"Killers, A Story of Love in Four Acts," by Brendan DuBois, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery magazine, November/December 2020.
This is the ninth appearance in this space by DuBois, tying him with Michael Bracken. Other than high quality, it doesn't have much in common with his other stories here, which tended to be long tales of good guys overcoming bad guys. "Killers," on the other hand, is a short and quirky tale about somewhat eccentric baddies.
Palmer and York are ex-cops, turned to a more profitable career as hitmen. They are sitting in a car one night, waiting for a couple who they have been assigned to attend to. Alas, the targets are late and the old friends run out of things to talk about. And so, to keep awake, Palmer says: "Tell me the most romantic thing you've ever done."
Well. That's a surprising turn. What follows are a couple of revealing anecdotes from the killers' past. And in the last scene we see how they are affected by these memories.
I thought I knew where this charming story was headed. DuBois fooled me completely.