Roland scanned the room. Black oak panelling, high, nicotine stained ceiling, the usual accoutrements. Dartboard, stuffed boars heads, faux Renaissance paintings. The Laggard Arms. An unlikely place for the job but really, they all were.
He studied the faces around him. There, in a booth along the far wall, a lone fellow in a bowler and bow tie sporting a silver-headed cane. That was the contact. He ordered a beer and then slid into the booth. He took a long pull on his pint. Staring at the opposite wall he spoke.
“The perfume that she wore was from some little store on the down side of town.”
Pursing his lips the bowler topped one glanced over briefly and then back.
“Did it linger on long after she’d gone?”
“I remember it well.”
Mister Bow Tie looked about the room then pulled a small manila envelope from his breast pocket and slid it across the table. Pocketing it quickly, Roland studied the other man’s face until he turned to Roland arching one eyebrow.
Considering for a moment Roland shook his head.
“Oh, nothing Martin.”
Martin leaned across the table and hissed, “no names.”
“I hear the Paris situation didn’t pan out well old man.”
Taken aback, Martin narrowed his eyes. “Where did you get that little piece of information?”
“Oh, you know how it goes. Things get around.”
“Yes, well, don’t believe everything you hear,” drumming his annoyance on the table he added, “I’m at the top of my game.”
Taking another sip of beer Roland let the comment slide. Martin took his silence for assent but Roland wasn’t done.
“You know old man –“
“Will you please stop calling me that? Why do you persist?”
Breathing a heavy sigh Roland shrugged. “Don’t you think maybe we’re getting a little old for this sort of thing?”
Martin’s face fell momentarily.
“No, my good man, I don’t suppose so,” then, as a sneer lifted his lip, “Not in my case at any rate.”
“Wrong,” Roland sighed as he screwed the silencer onto his Beretta under the table, “word’s come down from the top that you are too old actually.”
As Martin opened his mouth to retort Roland put two rounds in his stomach, finished his beer and got up and left.