Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Michael Kudo for taking the time to talk with us today.
Title: Red Rose (Blood)
Author: Michael Kudo
Publisher: Wilde City
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Prism recently reviewed Red Rose (Blood). You can find the review here.
“I don’t like to be called an Assassin, I prefer the term problem solver.”
My name’s Alex. I’m an average guy. I kill people for a living. But don’t judge me.
I don’t take jobs on just anybody though. I only kill the really annoying people, like cheaters or abusers. So if you think about it, I’m actually doing God’s work—okay, maybe that’s stretching things a bit.
Other than the whole committing murder and trying to get away with it thing, my life is simple.
Well… except for the fact I’m in love with a fellow assassin who happens to be my mentor. I also have to make sure I’m careful when I’m on the job because if I ever fail a hit, I’ll be considered a “liability” and be executed promptly. Oh, and there’s a small chance someone in the organization is trying to have me killed. But I’ll figure that out, eventually. Did I mention I’m gay?
Okay, maybe my life isn’t so simple.
For Chapter 1, Part 1 see Kudo’s post over on The Novel Approach
I looked at her, and our eyes met once more. This situation hit a little too close to home for comfort. I was a product of a loving mother and an asshole who couldn’t be bothered to stay around and take care of what he made. So I felt sympathy for the damn woman, yes sympathy. Fuck me. “Mrs. Carter, I’m going to ask you another question. I want you to think carefully before answering. Okay?” I paused, checking to see if I had her full attention. Apparently I did, judging from the fact she hadn’t bothered to light another cigarette, despite her last one being finished a few minutes ago. Must have been a new record. “Are you absolutely sure you want your husband dead?”
It was like her grey eyes were pools of oil that someone had dropped a match into. One second they were filled with sorrow, and the next, filled with a fiery intensity that left them dark and cold. I guess that old saying is true: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
“Why on Earth would I be here, with you right now, if I didn’t want him dead?” she asked.
I shrugged. It wouldn’t have been the first time somebody said something they didn’t mean in the heat of anger. It was quite common for people to feel a certain way depending on their mood and then be contrite afterwards. To err was to be human. Unfortunately, in this business, that would get somebody killed. “I just want to make sure you understand and don’t take this lightly. Once somebody is dead, they’re gone, caput, finished. There’s no bringing them back, no second chances. So if I do decide to take this job, I want you to understand that what happens cannot be undone. There’s no bringing him back. Dead is dead. I don’t want you to contact me again, just to cry and say that you didn’t understand what our arrangement meant.”
“I don’t care,” she replied, her mouth curled up stubbornly. She jabbed a finger at my chest and puffed herself up, probably in an effort to look intimidating. “Take this job Mr. Rose, take it or I’ll find somebody else to do it. I don’t necessarily need the best; I just need it done soon.”
I couldn’t help but laugh, and it wasn’t pleasant. “Mrs. Carter, you are free to do whatever gravies your meatloaf. You can go ahead and find somebody less reputable, less professional, and we’ll see how far that gets you. I’m sure the job will get done, because any idiot can kill someone, but make no mistake, it will more than likely be traced directly back to you. So your husband will be dead and you’ll be in jail. I guess that means your children will lose both parents—all because you’re too impatient.” I turned and began to walk away.
“Mr. Rose, wait!”
I kept walking, though a bit slower. Sure, it was petty, but sometimes being petty was so much fun. I heard frantic footsteps, the sound of heels clicking on the pavement, coming from behind, which meant she was running to catch me. Her hand grabbed onto my arm.
“Mr. Rose, please stop!” Her voice held just an edge of desperation.
Got her. She really did want this done. I could probably talk her into doubling my fee. Nah, I wouldn’t do it. I was a jerk, but I wasn’t that much of a jerk. That would be bordering on insensitive-dick territory. I stopped and turned around to face her. Her eyes were shiny, almost as if they were fighting to hold back more tears. “Mrs. Carter, before we continue, I must insist that you not cry again. I’m already adding on an additional two hundred dollars as a crying fee for the first time.” It may have sounded mean, but I still wasn’t a dickhead. I was a jerk. And there was a fine line between jerk and dickhead. I liked to think I coasted it nicely.
She frowned at me and narrowed her eyes into a glare. “Are you serious?”
“As serious as diabetes. So I suggest you not cry again…or hell, do it if you want. It’s just more money in my pocket.”
“You really are an asshole, aren’t you?”
I smiled coldly. “No Mrs. Carter, I’m the whole ass.”
She sucked her teeth and exhaled loudly. “Fine. Are you taking the job or not? If you aren’t, let me know now. I’ve been out here for almost two hours already.”
I could have kept being a jerk, and normally I would have, but she was right about one thing. It was getting late…or was it getting early? Either way, time was flying. “Okay, since you’re serious about it and I don’t want to spend the rest of my night out here, I’ll take the job. Do you have any information for me?”
She opened her coat pocket and pulled out a large, folded envelope. Cliché. I didn’t know why everyone assumed that secret things needed to go in unmarked envelopes; a folder decorated with the picture of two kittens playing would suffice. Would definitely have been more entertaining, that’s for sure.
“In here you’ll have everything you need, Mr. Rose. I have my husband’s schedules, a photo of him, and a list of his usual hangouts. Anything else?”
I took the envelope from her hands and slipped it inside my own black jacket. It sure as hell wasn’t Prada, but it was comfortable and customized with large pockets on the inside for concealing things. After all, how suspicious would it look to be carrying large envelopes down the street early in the morning? People would think I was a drug dealer or going to buy some drugs from one. The very notion was funny because I wouldn’t do either of those things. I actually had standards. “No, I think that will be all.”
“How will I know when you’ve finished the job?”
“Good question,” I said. “You’ll know I’ve finished the job when you get a call from the police or whomever, notifying you about your dead husband. You may or may not get called into the police station for questioning. Usually in most murder cases, the ex-spouse is a major suspect. I suggest you have an alibi, a good one. Maybe spend time with a friend or the children so your location can be confirmed far away from the scene of the crime. It would be smart.”
“I see. I’ll be sure to comply. Thank you.”
I gave her a long, calculating look. “One more thing, Mrs. Carter.”
“Yes, Mr. Rose?”
“If you speak a single word about this meeting or our arrangement to anybody, and I mean anybody, a single soul; I will find you. I will hunt you down and I will kill you. And nobody will trace it back to me. I will make it look like an accident. You got me?”
She paled for a second; and if it was possible, her skin became even whiter. “Of course, I won’t tell a soul.”
“You better not. I’d really hate to make your children orphans. And so there isn’t any confusion between us, just because I’d hate to do it, doesn’t mean that I won’t do it. I hope we have an understanding.”
She nodded slowly and pulled out another cigarette. God, didn’t this woman care about her lungs?! She must have been keeping the entire tobacco industry afloat all by her lonesome.
“We do,” she replied.
I smiled. “Glad to hear it. I’ll begin the preparation. In less than forty-eight hours, your husband will be knocking at the pearly gates.” Or maybe burning in hell. Yeah, that sounded about right. After all, I was pretty sure the big guy upstairs frowned on adultery. Though apparently he frowned on murder, too, so what did I know?
“Thank you, Mr. Rose,”
“Not a problem. Remember to leave the money in the pre-disclosed location. I believe the contact who introduced you to me gave you directions. And when you’re sorting out the money, don’t forget to include the extra two-hundred dollars for crying. Just in case you forgot or thought I was joking.”
A look of anger and annoyance passed over her face, but she nodded. “Will do, Mr. Rose. And I hope you succeed in your endeavor.”
“Hope isn’t necessary, I never miss a hit,” I replied. “You’ll be shopping for funeral wear in a few days. I’m sure you’ll have fun.”
She glared at me and took a puff from what I can only assume was her twenty-seventh cigarette of the night. “Thanks again, Mr. Rose,” she said.
I gave her the closest thing to a polite smile I had in my arsenal. If I had a hat, I’d have tipped it to her. Mental note to self: get a hat for tipping purposes. Preferably one with a little feather or a tassel. “Nice doing business with you,” I replied.
I turned and walked away before she could even think to make any more small talk with me; because truth be told, I was getting tired of her and I really didn’t want to hear it. Not to mention the fact the woman expelled more smoke than a steam engine. At least I had enough self-control to not smack any of the cigarettes out her hand. I’d thought about it. After all, it really was a disgusting habit. But, who was I to judge, I killed people for a living. I’m pretty sure some people would judge me, too.
I continued down the road and hated her for pulling the whole crying routine on me. I mean shit; shouldn’t there be some type of rule that says you can’t go crying to a professional hit man? If there wasn’t, there sure as hell should have been.
Either way, I really didn’t have time to think about Mrs. Carter and her personal issues. I had a job to do and it would take a lot of time and effort to pull off. Well, maybe not too much effort. You’d be surprised how easy it is to kill somebody when you have the drive and have done it many times before. And I have.
About the Author:
Michael was born and raised on the Jersey Shore – the geographical location, not the TV show. As such, he cannot boast having tanned skin, a rock-hard body, or being BFFs with Snooki. His version of GTL is gaming, Tumblr, and Lounging. He didn’t know what to do for a living until he wrote a couple of fun short stories as an English class project and made people laugh, something he’s always enjoyed doing and decided that’s what he wanted in his future.
A self-described “Otaku” (person with obsessive interests in manga, anime, and/or video games) Michael spends most of his time enjoying those things, becoming emotionally attached to fictional characters and collecting every bit of My Little Pony merchandise available.
He lives with his fiancé of five years in the heart of NJ.
Michael Kudo has kindly offered an eCopy of Kudo’s first novel The Descending Darkness
Locally held contests will end 7 days from original posting date at 8pm CDT. Must be 18 or older to enter, void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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