Read Time: 6 min | Serial Fiction | Part One
Forced out of retirement by sinister forces who murdered his wife, a man who belongs to an ancient fraternity, sets in motion his own Machiavellian plan to restore equilibrium to his world.
I hold a very prestigious job. This is my second stint as an Innkeeper, as I had retired twenty-five years ago when the demands of the job had gotten to me. I made a normal life for myself, started a family, worked a nine to five. Then, two weeks ago, my previous employers forced me back into the game. The title of Innkeeper is far more lucrative than any job on the planet. Sure, the hours sucked, and that means less time with the family. Remuneration is in cash or kind, and never on the books. Now that the economy was tanking, and crime analysts were forecasting phenomenal growth in the sector, a man with my impeccable pedigree and experience was in high demand.
Innkeeper is a title that goes back to biblical times. The story of the Good Samaritan, a parable told in the good book, as taught by Jesus, says that a man from Samaria on his way to Jericho found another man who had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. The Samaritan took the injured fellow to an Inn and paid for his period of convalescing. The Innkeeper wasn’t heard of afterward, but he was just the first of nameless, faceless characters who practice this venerated profession to be mentioned in the annals of history. You see us portrayed sometimes in movies as doctors who perform services for men who operate outside the law.
The story praises the good deed of the Samaritan, but no one ever considers the Innkeeper. That’s because we keep a very discreet profile, operating in between the lines of the good and the not so good of society. It’s a task that very few who live normal, sanitized lives, ever hear about. We have been called into service on several very noteworthy occasions. The Kennedy Assassination required our unique intervention, and the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance, comes to mind most readily.
One didn’t just get the title of Innkeeper overnight. It wasn’t a job you applied for that was advertised on a job referral site or on LinkedIn. One was chosen for this career path early on and served an apprenticeship of at least ten years. It meant skipping out on parties and homecomings. It meant learning the fine art of listening and honoring the nature of the business. We were doctors, surgeons, and Medical Examiners. We were lawyers and priests, but never judge and executioner. Discretion in my line of work was worth far more than money. Remuneration, therefore, is unquantifiable.
Twenty-five years ago, I took care of client number ninety-eight. A toddler, kidnapped from an immigrant family to send a message. I needed a sabbatical after that one. The emotional detachment from my tasks which had been the cornerstone of my work ethic and professionalism had been compromised. Sleep evaded me, my thoughts were no longer free flowing. All I could think about every night for two years was that toddler. I suppose everyone has their demons; Everyone has a closet full of skeletons, but I say this not as an idle boast… I have an entire cemetery full of demons. And every soul I had tenderly… erm, replanted, had been haunting my sleep for the last twenty-five years. I knew everyone’s names, and where their final resting place was. At my Inn, no one ever checks out. It was ninety-eight secrets too many that a man was required to keep. For neglecting the performance of my duties, however, my daughter became my 99th two weeks ago. I was back on the job.
Today I will be overseeing an overdue reservation of my services, for what would be my one hundredth client. This booking had been on the cards for several months, as the client had absconded from a federal facility, and had been on the run. This chap had the misfortune of misappropriating a substantial amount of funds that he had been given for safekeeping. I must forewarn you at this juncture that I am neither a carpetbagger, nor a cleaner. Nor am I an assassin, a term so over-utilized these days, and used to refer to any thug capable of taking a life. Though our skillsets do overlap from time to time, my major area of expertise revolves more on the latter end of the production line. This was a business, after all.
My new client was once a high-profile, crypto currency fund manager. There were people who needed him to go quietly into the night, and he had refused to do so. As per the wishes of his family, he was to be afforded a Christian burial. Hallowed ground on a beautiful resting place with an ocean view. Such requirements had already been secured, and all that was required now, was his arrival.
My five-year-old granddaughter sat on the sofa next to me. She reminded me so much of her mother. A walk down memory lane is for the indolent; nostalgia doesn’t pay the bills. In my experience, everyone has their cross to bear. The doorbell rang, that would be Naomi, her babysitter.
“Why aren’t you staying home this morning Pappa?” Her little hands had latched on to my pinky finger.
“Pappa has a funeral to attend.” I replied truthfully. My only omission was that she would have been my 100th client had I not taken on the crypto banker.
“Is this person going to heaven like mommy?”
“Oh no honey, he is going to another place.”
I gently slipped my finger out of her grip. There will be a lot more people going to that other place in the next forty-eight hours. I had a plan that would upset the unnatural order of our industry. Extortion was a betrayal of a sacred oath. It belonged in the gutter, where immature, Machiavellian aspirations are but a child’s foolish dream, having failed to mature into a greater realization as to the true nature of our world. It was a corruption of our profession, demoting us to a sub-human level, where we were no longer valued for our services, but operating at the command of the tyrannical, rather than as their ally, and confidants. Things needed to be rectified. I have identified two persons of interest, whose immediate removal would restore the balance of things. But as I have already mentioned, I am not an assassin, I am the Innkeeper. It was time to find myself an apprentice.
“Pappa would be back home in a couple of days honey. I love you.”
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