Picture Perfect



Pierre Larouche - arms smuggler, drug dealer, sex trafficker, all around typical blight on the Earth - sat on his white tiger-striped sofa in his garishly decorated office. A rich man with no taste, the room held no antiques nor fine furnishing. Jungle-print wallpaper festooned with colorful macaws assaulted the eyes. Big cat throw rugs, complete with heads, covered the boldly yellow tiled floor. An army surplus desk hid amidst emptied dishes and take out containers, to be cleaned by the house staff after Larouche retired to bed. Large, leafy plants in gaudily decorated pots stood in the four corners of the room. An ornately framed oil painting of Larouche seated on a throne with a Siberian tiger at his feet hung above the sofa. 

Agent 47 had spent several days reconnoitering the Larouche villa from a nearby hilltop a mile inland from the coastal road. Over six feet tall, with a broad-shouldered build and a barcode tattooed on the back of his bald head, Agent 47 had been with the ICA for a decade, eliminating targets assigned to him by his handler, Diana Burnwood. Larouche was one in a long string of cartel-types approved for termination, making Agent 47 wonder whom the client was, though he would not ask. 

Agent 47's mission parameters were to make it appear Larouche died in an accident. Through his scope, Agent 47 had mentally recorded routines at the villa throughout the week. Armed guards remained outside the house, patrolling the grounds. Male and female house staff, dressed in uniforms of black trousers, white shirts, and red vests, went about their duties unaccompanied. A handful of relatives and guests sunbathed by the pool or hung out in the games room, which held a manned bar, a billiard table, and a large screen television. 

Larouche rarely left his rooms on the upper floor of the villa. Obese by choice, the man topped 500-pounds and dressed in tropical housecoats that matched the office decor. He spent the day in his office on the sofa, using a laptop and cell phone to conduct his business, pausing to eat every two hours or so as food was brought to him by the house staff. He moved only to use the master bathroom, which adjoined the office, or retire to bed.   An unnaturally buxom blonde attended to him nightly, doing things no agent should ever have to witness. 

Agent 47 ingressed with the landscape crew, whom he'd learned came on Tuesdays from the local gossip in town. The uniform was easy to obtain; the villa walls harder to get over, but once he was inside, he blended in readily. The sunhat hid his face from the cameras scattered around the property, and he descended into the villa's staff restroom, carrying a small bag of potting soil, after a few hours toiling in the sun. There, he stripped off the outer uniform to reveal a red vest, white shirt, and black trousers. There was little he could do about the sweat dampness at his pits but keep his arms down. 

He'd prepared for the assignment by memorizing the architectural plans of the villa. From the potting soil bag, he unearthed the tools he'd brought with him, rinsed them off, and hid them on his person. He left the restroom and headed through an inner door toward the laundry room, where he played hide-and-seek with the laundress behind the folding tables and rolling laundry carts until he obtained a few extraordinarily large, tropical housecoats. Safely back in the empty hallway, he folded the housecoats and made his way upstairs, unheeded, to the master bedroom. 

Once in the bedroom, Agent 47 put the housecoats in the walk-in wardrobe and waited there until he heard Larouche enter the master bathroom. Agent 47 left the wardrobe, then the bedroom, and entered the office from the hall. He'd timed Larouche's restroom breaks and he had approximately five minutes to execute his plan, as long as the house staff stuck to their own schedules. 

Toeing off his shoes, Agent 47 climbed onto the sofa and lifted the painting off the wall. Using the tools he'd brought, he pried one of the picture hooks partially from the wall, then installed a pin lock on the back of the frame, tied a long wire to it, and rehung the picture on the still set hook by the pin. He slipped his shoes back on, and unwound the wire carefully as he took up position in the sofa-side corner of the room behind a large, leafy plant pot. 

He waited silently in the shadow of the plant, the wire blending against the jungle background.   Larouche stepped sideways through the bathroom door as he returned to the office. He wore turquoise blue with yellow and white orchids stretched across his fleshy body. His quadruple chins pulled at his pale face, making it appear as if his face was an ill-fitting mask. He settled his bulk back on the sofa and balanced the laptop on his obscenely rotund belly. 

"Where was I?" Larouche read over what was on the screen, two fingers poised over the keyboard. "Ah yes." He began typing. "'Wherever you are, Mr. Perez, I will find you. You will be looking you over your shoulder 24 hours a day. And when you relax your guard for an instant, I will gut you like a fish. Have I made myself clear?'" 

Agent 47 tugged on the wire attached to the pin supporting the frame. The pin pulled free, the other loosened support broke, and the painting crashed down onto Larouche's head. "He gets the picture," Agent 47 said dryly. 

The noise from the crashing picture would bring someone shortly, and Agent 47 swiftly wound the wire as he approached Larouche. The heavy frame had caved in a portion of Larouche's skull. Agent 47 couldn't find a pulse beneath all the flesh, and there was a possibility he'd survive the injury. The grim reaper would pay him a visit at the hospital if necessary. 

Pocketing the wire, Agent 47 slipped into the master bathroom as the outer door to the office was opening. He exited the bathroom into the master bedroom, loaded his arms with random detritus, and left the bedroom via the hallway door. The house staff who'd entered the office was running down the stairs ahead of Agent 47, calling for help. Agent 47 wasted no time in traversing the upper hallway to the opposite side of the villa, descending the servant's stairs, and emerging in the basement.   The items in his arms went into the trash, and in the staff restroom, he removed the landscape crew uniform from its hiding spot and pulled it on over the house staff clothing. 

Sunhat on his head, Agent 47 rejoined the landscapers outside, carrying the potting soil bag.   The guards were yelling and scrambling ineffectually as news of the 'accident' reached them. Agent 47 walked calmly toward the delivery entrance where the landscape service vehicles were parked, tossed the soil bag into the back of a truck, and strode unimpeded out the back gate.

 

 

End