I looked down on the body of the man I’d just killed in a Parisian whorehouse and all I could think was – there was so much blood.
Ivan Klimov hadn’t died easily. When recognition had flashed in his eyes, he had fought tooth and nail for his life. Had it not been for the Bowie knife in my hand, I would have been overcome. After all, as my mentor Lucien pointed out to me with depressing frequency, I could not become a master assassin in four years.
But the combination of four years of hard training and the sharp blade had been enough.
I glanced at the body for a few seconds, imprinting the image in my brain. Then, I reached for the roll of paper towels helpfully placed in the room so the johns could clean up before they tucked their cocks back in their trousers and headed back out onto the streets of Paris. I wiped away the blood on my naked body as best as I could. I needed to hurry. Our struggles hadn’t been silent; the overturned furniture in the room bore witness to that.
Six years ago Ivan had shoved his cock down my throat until I’d gagged uncontrollably. When my teeth had grazed him, he had pulled his belt from his buckles, doubled it calmly and had whipped me for ceaseless minutes. I’d begged and pleaded for mercy as the agonizing blows rained down on me; I’d found none.
“Six years of borrowed time, Ivan,” I spoke aloud to the corpse with its staring black eyes. “But your clock ran out.” I wiped the blood off my knife with his shirt, then threw the fabric down on top of the body, putting the knife back into its sheath and tucking it in the waistband in the small of my back.
I let myself out of the small bare room. The woman in the room next to me came out at the same time, her expression weary. “You okay?” she asked me. “You are new here, no?”
I faked a bored expression. “Fucker couldn’t get it up,” I waved my hand in the direction of the room. “Too much to drink. Now he doesn’t want to pay.”
She spat in disgust. “Merde,” she cursed. “Always the way. You tell Francois. He’ll straighten him out.”
“I will,” I promised. I couldn’t stay and talk to her any longer; my French was good but I wasn’t a native. I would be remembered.
As I made my way to the safe house in Saint Denis, I stopped at a McDonald’s near a busy metro station, bought myself a cup of coffee and asked for the restroom key. In the tiny washroom, I quickly removed the black wig I had set over my hair. The clothes I wore, a distinctive short leather skirt and a bustier went in the trash too and I pulled a much less revealing dress from my bag and slipped it on over my head. I peeled off the sparkling fake eyelashes, removed the blue contact lenses and wiped off my makeup. The clothes and the wig went into the trash. There was a slight risk that it would be found, but it was a chance I was willing to take. The McDonald’s was nowhere near the whorehouse and the minimum wage workers were not going to be looking at the trash as they threw it out.
The woman who went into the McDonald’s had long black hair, lots of makeup, and very little in the way of clothing. That woman would be remembered.
But the woman who emerged from the washroom was just another resident of Paris taking the metro home late at night. I went straight to the safe-house making sure I wasn’t followed. The apartment was all the way across town in the desperately poor neighbourhood of Saint Denis. Lucien would be waiting there, fingers drumming on the coffee table, smoke rising from the tip of the cigarette in the overflowing ashtray, anxious to know how the operation had gone.