Afraid of drawing unwanted attention, Rico Manetti slouched behind the steering wheel.
But his ratty car practically screamed, "Hey, I don't belong in this nice neighborhood," and discovery could happen any minute. Especially by the woman he had followed home from the pharmacy.
It didn't help that the car practically shuddered as stomach cramps made him squirm in agony. His nose dribbled non-stop and the infernal panting was about to make him pass out from lack of oxygen. It was nearly impossible to think with the roar of blood pounding in his ears. Rico was a mess.
The life of an addict.
He barely remembered arriving in "Small Town USA". The real name didn't matter as long as he was far from Detroit. It had been a good decision to distance himself from JJ and Rick who were probably still chasing their tails looking for him. And the dough he'd waltzed off with.
The idiots got what they deserved. They never listened to his ideas or recognized the fact that his steel-trap mind was the only thing that would save them from themselves. Yeah, those goons couldn't find their way out of paper bag without him. The potential for expansion of their drug trade was right in front of them but they too afraid to think out of the box. A slow smile spread across his face as he imagined their surprise at his defection.
Everything was lining up just fine except for the fact that he could feel the affects of the patch wearing off. It seemed he had just put a new one on. How many days had it been? He'd lost track but its usefulness was clearly exhausted. That was the problem with Fentanyl: When it started to go, it went quickly. Unfortunately, his stash was empty too.
He was in bad need of a fix.
Geez, he sounded like a druggie. The thought produced a shallow chuckle but was quickly dismissed. He might be a dealer, street thug, and "business man" but he was certainly not hooked. That was for the idiots he sold to. And Rico was far from stupid.
He couldn't even remember when he started to use but figured his customers shouldn't have all the fun. And it helped kill the pain. At least when he was high, he didn't have to think about his pathetic existence. Made things a lot easier to ignore.
No need to deal with crap as long as it could be shoved aside.
Rico pushed up and reached for the door handle as the woman finished hauling in her purchases, stopped at the mailbox labeled "Brannigan", and hurried inside, leaving the door ajar. He slipped ghostlike into the house, sure that he had been unobserved. With smug satisfaction, he gloated that his stealth mode talents had come through again and relief from agony was within his grasp. He crept up behind his victim as the adrenaline rushed in a high every bit as good as the object of his quest, anticipation building at a frenzied pace.
The woman jumped as he clapped a hand over her mouth while pressing a knife to her neck. She whimpered as lips brushed her ear and whispered, "Don't make a sound or I will slit your throat. Slide the patches over here, nice and easy. And if you're a very good girl, you won't get hurt."
She gasped for air, little puffs intertwined with his raspy breathing, joined in a fearful duet as she pulled the package near. In her haste, a coffee cup rattled to the floor, averting his attention for a split second.
That was all she needed.
The distraction allowed her to shift sideways, slip out of his grasp, and clutch the knife. In a poetic, fluid motion so beautifully coordinated it could have been set to music, the blade came to rest, firmly planted in his chest.
Rico let out a surprised grunt as he slumped over the counter in an attempt to stay upright. His eyes went wide as they fixed on the package like a lover longing for his soul mate. A shaky hand slid across the counter in a farewell caress but was stopped by the shimmering gold nametag that had been underneath the pharmacy bag, carelessly tossed on the counter the day before.
Sergeant April Brannigan
Bradley County Sheriff Department
With a defeated sigh, Rico breathed his last.
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