by the time he’d put his bag in the car and made sure the hotel room was clean it was 7:15. there was still one night left on the room but he would be long gone by the time the maid got around to cleaning the room tomorrow morning. getting into his car he made the short trip to the pier.
it wasn’t foggy yet though the thick bank of moist ocean air was just off shore. not more than several hundred yards from the end of the san clemente pier. 7:20 he pulled into the pier parking lot. on a late fall early evening with the fog coming in the lot was empty. save for his car and another parked 20 or 30 spaces to the north. he noticed a cigarette lighter flick to light a cigarette. his friend was waiting. he walked out from the side the lifeguard building. he was carrying fishing tackle.
the man got out of his car and walked toward his friend. the greeted each other warmly. his friend told him to go to the side of the building and change into his work clothes. his friend would stand guard. after he changed they began walking out on the pier. both were dressed in overalls. the usual fishing attire for the more serious night fishermen. they chatted amicably as they walked. just two old friends out for a bit of night fishing. while they were walking they noticed a set of headlights sweep into the parking lot. if they were lucky it was their man.
they paused in their walk and stopped by the side of a closed bait shop. there they pointed north at some imaginary something or another while they chatted on. a man got out of the car in the lot and he went to the trunk of his car where he pulled out some fishing gear. even from that distance he could tell that the man was his mark. he barely nodded to his friend. who spoke.
damn. i forgot to bring the thermos of coffee. it’s on the back seat. i’m going to go get it.
fine. i’ll walk out to the end of the pier and start setting up.
by this time the fog had almost reached the end of the pier. soon the entire pier would be enveloped inside the bank of fog limiting visibility and noise. a perfect night if there ever was one. a fog shrouded pier as a killing ground. it would be a first for him. excitement began to build. he turned and walked to the end of the pier.
yes, it was almost perfect. fog. no one else fishing. at least at the moment. his target a creature of habit fished off the san clemente pier every night except for when it was raining or it was christmas eve. he even fished when the cold fog was about to roll in. the information had been correct. then it always was. he didn’t work for people if their information was shoddy or incorrect or haphazard. you didn’t last long if you relied on bad information.
he reached the end of the pier and began setting up the fishing poles. inside the tackle box was the .22 auto loaded with one magazine. a second clip lay at the bottom of the box. he picked it up and put it in his pocket. he quickly checked to see if a round was chambered. the small hand gun was locked and loaded.
he could just make out his friend greeting the mark at the end of the pier. something about the old days and yellow tail running on nights like this. those days were long gone. yellow tail stayed miles off shore these days.
as he moved about setting up the poles he noticed the fog roiling about him. the bank had reached the pier and was moving swiftly towards shore. he spotted the mark walking towards him. he was about 20 yards out.
as the mark drew closer the man began baiting the hooks on his poles. small smelt that were so fresh you could probably eat then yourself. not sushi grade but good enough to fry and eat with some good crusty tuscan bread. he was getting hungry. time to finish the job.
it’s going to be cold tonight.
yes, it is. my friend forgot the coffee. he went back to get it. there’s probably enough to share if you don’t have any.
i’m fine, thanks. i always come prepared.
the mark busied himself setting up his equipment. as he was doing that the man cast both his lines out into the foggy evening and dark water. when done he turned and looked to the shore end of the pier. he saw the cigarette lighter flick inside of a wisp of fog. it was far away as if inside some dream. the coast was clear. clear of bystanders at the moment. time to get on with the job.
he took the .22 from his pocket and quickly put it behind the man’s left ear. the tip of the barrel touched hair, scalp, and nudged bone. two very quiet shots and it was over. the mark slumped to the deck of the pier. he was dead by the time the second bullet began to bounce around inside his skull.
the man quickly checked himself out in the almost dim light. there didn’t seem to be any blood splatter on his shooting hand or arm. very good. sometimes you got lucky he thought. from the tackle box he withdrew a scuba weight belt. just enough weight to keep the mark underwater long enough for he and his friend to be out of the picture. a rather grisly picture to be sure when the mark washed up on shore or bobbed to the surface once the gases inside him started to form.
he easily rolled the man under the bottom rung of the guard rail and heard him hit the water with a fog muted splash. he tossed the his two poles into the water. they would sink just like the dead man. the tackle box would follow the poles into the cold dark water in a moment. he wasn’t concerned with prints as the salt water would take care of them soon. the end of the pier was clean except for a small amount of blood. he took the empty tackle box to a nearby water faucet and filled it with salt water from the tap. he used the water from the tackle box to wash away the blood. then tossed the box into the pacific.
he worked quickly and in no time things were as they were before the horrible crime. the scene was clean enough. the last thing he did was toss the mark’s gear out into the water. turning he began his walk to the shore end of the pier. the lighter flicked once more along with the slight ping of metal upon metal. all was still clear.