When he heard the light tapping at the door of his hotel room, he lay quietly, pretending to be asleep. Soon the door pushed open, light fell through the crack as a body moved in and slid the door closed almost silently.
David waited, his eyes closed, every muscle ready. As the figure approached his bed, he lunged forward, grabbed a wrist. Yanking hard, he threw the large body onto his bed, landing on top of it with his muscular forearm pressed tightly against a windpipe, cutting off the man's ability to talk and nearly to breathe.
"Visiting?" he hissed in his victim's ear, not letting up on the pressure even as he heard the little coughing sound. "Have a good time today, Rich? Lot of fun?"
There was a sound of choked laughter.
"If you can still laugh, I must not be pushing hard enough," David growled, increasing the pressure before he sat up, allowing his victim to slide to the floor, coughing and gulping in wheezing breaths.
"I take it," a rasping voice gasped when it could, "that you didn't appreciate your new job." More broken laughter followed.
David smiled coldly, waiting as Richard Vance managed to pull himself onto the bed to sit beside him. "What do you think, Rich? Did you think I'd enjoy posing in the buff for a bunch of over-sexed teen-agers? Huh? Is that what you really thought?"
Rich coughed again, rubbing his throat cautiously. "You could’ve killed me, Dave."
"I think the key word there is could have," David said through his teeth. "I swore today, when I found out what you'd set me up for--that I would kill you."
"It was the perfect dodge, the ideal way to get you in with a position to… attract interest," Vance said, a laugh still in his voice, "and besides that, it was the only opening."
"Why didn't you do it then?"
"I told you. I don't have the body for it," Vance said with a grin, patting his wide girth with appreciation. "Can you see them wanting to draw or make a clay sculpture of this middle-aged guy? The students would have been abandoning ship left and right." He stopped and chuckled again. "I'd have sure given a lot though to see your face when you found out you had to take off your clothes." After the abuse of his vocal cords, his laugh was a wheezing sort of sound.
David gritted his teeth. "I'm surprised you didn't sign up for the class."
"I might have tried--except I've already been around the school, asking questions as an investigator. They'd have never believed me. I'd have sure loved to see your face though. I'll bet that was a sight."
"I still might kill you," David grated with a tight smile.
"Come on, the experience was good for you. Loosen you up a little, Bannister. You could use it."
"Thanks, but I think I'll choose my own loosening up next time--if you don't mind."
"How about seeing your ex-wife again? That must have been good. She's a looker, your ex. I don't know why you left her."
"Correction-- I would not exactly say I left her, and it was a real thrill to see her," David said with a curl of his lip, “when she saw me as a man who is so broke he has to pose for money--as a man who has a hotel room instead of a home--a motorcycle instead of an automobile. Yeah, Rich, it was a real thrill all around."
"Well, it couldn't be helped. If you looked like you weren't broke, nobody'd believe somebody like you would've taken the job."
"I look broke all right. I am broke. In that wallet you gave me, besides my agency ID hidden in a secret flap, all it had was a Colorado driver’s license. Not even a buck. What am I supposed to live on?""Soup kitchen next door,” Vance chuckled.