The bellboy glided up to the unmarked black sedan and grabbed onto the back door’s handle. Pulling the door open, a cane exited the vehicle. A foot followed soon after. The man eased his way out of the car and reached into his pocket. He slipped the bellboy a bill with a smirk.
“Tell Harold that I’m here.” The man with the cane said with a demeanor that oozed confidence. The bellboy looked up at the man, clearly puzzled.
“Who…Who are…?” The boy started.
“Benjamin Blackburn, of course” The man replied without looking to the boy. He walked away from the car and into the main lobby of the hotel. Inside the automatic doors, he paused for a moment and admired the lobby. The crystal chandeliers twinkled light onto the marble that lined the walls and floors of the lobby.
“I’ve forgotten just how exquisite this place is” he said to himself as though he were talking to a long lost friend.
A concierge walked up to him.
“Mr. Blackburn?” She asked while raising an eyebrow towards Benjamin.
Benjamin smiled his smile that always seemed to be filled with slightly more cockiness than should be permitted by anybody.
“That would be me, dear.” Blackburn stated as he removed the hat from his head and slightly bowing. He continued to speak after placing the hat atop his head.
“Tell me, where is the nearest ballroom that’s empty?” He inquired while squinting at her.
She paused for a moment, glancing away as she thought. Benjamin’s gaze never faltered.
“It would be the main ballroom. The smaller ones are booked for the night.” She replied.
“Excellent. I’ll take it.” He dryly stated.
“Well, you’re going to have to pay…” the concierge started to inform Blackburn.
“That won’t be a problem. I’ll need it for the night.” Blackburn replied. His gaze moved past her as he marched down the hall towards the main ballroom.
As he made his way down the hall, a large man came through the main doors of the hotel and hustled to the side of Blackburn. Blackburn never shifted his eyes from the door to the ballroom but acknowledged the presence of his bodyguard with a slight nod.
“Text Malcolm. Tell him I’ll be in the main ballroom. And, of course, tell him to come alone.” Blackburn ordered his right hand man.
He marched up to the ballroom and clutched onto the handles of the heavy wooden doors. Pulling them open, he walked through as they gently closed behind him.
Inside the ballroom, the banquet tables hugged the walls, huddled from the main floor of the ballroom. The chairs were stacked at the far end of the room. Blackburn’s tattooed fingers flicked a switch on the wall beside the door. A single light snapped on in the room.
Blackburn made his way across the room and grabbed one of the chairs. He dragged it to the middle of the room, placing it under the light that was turned on. He brushed the fabric off with his hand before making sure the chair was pointed towards the doors that he passed through earlier.
He pulled the fabric of his jeans just above his knee as he sat down. His right knee ached as he lowered his body into the chair. Blackburn removed the hat from his head and placed it on his left knee. He slightly leaned forward in the chair and delicately balanced his ivory-handled cane in both hands. He glanced down at his watch. It was three till eight.
He let out a long sigh and thought about how long he waited for this moment. It took a lot to make it onto the FBI’s most wanted list. Most men did it for some kind of political cause or to support a radical religion. Terrorists were boring to Blackburn. Easily manipulated. The religious fanatics were simply too unreliable to deal with. Benjamin Blackburn started for something far different. His life of crime was born from love for a woman. The only woman that he would gladly give his life to spend one more night laying next to her in a cool bed with her warm body pressed against his. A woman that he would kill hundreds of men to simply share another glass of Romanée-Conti with. A woman that was taken from him twenty three years ago.
The doors to the ballroom opened up. Blackburn glanced down at his watch. It was now eight o’clock on the dot.
“Malcolm Sanders. I have waited so long to finally meet you in the flesh. You did come alone, correct?” Blackburn started.
The man at the far end of the hall never spoke a word. He simply stared at Blackburn. Blackburn pursed his lips at the silence. He shook his head ever so slightly.
“Come now. I don’t want this to be a one sided conversation.” Blackburn continued. A side door to the banquet hall opened up.
“Ah. I was wondering how long it would take for Harold to send this.” Blackburn stated as he watched a waiter come through the side door with a serving cart. The young man wheeled the cart across the ballroom floor to Blackburn’s chair. Blackburn hoisted himself up and fetched another bill from his pocket. He slid it into the waiter’s hand and patted him on the shoulder. As the waiter walked back out of the ballroom, Blackburn gestured to Malcolm to come over.
“Join me. I wanted to share a drink with you before we tend to business.” Blackburn stated “Don’t worry. It’s not poisoned.”
Blackburn sank the corkscrew into the top of the bottle.
“No. I’ll kill you after we share this drink.” Blackburn smirked. He gestured the bottle towards Malcolm.
“Tell me. Do you know what this is?” Blackburn waited for a response. He was greeted with silence. Blackburn licked his lips before speaking again.
“It’s the same wine I shared with my wife before you took her from me.”