This arti­cle is part 7 of 7 in the series The Cincinnati Favor

“The san­gria is in that small refrig­er­a­tor behind you.  Would you mind reach­ing back and get­ting it for us?” I asked.

“Surely,” he respond­ed and twist­ed in his chair to reach the door of the refrigerator.

As he did so, I reached under the news­pa­per lying on the floor near our table, retrieved the small insulin syringe that I had pur­chased ear­li­er and, lift­ing myself from my chair, jabbed the nee­dle of the syringe imme­di­ate­ly behind Wenger’s ear, quick­ly inject­ing the mod­est con­tents at the base of his skull.

He react­ed imme­di­ate­ly, reach­ing to the injec­tion spot with his left hand and let­ting out with a volatile “Ow!”

“What have you done?” he screeched, hold­ing the spot with his hand.

“Completed my com­mis­sion,” I replied.

“I don’t under­stand,” he stam­mered as he strug­gled to keep him­self upright in the chair. His hand still clutched at the spot where the nee­dle had entered.

“Let me explain,” I began. 

“I had already been informed about you, Mr. Wenger, or what­ev­er your real name is.  I know that you are a black­mail­er and have been black­mail­ing an acquain­tance of mine for sev­er­al years.  He has recent­ly balked at pay­ing you any­thing fur­ther and you did­n’t like it, so you set up this elab­o­rate tale about his being a drug king­pin and hir­ing me to get rid of him so that you could ter­ror­ize his fam­i­ly into con­tin­u­ing to make pay­offs.  This is a good man and he has raised a good fam­i­ly and is well-respect­ed in his com­mu­ni­ty.  The sins he com­mit­ted in Vietnam many years ago have been long paid off by the many good things he has done since, and it was a time of war when a lot of good men did things they lat­er regret­ted.  He’s been pun­ished enough and your greed is end­less, so I’ve decid­ed to end it anoth­er way.

“The injec­tion you’ve just got­ten is a very small dose of box jel­ly­fish ven­om.  I’m sure you’re feel­ing the effects of it already.  The burn­ing, the dizzi­ness, the numb­ness in your limbs.  This stuff works real­ly fast.  It has to because jel­ly­fish don’t have a good way to pur­sue prey; they have to par­a­lyze it quick­ly.  Soon, the paral­y­sis you’re expe­ri­enc­ing now will expand to all parts of your body and your heart, being a mus­cle, will react and stop and I will call the front desk and advise them that my guest has just had a heart attack.  They will call 911 and the para­medics will arrive just in time to pro­nounce you dead and beyond med­ical help and my friend and his fam­i­ly will be able to live out the rest of their lives with­out you leech­ing off them.  And so, I bid you farewell, Mr. Wenger.”

I sat calm­ly and watched as Wenger became comatose and slumped in his chair.  Shortly, I rose, moved to his side, and felt the side of his neck to try to detect a pulse.  There being none, I picked up the phone and rang the front desk.

After a few brief ques­tions, the para­medics left with the cov­ered gur­ney and Mr. Wenger’s body.

I packed the few things I had brought with me to Cincinnati and care­ful­ly wrapped the emp­ty syringe, to be dis­posed of at some loca­tion remote from the hotel.  The lady at the front desk was quite under­stand­ing as to why I would not want to stay the extra night I had booked and I walked to my car which had been brought to curb­side by the hotel valet service.

Curious, I decid­ed to find the address that had been list­ed on the let­ter I had received from Wenger.  Pulling away from the curb, I head­ed north on Vine Street and turned right onto one-way Seventh Street, head­ing east to Walnut Street where I turned right again.  Then anoth­er right onto one-way Sixth Street head­ed west.  Three blocks lat­er, anoth­er right turn onto Elm and with­in a block-and-a-half I found 717 Elm Street.

‘How iron­ic,’ I thought. Covenant First Presbyterian Church!

As I entered onto I‑75 head­ing south, I dialed up the clas­si­cal music sta­tion and set­tled in for the dri­ve back to Winchester.

A light driz­zle began to sprin­kle on the wind­shield and I turned the wiper on its inter­mit­tent set­ting, switched on the dri­ving lights, and set the speed con­trol for six­ty-five.  A wet road and a desire not to draw any atten­tion from a stray traf­fic con­trol offi­cer sug­gest­ed con­ser­vatism of speed today.

By the time I pulled into my dri­ve­way I had left the rain behind and the sun shone bright­ly around scud­ding cumu­lus clouds.

Pulling the overnight bag from the trunk, I was inter­rupt­ed by the crunch of grav­el and turned to see John Nash’s old pick­up pulling up behind me.

“Hey, Michael!” was his exu­ber­ant greet­ing as he emerged from the vehicle.

“Hi, John,” I replied, smil­ing.  “Just pulled in from Cincinnati.”

“Yeah, I was right behind you from the south of town.  How’d it go?”

“Oh, it was fine.  Pretty rou­tine.  Cincinnati’s a nice place to vis­it.  Lots of great places to eat.  Friendly peo­ple.  Good hotel.”

“Well, good to have you back.  What do I owe you?”

“Not a thing, John.  This one’s on the house.”

“Thanks, Michael.  I real­ly appre­ci­ate it.”

“That’s what neigh­bors are for, John.”

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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