In one swift motion Yumi Yoshida turned around. There was nothing to see, the car park was empty except for her Yamaha motorcycle and one dark Mercedes. She heard the sound of a howling dog again. It sounded like it came from the adjoining park. If you could even call it that, it was just trees and a sea of grass stretched out as far as the eye could see. Nothing but total darkness surrounded the car park and the pub she was heading towards.
Yumi turned back and kept her eyes on the pub. She had been here before to check out the place, but she hadn’t yet been inside. The ice cold wind caused her to shiver and she quickened her pace. She could hear the rapid tapping sound of her high heels on the pavement that was still wet from the rain earlier that evening. She brushed her hair out of her face and checked her watch. It was exactly midnight. A few lampposts poorly lit up the car park. From a distance it would seem like the pub and car park were floating in darkness, like a miniscule planet floating in space.
Walking in an empty car park towards a pub that was situated on a hill in the middle of nowhere at midnight may have sparked fear in any woman in her late twenties but not in Yumi Yoshida. She was the kind of woman who could handle herself. She had moved to London from Kyoto when she was ten and ever since she turned eighteen she had been moving around the country doing what she did best.
She reached the back of the establishment and stepped into a red telephone box that was placed at the left corner. There was an old, wet newspaper on the floor with a distorted picture of some child, and the phone was hanging off the hook. It smelled like urine and coffee. Yumi picked the phone up by the cord and took out a handkerchief to clean the phone before putting it to her ear.
A brief moment later she stepped out of the telephone box and walked to the front of the building. She stopped to look inside. It was a small pub with bad lighting. The radio was playing popmusic in the background. Behind the bar stood a middle aged bartender cleaning a couple of beerglasses, she couldn’t see his face. In the reflection of the window, she saw her long, dark hair frame her face. Her long fringe covered her eyebrows and beneath the dark strands she could see her lightblue contacts. She only ever put them in when she had to work.
She stepped inside and smelled fish, chips and grease. She walked straight on to the only other person sitting in the pub. His back was turned towards her. “Is this seat taken?” she asked and sat down without awaiting a reply.
“Go ahead,” said the man and pushed his glasses back. It was a man in his thirties with short, sandy hair and hazelnut eyes. He wore a grey suit with a deep-purple shirt and violet tie. “You must be…”
“I am, Mr. Stone,” Yumi interrupted.
“So, what should I call you?”
“Call me Yami.”
“Is that your real name?” he asked.
“Almost, but the meaning is more accurate.”
“What does it mean?”
“I’ll tell you later. First things first.”
The man nodded and touched his glasses again. “Well, I’m married.”
“They always are. I assumed that’s why you contacted me.”
He looked down at his coffee and moved in his chair. He then loosened his tie before he spoke again, somewhat softer than before. “Her name is Heather and here’s her picture.” From his breast pocket he took a picture and slid it to her side of the table. Yumi picked it up and saw it was a picture of them together, holding each other and smiling, happy and unaware. They seemed so at ease, so at home with each other no matter where they would be. How could it have come to this? There is no such thing as true, unconditional love, except maybe with babies and dogs. She couldn’t help but wonder if it meant that the smarter you are, the less you become capable of loving.
Yumi snorted. The man looked up. “I got it,” she said and wanted to slide the picture back but the man said: “No, keep it. I don’t need it anymore.” He then finished his coffee and they sat in silence for a moment. Yumi was observing him and couldn’t help but think he didn’t seem like the type of man who was capable of doing any harm. Usually she could tell for sure, and if she couldn’t she had time to shadow someone, but in this case everything had gone so fast. It seemed understandable considering the case.
“Do you have many…clients?” he suddenly asked, breaking the silence and interrupting her in her thoughts.
“I have enough,” was her reply.
“Don’t you ever find it difficult? I mean, because you’re a woman…well, I mean…”
“No, I don’t. I’m good at what I do, which means people are willing to pay for something I can give them. It’s that simple.”
“Is it really that easy?”
She just tapped her fingers on the table. It didn’t make a sound though, because she was still wearing her gloves. She narrowed her eyes at him.
He had a frown on his face and was unconsiously tapping his indexfinger on his watch. “Life really is all about money, isn’t it?” His voice sounded gentle. Yumi remained silent. He got up to go to the lavatory and excused himself.
Yumi leaned back and let out a sigh. She still had the picture in her hand and looked at it again. She was actually thankful for the life she had, at least she had the chance to do something meaningful.
After a couple of minutes she saw Mr. Stone coming out of the lavatory and got up. She gestured towards the exit and dropped a twenty pound note at the bar. Then she walked towards the door with Mr. Stone on her heels.
Together they walked past the building back to the car park. Yumi closed her eyes when the cold wind struck against her face. She had kept on her leather jacket and gloves inside, which made the drop in temperature very welcome. “You said both was fine, but I brought cash with me. I figured that would be harder to trace,” Mr. Stone suddenly explained.
“It is,” Yumi said coldly.
He unlocked the car with his key fob as they nearly reached it. Yumi looked around and noticed it was still as deserted as when she had arrived. The car was right beneath a lamppost and when Mr. Stone opened a briefcase in the trunk she could clearly see all the money in it. “Half up front and after, right?”
“Yes, Mr. Stone. That’s correct.”
“Considering what you’re about to do, you can call me…”
“No,” Yumi interrupted. “I don’t want to know any first names. It’s easier that way.”
“But then…you know my wife’s name.” The light of the lamppost reflected in his glasses.
“That’s not a problem in this case,” Yumi answered and walked slowly to his other side.
“You know, you still haven’t told me what your name means.”
He opened his mouth to say something but closed it again.
“Why do you want to do this to your wife?”
He grimaced. Not in an evil way, but more like he was disguising his discomfort. He put his hand in his jacket and Yumi automatically reached for her gun. He took out a picture and handed it to her. It was the picture of a little boy. He had brown hair and freckles and his broad smile showed he was missing two front teeth.
“That’s my son. He was from my first marriage.”
“Yes, he died a few months ago. My wife has always treated him very poorly, without me knowing. I was always at work and even though I noticed he was mostly quiet, I thought it was because he missed his mother. But then I found his diary and even though his death was technically an accident, I can’t help but feel she’s responsible. I can’t even look at her anymore and I don’t remember the last time I said more than a sentence to her.”
“So you never abused her daughter?”
“What? What are you talking about? We don’t even have children together.”
“I see. Well, that’s what she told me.”
He looked down and fumbled his watch.
“I’m saying she found out what you were going to do and she wanted to beat you to it.”
Even though it was cold outside, little drops of sweat began to form on his forehead. He was mumbling incoherently.
Yumi closed the trunk. “Don’t worry, I don’t take money from a dead man.”
She saw him tremble. “If you’re going to kill me, just do…”
Everything happened fast from that moment on. She’d taken her knife and cut the palm of his hand. Following her instructions he had held his hand over the front seat of his car. He had put his tie around his hand to stop the blood from spilling on the ground. He left his car keys in the ignition and only took the briefcase. It didn’t matter if his wife thought she’d taken the money. Now, he had a chance to start over.
Yumi walked back to the telephone box and dialed the number she had dialed before. “It is done,” Yumi coldly stated.
“I’m transferring the other half now,” the woman said.
“Alright, Mrs. Stone, goodbye.”
Yumi took a deep breath before stepping out in the cold wind. Her black hair moved fiercely in front of her face, dancing. She ripped up the picture of the happy couple and the wind blew away the pieces into the darkness.