Fiction

Cillian: A Slice of Knife Story

By E.M. Farrell

It was a solitary meal, which was how Cillian liked it. In fact, solitude may have been the only thing the meal had going for it. Purportedly, no one had ever managed to get passed the second bite of food at Finnegans Steak, and he could see why. The food was so tough and dense as to be nearly indigestible, but at least the meal had the advantage of some fucking quiet.

He stared at the front door irritably, wondering just how long Jason Sanderson planned to keep him waiting. Cillian wasn't sure he could stall much longer. He had already gnawed his way through a whole plate of what claimed to be chipped beef on toast, worked through most of the Boston Globe including Sudoku and the crossword puzzle, and shredded his napkin while grumbling to himself in a menacing manner, but still no sign of his prospective client. What the fuck!

"Another beer, Mr. Kirkpatrick?" said a voice at his elbow.

Cillian jumped. With his finely-tuned killer's instincts, he should have noticed her much sooner, and yet she'd managed to appear next to him while leaving no trace of her presence. Darla was clearly wasting her talents as a waitress.

"Make it a whisky," he muttered.

"Sure thing." She winked and shimmied away on her haggis-like legs.

A glance at his watch informed him that Sanderson was now thirty minutes late. Maybe the coward had decided to back out, forcing Cillian to make do without his money. That would just figure, Cillian thought, running his tongue over his teeth. To his alarm, he found piece of beef wedged in front. He tried to coax it out with his tongue, but to no avail. He dug at it with his fork, but it wasn't sharp enough to get between the teeth. Casually, he took the knife from his belt and started to pick at the beef. After a minute, it popped free, in the process causing the blade to slip sideways and into Cillian's gum.

"Son of a ..." he said, tasting blood.

At that moment, the door opened and a tall man in a trench coat entered, looking around nervously. Sanderson, he thought. Shit.

Cillian sat back, trying to look as neutral as possible despite the blood filling his mouth.

Sanderson approached the table.

"You're Kirkpatrick?" he asked. Cillian nodded coolly.

"Um, all right if I sit down?" Sanderson asked. Cillian gestured toward the chair. They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment until Cillian raised his eyebrows in what he hoped was a questioning manner.

"Oh, right. Sorry," said Sanderson. "It's just ... wow. I never thought I'd be here, you know?" Silence. "It's, um, it's my boss. He needs to ... er ... I guess I'd like it if you, you know." Sanderson made stabbing motions. Cillian nodded. Another awkward pause. "Heh. I guess you’re the silent type, huh?" Cillian glowered at him. "Uh, a-anyway, I've done my research. I've heard you're good. They say that Cillian Kirkpatrick always gets his mark, one way or another. Is it true?"

Cillian grunted impatiently and thrust out his hand.

"Oh! Right."

Sanderson pulled out a stack of paper and hesitated. Cillian snatched them and started reading through them. He saw all the information he'd requested: the name of the target, home address, photograph. It would suffice, but how was he going to tell Sanderson that when he was holding a liter of blood in his cheeks?

Cillian quickly set the papers face down on the table as Darla returned.

"Here's your whisky, Mr. Kirkpatrick," she said, setting it down and carefully flashing her mottled bosom in his direction. He struggled to suppress a wave of nausea as he nodded his thanks and averted his eyes. Sanderson smiled in a would-be casual way as Darla walked away again.

"Whisky, huh? I guess that makes sense, cause you're Irish and all ..."

Cillian seized his knife, stabbed it into the table and stood up, growling.

"I'm not fucking Irish!" he exploded, a Niagara-esque cataract of blood erupting from his mouth. "Oh, I know, Cillian Kirkpatrick! Hey, that sounds Irish!" With every word, Cillian sprayed a fresh jet of blood across the table. "Cillian Kirkpatrick must fucking love bagpipes and potatoes, right? Why, I’ll bet he gets drunk and starts bar fights every night! Well, I don't, and you know why?"

"N-no," said Sanderson.

"It's because I'm American!" Cillian screamed, propelling steaming globs of blood onto Sanderson's shirt. "American! Born right here in Boston fucking Massachusetts! You got that?"

As Cillian hurled these last words, a crimson rivulet continued to run down his chin and drip orbs of blood onto his empty plate. Sanderson, terrified, scurried to his feet.

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Kirkpatrick," he said, throwing an envelope of money onto the table. "It's, uh, it's all there! Please don't kill me!"

He ran off. Cillian wiped his chin, sat back down, and started counting the money. Served the little prick right, he thought. Why did everyone assume he was Irish? Fucking irritating. Still, Sanderson's money was good, and that meant that Cillian had a job to do. He dropped $50 on the table and strolled out of the restaurant into the chilly Boston streets. A few residents were already donning sweaters and coats, apparently forgetting that before winter ended it would be 50 degrees colder than this. The fools.

Then again, Cillian was looking for one Bostonian who would never need his winter coat again. Michael Moriarty, Jason Sanderson's erstwhile boss. According to Sanderson's notes, Moriarty lived in the Jamaica Plain district. Cillian glanced at his watch. If he timed it right, he would run into the target as he returned from work, corner him outside his house, slip in the knife and disappear into the crowd.

With the windfall from Jason Sanderson, Cillian had decided to take a cab across town instead of taking the T. This proved to be his undoing, since he was now being held hostage by Boston rush hour traffic and a Portuguese cabby intent on getting his full fare.

"Listen, I'll just get out here," he said after ten minutes and five blocks, but the driver waved him off impatiently. Cillian waited a few minutes before trying again. "Um, listen, this was a bad idea. I'll just get out here, okay?" The cabby actively ignored him by pulling out a cell phone and carrying on a loud conversation in Portuguese. Cillian looked at his watch. It was almost 4:45, and they were barely outside of Fenway. He'd never get there on time, at this rate. He grabbed the driver by the shoulder. The cabby shot him a withering glance. "Look," Cillian begged, "I'll pay you double if you let me out now! Please!" The driver jerked away and, to prevent any further complaining, worked his way onto the freeway where Cillian wouldn't be able to get out. With a doleful sigh, Cillian sat back and watched the scenery slowly pass him by as the meter ran ever higher.

When they finally reached their destination, Cillian saw his target coming down the street. He prepared to spring out of the car, but the barrage of Portuguese from the front seat stopped him. He settled back in and started placing bills into the open palm in front of his face. He finally squared the bill and leapt out onto the street just as Moriarty slipped into the cab after him.

"Wait!" Cillian yelled, but the car had already sped away.

"Well, shit," Cillian said to himself. He briefly considered breaking into Moriarty's house and waiting for him to return, but it seemed too risky, especially with the CPI: Home Security sign on the lawn. Instead, he settled onto a park bench down the street and waited for his target to return, hoping that he wasn't gone for the night.

Two hours later, Cillian was about ready to give up when he finally saw Moriarty stroll around the corner two blocks away. Cillian steeled himself, knowing this would be his last chance today. He stood up and made his way toward Moriarty. As he drew nearer, he pulled the knife out, trying to cradle it near his body where it wouldn't be noticeable to passersby, but in the process he fumbled it and sent it flying across the sidewalk.

"Bugger," he said, leaning down to pick it up, head butting a yuppie on a cell phone.

"What the hell?" the yuppie said, spilling half of his latte onto Cillian. A woman with a jogging stroller ran by, clipping the knife and sending the stroller careening out of control.

"Whoa!" the yuppie called, catching the stroller and hurling the Starbucks cup into traffic where it sprayed the remains of the latte across the windshield of a Benz. The elderly driver plowed into a fire-hydrant, shooting a wild spray of water up three stories and knocking a potted plant off of a balcony.

"Fuck!" a teenager on the sidewalk yelled, leaping out of the way of the plant and into Michael Moriarty, pushing him under the tires of a passing food truck.

The crowd gasped.

"Well, how do you like that?" said Cillian to himself, casually picking up his knife and receding into the crowd. He strolled up the street, whistling Mack the Knife. Yet again, he'd lived up to his reputation. One way or another, Cillian Kirkpatrick always got his mark.