“I need you to do something for me.”
The words sent shivers down my spine. The things he needed me to do were always bloody.
He tossed an envelope onto the desk. “Those are the details. No special circumstances, other than making it messy.” The discussion over, he waved me away.
* * *
“So you see, I don’t really want to do this.” The target and I were sitting across from one another at his kitchen table.
“Don’t do it, then.”
My gun was sitting on the table in front of me, and he kept stealing glances at it. He would have to be extremely fast to grab it.
“If I don’t, then he’ll kill me and just send someone else to kill you. We’ll both wind up dead.”
“Maybe the next person he sends will have the same misgivings.”
“I suppose that’s possible.” It wasn’t. I knew a number of the others too well.
“How about, I run away? Never come back. You can just tell him you killed me.”
His desperation was palpable. I wish there really were some way out.
“Won’t work. I need to make sure he reads about it in the paper. That requires a lot of blood.”
He jumped up and began yelling. “If there isn’t an alternative, why are you bothering to talk to me?”
I tapped the gun to get him to sit back down. Once he did, I spoke again. “It’s weird. People usually go through anger and then grief. The order isn’t set in stone, but it’s just odd seeing it backwards like this.”
“Are you just looking for me to absolve you? To forgive you?”
“No.” Now that he brought it up, it suddenly seemed very likely to me. “I just wanted to take a minute to process my feelings.” That was particularly stupid sounding.
“Couldn’t you have done that after I’m dead? Instead of torturing me by prolonging it?”
“It’s good to have someone to talk these sorts of things over with, you know?” I don’t know why I was trying to justify myself to him.
“Do you know why he wants me dead?”
“Well, let me tell you, then.”
“I don’t want to hear it. Knowing the reason could make it harder to kill you, if it makes me sympathize with you. It might also make it easier, if you did something terrible. But I don’t want to kill out of anger. You know?”
“You’re going to kill me without even knowing why?”
“I think that let’s you off too easily.”
I just shrugged. I could see why he thought so, but it didn’t change my mind.
“Here’s what happened. I was . . .”
Before he could say anything more, I picked up the gun and shot him in his face. The impact knocked him backwards on to the floor. I stood up, walked over to his body, and shot him in the chest.
I really don’t like knowing the reason why I have to do what I do.