As Danny slowly came to, he realized that he was lying on his back in the middle of the basement floor. Then he noticed the face above his head. Blonde hair hung all around it, almost touching his face. Soft brown eyes stared down at him. He was still having a hard time focusing and began to think that he might be dead. Perhaps the face above him belonged to an angel that had come to take him to heaven. He wondered if they’d let him stay or send him right off to hell.
“Where are my kids Danny?” Shelia’s tone was all business.
All at once, the grogginess was gone. That face belonged to an angel all right, the angel of death. Danny tried to move but his arms were all taped up. The myth, Stiletto Rose was sitting on his chest ready to kill him, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. Even if she didn’t have him tied up there wouldn’t be a thing that he could do about it. She was the baddest of the bad. He never should have listened to Jimmy. Getting mixed up with Vinny Heart was the dumbest thing he ever did. He was just about to beg for mercy when Shelia broke the silence again.
“Talk to me punk.” Her tone was still all business. “Who has my kids and where the hell are they?”
Danny started to speak but his voice wasn’t much more than a hoarse whisper, “Please…please don’t…”
“Look, if I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you. Nothing you could say would sway me in the least. Begging like a scared dog isn’t going to help you at all. That will just irritate me and make me want to kill you slow. I don’t have time for that right now and I don’t have time to listen to you whimper. Now where are my kids?” Her tone remained completely calm. She was like ice.
Danny cleared his throat. “The German was supposed to come for them. I heard gunshots. I was hiding. Somebody took them but I don’t know who.”
Danny cleared his throat again. “They call him The Blitzkrieg. He’s a pro, some dude from Germany. You know, an assassin.”
The name wasn’t familiar. “The Blitzkrieg? What’s his real name? If you were hiding when the shots were fired, how’d you get shot?”
“Vinny shot me. He woulda’ killed me, but that German dude showed up I think.”
“Well the door bell rang and he went upstairs. He said he was gonna’ kill me later but he never came back.” Danny was looking at the ceiling, too scared to make eye contact with the legend.
She sighed, “He’s dead. So is everybody else up there, all three of them. There’s a fourth one too. He’s not part of your crew though. I knew that because he was the only one without ID on him. He had a scissors sticking out of his eye. Judging from your profiles, I’m guessing Lenny surprised him. You guys are real amateurs. What were you thinking taking on a job like this? And why did Vinny shoot you?”
Danny’s head was swimming and not just from being dizzy. The whole job was bad from the beginning. It was all a set up. He should have never listened to his brother and got involved with Vinny Heart. “Vinny set it all up. This was his job. He just hired us to help him pull it off. Jimmy said it would be a big payday for us. I guess he got his payday.” He was too scared and confused to mourn his brother’s loss just then, so he continued. “Vinny shot me because I was sticking up for them kids. He was gonna’ do something bad to that girl. The boy was sticking up for her, so Vinny started beating on him. I couldn’t stand to watch it, so I stopped him. I woulda’ kicked his ass too, but he shot me.”
Shelia clenched her jaw tight, “He was beating on my kids? You said that he was doing something bad to the girl. What was he doing to my daughter?”
Danny shook his head. “He didn’t get a chance to do anything to her. That boy was sticking up for her and took the beating so she didn’t have to. Those are some brave kids you’ve got there.”
Shelia’s jaw remained clenched. “What was he going to do to my daughter?”
“I don’t know. He had her by the hair and he was pulling his dick out. I guess you can figure where he was going with that. Like I said though, he never got the chance.”
“Where were they taking my kids?”
“I don’t know. The only one who talked to the German at all was Vinny, but I don’t think that he knew anything either. We was just supposed to bring ‘em here and wait for that dude to show up.”
Before Shelia could respond again, she heard the front door upstairs open. She quickly clamped her hand over Danny’s mouth to keep him quiet. Then she quietly put her index finger up to her lip. She slipped off Danny and crept over to the stairs, peeking around the doorway just enough to see what was going on up there. Two legs walked backwards with a body dragging behind them. They hired a cleaner. They were pros. No wonder they left the place such a mess and didn’t manage to kill Danny. They didn’t even bother to look for him. Somebody else would be cleaning up their mess.
Shelia waited for the cleaner to get out the door and then moved quickly but quietly up the stairs. She needed to find out what the cleaner knew. There should only be one. People in that line of work normally like to work alone. Somebody who would take a job like that probably gets along better with the corpses they haul than the guys that hire them. She waited beside the door.
When the cleaner came back in, she let him walk two steps passed her before she snapped a quick sidekick to the side of his knee. He howled as fell to the ground reaching inside his jacket. It had been awhile and Shelia was a little rusty. She expected him to go for a weapon though. She followed him to the ground and slammed his head into the floor with one hand as she fished the gun out of his jacket with the other. Before the little fellow could get his bearings, Shelia was pulling him to his feet by the little bit of hair he had on his head. Then she slammed his face into the counter to ensure his complete and undivided attention. Before he could even think about struggling she had spun him around, dropped him onto a chair, and cuffed his arms to it. Then she took a good long look at him.
He was short, maybe five foot six on a good day. A ring of gray hair surrounded the smooth top of his head. His face looked weathered, but his eyes were keen. He was definitely a smoker. Smoking had a way of aging a person. Looking at his skin he could have been sixty, but Shelia figured him to be no more than forty-five. He had a round build, soft. That would be why he was a cleaner and not doing hits. Fear danced around in his cold blue eyes. That was good. She wanted him to be scared. She wanted him to talk.
“Who hired you?” Her tone was as direct and businesslike as it had been with Danny. She believed in giving people a chance to give info up on their own before putting the squeeze on them.
He tried like hell to keep his tone calm, but his voice betrayed him with the slightest tremble. “Just a voice on the phone, I’ve got no names.” His voice carried a gruffness that hinted at a taste for whiskey.
Shelia clamped a hand around his throat and squeezed. Her thin arms were deceptively strong. “Don’t lie to me. Give me a name or I’ll have to give your family a reason to get together.”
“I don’t have any family and I don’t have a name for you.” He could barely squeak the words out through Shelia’s grip.
She slapped him. Normally she’d take more time on an interrogation, but she didn’t have any to take. “Don’t fuck with me. I need a name.” She slapped him again, harder this time.
He still had the slightest tremble in his voice, but he continued to play the hard line. “I can’t give you what I haven’t got. I’ve got no name for you.”
Shelia’s fist pounded into his nose. She could tell it broke by the way it gave under the weight of her knuckles. It stung a little bit. She hadn’t hit anyone in years. It was all coming back to her though. She punched him again. The blood pouring out of his nose had already made it down to his chin and was beginning to drip off of it. She punched him again, hoping to jar his memory and loosen up his tongue.
“Give me a name.”
“Please. I didn’t get a name.”
“Bullshit.” She hit him again.
“Please stop! Please stop!” He was crying as his words came out in a wet whimper amidst the drool and blood draining into his throat.
“Alright,” she said, her tone settling back into something more businesslike. “I won’t hit you anymore. I’ll just take your pinky.”
In a flash Shelia slipped a knife out of her belt. The light danced off of the blade shooting bright flashes across the walls. The cleaner’s eyes looked close to popping out of his head when Shelia brought it into view. A gasp slipped passed his lips. The blood and phlegm he inhaled because of it sent him into a mad coughing fit. Shelia took a step back to let him clear it out without coating her with it. Once he calmed down she brought the knife back into his view and then gently dragged it down his cheek.
“Give me a name.” Shelia’s tone remained completely calm.
The cleaner’s clogged sinuses made his response a hoarse whisper, “I told ya’ lady, I’ve got no name.”
“Open your hand.”
“Fuck you lady. You ain’t cutting off my finger. You want to kill me, kill me. But you ain’t cutting parts of me off.”
“Open your hand.”
The cleaner just shook his head. Sweat started to bead up on his forehead as his whole body began trembling. He didn’t know anything about those kids or this lady threatening to cut off his digits. He had a name, but he wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. Part of him was pretty sure that this pretty little thing was bluffing. One thing he did know for sure was that he was still more afraid of the guy who owned the name she wanted than he was of her. That wouldn’t last.
Shelia grabbed the back of the cleaner’s hair and gave it a yank as she slammed the handle of her knife down on his clenched fist. “Open your fuckin’ hand!” Her voice had lost the calm serenity that it had just moments prior.
He couldn’t keep his hand closed any longer. Once the handle of the knife hit the back of it, arrows of pain shot straight up his arm and into his shoulder. The bones in his hand made a crunching sound. He couldn’t keep his grip. It loosened and Shelia grabbed a hold of his pinky. She stretched it out away from his other fingers, not wasting any time. In a moment the edge of her blade was sitting up against the base of his pinky.
“This might hurt a little,” she smiled.
“No!” The cleaner screamed.
“A name,” she pushed a little harder with the blade, just enough to break the first layer of skin.
“Please don’t! They’ll kill me!” He didn’t think she was bluffing anymore.
“You think I won’t? Give me a name.” She pushed harder still, this time slicing slightly downward earning a thin trickle of blood and a healthy scream from the cleaner.
“Okay, okay,” he screamed, “I’ll give you the fuckin’ name! Just stop cutting me you bitch!”
She eased up on the pressure. “What’s the name? Who hired you?”
The cleaner had tears streaming down his cheeks but managed to keep himself at a point just short of sobbing. “They call him Wiggles.” He choked the words out between sniffles. “I don’t know why they call him that and I don’t know his real name. Wiggles is all I know. I never met him. I just talked to him on the phone. He was putting the money in an account for me so I wouldn’t see his face or know who he was. He gave me an address and a time. That’s all I know. I swear to god that’s all I know.”
“Good,” Shelia said as she turned around. “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
The cleaner was beginning to calm down, “Maybe not for you bitch, but I’m a dead man. They’re gonna’ kill me and you know it. They won’t make it quick either. They’ll torture me and dump me in the fucking lake. You know how these fuckers work. They make you look like a sweet little princess. I’m a dead man. They’re gonna’ kill me for…”
“No they won’t.” Shelia whispered as she spun and slit the cleaner’s throat from his right ear to his left ear. She stopped him in mid-sentence and left an odd look of surprise on his face. He didn’t make another sound. Shelia continued, “They won’t get the chance. Sorry little fella’, but I can’t leave you alive to tell them that I’m coming. And never call me bitch.”