She went outside and, on her way back, opened the wrong door. She didn’t realize that immediately, because the room she entered looked exactly the same as hers and probably all the other rooms in the motel. Carol didn’t bother locking the door since she only went out for a smoke which basically meant she did two stupid things at once. This recklessness made her sort of infamous among her colleagues who constantly predicted that one day it would get her in trouble; it baffled them how that hadn’t happened yet. She always got the job done, though, which was something not all the Shadows could say for themselves and when they hear the sad news tomorrow morning, not one of them will say “Told her so,” especially not Tom.
Carol wasn’t old enough for a driver’s license, so after a job was done, she would either hitchhike or call one of the others to pick her up. Hitchhiking was usually her preferred mode of travel but right now she wanted to get home as soon as possible and Tom was supposed to be nearby so she decided to call him. Tom didn’t answer and, staying true to her reckless nature, Carol texted him her location and room number. She then tossed the phone on the bed and lay down on the floor believing it could help with the backache she had gotten by dragging the body on her own.
She turned her head towards the bed and saw a little reddish brown spot on an otherwise unusually clean light grey carpet and immediately knew what it was. It really bothered her because no matter how careless she was, she was very thorough when it came to cleaning as if, somehow, leaving absolutely no trace behind could erase what she had done. Carol never loved her job, although she sometimes liked certain aspects of it, but she was good at it and really hadn’t had any alternative when she’d been recruited.
She thought about the weird man she met outside the motel who offered to light her cigarette. He seemed oddly familiar. The girl was sure she’d never met him before but she could swear someone had described this man to her – she’d never seen the scar on his chin, his broken nose, his green eye, nor the blue one, but she could almost remember hearing about them. The man was dressed in black and very quiet, she hadn’t heard him coming before she saw his lighter. He asked about her age and she decided not to lie, but found it strange that he didn’t ask what a fifteen year old girl was doing on her own in a motel mostly occupied by adulterers, hitmen, hitmen’s victims and suicidal people. The stranger did tell her, though, that in a place like that she should probably stay in her room and not trust anyone, not even her own shadow, which she definitely thought was a weird thing to say.
Carol got up and went to the bathroom. While she was peeing, she suddenly realized something that bothered her even more than the spot of blood on the carpet or the weird old man’s insinuations. Her bag wasn’t under the bed where she’d left it just half an hour ago. She pulled her panties up without wiping herself, jumped and rushed out of the bathroom. As soon as she stepped out, she felt sharp pain in her chest and knew it was too late even before she heard a man screaming.
* * *
Tom was already in front of the motel, sitting in his car, when he saw Martin parking his red buick. The blond man got out of the vehicle, but he wasn’t alone. An old man dressed in black was sitting in the passenger’s seat. Tom waited until Martin entered a room, saw that the room number was nine, and decided to come back later; the motel staff would probably ignore him, but he was pretty sure that if he sat in his car for too long, he would draw the attention of Martin’s boss.
When he got back, Martin’s car wasn’t there anymore and for a second he thought he fucked it all up, but then he saw the light in his room was on. Tom put a silencer on his gun, got out of the car and slowly went to what he thought was Martin’s room. He remembered Carol called and then texted him while he was driving, so he’d probably have to pick her up later. Tom loved the girl and hated that she was a part of this, but he had to admit she was really good at the job and things had gotten a lot better since they recruited her, despite her carelessness.
He knocked on the door, listening carefully for any movement behind it. He heard water burbling and assumed Martin was in the bathroom, so he tried to open the door. It was unlocked and Tom went in quietly. Suddenly, the bathroom door swung open and, thinking he was caught in a trap, Tom fired the gun only to realize, half a second too late, that when Martin’s buick had left the parking lot, the blond hitman had probably been the one driving it.