The Client

“I want you to kill me.”

The woman who had walked into the office was young, in her twenties. Her dark hair was tied back so as to direct attention to her face. Sharp green eyes contrasted with soft features. There was no hint of jest or irony in her appearance.

CJ pulled her feet off the desk and sat forward to better project her own seriousness to this potential client.

“What?”

“I said, I want you to kill me.” She still seemed to mean it.

CJ shook her head. “That’s not what I do.”

“I’ll pay a lot of money.”

“To kill you.”

“A. Lot. Of money.”

Years after her parents and several therapists tried to break her of the habit, she still chewed the inside of her lip when she was uncomfortable. The pain, even the hint of blood, seemed to calm her down a bit. “Why? Why do you want someone to kill you?”

“Not someone. You.”

“Okay, me.” That raised all sorts of other questions, but CJ decided to stick to this one for now. “Why do you want me to kill you? Why do you want to be killed?”

“That’s not really your concern.”

“The hell it isn’t. If you’re asking me to kill you, I need to know why.”

“So you’ll do it?”

“No! I mean, that’s not the point. Why?” Other than what she was saying, this woman seemed perfectly sane. There was nothing off about her demeanor, her voice, the way she looked at CJ when she talked. But maybe all of that didn’t really tell the story.

The woman sighed. “Very well. I am in a tremendous amount of pain.”

Try as she might, CJ couldn’t hide the skepticism from her face. “I’m not a doctor, but…”

“Not right now. During the day, it recedes. But at night, it becomes intolerable. I can’t take it anymore. So I want you to kill me.”

“Have you seen…”

“Yes. Several doctors. All of them at the top of their fields. None can help me.”

“So why not just kill yourself? Why hire me to do it?”

“I can’t.” The finality of those two words said not to pursue this question, but CJ still wondered.

CJ continued to worry her lip. Throughout the conversation, the woman had maintained a rather stoic exterior. But she had glimpsed something underneath, however briefly. The woman was desperate. None of this made sense to CJ. And she had no intention of going through with the proposal, but there was more to all of this.

“Here.” The woman tossed an envelope on the desk.

“I’m not taking…”

“Consider it payment for your time. If you come to the address on the card inside, you’ll be paid more.” She turned around and walked out the door with the same matter-of-factness with which she had entered.

CJ picked up the envelope. It was thick and filled with hundred dollar bills. There was a card inside with an address on one side and a time and date on the other. 9 p.m. tonight. If she went, the woman might get the wrong idea. But if she didn’t go, who knows what would happen. Maybe she should call the police. Or a hospital. But she wouldn’t do that. It would not do to get a reputation of bringing in authority figures on cases.

9 o’clock. That gave her seven or eight hours to do a little research. Maybe she could find out who she was dealing with. But she wouldn’t kill someone, even if was someone willing to pay her for it.

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