Wherein we learn a little more about Eldred Fie.
‘Mr Fie, I don’t think you’re seeing the bigger picture here. You killed an innocent man today!’
Lord Pyle was, technically, not a real Lord, but he chose to deal with that by shouting loud enough that people just took it as a given that he was, in fact, aristocracy. He was Eldred Fie’s boss, in so far as one could say Eldred had a boss.
Eldred didn’t enjoy having to answer to someone, but recent changes in the law had made it difficult for one man operations to function as efficiently as they had before. As much as he hated to admit it, Eldred needed Pyle and his agency to secure him new clients. Still, that didn’t mean that Pyle was, technically, his boss. It all becomes a technicality when your job is subterranean.
‘It is in my experience, Mister Pyle,’ Eldred began, ‘That few people are innocent. Even those that are, for all intents and purposes, innocent are not immune to the odd contract.’
‘But there was no contract on this man!’ Lord Pyle screeched.
‘Invariably there would have been eventually.’
Lord Pyle’s eyes widened at this and he leant back in his seat. Was this truly how Eldred Fie thought? Were people merely contracts in waiting to him? Probably. There was something very wrong about the man, everyone knew it. Pyle only kept him on the books because of his unerring ability to attract the highly eccentric (and therefore well paying) clients. Pyle’s cut of the proceeds was bigger than he got when he was a solo operator, and required much less work.
‘Look, Fie, you can’t keep killing people before someone pays us to kill them. That’s future revenue right out the window, not to mention the expenses to cover up the act. We have to invent witnesses, Fie! That means hiring an alibi scribe, and they charge an arm and a leg nowadays, sometimes literally! We just can’t afford it!’
Eldred didn’t respond, he didn’t need to. All he did was stand up. Eldred was a tall man, far taller than a contract killer had any right to be, which had the handy bonus of causing people to discount that he was, in fact, a contract killer. Surely no-one so obvious would commit murders?
His height could also be used for more conventional means, such as scaring his self-proclaimed boss into silence. Then he fixed his dark eyes onto those of Lord Pyle, lent forwards onto the desk so that he was towering over the man, and spoke slowly and deliberately.
‘I think, Mister Pyle, that you need to calm down. I believe we are dangerously close to having a Confrontation.’
That worked. That always worked. The threat of a Confrontation with Eldred Fie would instantly kill any argument. People had long memories when it came to stories as brutal as those told about Confrontations with Eldred Fie. The last Confrontation, for example, had resulted in a particularly rude traffic warden being clubbed to death with his own car. On the motorway. While he was driving it.
Needless to say, Lord Pyle took the threat of a Confrontation very seriously.
‘N…Now, Mister Fie, no need to get all wound up. I’m sure we can right this off as a learning experience, can’t we?’ he stuttered, wide eyes staring into those of Eldred Fie.
‘I think, Mister Pyle, that you may have hit the nail on the head this time.’ said Eldred.
He didn’t smile much, but Eldred always found himself grinning ever so slightly when the threat of a Confrontation had got him exactly what he wanted. He peeled himself out of Lord Pyle’s personal space and marched to the door at a steady pace. He pulled it open and turned back to the startled Lord. Eldred did so love it when people didn’t read their mail.
‘Oh, and perhaps you may want to open that letter on your desk.’
The door closed quietly as Lord Pyle nervously picked up the letter. It had been there when he came in, but had managed to hide itself amongst the tidiness on the desk so well that he had managed to forget about it.
Sweaty fingers ripped open the envelope and whipped out the letter inside. Lord Pyle unfurled it and read it quickly.
It was a contract on the greengrocer.