Roger hated corpses, lifeless eyes and motionless bodies; he hated murders, dead bodies left in homes and tear-filled press conferences. Roger detested those things. He liked clean kills with no evidence. He liked disappearances and "runaways," not investigations. But, as long as the boss had targets and the underlings were sloppy and amateurs, Roger wold have to live with things he hated.
He found the kid a maze and a half away from the city, blue lights shining on his face, blood smeared across his skin. The man looked up, burned his retinas for all they were worth, and tried to take in another breath; it didn't calm him. The mid-morning mist rolled through the forest, an afterthought from the heavy storms that occurred earlier that morning. It curled about the child's body before it licked at the man's boots. He shook both feet; he didn't know if it was a shiver, or if he wanted to disperse the ghosts that clung onto him.
The lights flickered; Roger expected them to go out soon. The tiny candles in their glass jars, strung up like Christmas lights through the forest were nearly at their wick's end, and combined with the wetness in the air... it was simple science. They were brilliant little things, like fairy lights, a tradition among the children of a nearby school. He always wondered how the school managed to have this approved; the city council usually had giant fits over potential fire hazards. He shrugged his shoulders, shaking away those thoughts, as if he wanted someone to see his indifference.
Roger dialed Franky's number, impatient as he turned around towards the city so that he didn't have to see the boy.
"Ya-hhhm?" it sounded like Franky was still asleep. Roger checked the time. 4PM. Sure, Franky was on the night shift, but 4PM was pushing it.
"Hey, Franks, it's me," he greeted, his voice deceptively normal even though he wasn't more than a few feet from a corpse.
"Oh. Hey, Roger. Whatcha need?" Roger heard Franky stumble off his mother's couch.
"You know that Paxton boy?" he sighed into his phone, his face squished against the touchscreen.
"Er. What Paxton boy?"
"Ha. Exactly. Nice denial man, but serious talk now."
"Okay. The team and I got rid of him this morning," Franky replied nervously. It wasn't usual for someone to double-check on a disposal job; after a job, no one talked about it again.
"I know that, Franks, but you do know that there's a reason why we haven't been caught yet, right?"
"Because we don't talk about nuh-thing?"
"Yes," he replied patiently, "that, and we don't allow for shoddy work. Do you know where I am right now?"
"With the boss?" Franky's voice trembled at the beginning, but he steadied it. Good man.
"Nah. I bet you wish I was, right?" Because then Franky could expect to be dead within a couple hours.
"But no. I'm with this kid here, you see? He's a little lost, and he looks like he got caught up in the rain. Actually, he bears a striking resemblance to that Paxton kid..."
"Sir! I swear that he was dead when we disposed of him last night!" Franky was frantically shouting into his phone. Roger's lips curled in a slight grin.
"Franky, why hasn't our organization been caught yet?"
"B-because we don't talk-"
"Yes. And no one in the organization really wants to kill your mother. You? We're not so sure about right now." Roger could hear the other man pull the phone away from himself as he swallowed. It really would be a pity to kill him, a dog who could be trained.
"But he was dead, sir. I swear on my life," Franky whispered. In the background, Roger could hear a door click shut. How juvenile. Did Franky just lock himself into a bathroom? Roger turned around and looked at the child again.
"I know. I'm staring at his corpse right now." There was a sigh of relief on the other end of the line. "But why are you relieved?" His voice was a steel pick in Franky's ears.
"When I ask you about a target, the first thing you think should not be that he's alive. A severed head assures that. What you should be worried about is... " he trailed off.
"... the location of the body," Franky whispered again, but not completely because he didn't want his mother to overhear.
"So, tell me, Franky. Why am I staring at a target when he should have vanished?" Roger's voice soothed; he sounded like a mentor to a student instead of a would be executioner.
"... I'll... I'll speak with the team about that immediately?" Roger scoffed at his reply.
"Why? Weren't you there?" he asked.
"So tell me what happened." Roger could hear Franky's breath quicken, amplified by the cramped bathroom he was in.
"We- there was that detective- Wesley- she was on our tail, so we- completed the job, but-" there was a deep breath "-we had to get rid of the body- we had to get rid of the evidence just in case the cops caught us, if they stopped us..." Roger slipped a hand into his jacket pocket; he should have brought mittens.
"Mmhhmm..." he replied, distracted as the candles went out, and the forest around him dimmed.
"And no one came to clean up that mess? What if the investigation led to the body?"
"We thought we should lay low!" Franky blurted out. Roger hummed.
"You were right. You should lay low after something like this," his tone was approving.
"Yes, sir. Thank you Roger." Franky's voice lost its tension. Roger hummed again.
"Well, we have some people in law enforcement. Maybe I can persuade the boss to spring some bribes to halt the investigation, or we can just have that entire squad killed. It's not like bombs are that difficult, just more flashy than we would like," he responded leisurely. Franky's heavy breathing came back.
"Roger, no man, I - I don't think that's necessary... I'll clean up the mess, okay? So- so don't go bothering the boss or nothing- law enforcement guys are useful for tough situations, right? And it's not like anyone found the body yet-"
"But someone will. Eventually."
"...I know... I'll clean up the mess now- I'll-"
"How many law enforcement guys do you think we have? For all you know, we could have more than enough to spare a few."
"Well, ah- I was thinking a handful, but now... uh, a dozen?" Franky replied hesitantly.
"Nah, man. less than that," Roger chuckled. He could practically feel the relief on the other end of the phone.
"Well, less chance of having us found out, my man! Seven?" Franky's voice held some cheer, the body of his words lilting up in relief.
"Nah, lower. Hazard another guess."
"Er... five?" he words gained a nervous tint again.
"Nah, just one."
"Yeah. You." Franky's breathing stilled. Roger let out a full belly laugh.
"You've been putting our targets in protective custody, right? That's why you thought I saw the kid walking. But don't worry too much, Franky. We'll make sure that you and your mother will be nice and toasty tonight. Did you know that the temperature suppose to drop down to 12 degrees by 9?" Roger hung up on the man. A squad would be at his house soon. Now, he had to deal with the Paxton kid, and then chat will the boss about the disposal squad. Thank goodness there were a lot of new recruits; there was going to be a lot of empty positions to fill.