In Death 12 - Betrayal in Death
A murder was taking place.
Outside the privacy-screened windows, and some forty-six floors below death, life -- noisy, oblivious, irritable -- rushed on.
New York was at its best on fine May evenings when flowers burst out of beautification troughs along the avenues and spilled from vendors' carts. The scent of them very nearly overpowered the stink of exhaust as street and air traffic clogged both road and skyways.
Pedestrians scurried, strolled, or hopped on people glides, depending on their frame of mind. But many did so in shirtsleeves or the neon-colored T-shirts that were the season's rage in this pretty slice of spring 2059.
Glide-carts sold fizzy drinks in those same violent hues, and the steam from grilling soy dogs rose merrily into the balmy evening air.
Taking advantage of the waning light, the young danced and leaped over the public sports' courts, working up a healthy sweat with balls and hoops and pegs. In Times Square, business in the video parlors was off as customers preferred the streets for their action. But the sex shops and venues held their own.
In spring, many a fancy still turned to porn.
Airbuses carted patrons to the Sky Mall, and ad blimps cruised with their endless stream of chatter, trying to herd yet more into the shopping arenas.
Buy and be happy. And tomorrow? Buy more.
Couples dined alfresco or lingered over pre-dinner drinks, talking of plans, the lovely weather, or the minutiae of their everyday lives.
Life bustled, bloomed, and burgeoned in the city as one was taken above it.
He didn't know her name. It hardly mattered what label her mother had given her when she'd come squalling into the world. It mattered less, to him, what name she took with her when he sent her squalling out of it.
The point was, she was there. In the right place at the right time.
She'd come in to do the nightly turndown in Suite 4602. He'd waited, quite patiently, and she hadn't kept him long.
She wore the smart black uniform and fancy white apron of The Palace Hotel's housekeeping staff. Her hair was neat, as was expected of any employee of the finest hotel in the city. It was shiny brown and clipped at the nape with a simple black bar.
She was young and pretty, and that pleased him. Though he would have followed through in the intended manner if she'd been ninety and hag-faced.
But the fact that she was young, attractive enough with her dusty cheeks and dark eyes, would make the task at hand somewhat more enjoyable.
She'd rung first, of course. Twice, with a slight pause between as required. That had given him time to slip into the generous bedroom closet.
She called out as she opened the door with her passcode. "Housekeeping," in that lilting, singsong voice people of her trade used to announce themselves to rooms most usually empty.
She moved through the bedroom into the bath first, carrying fresh towels to replace those the occupant, registered as James Priory, might have used since check-in.
She sang a little as she tidied the bath, some bouncy little tune to keep herself company. Whistle while you work, he thought from his station in the closet. He could get behind that.
He waited until she came back, had heaped the used towels on the floor for later. Waited until she'd walked to the bed and had finished folding down the royal blue spread.
Took pride in her work, he noted as she carefully formed a long triangle with the bed linens at the left corner.
Well, so did he.
He moved fast. She saw only a blur out of the corner of her eye before he was on her. She screamed, loud and long, but the rooms of The Palace were soundproofed.
He wanted her to scream. It would help get him in the mood for the job to be done.
She flailed out, her hand reaching down for the beeper in her apron pocket. He simply twisted her arm back, jerking it nastily until her scream became a whimper of agony.
"We can't have that, can we?" He plucked her beeper out, tossed it aside. "You're not going to like this," he told her. "But I am, and that's what counts, after all."
He hooked an arm around her throat, lifting her off the ground -- she was a little thing, barely a hundred pounds -- until the lack of oxygen had her going limp.
He had the pressure syringe of potent downers as a backup, but wouldn't need it with such a tiny woman.
When he released her, and she dropped to her knees, he rubbed his hands together, smiled brilliantly.
"Music on," he ordered, and the swelling sounds of the aria
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