He would stand out anywhere, even without the red shoes. But they were his trademark, that’s how he got his name. If you saw the shoes, you went in the other direction and you didn’t stop running, until you fell. It never mattered, the outcome was always the same. But people ran anyway. If he was coming for you, you did something very wrong, to someone who had the power over life and death. Yours.
Hitpeople come in all shapes and sizes. Age is flexible. Red was tall, strong, classically handsome and deadly. He started young. He had a natural talent that was noticed by important men who sat in the back of dark restaurants, all day. The kind of restaurants with guards lounging outside the entrance. He started running errands, when he was ten, and climbed the ladder quickly, since he learned fast and had no fear. He believed in what he did and often felt as if he were simply taking out the garbage.
He was taking college classes and learning things his employers felt were important for his future. He was making a lot of money. He was focused. Happy. He was in his element. And then he saw her. She was tall and slim, with long brown hair and deep chocolate eyes. She looked up, glanced his way, and smiled. He smiled back and walked toward her.
“Hi,” he said, softly.
“I like your shoes,” she said, grinning. “They suit you.”
He looked at his shoes and nodded. “Thank you. I like them too.”
“Want half of my sandwich?” she asked, holding out a peanut butter and jelly half.
“It looks good,” he said, reaching for it. “Did you make it?”
“I did,” she chuckled.
“You’re being too generous,” she laughed. “But I appreciate the compliment.”
“Do you live around here?”
“Right over there,” she said, pointing down the street. Just moved here from…”
“What do you do?”
“Besides making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?”
“Yes,” he laughed. “Besides that.”
She shrugged. “I just got here two days ago, so I’m not sure about anything.”
He nodded. “If you need help finding a job, just let me know. I can probably hook you up with something.”
“What I’m good at is kind of specific,” she said.
“Really?” he asked, suddenly interested. “What is it. I mean what is it that you do?”
“I don’t think I should tell you,” she sighed.
“Why not?” he asked, frowning. “You’re beautiful, but then you probably already know that already.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” she asked.
“Not until now. I really want to kiss you.”
“What’s stopping you?”
He leaned forward and kissed her. He felt the gun press against his side, but he kept kissing her. He put his arms around her and kissed her neck, her eyes and her nose. Then he kissed her lips again, and ran his hand through her hair. He felt the gun slide away and she crawled onto his lap.
“You need to get rid of the red shoes,” she whispered, then bent down and kissed him again.
He pulled her closer and moaned. “How is this going to end?” he asked. “Are you going to kill me?”
“Are you going to let me?”
“Sure. Death would be better than not having you,” he muttered, kissing her again.
“We have a problem,” she gasped.
“Man, I don’t think so. I think we have something great.”
“If I don’t kill you…”
“They’ll send someone after you.”
“They will,” she said.
“How is this happening?”
“Not a clue,” she said, moving off of him.
“Who wants me dead?.” he asked.
She laughed. “Pretty much everybody.”
“How about you?”
She touched his face. “I won’t let them near you. Not if I can help it.”
“Let’s go talk to Mr. Vincent. He’ll help us.”
“He put the hit out on you.”
“What?” he asked, horrified. “I’ve been with him…”
“Since you were ten.”
“You know too much.”
He slipped off his shoes and tossed them in the trash basket, and turned to her. “You coming with me?”
She checked her gun, slipped it into her pocket and grabbed his hand.
“Have to make one stop, first.”
The police and fire departments were at the restaurant for hours. No one had seen anyone, or anything. There were dead bodies, cold coffee and no clues. A neighborhood cop saw the shoes in the trash and realized that Red was gone. He turned back to the crime scene and said to the officer next to him, “I think we’re done here.”
And they were.