Boss rotated the dog tags in his hands slowly. He sat in his office today, enjoying the jaded almost nostalgic ambience it created. It featured deep wood tones and a curtained natural light. He didn’t use it too often because it was located somewhere in the middle of Citadel Towers and he could never remember what number floor it was on. Today he had guessed correctly and saw it as a sign that this is where he should be. He felt in control here. Things were going right. He would handle his business without relying on the little prick Sammy.
His number one agent stood on the opposite side of the old antique desk. Despite having little warning and been incorrectly instructed to head to the penthouse for the meeting he was on time; early in fact.
“You’re late.” Boss said, not acknowledging him with eye-contact.
Whisker didn’t respond.
Boss continued to roll the beaded chain in his hands. They occasionally reflected the soft light from the window and the inscription became clear.
JAKE CHIPS #2475009
“Do you know why you’re here?” Boss asked, the tags still commanding the majority of his attention.
“Chips is dead.” He said bluntly.
“Your partner is dead, yes. These tags were found on a disfigured and frankly quite sadistically mutilated body.” Boss looked at Whisky a moment, trying to read him. “Do you know how this happened?”
Boss exhale, slightly annoyed. “Why weren’t you together if he was on a mission?”
“I was on the Walter Wallace job; I shot the girl. Chips left before the show began. He said he had been given a secret assignment.”
“By whom?” Boss had never been sure when to say the word ‘whom’ but it felt right. Whisker wouldn’t question him.
“He wouldn’t say; it was secret.”
“But you are partners and protocol states that you should never go it alone.”
“The partnership had grown...difficult in recent times.”
Boss remained silent. He found it odd that these agents, these suit soldiers had found emotion. The program promised unbridled devotion. He had noticed Chips and Whisker not getting results like they used to. “How long has this been going on? Since Walter Wallace?”
“I...I see no reason to correlate the two but more or less since that night.”
Boss nodded slightly. He almost smiled. It was what he had wanted to hear and it reaffirmed some lingering doubts he held regarding his people’s champ. “Who do you think sent the order to Chips?”
I don’t know, sir?”
“Do you know what he was sent to do?”
“Who do you receive orders from?”
“You; Sam Tank; Mark.”
“Only on an operational level. No new assignments. He suggested I find a clear lookout at the Theatre.”
“Yes it was an inspired order.” Boss dismissed the quality of Smithwaite’s call. “This ‘difficulty’ you mentioned, would it include breaking protocol?” Boss saw Whisker flinch slightly. “What if it had to do with the boy Phil, the writer you failed to kill, the one who left Chips almost dead at Newport?”
Whisky hesitated. Boss exploded.
“DON’T FUCKING LIE TO ME, YOU PIECE OF FUCK!” he slammed his fist on the table and stood angrily as he roared. Whisery didn’t flinch this time but he got the point, or he would be very wise to get it.
The agent spoke after some time, “It would be probable that this assignment would tempt Chips into breaking protocol.”
Boss continued to stare at Whisker intensely before relaxing his posture again, “Good.” He sat down again, “You can go.”
The agent left the room and Boss settled back into his chair. He felt a high coming on and decided it needed to be rode. He called someone in the lobby, some nervous sounding kid, and told them to bring some coke up or they will be fired. He put his hands behind his head in satisfaction and felt good. He reminisced over the conversation in his head, remembering how calm and explosive and cunning he had been. How he was the boss; no one else. He had felt so aware in that moment, so switched on. He wanted to keep the momentum going.
He wasn’t happy that he had lost one of his best men but he had plenty more. But if Chips could stray so far then what about the rest of them? Could he ever trust an agent again? He knew he couldn’t trust Whisker. He had plans for him.
He felt like his glory posture was starting to lose effect so he reclined a little and put his feet up on the desk. He needed to share this moment with someone before it was lost. His wife was up in the penthouse so that was off limits and Sally the maid was in there cleaning so she was out too. He called someone in the lobby again. It was the same kid only more nervous. He told him to call in some hookers as well, didn’t like the uncertainty in the boy’s affirmation.
He hung up and thought of another pressing issue. The kid with the blog had run away. The little shit had written his fair share of anti-Citadel tripe and Boss featured heavily until Smithwaite had him signed up and censored. Boss would have much preferred kill the freeloader – after some torture – but he had been assured that a muzzle and leash was torture enough. Maybe true but now he had gone on the run and in all likelihood killed an agent. Smithwaite had plenty to answer for.
Boss noticed his foot twitching a little as it rested next to his reading lamp atop the desk. The more he looked at it the more it twitched. He tried to bring it down and get some blood flow into it but it seemed to have gone a little nu-
“Argh! Fuck!” His calf muscled began to spasm in gripping pain. “Cunt! Fuck! Mother!” he pulled his leg off the table and massaged it furiously. The pain began to subside and the muscle relaxed again. “Fucking piece of shit!”
The phone on the desk rang.
“Boss.” He said, annoyed.
“Uhh...who am I speaking with?” A familiar voice came through the handset with childish uncertainty. Boss couldn’t place the recognition.
“Boss,” he said again , “who the fuck are you?”
“Oh,” the kid sounded on the brink of tears, “did you, umm, call the lobby at Citadel Towers before by any chance?”
“Yes I ordered some coke and some hookers. Where the fuck are they? WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY?!
“Oh shit,” the kid whispered, “Umm, right away sir.”
The phone went dead.
Boss felt a pain - worse than any muscle cramp - consume his being. The anger engulfed him like flames. He felt incapable of breathing. The fucking nerve of this kid.
He picked up the phone and hit lobby.
“Not you. Manager. Now.”
“Yes sir.” The fear was tangible, even through the phone.
There was a pause before another voice spoke, “I can explain, sir. He’s new; thought it was a prank. We are-”
“-I’m going to call security and have them bring you and the kid up to my office. You are going to call and have some coke and hookers to my office. Whatever is first to come through these doors I am going to chop up into tiny little pieces, and I am going to fuck the second one in the ass WITH A FUCKING POOL CUE!”
He slammed the phone down on the receiver. He was breathing heavily. He was distracted and no longer felt in the moment where decisions were made. The anger made him horny but he still wanted to see the lobbyists faces first. It would be so sweet to kill something right now. The photo of Chips’ bloodied carcass flashed through his memory and suddenly he was segued back to Whisky, the hippy and Smithwaite. Duty still called but he decided to forward it on. He called Sammy. Let him deal with it.