“I need you to kill my husband.”
“If it’s a question of money, I’ve got it. Plenty of it.”
“Um, no, it’s not that.”
“What then? What is it?”
“That’s not what I’m here for.”
“I’m a plumber.” He held up his toolbox.
“I can see that. Wait. You mean, you’re not …”
“No, m’am. I’m not a killer. I just came to do the plumbing. Bathroom. Clogged sink.” He pulled a folded piece of paper from his shirt pocket and handed it to her.
“God damnit, Vinnie! When I asked for a plumber, I meant … Damnit!”
“So … you don’t need a plumber then?”
“Damnit.” She thought for a moment and snatched the square of yellow paper from him.
She crumpled it in her hand without looking at it and said, “Yes. I need a plumber. Damnit!”
Maddie took him down the hall to the bathroom adjoining the master bedroom. “Clogged sink,” she said with a wave of her hand. “Probably hair.”
Phillip looked around a bathroom larger than his entire apartment. “It usually is.”
Maddie snorted. “Don’t judge. I’ll be in my office down the hall giving Vinnie holy hell.”
Phillip placed his box down on the floor and knelt by it. “No problem,” he said. “This shouldn’t take long.”
Maddie was about to say something when the doorbell rang. She swore again and turned on her heals, leaving Phillip to work on the sink. The door rang once more before she could answer it. Through the peephole she could see a man with short, salt-and-pepper hair. He was carrying a toolbox. She unlocked the door and opened it a quarter of the way. “Yes?”
“Plumber,” he said.
“I can see that. What do you want?”
The man looked down the hall to his left and right before saying, “The name’s Carl. Vinnie sent me.”
“Just a sec.”
Maddie closed the door and latched it. Taking three deep breaths, she walked quickly back to the bathroom. Phillip had his head under the sink. “Excuse me.”
He pulled his head out and looked at her. “Yes, m’am?”
“Who sent you?”
“Uh, the agency. We got a call.”
“And you’re a plumber? A real plumber?”
Phillip sat up and bit his lower lip. “Actually, I’m a journeyman plumber. I’m working on my master plumber certification. But I can do your sink, no problem.”
Maddie nodded. “Keep at it. I have a guest.”
Phillip returned to the sink and Maddie returned to the door. She opened it and ushered the man in before latching the door shut.
“What’s the problem?” he asked.
“Nothing. There’s a real plumber in the back so keep your voice down.”
“A real plumber? In the back?”
“Yes. My husband must’ve called him to fix the sink.” She put her hands on her hips and looked back down the hall towards her bedroom. “Bastard!” She grabbed the man by the arm and led him to the kitchen. “I need you to kill someone.”
Carl nodded, placed his toolbox on the kitchen island. “Mind if I have some coffee?”
“I could use some coffee.”
Maddie silently placed a Keurig pod into the machine, hit a button, waited for the plain white mug below the spout to fill, and handed him his coffee. “Cream? Sugar?”
“Nah, this is good.” He took a sip. “I got to get me one of those machines.” He took another sip. “Now. Who do you want killed?”
“What does that mean?”
“It was either that or your husband’s mistress. Or both. Which is extra, of course. Just as hard to kill two as it is to kill one. My money was on the mistress.” He took another sip and looked around the kitchen. “Should’ve guessed the husband when Vinnie gave me this address. What’s he do, your husband?”
“He’s Larkin Donahue.”
Carl raised his eyebrows and nodded. “The mob lawyer.”
“Doesn’t your husband work for Vinnie?”