How I tried - and failed - to hire a hitman
Any minute now an undercover policeman is sure to phone. You see, I’ve put word out I want to hire a hitman.
Have you ever noticed when a normally law-abiding citizen tries to solicit a murder, they always end up procuring a covert cop?
It got me wondering - how hard is it to put a contract on someone’s head without entangling the fuzz?
Naturally, the first thing I did was type “hitman” into Google.
Up popped a link. Nervously, I dialled the Queensland phone number listed at hitman.com.au.
“I need to get rid of a dirty rat,” I whispered. “Can you help?”
“Yes, of course,” an efficient voice promised. “What’s the address? I’ll send an exterminator today.”
Too easy. Except when talk turned to payment, I discovered she meant mice, silverfish, cockroaches or ants.
Never mind. A check of the Yellow Pages revealed a listing for “Male Assassin” in Port Melbourne. Sounded promising - but he turned out to be a hair stylist whose idea of a “dye job” was nowhere near brutal enough.
The woman who answered at the shop called “Kill City” could only offer true crime books. (She suspects at least some customers browsing the shelves are researching their own dark plots.) “Leon’s Home Kill Service” draws the line at sheep, it seems. And before I could ask, the operator at “Murder By Design” told me they conduct corporate training, not contract killing.
Ok, this was harder than it sounded.
I contemplated approaching random ne’er-do-wells at pubs, but ruled that out because every second article about a foiled kill plot mentions the client met the undercover cop at a bar.
Growing desperate, I cast the net out to friends and colleagues to see if they knew someone up to the task – without telling them it was purely for research.
The reaction was stunning.
One acquaintance - one of the gentlest men in my address book - said he knew of several people who would “fix problems” for money.
A journo mate put me on hold and, after a few papers rustled in the background, came back on the line to reel off a mobile phone number. “This guy’s a hitman I think, or at least he was,” she said, as casually as if she were recommending a hairdresser. “He may have retired. Or he could be in jail. Anyway, he’d probably know someone else.”
What sort of disposable society do we live in that it is almost easier to secure a hitman than a plumber to change a leaky washer?
And frankly, it was a bit alarming that no-one had yet asked who I wanted to kill, or why.
Clearly, hiring a killer is seen by some as a quick fix right up there with microwave meals and cleaning ladies. (Take the New York architect who, instead of filing for divorce, handed over a samurai sword with instructions to kill his ex-wife and chop off her left hand to reclaim the $27,000 diamond ring. Or the 16-year-old British boy who ordered a hit on his mum because she confiscated his PlayStation.) Though by now more alarmed than amused at how my little joke was progressing, I kept answering the phone.
First to my tax accountant, who recommended an underworld figure that lives in the next street, and then a young mum who suggested I phone a bikie gang clubhouse.
Meanwhile, a colleague who’d overheard my quest helpfully suggested I take matters into my own hands. “I’ve thought about that before,” he mused. “You could just push them off the platform at the station. It’s all so overcrowded these days…”.
I continued hunting and found a book called “Murder For Hire” by former Phoenix undercover cop Jack Ballentine, who had quite a knack of entrapping cash-wielding clients. (He secured 24 convictions for inciting murder.) His and other overseas experience shows the crime solution rate for hired kills is much higher than for other crimes because the plotters are usually bumbling females whose rap sheet runs to once failing to produce a valid train ticket, and an unpaid parking fine.
It seems “masterminds” are often dobbed in by potential hit men who’ve been approached but reject the assignment, or by family, friends or colleagues who twig and quietly approach the police.
Visions sprang to mind of that amazing footage on YouTube recently of an American newlywed accused of paying to bump off her hubby. The video - taken by police - captured her faux reaction when she returned from the gym to be told by officers in on the alleged plot that her husband was “dead”. (Sadly, there’s no follow-up video of the moment police informed her he was still alive - and that she was nicked.) Given the trail of phone calls and fingerprints I’ve left all over town, it can only be a matter of time before the cops put someone in my path.
Never fear: when he rings, I’ll tell him I want to kill the plan, not the target.
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