...I slide the car sideways into a parking space on the snow and get out, pulling the Skellington hood over my head and face, and lock the car, catching my reflection in the car window. I look determined and businesslike and efficient through the eyeholes, like I know too well what I'm doing, sulky and resentful or not. I always surprise myself that I don't look desperate or anxious. Why don't I look scared of people, of what I'm about to confront? Maybe because I'm wise to the fact that the scariest things are inside my own head. I look like someone who has read a hundred psychology books and understood them all, and turned my own mind inside out applying all of the rules and finding the answers. I look like I know what I'm thinking and why. I look like I gave the laws of nature a fair chance, analysed all of the options and possibilities, and I'm just here to iron out a small kink in it, change a light bulb or battery to set the order of the Universe back to rights, replace a fuse. Not so much as even rewire a plug or do any painting. Something so minor that anyone with the right knowledge could have done it. Nothing to get dressed up for or flash any special identification, or make a big song and dance about. Nothing to advertise on the side of a Transit van, or open a shop for, or launch a website to tout for business on. I look like I'm just stopping off to buy an extension lead that no-one else has thought of on my way to a party, which will turn out to be crucial later on. Even on a bad day, I look like I know what I'm doing and that's the reason it's me there doing it. I intimidate myself, seeing that in the mirror every day. I think I'm the person who expects more of myself than everyone else expects of me. And that's the reason I expect to look nervous, because I FEEL nervous, on the inside. I just don't understand why it doesn't show. I guess something in my past taught me to hide emotions.
I pass a postman as I head towards the City Centre Council offices, swinging my baseball bat cheerfully. We both grin and say good morning. He thinks I'm walking home late from a party. I think he's a postman. It's all good. Just goes to show, there could be a postal services employee tied up, minus his clothes in the back of a van somewhere, and someone was about to get a very special delivery. Anyone can put on a uniform. It's the conduct of the person wearing it that counts towards its reputation. Postal uniform at 7:30 a.m. indicates postal worker going about their business. Skellington outfit at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday indicates party straggler. We share a humorous thought about the snow falling around us but don't voice it. It would be too much like stating the obvious. The eye language says it all, the snowflakes melting into his sideburns, the flurries stirred up by the loops of my bat as I swing it. Snow in April. Wicked.
I look up at the roof of the Council offices. So, he's up there now, with the seagulls and pigeons, thinking about his career and how it had led to this. Inflating himself psychologically, whether he was compensating for something deficient elsewhere or not. He's earned the right to be up there, in his world and his life and in his mind. He's styled his life and image and personality around it, seamlessly meeting his destiny, waiting patiently 300 feet above the nearest decent toilet - while 300 feet above him he IS the nearest decent toilet for the sky denizens that like to crap on the town from a great height. He's got through eight cans of Red Akuma just to get through the night, and will be lucky if he doesn't have a stroke driving home afterwards. Who'd be a hit-man, I ask you?
He doesn't look very comfortable as I step over the parapet. Looks like cramps, possibly a dead leg. A nice massage would sort him out. Shame I'm not in therapist mode. Could have made a good future customer contact. He looks itchy and cold and tired and that snowfall wasn't on his agenda either. How do you expect a clear shot 300 feet below you through snow? Any normal person would have gone home. He obviously wants this one badly. Either for his ego or his reputation. The cold obviously means higher likelihood of his gun jamming through metal contraction anyway. He'll have frostbite, cramps, probably break his collarbone if the gun actually fires with the kind of recoil it would give him, and the dead leg would mean he won't be able to make a nice clean escape. He'll be a sitting duck, 300 feet above a dead or injured body, with the police looking speculatively upwards while he tries to rub pins and needles out of every limb. If he had a plan before, I'd have loved an insight onto it.
I cut the City Council flag down with my penknife, wondering why he hadn't thought of using it to keep himself dry and a bit warmer, then I walk up behind him. I don't hesitate, exactly - I just sort of wait a moment. Maybe it's just me. I always speculate about this. Natural selection. A tiger never attacks from the front. The survivors are those with eyes in the backs of their heads.
I look over my shoulder. A seagull is watching me from the parapet, and I put my finger to the lips - or rather teeth - of my Skellington mask. I look back at the sniper lying at my feet. He hasn't looked up, and I'm disappointed. I've yet to meet another doorman with eyes in the back of his head. Some of them even seem to have problems with the ones in the front. I guess it's me that's waiting to meet my match, at the end of the day. When one of these guys finally turns around and clocks me standing behind him, I'll have met my match. Then again, I probably don't deserve that, doing what I'm doing. Maybe no-one's coming for me. Maybe I'm alone in the Universe. I'll get to the end having erased all the undesirables from the List, having made no friends out of it - just done what was expected of me, finished the job and gone home...
...Work later on is pretty much the same. Drunk people, bad dancing, good dancing, drunk people wanting to high-five, drunk people not wanting to go home, one drunk gay male who runs down the Fire Exit away from us just like a cartoon Brian from My Parents Are Aliens. Perhaps he thinks just coming out of the closet wasn't enough to convince people, so he had to invent an extremely camp way of walking and running just in case there was any doubt left.
I spend most of the night working out my shoe budget, when I'm not comparing passing male DNA with the Fridge. It's true. There's some bizarre thing that means when and where you're looking for it, like out in a popular nightclub, it isn't there, but at the checkout of B&Q, or in a fast-food restaurant car-park, or delivering your milk, there'll be a totally random occurrence of a TDH, as Elaine would say. For every polo-shirt-wearing hobbit and Gollum in the club, there are five wannabe supermodels in their best club-wear, vying for attention, without really noticing the kind of men they're competing for the attention of. If women really took notice of where the fit men are, they'd wear their fake tan, hairpieces, UV halter necks and Lycra hot-pants to the nearest fishing tackle shop, or golf course during the day.
I doubt that the Fridge was ever a doorman. He looks the type of guy who never needed the personal validation, to prove anything to himself. He'd only have to look in the mirror. I guess I'm as fickle as the door supervisor stereotype says we are. It's the perfect job for window-shopping, so long as it's only looking and not handling - not so perfect for anything more involved though. Leads to complications of the sort Jag Nut is hoping to escape by keeping his new venue quiet.
If anything, at least I no longer have any emotional insecurity about Jag Nut, and it's also walked all over my traitorous hormones around Connor. In the space of a week I've gone through three perspective shifts without a distinct personality change, which is an improvement for me. I'm still a certain incarnation of myself, but the other people I see are not determined as a threat, or fixed in a specific role, from my point of view. I used to view others as stronger - now it seems the reverse is starting to be the case. Maybe it's the List, and personality reinforcement or changes go with the kills, as I thought before. It's like a transaction, every time - what I lose is exchanged for something new in return. Maybe what I'm killing off is aspects of my dysfunctional personalities, and gaining one that's designed to survive the new kind of world emerging from the work being done on it. I hope it's not an ego I'm gaining. Ego sabotages almost as much as insecurity does.
Both Axwel and Niall Taylor are working, with Niall as temporary deputy head doorman. I'm the only one who obviously knows Eric Dylan won't be making a return to his job, that is, if he hasn't magically resurrected himself. I make a mental note to ask head office if Special Unit made a successful recovery from the vehicle impound. I'm pleased to see both guys, and equally they seem pleased to see me, which is nice and feels like something normal is happening for once.
Elaine rings me as I'm getting back into my car afterwards, and requests my attendance at Crypto. She's going to sort out the Jag Nut Fan Club and wants a witness. Oh dear. Well – it'll save ME the trouble…