His last assignment had literally gone up in flames. The time had come for him to get out of Texas and past time to get out of the business. With his skill set, he’d figured he’d be a natural as a detective. The idea of being a gumshoe in a moth-worn office strangely appealed to him. Could be too many black and white movies or the possibility of not having to move around and pretend to be someone he wasn’t influenced him. All the same, he should change his name, even though his most recent name didn’t belong to him any more than his red hair.
In the United States, he discovered redheaded men attracted little attention. People, mainly women, assume they weren’t attractive. Women would glance at him and immediately looked away. They didn’t want him to make the mistake of thinking they were interested. Their sudden swing of their head in the opposite direction amused him. A few may have suffered whiplash. Ironically, they were doing exactly what he wanted, wiping him from their memories.
His ability to blend into the background had made him an excellent spy. When that got old, he found himself doing little errands for a collective that didn’t identify itself as a government agency, but their denial made him suspect they were. On the last job he took, he discovered the organization decided he was expendable after he figured out what they worked so hard to hide.
The door shut behind him as he released his grip on it. The windows with the open blinds drew him first. A quick twist and pull closed them on the first window. Unfortunately, the second blind resisted his efforts to close it. A hard yank pulled them off the window into a clattering heap on the floor.
“Damn it.” He kicked the offending blinds across the room. “No big deal, no one is looking for me, especially the redheaded version.”
The vinyl desk chair groaned and exhaled a dusty breath as he sat. “Yeah, I know.” His booted feet landed on the desk as he laced his hands behind his head. Sad, his first act in his new life involved conversing with office furniture.
When he planted evidence in the factory explosion, he meant for everyone to assume he was dead. The only problem with being dead was it left him with no one to hang out with. That in itself wasn’t that difficult. His previous line of work provided him with only superficial friendships and the knowledge that anyone he called a friend or lover could turn on him if the price were right.
Starting over was something he excelled at, only this time it was all him. No one else was calling the shots. Espionage was a young man’s game. Three bullet wounds, shrapnel in his left knee, the long scar across his back where a Kevlar vest deflected most of the damage proved that. The truth was he couldn’t keep up anymore. Best to take himself out of the game before someone else did.
The only problem was would the right people believe he was dead. It wasn’t the first time he’d died. Of course, those other times, he’d dropped out of sight for a few months, and people assumed he expired. This time he faked his own death and did a good job, too, leaving evidence those looking would be able to ID. His pearl-handled sig he took off a double agent was outside of the explosion zone. Anyone who knew him knew he’d never give up his weapon.
For most people that would be enough, but there were some bad characters following him, shadowing him across continents and over oceans. Foreign nationals believed in payback and felt he had some coming, even though he was only doing his job. It was never personal.
That’s where the blood had come in handy. His lips tilted up. Brilliant. He knew what he was going to do a week before he did it. He siphoned off two pints of his own blood. Kept it refrigerated to keep it fresh. Those interested in DNA testing would find a match.
Two pints was a great deal to lose all at once. Loss of blood, along with the weapon, and an out of control explosion equaled probable death as long as he didn’t make any visible appearances, part of the reason he chose the northern California coast, especially this section. It was wedged between the surfer crowd on one side and the newly wealthy celebrities who gobbled up the land as fast as they could on the other. Neither one had much interest in anyone outside their social circle. Typically strangers attracted attention, but both groups tended to be transitory in nature, which made him background filler, not an oddity.