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I said nothing. I took out my iPhone and hit play.

So how are you going to do it?

"Do it"?

Kill him. How are you going to kill him?

"Motherfucker," Martz said. "Like I told you. He has some bullshit excuse about how—"

"So what do you want to do?" I interrupted. "I'll go through some of our options."

"Did he pay you already?"


"You planning on keeping that payment?"

"Nah, it's forensic evidence. Connects him to the cyber wallet." Everyone thinks cyber currency keeps you anonymous. But there are tricks you have to do to hide your identity, and neither of these guys knew them. "So come on, how do you want to play this?"

Martz was staring off into space, like he was thinking. "How much more would it cost if you finished the job?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I said. "You want to bring in law enforcement, right?"

"Finish the job. As in finish him. Take the bastard out."

I wasn't surprised, frankly, and I played it cool. "That's not on the menu."

"Don't bullshit me," Martz said. "You think I didn't do my due diligence? I know your reputation. You're ex-Special Forces. You've killed guys for a living. You're trained for this."

"Yeah, we were more about winning hearts and minds."

"You've confirmed that I've got a problem. Nice work. Now make my problem go away. I'll pay you another forty thousand. Make it worth your time. Call it a happy ending."

"I think I'll take a pass."

"I'm a paying customer, Heller. You ever hear the expression 'The customer is always right'?"

"Thing is, Herb, you're not the customer."

"The client, then."

"Yeah, you're not the client either."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

I couldn't keep a little grin from my face. I pointed out the window, where six state troopers were surrounding the car, ready to arrest Martz.

"The hell—?"

"See, you're the target. First rule in my trade: always know who you're working for, and always know the play. Yep, I did my due diligence too. And I found another play."

The car door on the driver's side opened, and one of the troopers said, "Step out of the car, Mr. Martz."


Originally, Herb Martz had come to see me to get proof his partner, Mort Vallison, was trying to kill him. The brake lines on his Mercedes had been cut, he said. He wanted me to get the proof on tape so he could go to the police and get his partner put away.

It took me almost a week to get to Mort, because it had to be done subtly. Eventually I ran into him in Oak Long Bar in the Copley Plaza, where Herb told me he hung out sometimes, managed to bump into him as we both stood at one end of the crowded bar.

Soon we'd struck up a conversation about my military days and how the world would just be better off with some people taken out, wouldn't it? I let him know, as subtly as I could, that once in a while I did favors for friends along those lines. And sure enough, he was intrigued. He asked for my business card.

I gave him one.

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