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           It was false dawn, the flush on the horizon. The parking garage was empty. In the early silence, Kink could hear the buzz of the fluorescent lights. He was jittery and irritable on the downhill slide from the speed he’d taken earlier. He was grinding his teeth. This conversation wasn’t going to go well. He hadn’t gotten the gun from the girl. She’d gotten a good look at him, too.

           Kink clapped his arms. It was too cold to be standing around in a giant pile of concrete. This whole job sucked donkey. He wanted to get this over, get home, take a Vicodin and have beer and go to sleep before the speed made him any crazier. Of course, Irene would be there and probably still up. She’d want to know where he’d been. She better not have drank all the beer. Skinny little bitch was always worried about her weight. Far as he could tell, she never ate. She lived on his beer.

           Talk, talk, talk. She’d want to talk. Or, God forbid, she’d be upset about something in ‘their relationship.’ Their relationship was that he’d taken her home from a bar one night and hadn’t been able to get rid of her. If he hadn’t been wearing beer goggles, she’d still be homeless. Which was why he didn’t know how to get rid of her.

           But she was always going on and on about how his childhood had made him distrustful. All because he’d made the mistake of telling her he was an army brat and he’d lived in ten places by the time he was fourteen.

           Kink checked his watch. Three minutes since the last time he’d looked.

           His jaw hurt. He tried to relax his face but every time he stopped thinking about it, he started grinding his teeth again. He was going to give up speed.

           “Where the hell are you?” he muttered.

           “Right here.”

           He jerked his head around to see his employer standing in the stairwell with a gun.

           Aw, shit, he thought.

           There was a bright flash and a roar, his aching jaw turned incandescent and agony went through him like lightning, burning everything away except for some reason the image of Irene, her sitting at the edge of his bed in a tank top and underwear, the way the morning light made her frizzy hair shine. She was laughing about something and it was good to see her laugh, her face turning away from him to look into the window, into the light—


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