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For Your Toys Only (Episode 20)

Episode Twenty
The Italian Favor
Directed by Peter Collinson

Old Mister Johnson had troubles of his own you understand. See, he had hired a guy called The Cat, who now wouldn’t leave his home. He had tried and tired send him off to work for another crime lord, one that was actually in Germany where my fellow agents were no doubt heading at that moment. The problem was that The Cat came back the very next day, no matter how many times Johnson thought he was a goner, The Cat came back and just wouldn’t go away.

I’d known about Johnson’s problems for sometime, but Italy isn’t an easy place to just go pick people up and take them away. Most people were more interested in getting rid of Johnson than The Cat, but most people didn’t need Mister Johnson like I did.

I suppose you’re wondering why I was in Italy when Chuck had told me Spain. The reason was simplicity itself, I don’t know anyone in Spain. I know! An entire country and I don’t know anyone in it. I did know Mister Johnson though, and he knew lots of people in Spain. I knew him before he’d moved from my old neighborhood in Clinton Township and went to his grandmother’s homeland. I should point out that Johnson isn’t actually this person’s name, but the one he took when he came to Italy and set up shop. His mother thinks he works in finance control and I’m not going to spoil it for her if she happens to read this.

I did know about his problems though and I decided that if he could help me, I could probably help him. I knew that Cat was supposed to be out, so I showed up early for breakfast. When the guards at the gate tried to halt me, I’m quite pleased that my name alone was enough to make them step back and let me in. I came into Don Peter’s breakfast room where his two small children were playing on the floor.

“Jack Collier?” He asked wiping his hands with a napkin and tossing it to the floor.

“Not official.” I said picking up the napkin and putting it on the table. “The kids can stay if you like, I only need one thing.”

“What happened to your face?”

“Someone kindly broke my nose for me.” I told him. “I only need this one thing.”

“One thing?” He asked and eyed his two children, they were young and playing with trucks and dolls near a wall. “What one thing does and Agent need from me?”

“Not doing their work right now, this is a little more personal, and I might be able to clear something up for you while doing it.”

“What can you do for me?” Peter asked putting his hand against his chest.

“You can’t get rid of The Cat.” Jack whispered. “I can do that for you.”

“Can you?”

“Sure.” Jack nodded.

“How does that work?”

“You send him to Rome after I leave, to rub out the medelsome agent that’s came and told you he was going to take you down. He comes after me, I shoot him, and everything comes out even.”

“What if he kills you?” Peter asked. “I mean you’ve already got that broken nose.”

“I killed the last cat, I can kill this one too.” I said placing my keychain down between us.

“That was you?” He asked.

“That was me.” I nodded.

“Good.” He smiled. “I’d hoped it was you that got him. They talked about it a little here, but there wasn’t much in the way of naming names.”

“I got them all.” I told him, with some pride I must admit.

“So what do you need for this?”
“I need to know where Mrs. White is.”

“You mean as in The White Queen?” Peter asked putting some jam on his toast.

“That is who I mean.”

“There is a town near the border called San Miguel, out in the middle of nowhere. It’s not a big place, but a large private company has built a facility near it. That is a big place, but it’s private so no one can get in there and see what they’re up to. I’ve got someone in the government that tells me it’s where Unicorn and Lion have currently set up though.”

“How’s your mom?”

“She’s fine. She’s coming up for Epiphany in fact, spend some time with the kids.”

“Good.” I nodded and looked at the kids. “You’ll send Cat soon?”

“As soon as he gets back.”

“Good.” I nodded. “Glad to hear it.”

I left after that, there wasn’t anything else to say really. I knew Johnson in high school, but we weren’t friends. I suppose he might say we were, but he was just another person I used to know really. The world is full of people I know, and about six actual friends total. That’s probably a tragic statement, but I didn’t have time to think about it just then.

I had to think about how to defend myself against a professional killer that I’d more or less hired to kill me. Not many people put contracts out on themselves, and with good reason. If you know how to hire a killer, you probably know where to get one that will do the job. The Cat was pretty adept, but then so was I and I had the special advantage that I didn’t really want to die. I also had the specialist knowledge that I was probably the baddest mother fucker on the Italian Peninsula. I’d already proven to be the baddest mother fucker on both of Michigan’s peninsulas, this was just another jutting bit of land to prove myself on. This time it was boot instead of a mitten and I have to admit I suddenly wondered if women point to their high heeled boots when telling people where they come from.

The drive from the outskirts of Milan to the middle of Rome took longer than I wanted, but that should have given The Cat plenty of time to get to me. Or perhaps not. Sadly, I never got that far in order to find out. As I was driving along the highway I ran across what would turn out to be several handfuls of carpet tacks. Carpet tacks, carefully placed so each and every one was facing up.

All four tires exploded more or less at the same time, and I lost control of the car. This was a pity, as it meant I flew off the side of a mountain. With a moment of pure insanity, I undid the seat belt, threw the door open and left the car to its fate. It kept rolling down the grassy hill until it hit a fairly large boulder. When a car hits a boulder, the boulder normally wins that encounter. This boulder not only won, but broke the car in half. I watched as the car settled against another large boulder and on a sort of flat place where the incline stopped. I touched the bridge of my nose, to apply pressure to stop the headache that would be coming soon, and was painfully reminded of what a dumb idea that was.

I seem to have also done something to my arm, because I could feel that the stitches had torn. I stood up and started up the hill, trying not to slip down it because I was fairly sure that would be a bad thing. When I managed to get to the top of the hill, a young man was waiting for me. He was dressed in a suit that had probably been designed that very afternoon and just for him. His style was so current it would take the rest of the world two years to catch up with him. He was so clean, imaculatly appointed and self-assured that there was only one person he could be.

“You must be Mister Collier.” The Cat said to me with an accent I couldn’t quite place.

“You must be the Cat. Nice suit.”

“You too, my grandfather has one just like that.” He smiled, or at least showed me his teeth.

“You want to do this now?” I asked holding my bloodied arm. “Like this?”

“Sure.” He nodded and reached into his coat pocket.

I wasn’t really ready for him, but that was okay because he didn’t pull a gun. Instead he pulled out a pair of leather driving gloves. I had no idea what he was planning, but he had given me enough time to gather my thoughts. He slid his hand behind him to grab something and smiled at me. I put my hand into my own coat and drew out the Webley, shooting him once in the chest. His hand came out with a nine inch curved dagger in his hand, the blade of which had large tear drop sections cut out to make ridiculous serrations.

He looked at me, as if to say that I had cheated or something. I shot him a second time and the knife spun from his hand as he collapsed to the ground. I say with some satisfaction that he landed face down onto the tacks that he had set out for me. I rolled him over the rest of the tacks, using him to pick them up as we went along, and nearly shoved him over the cliff. I decided though that since he’d destroyed the rental car I’d borrowed from Anja, I should probably take his car. He was driving this year’s Ferrari, and I decided that it would be nice enough to drive back to Johnson’s house. I searched him and found that he was also carrying a pair of copper chromed Colt automatics. I’ll admit this left me wondering why he bothered with the knife, but I had other things to worry about at that moment. For one thing I had to go back to Milan and put a bullet through Johnson’s brain.

He might have had problems of his own, but the Cat wasn’t going to be one of them anymore. Now, I was going to be one of his problems.


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