tried to tell Liam his name, it was that Liam had never cared enough to learn it. Stick around long enough, and names become an eternal nuisance. Directly behind the desk, nailed to the wall, was what people really cared about. At first glance, it was just a notice board, but what a notice board it turned out to be. Every assassination, every theft, every blackmail was put up on this board. That is, those jobs which the Five Families couldn’t or wouldn’t take. The man who ran the Board was thin and wiry. He wore the same thing every day Liam had seen him. A white short sleeved button down shirt which might have fit him once upon a time, but now looked oversized on his thin frame. His pants were black and came down to his ankles, exposing his bony ankles and his dull, scuffed black shoes.

     “I haven’t heard that tap in ages.  Liam, I thought you didn’t need my help.”

     “I don’t need your help. I may be on retainer, but I’m still capable of finding my own marks, Gramps.”

     “Well la dee daa, look at the old hand talk down to me. So what brings you to the shop, Liam?”

     “I’m looking for some assassins, hired killers really. I thought this would be the best place to check first.”

     Every time Liam asked Gramps a question, he feared for the man’s life. If Gramps’ voice went quiet behind that wall of books for too long, maybe he was dead. That would be a legitimate shame this time. Liam actually needed his help, so he had to hold off on kicking the bucket a little bit longer. Finally, he heard the sound of a heavy chair scraping across the floor. Slowly, Gramps peeked his head around the corner, like a turtle slowly emerging from his shell.

     “Since when did you need to find hired killers Liam?”

    “Simon Nair sent me on a job. I just have to find them for him and I figured they might have come back here at some point.”

     Gramps sagged a bit, “What have you gotten yourself into Liam? I’m not worried or anything, I just need to know the names of the killers you were asked to find.”

     “Christopher Goodbody, J. Neelan and Robert Rever. Three nobodies who just happen to be related to somebodies.”

     “Oh Christ, not those fellas again. I can’t tell you where they are, but I can point you in the right direction. They’re a unique bunch, so I can narrow down their upcoming targets.”

     Being called a unique bunch by Gramps certainly set them apart, and intrigued Liam in a way that the packet had failed to, “What type of people do they kill?”

     “Scum bags, and I mean real evil people. They only ever take five dollars payment, and then they go get it done. Not sure why nobody stopped them sooner, but they need to be taken out of play.”

     Liam snorted as Gramps returned to behind his desk and rummaged around. He was a thief, not a killer. His one attempt to rob a killer in recent memory had gone very poorly. It was a long wait while Gramps rummaged around his notes, finding exactly the right targets for Liam to keep an eye on. This was the biggest reason why he never showed up to the job board. People who came here were usually looking for that big, last score and Liam preferred bottom feeding with the little fish.

     Gramps shuffled back around the desk and placed a stack of papers in front of Liam, “When I say they go after scum, I mean it Liam. I won’t have your blood on my hands. It would be an awful day if I no longer had to dread you darkening my door with your ugly mug.”

     Liam grabbed the papers and scanned the names. Gramps was hardly joking, every single person on the list had a rap sheet long enough he could have used it for toilet paper in a pinch. What caught his attention, as he scanned the sheets, were the official occupations they held. Banker, actor, architect, every single one of them held a place in high society. Nobody would have suspected them, unless they knew what they were getting into already.

     “So my targets have a thing for dethroning the high and mighty?”

     Gramps leaned against his desk, “The high and mighty corrupt, sure. Those monsters all have connections to the Mythic world as well, usually the underworld type of connection.”

     Liam shuffled through the papers, trying to sort out a pattern in his mind, “So they don’t come here to get work? I thought that was the whole point of the board.”

     “They used to, until the underworld caught wise to their act. They can’t even send a proxy anymore, people just kept finding them.”

     “That means they’re getting jobs directly from the source. How do their employers find them, if they’re putting so much effort into remaining hidden?”

     Gramps coughed loudly, “If I knew that, you wouldn’t be here trying to find them. They’re a threat to the entire underworld, so long as they live. I want them gone. They’re ruining the Board, Liam.”

     “Got it. Find the bad guy killers and restore your honor. I can do that.”

     That sudden change in attitude caught Gramps off guard, “You would do that for me?”

“Well, not for free, obviously.”

     Liam ducked as a heavy book came flying over the desk, “Get outta here, you bum! Don’t come back until you need a real job!”

     Clutching the papers, Liam scampered out the door. He already had two incredibly important clues. Firstly, all the targets were within the Five Boroughs. Secondly, they all ran in the same circles. Shuffling the papers and tucking them under his arm, it occurred to Liam that the next step required information commonly found around the Nair mansion that he might not have access to. Time to make use of those secret passages around the Nair household to get the skinny on the Mythic world. If Liam had to put money on any one of these targets, it would be the one doing the dastardly, moustache twirling deed sooner than the other cartoonish villains masquerading as real people. That just left the task of tailing the person in question until game time, and then following them to wherever they were hiding.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s