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Part 1 of 4
Although there is an element of mystery in this story it does not fit the normal categories. it does however contain references to definite criminal activity. I hope you enjoy it.
Charles was in Denver the first time he found a small present in his hotel room. He thought it was a nice gesture from the management but when he opened the attached card he was really surprised. It said, "Lots of luck on your performance, you're going to slay them."
It took a minute for him to recognize the emotion he felt. He was not capable of fear so it wasn't that. Annoyance? Maybe but stronger. Anger? Yes, definitely anger but he had repressed that part of himself for so long he didn't recognize it at first. Fear and anger were excess baggage that he couldn't afford.
Who had sent this? The card was not signed but the meaning was clear. Or was it? It could've been a mistake. Maybe it belongs to another guest and they put it in the wrong room. The front desk confirmed that it had been delivered by a local vendor with his name on it. He called the store and all they could tell him was that they received directions to deliver it to the hotel with a money order that more than covered the cost. Then they asked if he wanted the change. It was only a few dollars but they felt guilty about keeping it. For some reason he said yes and they assured him it would be at the hotel within the hour. He didn't know what he was going to do with the money. He certainly didn't need it and he was no closer to finding out who sent the gift.
The whole thing put him on edge. He was always very careful but this time he took extra precautions. As it turned out they were not necessary. There was no hint that anyone in Denver knew about him and he completed his task without any complications.
When he was back on his own turf he went to see his latest client. After a considerable amount of money changed hands Charles said, "Thank you. As always, it's a pleasure doing business with you but next time don't be so cute."
It was obvious from the blank stare he received that the person he was talking to had no idea what he meant. Our hero quickly recovered and brushed off the confusion. He wisely decided to keep the incident to himself.
The mystery gnawed at him every once in a while and he finally convinced himself that it was all a big mistake. There must've been someone else with the same name in Denver and the store clerk got confused. He even smiled at the thought of that poor soul trying to explain why he never acknowledged the present. His satisfactory explanation of the event fell apart on his next trip.
He stopped short as he entered the hotel room and saw another small parcel on the desk. He didn't even take his coat off before ripping the tag from the package. His hands were shaking with rage as he stared at it. "Welcome to Cincinnati. I hope you enjoy your stay but I know there's someone who won't."
This job was for a different client and it was highly unlikely that both shared the same charming idiosyncrasy. It had to be someone else but who? Who could possibly know what he did? Certainly not a friend for the simple reason that he didn't have any. It was imperative that he not become too close with any other human and it was unlikely that his cat was the perpetrator. That gave him an idea. The woman who lived across the street knew about his trips. She fed the cat when he was away so she and her husband knew he traveled a lot. Then he discarded the notion. Even if they kept tabs on his comings and goings they could not know where he went or why. He had to shove the problem aside and concentrate on the business at hand but it kept sneaking back into his thoughts from time to time. Eventually, he was able to work it into a simple distraction. A minor enigma to occupy him in idle minutes.
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