Actions

Work Header

The Lives of Vincent

Work Text:

The Lives of Vincent, the fabulous stories of the immortal character originally created for the motion picture Collateral.

(GUNSHOT!)

That was the shot that killed Vincent. He died on the Metro in LA, as those of you know who saw the movie Collateral. Yes, that was the end of Vincent. But it was not the beginning. Vincent had many lives, and I can recall all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Vincent.

~~~

Someone once told me a crying Frenchman was bad luck. I had never heard that particular aphorism before, but seeing as he saw one shortly before seeing me I suspected there might had been some truth to it. As it was, I would eventually learn the veracity, or lack there of, of it.

I was staying at the Carlyle in New York City, over a year before that unpleasant business with the towers, having been employed to deal with a man who had been running late on payments on a very substantial gambling debt. I had dealt with the matter that morning, but bad weather had resulted in my flight back being delayed till the next day, and I was trying to find a way to kill the time. The safest action was to stay in my room, but the options on television were so bad I decided it worth the risk to head to the hotel bar.

It was there that I saw the crying Frenchman. I suppose it was the memory of that saying, and a desire to avert boredom, that I decided to ask him what the trouble was.

“Oh monsieur, it is terrible! My beloved, she has left me!”

And so he told me his sad story. His name was Pierre Dupré, and he was an executive in a French shipping company. He had spent his whole life unlucky in love until a month ago, when he met a young woman by the name of Amy Zhang. It was a whirlwind romance; coach rides through the park, Broadway shows, dinner at 21.

“Oh, I had never been so happy in my life. Then, not even a week ago, she told me she did not want to be dependent on my money. She wanted to start a business, but first she needed a loan to start up. Just 2 million dollars.”

“2 million?! You said no, of course?”

“Ah, I see sir you have never been in love. I did it without a second thought. Oh, but afterwards she vanished without a word.”

“2 million...Well that’s a hard break, old man. Have you contacted the police?”

“What’s the point? The money does not matter, she could have taken 200 million for all I care. Without her, life is meaningless. My future is a void as black as how I like my coffee.”

“Now, now, don’t despair yet, my friend, all may not be lost.”

“What do you mean?”

“Women are like deer, they startle easily. Knowing a man loved you enough to give you 2 million dollars, why, she might have simply gotten nervous by the intense emotions you roused in her.”

“Oui...oui, that must be it!”

“Certainly. She simply needs someone to talk to her, get her to see reason.”

“Qui, but who?”

“Well, the rest of my day is empty.”

“You? But we have just met, why would you-“

“Oh it’s no problem at all, it would be my honor as an incurable romantic.”

Now I admit I was bored, but not so much to do a good deed. That 2 million he mentioned was very appetizing, and I wondered if there might be some way this situation could be resolved in a way that left in my hands. My job kept me well-off but it never hurts to have something stored away for winter. Pierre was so gaga over her I doubt he’d even care so long as he got her back.

Based on the information he gave me I was confident I could locate her within an hour. I turned out to have overestimated my abilities; it took me an hour and a half. She was staying at the Royale, which seemed to have been named on the same basis as that of the Holy Roman Empire. Peeling wallpaper, frugal johns, and the occasional roach were its main amenities from what I could tell.

I found the room I had been informed Amy was staying, and knocked on the door.

“Hello? I have a special delivery for an Amy Zhang.”

The door cracked open, and I saw a quite fetching woman; I could tell why Pierre was so taken with her.

Before she could react, I quite literally got my foot in the door, holding it as I forced myself in. Understandably, she was taken aback at this.

“Who are you? Leave, or I shall call the police!”

“Oh no, I don’t think you will. You see if you do they will want to know what I’m doing here, and I’ll have to tell them about the 2 million dollars you took. In any case, you needn’t worry, my dear, I admit to having entered under false pretenses, but I haven’t come to do any harm, merely talk.”

As I mentioned the money, she looked at a briefcase in the corner, and I made a mental note to maneuver myself close to it.

“Please you must get out before he gets back!”

“Who?”

“Silvio Manfredi!”

There was the sting of the tale. Silvio Manfredi was the nephew of Carlo Giussani, a prominent local crime boss. He was the black sheep of the family, not considered good for anything but disposing of unwanted drugs.

“How, pray tell, did you get mixed up with him?”

“First, tell me who you are.”

“Fair enough. My name is Vincent, and I’m a friend of Pierre Dupré.”

“Oh, Pierre. Thinking about how I hurt him, it pains me so.”

“Now tell me, how did you get into this mess?”

“My brother owed money, far more than we could repay. Silvio said he would forgive the debt, if I agreed to do a job for him.”

“I see, to seduce Pierre.”

“Yes. I thought it would be easy, but I found him so charming, so kind. I tried to resist, but I fell for him.”

So she actually did love him. I guess that’s one for the romantics.

Suddenly, her face went white.

“Do you hear that?”

You could hear the faint sound of gangster rap. Not being a connessiur of it, I couldn’t tell you whether it was good or not but I guessed it wasn’t any lack of quality that was making Amy panic. You see, Silvio was known as a devotee of the genre, even having made a go at it himself. He actually got Carlo to finance an album; from what I’ve heard it ranks with the Bay of Pigs so far as Mafia fiascos go. That music meant he was here.

There was no place or time to hide, so I figured it best to remain in plain sight as the door handle turned.

“Good evening, gentlemen! Please pardon my intrusion, I-“

“Get on the fucking ground right now!”

I typically don’t react well to requests put that rudely, but on this occasion I deemed it wise to comply.

“Search him!”

As I waited for them to go through my many pockets, I could hear Silvio lambasting Miss Zhang, demanding to know who I was.

With nothing better to do, I took the opportunity to size up who I was up against. Silvio was dressed modestly, a white tank top and basketball shorts; he would appear to any passerby as someone who grew up in limited means, though the trained eye would note (especially from my vantage point) his shoes were Louis Vuitton Flairs, suggested retail $850.

The two large men attending him were dressed more chic. One was a small, thin man wearing a white leisure suit. I recognized the other, a 6’5 heavily muscled man in a black business suit. He was Cassius Hampton; we had actually worked together a few years back, on a job that went south. I managed to weather it but it seemed Cassius had not been as fortunate, given that he was now babysitting Silvio.

“All right get up.”

Cassius hadn’t lost any efficiency; I’ve had colonoscopies less invasive. I had been deprived of every one of my beloved tools of trade.

Silvio was going through my wallet.

“Now, I see various forms of ID, all for different names. So I guess I have to ask you directly, who are you?”

Cassius answered before I could.

“His name’s Vincent, and he’s a mob assassin. There’s only one reason he’d be here: to kill you. Best to take care of him now.”

“Now now, let’s not do anything hasty, gentlemen. It’s true, I do paint houses, as they say, but I’m here on my own accord. I simply want in on this venture.”

“In?”

“You know a piece of the action, for my silence. I know it’ll be a tad less than you planned but $2 million still goes a long way-“

At that, Silvio broke into laughter.

“$2 million? That’s what you think I’m after? I could just ask Uncle Carlo for that. Nah, man. I’m frying bigger fish.”

“I see. So why exactly did you have her take such a large amount from him?”

“So we can give it back to him.”

“Well my friend I admit you have me intrigued. Would you care to elaborate?”

Silvio smiled and slowly leaned in to me. He hadn’t had many opportunities is his life to brag about a scheme of his, and he was going to make the most of it.

“You see, we’re in the drug business. What’s one of our biggest expenses? Shipping. Uncle Carlo’s always going on about how much it’s costing him. So I thought, maybe I could get a better deal for him.”

“And how’s that?”

“Tomorrow, Cassius is going to give Pierre a call. He’ll say he’s a friend of Amy’s, that she felt guilty about what happened, that she wants to make it right. She can’t bear to see the man she cheated, so he’s going to go meet him and give it back to him.

“What he doesn’t know is Tony here will be recording it. So if he doesn’t let us use his ships to transport our drugs for pennies on the dollar, that tape goes to his bosses, the police, everyone who’d be interested in him accepting money from a known mob associate. He can deny it all he wants, but I’m guessing his bosses won’t like the publicity.”

“I see, so because he’s already in the hole it’d be simpler for him to just go along with it.”

“Exactly man, it’s the fucking Dunning-Kruger Effect.”

I had to admit, I was impressed. My impression of Silvio was he was unable to plan a sandwich, much less a venture like this. I guess the need for Uncle Carlo’s approval made him work what brain cells he had.

“Well, you seem to have everything in hand. If you’ll just give me back my weapons, I’ll be on my way-“

“Afraid not, bro. I don’t know what the fuck you’re doing here, but I’ll feel a lot more comfortable with you at the bottom of the Hudson.”

“Now let’s think about this first, Silvio. I’ve done work for Carlo before, he may not like it if I’m not around the next time he has need of my services.”

Silvio gave that little weasel laugh I was rapidly becoming tired of.

“You think you’re special? We got contract killers coming out of our ears. Nah man, you gotta go. Give me something to brag about to the guys at Bennigan’s tonight.”

Tony walked over and picked up one of my confiscated weapons (thankfully after putting on a glove, as his hands seemed quite clammy.)

“We’ll do it using one of his own weapons so they can’t trace it back to us.”

As he approached me, he looked down and admired it, apparently liking how it felt.

“On the other hand, might be worth it to keep these.”

Tony put the gun to the my head. Like someone taunting the monkeys at the zoo by jingling keys, he left his arm out a bit too long. I grabbed it and twisted it till I heard a satisfying snap.

Cassius immediately opened fire; I was beginning to suspect he did not care for me. Fortunately, Tony proved to be quite helpful. I was worried the bullets would exit his body and go through mine, but the buck stopped with him. Obviously this man’s calling had been to be a human shield, he was one of the best I’ve ever seen do it.

Alas, his usefulness soon ended as Cassius rushed up to me. I grabbed my gun but not fast enough as he grabbed my wrist and squeezed like the awkward girl giving her first hand job. He had been a boxer; I had always thought it was a shame he wasn’t able to make it as one professionally, never more so than that moment. I managed to hold on to the gun but aiming or even firing it was out of the question.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Friends, I take pride in my work, as much as any artist or craftsman. So it’s with shame that I must inform you I was forced to resort to biting his arm.

Nevertheless, it proved effective, and he let go. As he reeled back, I decided to add to the momentum and charged at him, sending him bellowing to the window. I was worried the glass would hold but fortunately they were the same high standard as everything else in the Royale and he hurdled to the ground below.

“Hold it right there, man, you don’t move a muscle!”

Assuming he didn’t mean that literally, I turned my head to see Silvio holding Miss Zhang, his gun right at her head.

“I’ll blast this bitch’s brains out!”

Before I could respond, Miss Zhang delivered a swift kick to Silvio’s nether regions, allowing her to break away from his grasp. A risky but prudent decision, as I was about to shoot through her.

Now, ideally, I would have used an AWC Amphibian II to take care of Silvio. It’s a nice, quiet kill, attracting no attention. However, as my old pal Rummy said, you fight with the army you have, so I used an AR-15, alerting everyone in a five yard radius and splattering his brains across the wall. Well, at least the crime photos would prove to the naysayers once and for all he had them.

I could hear police sirens; it was time to make an exit. Before I could, Miss Zhang caught me in a tight hug.

“Thank you, Mr. Vincent. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

“Yes, well, fortunately, I do.”

“What?”

“I am not Superman, I do not work pro bono. What’s say you give me that briefcase and we’ll call it even.”

When I walked out of the Royale a crowd had formed; I made sure to ask an onlooker what had happened, looked concerned as they explained it to me and tut tutted the way things were going these days. With that, I took off, a richer man than when I had arrived.

Or so I thought.

“Vincent. Haven’t seen you in a while.”

It was Detective Jack Levy of the NYPD. We had met on several of my previous sojourns to the city, and by the look on his mirthless face I gathered he was as happy to see me as I him.

“Why Jack, it’s been so long. How’s the wife?”

“Swell; she’s taking pottery classes. You know, it seems every time you visit our fair city you happen to be at some violent crime scene. I suppose this is just another case of you being in the wrong place at the wrong time?”

“Just terminally unlucky, I suppose.”

“I guess you should have listened to your grandma about breaking all those mirrors as a kid.”

“I suppose so. Well, I would love to stay and catch up, but it looks like you have work to do, so I’ll be off-“

“I’ll need you to turn over the money, Vincent. Evidence, you know.”

“What? Oh yes, sorry officer I had almost forgotten.”

“I’m sure. I understand your flight leaves in the morning. Be sure to be on it.”

~~~

And so I was, sipping a lukewarm glass of Merlot and occasionally glancing at the in-flight showing of The Big Kahuna.

Not only did I have to turn over the $2 million, I had killed Silvio Manfredi for free, depriving me of the fee I would had collected when I inevitably would have been hired to deal with him. I didn’t imagine Carlo was going to be too broken up about his nephew’s demise, but he would probably summon enough crocodile tears to get me to do a few jobs pro bono to make everything square. All in all, it was a most unprofitable trip.

Well, for me at least. About a year later, I was reading Le Figaro and saw that Pierre and Amy Dupré had just given birth to a healthy baby boy named Vincent. I suppose that should make me feel it was all worth it. Well, having some brat named after you and 75 cents will get you a Snickers bar.

Until next time, friends. Oh, and just a friendly word of advice before you go: the next time you see a crying Frenchman, just buy him a drink.