“Two years,” I answer while pulling out of the parking lot and heading east.

“Shit,” Dorian laughs again, “I’m surprised he lasted two days.”

“Yeah, I have to agree with you on that one.” I keep my eyes trained on the dark road, retaining the speed limit and trying to keep Woodard’s car in my sights.

“You don’t agree with me on much, do you?” Dorian asks, glancing over at me briefly. Not that he cares, really, but he’s not so arrogant that he doesn’t at least try to get along with others.

“No, I do agree with you on a lot,” I admit. “It’s just taking me some time to adjust to your guns-blazing methods.”

This time his laughter fills the car.

“Are you serious?” he asks with humor and disbelief. “You’re f**king scary, man. All I do is shoot people. You’re one step away from a full-fledged serial killer. Talk about adjusting.”

He says I’m scary, but I doubt he’s at all afraid of me, or much of anything for that matter. He’s too cocky and reckless to be afraid.

“I take it you’ll be sitting this one out then?” I ask as my head falls to the right and I grin over at him.

Dorian smiles and nods. “Yeah, man, he’s all yours. No arguments here.”

That’s good, because there’s much more to tonight’s interrogation than what a typical one entails.

And my audience will be limited to one.

We follow Woodard to a house he’s been staying in since Victor killed his employer and took over their operations. Woodard also has a house over in Roland Park, the one he thinks he’s led us to believe he spends most of his time at. Further proof this man is a lowlife piece of shit because he has a wife and two daughters he leaves in that Roland Park house, unprotected and oblivious to what he’s involved in and how much danger they’re in, while he hides out in the rental.

I think of killing him tonight as my good deed for the month, because his wife and daughters will probably live longer if he’s dead.

After Woodard pulls into the driveway and kills the engine he locks himself inside the house. Dorian and I park on the street in the cover of shadows cast by a thick of trees. One light glows from the window on the downstairs floor. I make my way to the front door while Dorian heads around back. I hear his boots crunching in the snow as he rounds the corner. After a few minutes, giving Dorian time to position himself at the back door and scope out the house through the windows, I raise my knuckles to the red-painted door and knock three times.

The curtain covering a tall, slim glass window running down the side along the length of the door frame, moves as Woodard tries to get a glimpse of me. The porch light flips on and I smile looking right at the peephole in the door, knowing that he’s looking back at me through it.

Still with a smile on my face, I raise two fingers and wave.

“Who the hell are you?” he asks nervously, his voice muffled by the thick block of wood between us.

He knows who I am, or rather, he knows why I’m here. There’s no way he’s opening that door freely.

“Open the door, James,” I call out in a singsong voice. “We have something to discuss.”

“G-Go away!” His voice is trembling. “I don’t know you and—I-I’ll call the cops if you don’t get off my property!” He says this with a sudden burst of confidence as if he actually believes the police are going to be able to help him.

But too soon the confidence fades when I don’t move from my spot in front of the door and the smile on my face doesn’t lose its potency. I stand with my hands clasped together in front of me.

Suddenly, I hear a rhythmic beeping noise, as though Woodard is punching in numbers on an alarm keypad next to the front door.

BACK DOOR OPEN, I hear a robotic voice say when he tries to set the alarm.

Then I hear a scuffle inside, a loud bang against the door and something similar to glass shattering against the floor inside.

“No! Please! I-I…please!” Woodard calls out with a straining voice as if something, Dorian’s arm perhaps, is pressed around his throat.

“Sit down and shut the f**k up,” I hear Dorian say, and I picture him waving that gun of his in front of Woodard’s face.

Everything goes quiet and then the porch light flips off, bathing me in darkness again. A second later, I hear the locks on the front door clicking and then it opens.

Woodard has been shoved into an oversized lounge chair in the front room.

“I-I don’t know who you are or—”

“Sure you know who we are,” I say, stepping around a broken vase and toward him.

I pull the ottoman away from his legs and take a seat on it directly in front of him, resting my arms on my thighs at the elbows, my hands dangling between my legs.

Woodard is shaking, the extra chin jiggling in the dim light cast by the lamp on the table next to him. He’s wearing a navy and tan checkered long-sleeve with the top three buttons left undone and a white flannel shirt underneath. He reeks of cheap cologne and permanent markers.

Reaching up one pudgy hand, Woodard presses the tip of his finger in the center of his glasses and pushes them back over the bridge of his nose.

“Look, seriously, I really don’t know why you’re here,” he says rather pathetically, his dark, beady eyes jerking between me and Dorian. “I don’t work for Norton anymore. Someone else took over. I just do what I’m told.”

I smirk and glance behind him at nothing in particular. Already I can’t seem to get the image of him in my chair, out of my head.

“So you do know why we’re here,” I mock him, cocking my head to one side. “Trust me, my friend, you’d do better to be honest up front.”

I hope he’s not honest up front. I want him to deny everything so I can get to work on him.

Woodard glances at Dorian.

“Tell me who you are,” he says, more pleading than a demand, and then he looks back at me. There appears to be realization in his eyes. “I-I remember you. Both of you. Y-You were at the coffee shop. You followed me from there, didn’t you?”

“Does that really matter?” I ask and c**k my head to the other side.

I stand from the ottoman and straighten my coat.

“Search the house,” I tell Dorian. “I’ll send a cleaner to dispose of everything after you’re done.”

“Wait…what are you doing?” Woodard asks nervously from the chair.


Tags: J.A. Redmerski In the Company of Killers Book Series
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