Driven by grief, Michael Sykora started his life of killing in a blind rage. But then it became something he was good at. Even something he…liked.
To most who know him, Michael is a software designer, a smart—but average—workaholic. To a chosen few, Michael is something else: a part-time hit man whose specialty is eliminating hard-core criminals.
When Nicki, a close friend, finds herself in trouble, Michael steps in. Having lost his fiancée to a brutal crime, Michael will do anything to keep from losing another woman in his life.
Michael Sykora has managed to keep his two personas separate. Until now.
Excerpt from No Justice
Let him laugh. One more hour and he’d be dead.
Michael Sykora put the binoculars down on the empty passenger seat. The man he’d soon be killing went by the name Alan Nystrom, an alias, of which he had three others. His real name, the one he hadn’t used in over twenty years, was Bruce Renwick.
More laughter. Good to know that Renwick was enjoying his last day. Soaking up the sun on the golf course, making jokes with his buddies. Would Renwick, if given the choice, pick golf as his last hurrah? Doubtful, though the choices people made often baffled him.
Michael was being paid $40,000 to dispose of Bruce Renwick. Twenty of that had already been deposited into his offshore account. The other half would be received upon completion. His price had been a little higher for this job since the client had chosen the method of death. An indulgence Michael had allowed this time. Though after what he’d found while rummaging through Renwick’s home last night, Michael would gladly take this trash out for free.
Calling Renwick an animal would be a grave insult to the non-human world. Renwick was a pedophile. A predator of the lowest sort. The last child he’d raped, an 11-year-old boy, had hung himself afterward because the shame and trauma had been unbearable. That boy had not been Renwick’s first victim. He would, however, be the last.
The next day Michael had been contacted. The boy’s father did not want Renwick given the chance to walk away. Not ever. He had to be wiped off the earth before the police finished their investigation. That call had come five days ago. Michael had inside information that a warrant would be issued for Renwick’s arrest tomorrow morning.
Renwick would be dead this afternoon.
Bruce Renwick, as Alan Nystrom, strode confidently toward the clubhouse. The man had an odd stoop, like he was training to be the hunchback in a play or something. His hair was that shade of brown that women called mousy and his eyes were covered by small round glasses reminiscent of John Lennon. He wore tan shorts and one of those polo shirts in blue. To all the world he appeared as a harmless geek. The locked metal storage unit in his garage had told a different story. Michael had checked. He liked to be sure before he killed. Death wasn’t something he could take back. The pictures had confirmed more than he’d needed to know. Renwick would not be a mistake.
Michael set his binoculars on the seat beside him and did his best to stretch in the cramped car. He’d been sitting in this parking space for 11 minutes, having moved once Renwick had finished the 18th hole.
Now he had a perfect view of the clubhouse, as well as Renwick’s silver Saab.
The clock continued to tick on Renwick’s life.
Eighteen more minutes passed. Then Bruce Renwick, golf bag slung over his shoulder, emerged from the clubhouse. One of his golf buddies walked beside him. They headed toward the parking lot. The other man, a forty-something balding executive type, parted company with Renwick as they moved toward their respective cars. Michael turned the key in his ignition. He pushed the gear into reverse, kept his foot on the brake.
The executive climbed into his car. A bright yellow Volkswagen. He tooted once, then pulled out. Renwick lifted his hand in a wave as he kept walking. Fortunately for Michael’s purpose, Renwick liked to park his Saab in the back of the lot, far from everyone. He was also one of those guys who parked diagonally across three spaces at the grocery store so that no one would ding his car when opening his or her door.
Michael glanced around him. The strip mall had been fairly busy this morning. Right now, however, he was alone. No one had parked close to him. No one was outside. The timing couldn’t have been better. He tucked the binoculars under his seat. He would no longer need them.
His heart sped up. Just a slight increase but enough for him to notice. His breathing remained even. He watched.
Bruce Renwick held his key chain. He pressed the button on his remote to unlock his doors. The alarm chirped off. Then the trunk popped open. He slid the golf clubs off his shoulder and placed the bag inside the trunk. Then he pushed the trunk lid closed.
Back around to the driver’s side. Renwick reached out, gripped the door handle and pulled. A grimace, probably from the heat inside the car. He smoothed his hair back, adjusted his glasses, then slid inside. Michael eased his foot from the brake. Renwick yanked his door closed. A moment passed. The engine caught. Then a deafening blast that shook the pavement. The vibration reverberated through Michael’s hands as he gripped the steering wheel. Thick smoke, orange flames. Bits of metal rained down around the blaze that had once been Renwick and his car.
Screams from the golf course. Michael calmly backed out of his parking slot. No one looked his way. The billows of smoke were far more entertaining.
Once out on the main street, Michael took his cell phone from his pocket. Not his usual phone but the disposable one with the prepaid card. The boy’s father had one just like it. Michael dialed his number.
When the father picked up, Michael said, “It’s done.”
The squeal of young children playing sifted into the silence through the connection. The father had taken his advice, making sure he had a solid alibi. Yesterday he and his wife had driven up to Georgia to stay with family. They had told police that they needed to get away from their house and the memories.
No one could blame them. Their son had hung himself in their garage.
Now the father said, “Good. Thank you.” A pause, then, “How did it go?”
His voice had that gravelly quality that came from too many cigarettes and sleepless nights. There was also something sadly robotic in the way he pronounced his words. Michael had killed the monster but he could never bring the child back. The man and his wife would never be okay.
Michael said, “You don’t want details. It’s better that way.”
The client hadn’t been after the usual vengeance of extreme pain and suffering. He’d wanted Renwick’s body ripped apart. Shredded, was how the client had put it. He’d wanted to be sure there was nothing left for Renwick’s family to mourn over.
Michael would have liked to give the man the details. He deserved that much. But he’d explained from the start, knowing too many details wasn’t a smart idea. The cops would inevitably question him. After all, Renwick had raped his son. Caused his suicide. Therefore, the less detail he was sure of, the easier it would be to lie.
“Right,” the father said. He cleared his throat, probably wiped away tears. Then, “The balance will be taken care of today.”
From the client’s offshore account to Michael’s. No paper trail for the police to trace. “Thank you,” he said.
Sirens wailed in the distance. Michael said, “I’m sorry. I hope you find peace.” Then he flipped the phone shut and rode the rest of the way in silence.