Accidents Cost Twenty Crime Flash Fiction By Steven James Cordin

Accidents Cost Twenty: Crime Flash Fiction By Steven James Cordin

Steven James Cordin, author of “Accidents Cost Twenty”, is a native of Chicago and the South Suburbs. Steve is a bank fraud and money laundering investigator and his writing is in the area of fraud prevention, crime and horror fiction. He currently lives alone near Joliet, IL.

*****

“My fee is twenty thousand for an accident.”

Landers frowned as I told him this for the second time.  He was sitting across from me on a wicker chair, dressed in an expensive grey suit.  The two bodyguards standing behind him were also dressed in expensive grey suits.  I felt out of place in my black suit.

“I’m sure we can negotiate,” Landers began.

“No, we can’t.”  I ended.  Another man in an expensive grey suit carrying a pitcher of iced tea came out on to the deck and poured us both drinks.  I wondered if they got a discount buying grey suits in bulk.  “My fee is twenty.”

Landers sighed.  “That is a lot of money for an accident.”

“You can afford it.”  I looked across the deck of Lander’s three-story house, which sat on a ridge overlooking his own private beach.  The view of the ocean and shore was spectacular from up here. The sky was clear and blue, the sand pure gold.  The water looked warm and inviting, but there were only two people enjoying it.  A young man in green trunks was coming out of the water.   Nearby, a young woman in a red bikini sat on a beach towel.  “With all due respect, sir, why do you need me?  Your organization must have the resources to eliminate any threat.”

“That is a lot of money for an accident.”

“True.”  Landers gave me a brief smile that did not touch his piercing green eyes.  He led one of the largest crime families in San Diego.  This was a man who ordered the deaths of others like someone would order coffee.  “This is not about business.  It is about family.  No one can know I ordered this or suspect anything, so I have to go outside my people.”

I looked up at his two bodyguards.  “Those two can’t just kill someone for you and keep it a secret?”

“We would not be having this conversation if I wanted someone shot.”  Landers said irritably.  “It needs to appear to be an accident.  My people are a bit more…straight forward in their methods.”

“Which is why I charge twenty.  Accidents require a degree of skill and finesse to pull off.”  Normally, I charged the same fee, whether I arranged an accident, used a gun, or an ice pick.  The cheap bastard didn’t need to know that, though.

Those piercing green eyes bore into me.  “Twenty seems rather steep.”

“That’s my price.  Accidents take planning, a little more work than just popping someone.  Think of it as a paying a premium for personalized services.”  I was getting a little annoyed with this guy, haggling over the price.  “Take it or leave it.”

He seemed to study me a moment.  I wondered if I might have gone a little too far with that last comment.  He signaled one of his guards, a big blonde ape.  I tensed up as the guard reached into his coat, but relaxed when he produced a thick envelope.  He handed it to Landers.

“Very well.”  He frowned at me, though.  “Half now and half when the job is done.  You can get on this immediately?”

“It depends,” I took the envelope.  It felt good in my hand.  “I may have to study the target, get to know his routine, what he does all day.  That way I can make the accident look more real.  Who is the target?”

“My daughter’s fiancée, Paul.  He is the man in the green trunks on the beach.”  Landers stood up.  “I’m afraid, though, I need the job done by Friday.”

I stood up.  “Friday?  I am not sure I can work that fast.”

“Friday.  I agreed to your payment terms, despite the fact it is a ridiculous amount.  I expect the job done within my time constraints.  My daughter is marrying against my wishes and the ceremony is set for Saturday.”

I looked down at the beach.  The fiancée was headed to the long flight of stairs that led up to the deck.  The girl was putting her things in a bag.  “You are cutting it pretty close.  And what about your daughter?  She is going to be pretty upset.”

“That is not your concern.”  Landers said sharply.  “Your only concern is to make sure he is dead by Friday and that she has no reason to suspect me.  She must not marry him.”

I stared into his cold piercing eyes.  He was as much annoyed with me as I was with him.  I thought about tossing the money back at him for a moment.  That might be a bad idea with all the muscle behind him.  I was good, but not that good.  I also needed the twenty thousand.  I sighed, slipped the envelope into my jacket, and held out my hand.  “Fine.”

He hesitated, staring at my hand like it was covered in blood, then took it.  I nodded and walked over to the stairs, just as Paul came up.  I smiled at him.  He smiled back.  Then I gave him a quick shove.   He teetered on the step for a moment, and then fell backward.  I heard the crack of bone over the tide when he hit the bottom.

One of the guards rushed past me and down the stairs in a blur of grey.  Landers came over to where I stood at the top of the stairs.  The guard kneeled next to Paul’s body, sprawled on the sand.  He looked up at us and shook his head.  The young woman was running up from the shore, screaming Paul’s name.

“Oh dear.”  I raised my hand to my mouth.  “I am so sorry.  I do not know how that could have happened.”

Landers glared at me but said nothing.

I shrugged.   “If you don’t have the other ten thousand handy, I can come back tomorrow.”

*****

If you’ve enjoyed Accidents Cost Twenty, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

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