by JOHN ADAMS
tin roof frozen custard by stu_spivak | Flickr
“Six, eight.” Kaelyn’s glossy fingernail ran from one lit elevator button to the other.
“What?” Lis asked, more from habit than interest.
“Today’s date. June 8th.”
Lis scooped her hair into a scrunchie. “Huh.”
“June 8th,” Kaelyn repeated, drawing out the date. “Like I was saying: International Best Friends Days.”
Lis’ face flashed a second of ‘This shit again?’ before offering another “Huh.”
The man caught between them shot Kaelyn a quick, embarrassed look before shuffling to the front of the elevator.
“I want to get ice cream,” Kaelyn said. She pushed out her lips, releasing a small ‘oooooh.’ “Does Singapore have frozen custard?”
Lis shrugged. “Didn’t check the travel guide.”
“Sure, sure. Just seems like a fun way to celebrate Best Friends Day.”
Lis chuckled. “But your best friend isn’t here.”
“Yeah, she is.” Kaelyn’s voice was quieter. Softer. Closer. “I mean, yeah… you are.”
The man before them audibly winced at the awkwardness.
“We’re best friends, right?” Kaelyn continued.
With a ding, the elevator doors opened. The man flashed Kaelyn a sympathetic smile before fleeing to the mercifully less uncomfortable Floor 6.
He didn’t make it far.
Lis jutted forward, dodging between the closing doors. She clamped one hand over the man’s mouth. With the other, she sliced her jagged razor across his throat. She dragged him back inside, the closing doors barely missing his limp feet.
The elevator headed up.
“Kaelyn—” Lis started, crumpling the dead witness into the corner of the pristine hotel elevator.
Kaelyn put a finger to her lips and made an ‘oopsie’ face. “It’s ‘K’ when we’re on jobs.”
“Sorry… K. I see us as… work colleagues.”
“Oh. Right.” Kaelyn pulled a Beretta M9 from her knock-off Coach bag. After a pause, she hazarded, “Work-friend work colleagues? Or work-colleague work colleagues?”
“Not sure I see a distinction.” Lis dabbed some errant blood from the back of her hand with the handkerchief Tommy had given her for Mother’s Day.
“I don’t even really like frozen custard,” Kaelyn mumbled, screwing a silencer on the Beretta.
“Kind of rich for my taste.” Lis folded the handkerchief into perfect, bloody quarters and planted it back in her pocket. “Depending on the mix-ins.”
The elevator opened to the top floor of Mrs. George’s small boutique hotel. The assassins stepped out, surveying the area.
“True.” Kaelyn gestured to a turn in the hallway up ahead. “I do like the mint-chocolate. Which is weird, cuz I don’t like mint-chocolate ice cream.”
Lis slowed her pace. “Huh.”
“Dunno why.” Kaelyn positioned herself tight against the wall, near the turn. Scrunching her face, she added, “It was a stupid idea, anyway. You’ve probably got a million actual best friends back home.”
Lis held up her right hand, splaying out the fingers and silently counting them down. Five. “It’s not that.” Four. “I just don’t make friends”--Three.—“at work.” Two.
Kaelyn leapt around the narrow corner, Beretta raised. With a thwap-thwap, the guards outside Mrs. George’s suite each had bullet holes in their foreheads.
“It’s really not you, K.” Lis strode over the leaking bodies and cracked down the door with a solid roundhouse kick.
“It never is.”
Three brutish, hairy lieutenants inside the suite growled and roared, lunging out at Lis and Kaelyn.
“I’m a quiet person,” Lis explained, her lithe form jumping from guard to guard, stabbing each at maximum-damage points. An eye. A kidney. Two testicles no more.
A shrill voice screamed within the bedroom. Mrs. George. CEO. Humanitarian. Adulteress. Target.
“It’s fine,” Kaelyn said, sweeping through the suite and pummeling open the bedroom door with a guard’s limp torso. Mrs. George lay in bed, screeching gibberish. Beside her, a well-endowed 20-something boytoy struggled to get into his leathery trousers. With another thwap, he was down, dead, pinning the already-struggling CEO beneath him. “I just… don’t really have… people. Outside of work, I mean.”
Lis paused, frowned, thought about her friends and family back home. “Huh,” she finally said. She hopped off the last dead guard, jumped into the bedroom, and pounced onto the bed.
“Please!” Mrs. George cried. “Whatever he’s paying you, I’ll triple—”
Lis grabbed the crotch of the boytoy’s trousers, still tangled around his feet, and scooped them around Mrs. George’s neck, yanking tight, tight, tighter until the CEO stopped blubbering and went limp.
Kaelyn slipped the wedding ring off Mrs. George’s finger and dropped it into a Ziploc baggie.
The job was done.
“So,” Lis sighed.
“So?” Kaelyn asked.
John Adams (he/him/his) writes about teenage detectives, robo-butlers, and cursed cowboys. His publication history includes Australian Writers’ Centre, Dream of Shadows, Fat Cat, Johnson County Library (Imagine Your Story contest winner), SERIAL Magazine, and Weird Christmas. Forthcoming publications include Metaphorosis, Paper Butterfly, peculiar, The Story Engine, and The Weird and Whatnot. His plays have been produced by Alphabet Soup (Whim Productions) and 6x10 Play Festival (Barn Players) and selected for readings at the William Inge Theater Festival and the Midwest Dramatists Conference. He performs across the U.S. with That’s No Movie, a multi-genre improv team.