When Shades walked out of Schwabs that night with who he thought was Blondie, the first thing he did was to check back with headquarters and inform them that the assignment had been completed successfully. One more to his credit, he figured. But still, he couldn’t get that feeling that everything wasn’t quite as it should be. He gave a mental shrug and put it down to what he thought was Blondie’s discomfort after her first encounter with the forces of darkness. He knew she would come through after his personal attention to her training in the art of disposal, but knew that the first time was always a chilling experience, the traces of which never quite leave the psyche.

He glanced sideways at Blondie as the sleek black limo slid out of the no parking zone and caught a fleeting glimpse of her expression as the neon light flashed across her features and then they were in virtual darkness, with just the phosphorescent numerals off the control panels below the dashboard providing a faint glow within. Blondie got a cigarette out of the pack in her purse and shoved the lighter into the dash, then lit up, exhaling a huge cloud of smoke through the open window of the limo. She set her seat back into a reclining position and lay back. Shades concentrated on driving to their next assignment, which they had to make before the first streaks of dawn lit the early morning sky.

They headed north on Santa Monica and turned off towards Mullholland Drive, the peripheral lights reflecting off the windscreen as they sped past by the mostly empty bars and sidewalks still with the occasional hustler looking for trade. Shades noticed the flashing red lights of the LAPD car behind him and knew it must be for them, as there were no vehicles immediately in front and the cop wasn’t in chase mode. He pulled up and waited while the cop in the passenger seat made his way up and then he slid the window down. It was a routine check – the cop looked at his license and registration, checked out Blondie and waved them on.

Blondie leaned forward and turned on the radio – Bobby Darrin was doing Irresistible You. She put out the cigarette and, humming along with Bobby, leaned her head on Shades’ shoulder. He patted her knee, just knowing she needed a bit of reassurance and moral support after her first experience, which no amount of training and orientation could get one used to. He had instructed her well and she was just about the best recruit he had put through the paces. And this was no piece of cake – it took very special characters to get into their trade, which had no place for fear or hesitation.

Bobby Darrin had done with Irresistible You and had started on Mack the Knife. She was singing along: Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear…and he started to join in when she kissed him on the cheek. He looked at her and put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer. They didn’t have much further to go and he knew she would be all right when they finished the next one and then got back to headquarters to make their report. He thought she felt warm and cool at the same time, as she kissed him again – this time on his neck. He felt her tongue run down from his ear lobe to halfway down his neck and the gentle nibble that made him stiffen in anticipation. She was getting aroused it seemed – the nibble was advancing to a genuine bite. It felt great – like nothing he had ever sensed before – all warm and relaxing. He felt the car float under him and his head getting lighter. She leaned across him and turned off the ignition as he cruised to a stop almost at the top of Mullholland. She took his head in her hands and pressed her lips to his – then back to his neck.

It must not have been more than fifteen minutes later when Shades got his hat back on. He dragged the body out of the limo and rolled it down the hill into the scrub.

It was noon the next day when the West Hollywood Police found the body of a middle-aged man in his underwear somewhere off Mullholland Drive – a short red skirt and top, and a bra, laying by him. But the tell-tale perforations on his neck with the dried trails of blood that had trickled out of them, was what caused some amount of consternation at the coroner’s office.