They’re all bastards! Lousy bastards! Feeding on the weak and undermining the whole. I’d stand to call them on it but don’t feel like putting a target on my forehead.
I wander the streets, leaving the desperate alleys till daytime, keeping to the illumination of the streetlamps, the conical sphere of light, like a halo that protects. I’m not fooled into any false security.
Today, I watched them kill her. I was frozen. Couldn’t move. Her eyes locked on mine, begging, pleading, without words, hoping for the last chance, the last out. Paralysed, I could only return her gaze, fish-like.
Guns fired and I returned the shots, standing, delivering, like all those Saturday afternoon movie heroes did. Bullets sound different whizzing inches from your head.
I ran. I got out of there knowing. Knowing there was nothing I could do to change her fate. Nothing but catch a bullet.
Out of breath I found my home. Checked the street for anyone following me. Heart racing, pulse pulsing, I remained in a shadow. Ready. Ready to kill, ready to kill.
Just beyond the light I heard the shuffle of feet. My finger tensed on the trigger. Trying to focus on the shadows I squinted and listened with my whole being.
“Jack”, my name was whispered across the night. “It’s me, Hank.”
I let the words fall.
Decoy? Friend? My mind split. “Trust nobody.”, my mind said. And I listened.
I saw him turn and signal to another further in the shadows. I let the shadow hug me, smelling danger. I could hear two voices, Hank’s and one other. I didn’t recognize the second but their intent was clear. I had to be gotten rid of.
Her vision was haunting me. Bringing me back to her, to her final existence. Holding me by the neck with a Herculean death grip. I shook my head, gentley, trying to rid my mind of her sight. Trying to focus on the dangers at hand.
Their plan was made. Hank would watch the front of the house, the second would guard the rear. How to silently kill them? How to kill them and buy myself the time to escape? And to where? First things first. How to silently kill.
Slipping to the back of the neighbouring house I could see the outline of my victim. My ticket to freedom. Watching him intently, I stumbled over a clothes line lying tangled like Time. Yes… it would work perfectly! I held my breath, listening, making sure my stumble hadn’t caused any alarm. The figure paused, then lit a smoke.
I reached into my coat pocket, undid my jackknife and cut a good length of line. Putting my knife away, I then wrapped the two ends of the wire firmly around my hands. Making quick loops in the air, imagining the neck in the disappearing opening. Wondering how much noise and how quickly death would come. Scenes from The Godfather flashed my senses.
The cherry on his cigarette glowed like sapphire, he had brought the butt down to hip level, and before he exhaled the clothes line held him securely. The violent commotion of his arms flailing, legs jerking, and the realization that his cries for help were forever trapped in his stomach, added to his will to live; his vigour in the action of his last moments.
I felt his struggle cease. His body fell like a hammer. I unravelled one end of the line from my hand, still not sure if the deed was done. Clasping the two ends of the line in my left hand, I grasped his head with both my hands and with all my strength reefed his head to one side with the intent of spinning it around a couple of times. I felt the neck break and lowered the body with the line to the ground. Pulling the line free and listening to the silence.
One down, one to go. I wondered what it would be like to kill Hank. How long had we known each other? I made my way through a couple of backyards, and then cut to the street. Hank was two houses away.
He didn’t know what I knew. Before leaving the house’s shadow I drew my knife and slipped it a bit up my sleeve.
“Hank!” I hurriedly whispered, approaching him in mock terror. “Hank, what the hell is going on? I think they’re trying to kill me.” Hank turned. I was right up close. I could see the whites of his eyes. My left hand reached out and firmly gripped his right wrist. The knife slid perfectly into my grip. And I plowed it upwards and deeply under his ribcage, pulling him closer with his own wrist. I looked him in the eyes the whole time while repeatedly plunging the knife into him.
While the pinkish blood bubbled from the sides of his mouth I told him I knew why he was there. I told him his other friend, like himself, were now food for the worms. No point in letting him die thinking I didn’t know.
I pulled his corpse into the bushes, took his money, and went into my place. Dazed and soaked in blood I wondered how much time I had. I quickly stripped and started a fire. No reason to leave any hard evidence. While my clothes burned I quickly cleaned up and packed a bag.
She kept a hold of my mind strongly. The thunder roars as I try to squeeze my eyes that much further closed to remove her from my sight. She remains.
How did it all begin? The Boss, Hank and myself sitting in The Lounge. Business as usual. A knock, the door opened and there she stood. Looking cool as a cucumber awaiting the proper rituals of introduction of a lady entering a room. Her being demanded that these politesses were observed. I stood first, the rest followed suit.
Her voice broke the full silence with a tone like glass. She asked to see The Boss. Hank instinctively replied to her. Hank was an expert. He was there to protect The Boss and that’s just what he did. I instinctively patted my gun for personal reassurances. The last years had been unstable, to say the least.
That was four months ago, and today it all changed. The hierarchy shifted and crumbled.
Two months after that meeting she was The Boss’ right hand. I didn’t mind. I never thought about doing anything except what I did. Some of the others, the old-timers, felt overlooked. But this wasn’t some democratically run business. What The Boss wanted, was. And now she is dead, as well as Hank and the nameless one.
I felt like I was being railroaded. Since I woke up that morning I had felt like I had bought a ticket and was taking the ride. And now I had to get out fast.
Oh, if my plans could have turned out the way I saw them in my mind. Funny, how nothing turns out quite the way you had it planned. Sitting here, disconnectedly, the pieces and the path seem so obvious. How could the signs have been missed?
I broke my cardinal rule: Never trust anyone in this business who applies to your emotions and not your reason. She was fatal from moment go. I had grinded the gears and jammed it all into Overdrive for her.
Awakening to the sound of a car rushing past my place I stepped away from the window. No shadow, no target. I held my breath and listened to the wheels fade, evenly. I looked around, silently said my goodbyes and headed for the back alley. I figured I’d be safest without my car.
The night was warm, a breeze soothing, the moon behind a cloud-like blanket. I had what I needed and moved quickly. The city sounded quiet, too quiet. The shadows hugged me and I hugged them back. On Lexington I hailed a cab.