Swan Dive! Ch. 32: One Last Hit?

Keeping secrets challenged most people.

Not Kim Phillips.

Even as a girl, Kim – who everyone knew then as Kate, Kate Leary – never gossiped, told tales out of school or spread rumors. She was no tattle tale. No snitch. As he father often said, “No rats allowed in this house.”

One morning about 4:00 when she was 10, Kate looked out the window to see the constellations because she couldn’t sleep and saw her father strangle bookie Tony Bilardi with his alligator belt in the front yard. Kate never said a word. When she was 12 Kate watched her mother invite the mailman in for a two-hour drink and kept her little yap shut. At 14 she fed rat poison to the neighbor’s cat and kept the caper to herself when the neighbor came out crying and calling, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”

Each time she maintained her silence Kate heard the voices tell her she was a good girl.

Kate heard the voices talking in her head.

“Be the hush,” her Irish gangster father James Patrick Leary told her from the time she was four as they sat talking at the kitchen table in their South Boston house. Just because she hated her father didn’t mean she didn’t listen to him. Just because he created a hostile childhood environment didn’t mean he didn’t offer sound advice. Just because he shot himself didn’t mean she loved him or ever thought of telling him how she really felt.

Years later living under the radar in Clearwater Beach with a false identity, other than a rapid-fire sales pitch for her real estate sales career, she still kept her mouth shut. But with the two “lasses” that formed her split personality now completely out of control and running amok, Kim Phillips knew she had to heal – permanently – or risk jeopardizing and maybe even outing her brother Kevin and his bogus identity as RayRay.

Truth would ruin everything. Kim loved her brother. Kim would sacrifice anything to protect him.

Agreeing to meet Russian mobster money man Borys Popov when he phoned with a dinner invitation went against her better judgment. She had expected his call. She knew he knew she saw through his thin veneer. She knew he knew she was seriously mentally ill. She knew he knew she meant trouble.

Her worse half, Shannon, or was it Tara, peaked Borys’ interest by flirting with the billionaire and eventually telling him his late brother Ivan’s plot to poison him, throw him out a window or tie cinderblocks to his legs and dump him overboard from his multimillion-dollar yacht he named “Cream of the Kremlin.”

Now, sitting alone on the couch in her waterfront condo, feeling weak, nervous and anxiety-ridden, smoking a joint and meditating on the beautiful expanse of Gulf water that rose to meet a thin line of amber horizon, Kim formulated a plan to do away with Borys Popov.

After all, she had some experience in these matters.

Kate Leary never told anybody what happened to her friend Deirdre when Deirdre disappeared when they were seniors in high school. She just told police she saw a man who looked like the singer Dean Martin driving a red Mustang follow Deirdre after cheerleading practice. Kate said she waved goodbye when the man stopped and Deirdre got in the car and kissed the man. Poor Deirdre, who talked about Kate behind her back calling her dirty names, one day just never came home from school. At the memorial service Kate made everybody cry with the heartfelt words she spoke about her “best friend” Deirdre.

After the service her brother Kevin winked at her. She knew he knew. Kevin knew everything.

If Deirdre could disappear so could Borys. Homicide as common as the thick black hair that covered her and her cousins’ heads seemed to run in the Leary family.

Kim Phillips knew Borys had figured out her psychosis and sensed the “Irish” woman he dated was a figment of Kim’s imagination. With years of high-level KGB psychological warfare training behind him he knew Kim’s fragile mind had careened off the charts. Unstable meant dangerous. It was only a matter of time before Borys put the pieces together and realized she was not who she said she was. Kim knew her instability also meant weakness. And weakness could get people killed, maybe even Kevin. Kim had served her purpose. She knew she had to go – one way or the other. That’s why Borys called and asked her to dinner – and a goodbye kiss.

Maybe Kim could get the jump on him. End it all for them both. Life might be easier dead.

RayRay could go on with his full good life minus her demons.

Pondering the future back at the Elbow Room, RayRay knew he needed to act before the mounting disorder in his family grew worse. Until now he gave Kim unlimited freedom, allowing her to live life as she pleased with no interference. Until now RayRay could live and let live because nobody created problems for her or for him. But the Russian botched everything, ruining RayRay’s personal paradise with plans for a beach real estate takeover and now a romantic relationship with RayRay’s secret sister. Forget about it if word ever got out that Kim Phillips was RayRay’s sister and RayRay wasn’t really RayRay but an Irish hit man who hit hit men.

Maybe he should just whack that whack job Russian. Justifying the hit would be easy. Borys Popov ruled as a Russian Mafia boss, a corrupt land developer who was helping kill the planet, a KGB asset and even a government hit man. Maybe the CIA would give RayRay a medal.

One last hit wouldn’t hurt for old time’s sake, would it?

Deep in thought, RayRay didn’t hear Sam Bennett stroll into the bar wearing his gull beak-shaped N95 respirator mask and slowly flapping his arms.

Dillon did, though.

 “Buy that man a drink,” the parrot squawked.

“Don’t mind if you do,” Sam Bennett said.

Spotting the grim look on his friend’s face, Sam Bennett said, “You look like somebody just died.”

RayRay met Sam Bennett’s gaze.

“Or is about to,” RayRay said.