Coast: An Act Of Burial
Coast: An Act Of Burial
Prologue: The Hit
Why do I have to kill him?
Consciousness and the question arrived simultaneously. Like a rapid echo the answer was already in his mind. Because I'm the only one who can settle this score.
Early light peeped through the dusty curtains of apartment two on the second floor of Le Café Ombreux. Ian McKinley stirred and blinked his eyes. Above him, minute dust particles twinkled and danced in the pale sunlight. Massaging his face with thumb and middle finger he smelled bedding, perfume and the air of an unfamiliar room: musty, old and vaguely feminine. He noticed the ceiling for the first time, drab coloured and finished with a decades old textured appliqué.
Someone - presumably the hostelry's owner - was opening the shutters downstairs and this had roused McKinley to wakefulness. He hoped that the noise wouldn't disturb the girl. He looked over at the time displayed on her battered VCR then back at the blonde. In slumber she was even more beautiful than he recalled from the previous evening. Her childlike face, soft skin and full, inviting lips were pulling McKinley in, tempting him to stay, but that was impossible. The woman appeared soundly asleep and that made it time to leave, early though it was.
Slowly and with a deftness he'd come to take for granted, McKinley started to slide his lean six foot frame from the bed but the woman made a faint murmur. McKinley froze. Damn, he thought, and glanced at her nervously, reducing even his breath to complete silence. He didn't want to have to deal with the questions she might ask. After a few seconds McKinley carefully moved away from the bed and thankfully she stayed asleep.
The room was typical of a low-end student apartment in Paris. At about a hundred square feet it was smaller than a bedroom in McKinley's house. A single built-in cupboard with a mirror on the door was matched by the most compact of bathrooms. Wallpapers of varying design and quality hung in nicotine stained layers which peeled at their edges. Lecture schedules were pinned to a cork notice board and dresser draws extended to reveal jumbled and overhanging clothes. Mismatched stereo components were piled high with dusty CDs whilst a cartoon figure of Général Charles de Gaulle glared from a poster with outstretched middle finger and the legend ' Vive la France, imbécile! '. So, his shag was a patriot. It was an admirable quality but more than McKinley needed to know.
Moving with stealth, McKinley tweaked the curtain just enough to open a discrete gap and looked down at the junction of Place Villeroy and Rue du Chécy, his eyes taking a moment to adjust to the fresh daylight. People were starting to move about as the sun gradually ate away the shadows. He became aware that he was absentmindedly fingering the kink in his nose, broken since he was eleven years of age. It had become habit to rub the old fracture whenever he was nervous or thoughtful but the injury still felt peculiar beneath his fingertips despite the intervening twenty two years. He took his hand away from his face and let the curtain fall gently back into place. Dressing quickly and silently McKinley donned business attire and a lightweight beige trench-coat.
His mind flitted to the previous evening, to the bar, the flirting, the girl. Exhibiting a better than average knowledge of British film stars she'd charmingly compared him to both Daniel Craig and Jason Statham. Using the mirror to fix his tie, McKinley allowed himself a momentary grin, feeling flattered even though he didn't see the resemblance. His slightly drooping cheeks, rugged brow and dark, deep set eyes didn't depict a movie icon in his own appraisal. He had neither the fame nor the fortune of the two actors, but he apparently had the looks and certainly more hair on average.