Thursday, March 31, 2011

The character called Smitty

I have a character I've recently created named Smitty. Smitty is a hit man. A man with no outward signs of remore or conscience. Yet someone who has a deep streak of Old Testament Puritanical Justice running through him.

In creating this guy this question arouse. How do you create a cold-blooded killer who shows no outward expression of emotion and make him both interesting, if not outright worthy of admiration? Another question arouse; How do you separate this killer from all the other characters in print who are, essentially, the same in every measurable description?

Tough questions. Questions which I may not have the answers to.

One possible answer for making Smitty interesting is--writing style Throw the words on paper, or the viewscreen for the technologically apt reader, in such a way as to grab the reader's interest immediately and never let it go. I think the visuals of something that's read is almost as important as the plot. The characters.

Maybe not. You decide.

Below is a short Smitty story I wrote a little while ago. Read it and tell me what you think. Be honest. I have a thick skin. Hell, I'm a writer. In this business you have to be thick skinned.

Do it quietly, Smitty

He rolled out of his CTS Caddy and closed the door softly. Reaching inside his sport coat he pulled out a pair of dark aviator’s sunglasses and slipped them on. An odd gesture, considering his eyes were as black as a moonless night in Hades itself. Glancing to his left and then to his right he checked out the pedestrian traffic.

It was a Sunday. Young mothers were out pushing strollers, paired with other young mothers. Talking and gesturing with their hands and enjoying their brisk walk. Older couples were walking, hand in hand, as they strolled back from the local church service. The sun was warm and pleasant on the back of his sport coat. Birds were darting back and forth from tree to tree. There was no breeze to speak of. There was little traffic plowing back and fourth down the quiet street.

Nothing seemed out of place.

Nothing looked odd.

The aviator’s glasses went back to the glass door of the small coffee shop directly in front of him. Through the large plate glass windows he counted the number of people inside. Eight. Four sitting quietly at the counter drinking coffee–four street punks sitting in a booth to one side jacking around with each other. Glancing down at the gold Rolox wrapped around his wrist a thin curl of his lips–almost a snarl–broke across his face.

Good. Everyone was in place. Including his mark.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Toma sat on a stool exactly centered in the long span of the counter. A buy guy dressed in a tailored gray suit, black loafers, black shirt with a thin white tie. On Sunday Tony always dressed like this. Always. He had just come back from taking his mother to church. Stopped in to have two cups of jet black coffee and a sweet roll before he drove over to his girl friend’s apartment. Always. Like clockwork.

It was this clockwork regularity which was going to get him killed.

Reaching out with a hand the man with the coal black eyes opened the door to the coffee shop and stepped in. Looking neither right nor left he strolled over to one end of the counter and picked up a Sunday paper and then moved to one side and sat down at the counter exactly one bar stool separating himself from his mark.

“What’ll ya have, fella?” the young man for a waiter asked as he continued to dry a freshly washed coffee cup with a dry towel.

“Coffee. Black. No creme. And bring me a slice of that Pecan pie.”

Black eyes selected the front page section of the thick paper and pushed the rest to one side. To his left the four punks dressed in black leather jackets, patched up bluejeans, and miles of chains hanging from their back pockets kept on being the noisy creeps they were. Nobody paid any attention to them. Not even a tough guy like Toma.

“Here ya go, bub. You’ll like the pie. Best stuff in town,” the kid said as he sat the coffee cup and saucer down and then slid the pie in front of the man with the aviator’s glasses.

Not once did he glance at the big guy sitting to his left one stool away. He didn’t have to. He knew exactly what his mark would do next. Knew because he had been tailing his prey for the last two weeks. In his line of business you never did anything on the spur of the moment if you didn’t have to. Too many possibilities for mistakes. Costly mistakes. Best to watch and observe. Make notes–find the right place and the right weapon to get the job done.

Like this situation.

Toma had to die. But he had to die in a way that wouldn’t arouse suspicion. Couldn’t have the cops snooping around asking too many questions. The possibility of finding something to look deeper into was just too great of a chance to take. So his client told him–‘Do it quietly, Smitty. Do it quietly.’

His mark was a low life thug who liked to hurt people. Hurt them and kill them. Which, for certain forms of business transactions, might have its advantages in having an employee who liked this kind of business. But Toma was stupid. He bragged about hurting people. Opened his mouth and talked about his line of work whenever he had one drink too many. And the guy knew too much. Knew all the numbers. Knew the drop offs. Knew where the dead bodies were buried. Sooner or later someone was going to nab him. Nab him and put the screws to him. And Tony would squeal–squeal like a pig squealing over a hot fire pit in an effort to save himself.

A liability. That’s what Tony Toma was. A liability.

His job was to remove the liabilities. Remove them but in a quiet, non-threatening manner. One that wouldn’t arouse suspicion or have anyone asking too many questions. No problem.

Laying the fork onto the barren pie dish he glanced at the large round faced clock about the establishment’s coffee maker. And that’s when the fight stated. Two of the punks got into an argument. The argument’s volume increased. And then fists started flying. One punk climbed over the table and went after the other, both fists sailing through the air. The kid behind the counter yelped and dove for the phone. The four men sitting at the counter turned, grinned, and enjoyed the sudden exhibition of entertainment. Toma actually came off his stool and took one step closer to watch the two going at it.

Smitty came off his stool and turned to leave. One hand, the one holding the paper’s front page, swept across the counter and in front of Toma’s cup of coffee. His second hand, hidden by the paper, swept over the cup of joe and dropped two green colored gel caps into Toma’s drink.

And then he was out of the coffee shop and climbed into his Caddy. Later . . . much later . . . he would pay each of the four punks their C-notes for their unwitting assistance in the hit. He wanted to make sure they none of the kids would put two and two together. Time and distance would be just the ticket. But right now–right now he had a six block drive in front of him. He wanted to find a spot front of a certain apartment building. Six blocks was the time it would take for the poison to work. Just six blocks. By the time Tony turned and started up the ten steps leading to the brownstone’s front door . . . his massive heart attack would take place.

No questions. No snooping around in the man’s life. A heart attack in a man everyone knew who boozed and hit the drugs much too often to be healthy. Such a tragedy.

And the eyes of Hades burnt with humor as the plan unfolded before him.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this story, and he certainly did find a way to 'do it quietly' as requested. Getting a peek inside the mind of a professional killer is a fascinating thing, as disturbing as it may be. There's a new show on called Nothing Personal, and it's specifically about contract killers. Killing due to self-defense or defense of someone close or out of anger is a whole other bag. Those are always emotionally based. But the contract killer? He/she kills strictly for the money and that would seem to require a coldness beyond comprehension.

    Smitty's not run-of-the-mill though if he's not just a killer for cash. If he's got a sense of morality (and a contract killer can), that humanizes him and will draw people to his character. Why does he do what he does? Is there anything personal about any of his 'jobs'? What if one of his marks turns out to be someone he knows and respects? Would he kill them anyway because it's simply another assignment?

    I know you will explore all sides and situations with this character, just as you have done with others you've created. They are all well rounded and believable, and there's no all good or all bad with your characters because life isn't all good or all bad either. That's what makes your stories and your characters worth coming back to time and again. Looking forward to getting to know Smitty on a more personal level.