July 25, 2022 – Mr. Sparks – A little story

This little exercise of mine was started a while back and finished just now here for your enjoyment.

Steven Sparks rose slowly from his soft, green, leather, sofa and walked across his large living room. He almost sank an inch into the thick white carpet beneath his feet as he walked to get his first shot of scotch in more than a year.

Some acquaintances of his had remarked that the choice of color for the carpet was a mistake. But he had no pets or children and that didn’t seem likely to change very soon so he had no difficulty making that decision.

He hadn’t taken a drink in over a year. But he wasn’t in full control of his faculties or his body at the moment as he felt himself walking toward the bar for the first drink in a very long time after “the phone call”. As he found himself crossing his living room, he thought to him self, “what had gone wrong?”

He lifted the delicately carved, crystal decanter, a gift from a very wealthy and very satisfied client, living somewhere in Europe and poured a small portion of the contents into a nearby shot glass and picked it up.

The address of his benefactor and very pleased customer was somewhere in Europe. It was unknown and unknowable, as were Mr. Sparks where a-bouts. That was part of the protocol that he, Mr. Sparks, had always insisted upon using.

The check for his services came from a shell company owned by a friend of his client and went to one of Mr. Sparks Swiss accounts in this case.

Even his sister didn’t know how many accounts he really had. She thought that he had only two. She had been given both account numbers just in case “something awful were to happen to me.”

He had several more accounts filled with more money than he would ever need in several local banks and abroad and two large safety deposit boxes filled with gold coins and small wafers and ingots of gold and silver, easily carried in the lining of a long raincoat, just in case, downtown near the train station. The coat was hanging in his closet and filled with enough valuable metals to keep him comfortable anywhere he desired for as long as he needed and for a quick “get away,” at the moment.

He had many “safe houses” in major cities around the world and many false passports to make getting to anyone of them fairly easy. He only flew on his private jet now and his apparent wealth gave him some advantages not afforded to most air travelers. The fact that his wealthy and powerful friends were nearby at the end of a phone didn’t hurt either. He had a book on all of them that made their cooperation, a certainty, most of the time.

He never needed to carry a weapon on his person until the last moment these days. It had been different in the past when he first started out. He liked the feel of a weapon in his hand or in his pocket or shoulder holster under his jacket. But those days were gone.

He had weapons stashed all around the world in bus terminals and airport lockers and in acquaintances houses. It wasn’t difficult for his connections in most countries to get Italian or Greek fishermen or other seafaring men to bring guns into a coastal country from a large container ship just off the coast of most countries. Even countries away from the ocean weren’t unlikely targets for smuggling guns into them from others near the oceans and he had it done as often as needed. Money makes most things possible.

He smelled the scotch and remembered how quickly the smell took him to a different place. That was one reason why he stopped drinking in the first place. That was one of the only reasons that he drank it, at first. It didn’t taste very nice, and his was the best money could buy.

He laughed as he remembered some of his few friends remarking that they loved the taste of scotch when they came over for the rare card game or movie night.

“What idiots,” he thought. He hadn’t taken a drink in around a year. This recent phone call had changed that in a flash.

He carried his former liquid treasure close to his chest as he walked down the dark, wide hallway lined with storage closets to his “office,” in the rear of the two story, white, modern house.

As he walked through the office door he could smell that familiar scent that made him buy this house in the first place, several years ago.

He couldn’t really afford it at the time, but he had made it happen.

The smell was the breeze from the Pacific Ocean wafting through the wide french doors that led out to his patio. It carried the aroma of salt and a clean freshness that lulled him into a state of relaxation that he found no where else in the entire world, other than his former liquid lover, scotch.

He had traveled widely. But he always felt the most comfortable and at home, here, in this place and looking out to the west. He now had time to watch the sun set when he remembered to do so and if he had made the time. His schedule could change quickly as political movements and leadership dictated.

The patio, with its large red clay tiles was fenced in on three sides with a low, black, wrought iron fence used as decoration more than for privacy or security. It was a work of art. Steven appreciated its arches and swirls more than others might due to his years of manual labor as a young man in college and in the distant past. He knew what it took to create such a fine work of art in iron.

The motif of the fence with the beautiful green hedge just beyond it relaxed him as he had sat drinking his scotch those many years ago there. He had stopped when he thought that it might be becoming a problem for him and his work.

Inside the fence sat many large palms of different varieties and sizes planted in large, red, clay pots. The palms waved and swayed in the subtle breeze each afternoon around eleven-thirty when the breeze usually began in earnest.

There was always a hint of a breeze before the real thing, arriving like the eleven o:clock train that was always on time at a station somewhere off in Switzerland or Germany. The breeze, like the train in his mind’s eye, was never late. Sometimes that meant the difference between life and death for him and for someone else, sadly.

His grey eyes flashed from his desk out to the low silent moon hanging over the ever restless Pacific Ocean as he walked toward the shore in his brown bare feet. He could feel the sun’s warmth still radiating from the tiles as he walked across them to a patio chair where he sat down. The breeze tossed his thinning salt and pepper hair from side to side as it traveled over and around his head.

The salty sea breeze was usually a welcome guest in his office in the spring and summer, but now it seemed to chill him like death itself and made his loneliness fell even sharper. That choice of words haunted him and he wished he hadn’t used that term but the word was left hanging in his brain.

He focused on the phone call as he tried to relax with is drink and remember all of the details of his most recent assignment.

He had many beautiful women at his beck and call on six continents but that wasn’t like having a wife and children and homemade brownies sitting in his large, quiet and sterile kitchen.

He hoped that there might be a special someone in his life someday, but he thought the odds of that were getting less and less as he grew older.

He knew his money would help him land a woman, but he wanted more than a financial transaction if possible. But then he vaguely remembered what his farther had told him years ago, before he had left. “All relationships in this world revolve around money changing hands for goods and services. All of them.” A few years later he was gone to parts unknown.

Steven was still in shock and finding it hard to believe that the plan had failed. He had seen the victim fall with his own eyes. It was a simple plan as all good plans, are, and yet he had been told that it had ultimately, failed.

There was little room for error in Steven Sparks work and he seldom made errors. That was why he was in demand in those countries where fair and decent politics were not the norm and murder and assassination was still a growth industry.

“What could have gone wrong?”

He had no answer for that at the moment but he had a man on the other end of the phone a few moments before who was very unhappy and threatening to change Steven Sparks’ life’s trajectory.

It appeared that the caller had reliable sources reporting back to him about the unpleasant turn of events of two days ago, back across the Atlantic.

Murder is never really ‘simple,” Steven thought. “Well trained and smart men make it look simple.”

It seemed to go exactly as planned. But he was at some distance and so he couldn’t touch the body to see that the heart had been stopped. It looked to be a perfect head shot.

“It was a simple shot,” he thought as he took a slow sip of the scotch and swished it slowly in his mouth with his tongue while he replayed the events of the shooting in his head once more. The scotch burned his mouth as he heard the sound of the waves below him crashing on the shore at low tide.

He thought about the victim and her “reluctance to die.”

“Perhaps,…no. It wasn’t healthy to think about the details so closely. One had to stay at arm’s length to work in this trade or risk losing one’s mind, or will, eventually.

It is every mother’s dream to see her son being the best in his field, and Steven had done just that. His life style and generosity to her had assured her of that fact. Thought the fact the he remained unmarried was a sore spot between them when he visited, which was often.

He had gone through college without a hitch. Not even a drunk night out on the town when he was away at school or a parking ticket. No late night phone calls from the police, ever.

He graduated as one of the ten top students in his class. Not in the top ten percent, no. He was one of the top ten students. Some had fathers in Congress or who were titans of business. Steven, her son, and she come from a lowly background.

She a single mother had worked hard and saved as much as possible until he was ready for college. She had almost enough for his admission. He had saved the rest. While in school Steven worked odd jobs to earn some of his freight and had made their dream for him come true. He had a partial scholarship for baseball to fill the void.

Steven Sparks wasn’t satisfied with being one of the top ten of all the other students in his college. He wanted to be the top. That’s when some of the cracks started to show just a little. He wasn’t satisfied with being one of the best. And what field would he choose? That was the ultimate question. Finance was the answer, strangely. His few friends didn’t see that one coming.

He worked for a year as an intern at an investment bank and then was given a quick promotion due to his work and work ethic. All was going as planned.

Then he worked his way up to a corner office and a very good salary. This investment banker job wasn’t his second love. It wasn’t even his third. It was simply a great cover for what he really wanted to do.

The money was good and the travel worked well for his real work for many years. He was satisfied to travel for business while his work load increased by word of mouth and jobs well done all across the globe.

And then he made a killing on wall street and was set free to follow his “dream job.” He had the perfect cover when he left that big firm and most of his friends far behind him in the normal world.

Steven Sparks had made several million dollars over a few years and everyone around him knew it. They didn’t even envy him. Most of his coworkers and upper management liked him even if he seemed a little aloof and just wished he hadn’t turned his back on them as quickly as he had.

They were all surprised and a little disappointed by that. But his life on Wall Street wasn’t meant to be. It was over.

He studied long and hard to learn his adopted and beloved trade and found the best to train with and work with as time passed. It wasn’t easy.

First it was martial arts. He made quick friends there and soon some underworld contacts of the type seen in old movies searched him out. He did a few jobs for them and like on Wall Street one’s reputation soon grows, for good or ill.

Then he bought a very nice pistol began taking lessons with that.

He worked hard at it and soon was more than a good marksman. He wouldn’t settle for just being “good.”

That was not a bit of a clue to those who were still friends and followed his life after he left their common work place. It wasn’t easy, but some did try to keep in contact, actually.

He did a few small “jobs” as a back up man and worked well with others in the underworld at first. It took some time to gain their trust. A bit longer than he had expected.

His reputation grew and soon so did the demand for his work as a solo or in a temporary partnership role. He was good at both. It soon became easier as time passed to find more of those who wished to remain nameless, but who needed a man with fresh ideas at hand with skills. His business grew as all well run businesses do.

He looked to most, to be a retired multi millionaire who lived the good life. He had many female friends, a few very close male friends form school days and one very special friend from the office. His life was complete, or so it seemed.

Steven Sparks went to the gym three times a week to keep fit. “What was the point to have millions of dollars only loose one’s health through drink, gluttony, and debauchery and die early?” he reasoned.

Steven Spark’s life looked perfect from outside and was even better from where Steven Sparks sat. That was until that now dreaded phone call.

“What had gone wrong? He had done his home work and laid out the plan perfectly. Had a gust of wind changed his fortunes or was something else “a foot.”

As he packed his small suitcase and slipped on his long, heavy jacket laden with precious metals, he wondered what he would discover when he returned to the scene of the crime.

That was what was demanded of him by the phone call and that was what he had to do. It was his reputation on the line as well as his future. These type of people aren’t to be trifled with lightly.

He didn’t need the money. He had more than he would ever need. What he needed now was to know that he was still the best at what he did. He would be on his plane in less than an hour.

He would risk his life and freedom to find out how everything had become so “screwed up” over there.

I hope you like this little story of mine seen here for the first time ever.

My book of nine short stories called “Sunrise ,Sunset” is available on Amazon now along with my other novels and is being turned into an Audible book as we speak.

As always, thank you for spending some of your precious time here and be nice, R. C. Hand.