A cold rain slicked the poorly paved streets. Aging Russian hydrofoils banged against rotting piers. Crumbling French architecture struggled with leaks. Life in Vietnam’s third largest city was miserable. Inclement weather only made it worse. Andre Weber couldn’t wait to leave.
Looking at his host, he commented, “Counting machines are quicker.”
Lieu Van Trang smiled. “But they are far less attractive.”
Weber shook his head. Trang was known for his eccentricities. A coterie of young women, stripped naked so they couldn’t steal while tallying his money, was completely on brand. It was also a total waste of time.
Electronic currency counters could have done the job six times faster and would have eliminated any human error. They also didn’t steal. But Trang liked to play games. He liked to fuck with people’s heads. He knew his visitors wouldn’t be able to take their eyes off the girls.
As far as Weber was concerned, it was unprofessional. They were here to conduct business. There was a shit ton of money on the table and that’s where his team’s focus needed to be. The girls were distracting. Even he was having a hard time not looking at them. And if it was difficult for him, it had to have been almost impossible for his men.
This was not how he liked to do things. Weber preferred encrypted communications and washing money through shell corporations or cryptocurrencies. Trang, on the other hand, was old-school. So old-school, in fact, that he refused to conduct any business electronically. Everything was in cash and everything was face-to-face.
The two couldn’t have been further apart in their approach. Even in their appearances they were strikingly different. Weber, the Westerner, was tall and fit. With his short hair and his expensive, tailored suit, he looked like a young banker or a hedge fund manager. Trang, thirty years his senior, was impossibly thin with long gray hair, a wispy beard, and translucent, vellumlike skin that revealed a network of blue veins.
The only thing they shared in common was a lust for money and a talent for taking care of problems. While Weber didn’t want to be here, he had been paid a huge sum of money, a sum equal to what Trang’s girls were currently counting out, for this assignment.
When all was said and done, it would be the highest-value contract killing ever to hit the market. It had already been deposited in a secret account and would be payable on confirmation of the subject’s demise.
CONTINUE READING THE NEAR DARK EXCERPT.