Chris Holm Interviews Michael Hendricks
Michael Hendricks, protagonist of THE KILLING KIND, works hard to be unfindable—and can you blame him? The guy kills hitmen for a living. Every major criminal outfit in the country wants him dead. It’s enough to make anybody a little jumpy. Hell, his clients don’t even know how to contact him—he calls them. Still, I did promise Jon some web content, so I guess I’ll give him a call.
Michael Hendricks: Who is this? How did you get this number?
Chris Holm: That’s… complicated.
MH: Yeah? Uncomplicate it. Quickly.
CH: Uh… I’m a writer, and I was wondering if I could ask you some questions.
MH: You’re kidding me.
CH: No. Look, I know you’re not the chattiest guy, but—
MH: And how, precisely, do you know that? Have you been keeping tabs on me?
CH: No! Well, kinda. It’s hard to explain.
MH: If you’ve been keeping tabs on me, then you know what I do for a living. I kill people who are difficult to kill—and I’m very, very good at it. So I’d tread carefully if I were you.
CH: Listen, Michael, I can’t help but feel like we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. Can we start over?
MH: [long pause] Sure. Let’s start over. You go first, and tell me three things. One: how you got a number to a burner phone I activated this morning and never used. Two: how you know my name when only a handful of people on the planet do. And three: why I shouldn’t hunt you down and kill you for things one and two.
CH: [sighs] Okay, here goes—but you’re not going to like it. First, I didn’t get your number, I made it up. Plucked it out of thin air and dialed.
MH: You expect me to believe that.
CH: It’s the truth!
MH: Then how’d you know my name?
CH: Easy. I gave it to you.
MH: Now I know you’re lying. I’m an orphan.
CH: I know that, too. Just like I know you grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you fell in love with a girl named Evie. I know you two ran off together after high school, to her family’s cabin in New Hampshire. I know you enlisted in the Army at eighteen, and wound up running black ops in Afghanistan—stuff so secret, the government has disavowed all knowledge. I know your unit was torn to pieces by an IED, and you were thought to be among the dead—by Evie and the military both. And I know you have a semicircular shrapnel scar on your left side from the blast.
MH: No, I don’t.
CH: Yes, you do, because I said you do. Go ahead and look.
MH: Jesus. That’s freaky. How the hell did you just do that?
CH: Like I said, it’s complicated.
MH: What kind of writer did you say you were again?
CH: Crime, mostly. Thrillers, I guess you’d say.
MH: And you… uh…
CH: Created you? Yeah.
MH: So you’re to blame for all the shit that I’ve been through? The lousy foster parents? The unmitigated hell of war? Watching from afar while the woman I love starts a family with another man?
CH: I suppose I am. But to my credit, it’s mostly my audience’s fault. Conflict sells. Happy people are boring to read about.
MH: So—what, then? You’re gonna just keep sending me through the wringer for other people’s enjoyment?
CH: Well, that and money. But you kill people for a living, so it’s not like you’re in any position to judge.
MH: True enough.
CH: If it’s any consolation, I’m rooting for you to come out the other side okay.
MH: Will I? Do… [clears throat] do me and Evie have a chance at some kind of future together?
CH: I’m not sure yet.
MH: You’re damn lucky I’m imaginary. If I were you, I wouldn’t call again. [hangs up]
Chris Holm is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. His Collector trilogy, which blends fantasy with old-fashioned crime pulp, wound up on over forty Year’s Best lists. David Baldacci called his latest, the hitman thriller THE KILLING KIND, “a story of rare, compelling brilliance.”