Ernie the Hit Man
If you want to kill your wife, you have to hire the right hit man. You have to hire a man who is knowledgeable enough and experienced enough to do the hit right, and thuggish enough to take the focus away from you if he gets caught. I was looking for just such a man for Celine. Her life insurance had grown as fat as her ass had, in the ten years we’d been married, just like my first and second wives had. Now it was time to literally reap the benefits. Word had got around, in those certain circles, that I was looking again. That was when Ernie tracked me down, in an expensive bar on Manhattan Island.
“Hello, Sir! I’m Ernie Deluca, and I’m gonna be a hit! Man! Get it? I heard you were looking for one, Sir, so here I am.” He’d vigorously shaken my hand, smiling and completely oblivious to the fact that I was trying not to laugh at the poor sap. He was balding, had his belt hitched a little too high, showcasing a gut that was a little too big, and his shirt was half untucked. It soon became apparent that it was half untucked because he was constantly using it to clean his glasses.
“Uh…” I tried to think of something to say to what appeared to be a bumbling middle aged putz right out of a sitcom. I finally gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked what his qualifications were. Ernie happily pulled up a chair, and I ordered him a beer half afraid he’d tell me he didn’t drink.
“Well, that’s the thing you know,” He took a few sips of the stout placed before him, “I haven’t ever smacked someone yet. Or what do they call it? Whacked. I haven’t ever whacked someone yet, but I figure if I’m gonna get into the biz, I should start with something easy. And I mean, no offense, but how hard can it be to kill a fat old broad who’s half Prozac and half booze?”
Celine’s depression would indeed make her an easy kill, and I won’t pretend I didn’t spend the past couple of years consciously making it worse for just that purpose. However, it still needed to be a professional job, and I told Ernie that.
“I can’t have any of this coming back on me, you know? Not with wives one and two already dead; if this isn’t done well, it would be pretty easy for people to make the connection, don’t you think?” I said. Ernie drank the rest of his beer with a smile on his face.
“That’s why you need me!” He said, “I’ve been watching that show, 1,000 Ways to Die? And let me tell ya, there are all sorts of ways to kill someone without even using a gun. You use a gun and, you know, people are all suspicious, but if a person is killed by a runaway car? Now THAT’S an accident.”
I ordered Ernie another beer. I don’t know if I liked the guy, or if I just felt sorry for him, but I didn’t mind having him around.
“So what makes you want to get into ‘the biz’ now? What did you do before this?” I asked him.
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to do this,” Ernie assured me, “but life just kept getting in the way. First I couldn’t stand the thought of my Ma being sad that she’d raised a killer, but then she died a few years back. After that I was all set to go, but then I broke my leg real bad in a car accident and after that I had to take a job at a pawn shop to help pay for physical therapy. But I’ve always wanted to do this,” Ernie took a few more gulps of his beer, “I saw a kid die once. I was about five I guess. Kid got stung by a bee during a peewee baseball game I was in, and they pulled him off the field and into the duggout. His mother had his EPI pen in her other purse, and by the time the ambulance got there, he was already gone. Just like that! He wheezed for a bit and his lips went blue, and then poof! No more! Stopped moving. Everyone around me was shocked and sad but I just sat there, and I thought to myself, wow, that’s all it is. Death isn’t this big
scary thing, you know? It’s more like flipping a light switch, and if a little bee can do it, I figured a little guy like me could do it too.”
I drank my whisky and couldn’t help but be impressed. It was a more honest explanation than I usually heard. Usually hit men were pretty bold about it; they just wanted the money. They acted as though killing people was no different than getting a second job at a bank.
“What about you, Sir? I gotta ask, especially if I’m gonna take on this job, why you want your wife dead?” Said Ernie.
“No hit man asks that,” I said, setting my drink down, “It’s very unprofessional.” Ernie shrugged.
“Oh, come on. You’re buying me drinks, aint you? I thought that was some sort of trust sign or something.”
“It’s a sign of being a genial person, and I’m in no way considering you for the job.” I said, but sighed and picked up my drink again. I didn’t particularly want to go home to the woman I was looking to kill, and Ernie was entertaining.
“My mother always told me to marry for money, not love, and that’s always what I’ve done. Love is for affairs, so that when you fall out of love, things are much easier; no paperwork. My wives are checks. They start out young and pretty, and when they’re old and ugly, it’s time to collect their money and get a new model.” I took a sip of whisky. The words sounded exactly like I had meant them to; practical, cool, and logical.
“Oh, come on, that can’t be it,” Said Ernie. I tried not to glare at him. He didn’t need to know the real reason. He was a thug wannabe, and probably had to pay the doorman at the bar a couple hundred just to be let in. He was also still staring at me, with an almost boyish eagerness in his eyes. I looked at my Rolex. I still had time to kill.
“None of them loved me to begin with.” I said, and downed the rest of my whisky. “They all married me for my money and couldn’t care less if I lived or died. They’re trash. All three of them. They deserve it. They married me for my money and when I kill them, I’ll only get more rich.”
We sat in silence for a minute.
“That, I can understand.” Said Ernie.
I looked at my empty glass. I couldn’t put it off anymore.
“I have to go now. Sorry Ernie. Maybe the next wife.” I said, as I grabbed my coat and headed towards the door, determined not to see Ernie’s face. I felt bad for hurting the man, and that’s not an emotion I was very comfortable with. I’d wanted to walk to my car in a nearby parking garage, drive home, and find Celeste already passed out for the night. Ernie had other plans. I was in the parking garage by the time he caught up to me.
“Hey, come on, man!” Ernie seemed a little winded. He reached into the pocket of his pants and revealed a very small revolver. “Ok, I know that the whole staging accidental deaths thing isn’t for everyone. I brought my own gun too, just in case. I don’t think it would be in any sort of records system. It belonged to my grandpa and I think he jacked it from someone in Wisconsin. Please, just hire me. I need to do this.”
Ernie had ceased to be entertaining, and I was out of patience for the day. Hell, I was out of patience for the whole damn year.
“Ernie shut up! What kind of idiot would hire some pudgy, wining, fucktard to be a hit man, huh?!”
Ernie’s face became completely blank, and for a second, I thought he would cry. Then he did something worse. He smiled, pointed the gun at my head, and uttered the last two words I would ever hear.