"This is it?" Paulie looked around at the dingy warehouse within which, was the headquarters for the small company Char worked for. It was in the bad part of town; was dusty, musty and had a distinct odour of old cheese that just wouldn't give up and move on. It was pretty rank but it was home to Char - sort of.
Char ignored Paulie's snooty comment and wound her way through the myriad hallways and doors, through which, she knew, Paulie would never be able to navigate. He'd be searching for another hour before he found her plunked down in a chair in Bud's office.
"Hey Kiddo," Bud looked up from his desk and greeted her.
"Hey Bud," She was relieved to be back after that little road trip from hell she had been forced to take.
"D'you bring back the kid?" Bud asked.
Char let out a sigh. "Yeah, he's here; wandering around somewhere."
They were both silent, knowing that they were both thinking about the same thing.
"Listen, I'm sorry about Moira; I know you guys were close--"
She cut him off. "It's fine. These things happen right? Business." She replied bitterly.
Another minute of silence. Char picked at her nails; Bud watched her.
"How'd the drop go?"
"Fine, I guess." Then, "Paulie was a wreck, though. I don't think he's cut out for this kind of thing."
"Aw, he'll get the swing of it." Bud offered, waving her worry away with a flick of his hand. "Sammy said he could do it. You're bother knows what he's talking about; I'll be damned before the day comes when I don't trust his judgement." Sammy was Bud's right hand man, although they were not, technically, partners.
Sammy was Char's oldest brother, as well. There were three other brothers between them; Paulie was the baby. They all worked for Bud; at least, now they all did.
Paulie finally poked his head around the corner of the door.
"Geez, Char, coulda' told me where you were going or something."
"Hey Paulie," Bud offered. "Ready to get to work?" Bud half smiled to himself, knowing that this process was going to get interesting. "Alright, we better get the basics out of the way first. Have a seat."
Char sat by silently while Bud explained the goings-on to Paulie.
"Alright, Kid, as I'm sure you know, people come to us when they need to get a job done that they can't do themselves." For some reason, Paulie thought this was quite funny. He began to chuckle until a death glare from Char silenced him. He nodded his head solemnly at Bud. Bud continued. "Now, sometimes, when regulars come to us directly - regulars is what we call the people right off the street who need the job done - when they come to us directly, we'll contact some other guys in a different company to do the job. We do this so we won't be as easily connected to the job, to the regular or to the other Hires."
"The 'other Hires'?" Paulie was getting confused.
"The Hires are the guys who do the job - the contract killers, if you will, although we try not to use that phrase." Paulie was still conused. "Like your 'sis, here. She's a Hire; and you're brothers too."
"That drop you did today, for example, we were giving another Hire the money and the file for a job that a regular came to us about...got it?"
"I think so..." Paulie replied catiously. Char rolled her eyes.
"The same goes for other Hires; when they get a regular come to them, they pass the job along to one of us, for example, or any number of other Hires. We try not to use the same Hire twice in a short span of time."
Char was getting bored far too quickly. She couldn't handle any more of her youngest brother's imbecility.
"Bud, do you mind if I take off? I'm meeting Martin for lunch."
"Sure, Kiddo, we'll see you later."
Char meandered out of the stuffy office, Bud's voice floating away behind her. She could hear him starting in on the lesson again.
Out in the street, the sun was peeking out from behind the overcast sky. The brlliance of the light started to tug on the corners of her sullen mouth. She couldn't wait to see Martin; he was her favorite brother. She finally gave in and allowed a full fledged smile to cross her lips.