Noir at the Bar

An excerpt from Chapter 4 ‘Questionable Practice’

“In this condensed scene, Robert is working with a ‘patient,’ an elite accountant named
David Mazak, who Samuel and Clark have left tied to his own office chair, in the middle of the
night. Samuel and Clark have since stepped out, and Robert has come to finish the job.”
“Mr. Mazak, there really isn’t any point in expending all of that energy. Please
understand that I am a doctor and that this doesn’t bring me any joy… but as my
patient, I’ll give you a choice.” Robert removed from his satchel a small package,
wrapped tightly in fine white linen, and another heavier package, wrapped in a thick
white towel. He placed both, lightly onto the desk.
“It’s important to me that you’re comfortable, Mr. Mazak. I know this is a difficult
Robert placed himself between Mazak and the packages and slid his trembling
hands behind his back, to hide them from the man he was about to murder. He couldn’t
allow himself to appear weak or unsure. While he would be alone in this act, he felt as,
the Professor would somehow see his hesitation.
He unwrapped the linen package revealing a single large syringe. Then opening
the thick white towel that contained a 32-caliber pistol.
“I am giving you a choice. Both, I assure you, will be painless. The pistol, of
course, will complete the execution instantaneously. The syringe will simply put you,
quite quickly, into a permanent sleep. The choice is yours.”
Mazak looked frantically at Robert’s ‘tools.’
“Mr. Mazak, I’m on a tight schedule. I’ll need your response: injection or gunshot.
I can assure you that should you choose the gun, I’ll preserve your face so that public
viewing is possible. My colleague, Doctor Moore, is quite a stickler about such things.”
Mazak descended into another struggling fit. Robert could not help but sigh and
wonder if future patients would be so uncooperative. Robert pulled out his pocket
watch. They were running behind schedule. He glanced back at Mazak to find him still
thrashing at his confines. The chair creaked ever so slightly, threatening to give in under
the pressure but Robert was confident the job would be done before that could happen.
Under the circumstances, Robert figured it was best he made the decision for his
patient. So of course, he settled on the less messy route.
“Injection it is then.” Robert picked up the syringe, inspected it, removed the cap,
and gave it a tap to assure there was no excess air in the needle.
When he turned his attention to his patient, Mazak plead and cried. Once again
Robert felt grateful to his companions for the way they had secured Mazak to his chair,
with the veiny flesh of his arm tilted upwards, more accessible to the needle. Robert
would be able to find a vein as swiftly and smoothly as possible. Robert rolled back
Mazak’s left sleeve. Mazak yelled and fought against his restraints.
Robert’s fingers were ice cold as they trailed along Mazak’s arm and found a ripe
pulsating vein in the crook of his elbow.
“Please… you don’t have to do this. I have a family.”
Mazak’s pleas fell on deaf ears as for a moment Robert thought, ‘They’d be better
off without you.’
“There we go,” Robert remarked to Mazak. “This shouldn’t take long at all.”
He placed the needle in the perfect position and pushed forward breaking the
skin. Robert was sure he’d found a vein and so he pushed down on the back of the
syringe and released the entire contents into Mazak’s bloodstream. He removed the
needle, placed the syringe back down on the linen, and stepped back to observe.
There was a moment where time seemed to slow around them. A flurry of
emotions flashed through Mazak’s eyes, first anger, then confusion, and more
predictably regret, and finally concluding with dread. There was no point in panicking
now. Fate was sealed.
Mazak’s frantic breaths began to slow. His body became sluggish as he slid
further down into the chair. The dread sitting in Mazak’s eyes faded into a calm sadness.
His gaze landed on the picture of his family on his desk, as his eyes glossed over, and the
last moments of life drained from his body.
Robert had never observed a man die before. In his pursuit to become a doctor,
he felt almost certain that he would witness death at least once in his life, but now that
he was faced with it so suddenly, he couldn’t but feel that the process was rather
He couldn’t take his eyes off Mazak. Just moments ago, he was thrashing
desperately to survive with every neuron in his head firing off at once but now his body
was frozen inanimation, reduced to nothing more than a husk of his former vibrancy. His
eyes were wide open and blind. They’d lost their spark now that there was no soul to
peer out. Mazak would never utter another word, nor would he offend another client. It
was so much more final than Robert had ever truly processed before. Exhilaration
danced on Robert’s skin.
Robert shook his head from his stupor, he had business to complete. He repacked
the syringe and wrapped up the unused pistol. Robert grabbed the letter from the desk
and placed it gingerly back into the envelope and then into his own vest pocket.
Robert looked at Mazak again. He was sure the man was dead but as any good
doctor would do, he removed his stethoscope from his bag and checked for a heartbeat.
There was none.
Mazak was history.
Five minutes later, right on schedule, Clark and Samuel returned to conclude the
assignment. They were not unfamiliar with dead bodies, having studied cadavers in one
of their courses. With calm and collected minds they quickly untied Mazak’s arms and
legs from the chair. His body slumped forward. Samuel caught him first and righted him
back in the chair, straightening his clothes.
Robert helped them work, trying to remove all evidence that they had ever been
there. They all remained silent. There would be time for conversation and celebration
Samuel closed Mazak’s eyes and gently posed him as if he had simply collapsed at
his desk, during a sudden heart attack. No one would suspect that his passing had been
preordained. There would be no reason not to.
Robert looked over the scene one last time and took a sigh of relief.
“I believe I need a drink.” Clark chuckled and squeezed Robert on the shoulder.
They began to exit, and Robert quietly shut the door and bid Mazak farewell.