The Morning Messenger

It was a crappy November morning in New York City. It was overcast, cloudy, and cold out. The sun had barely come out, yet some people were on their way to work already. The sidewalks and streets were always crowded to some degree, but they were nowhere near as bad as the morning rush hour. In a few hours, the streets, subways, and sidewalks would be clogged worse than an obese man's arteries after a buffet.

I jogged down the street, dressed in a gray hoodie with no logo, words, or brands on it. My face was concealed beneath the hood. My sweat pants were the same shade of light gray as the hoodie, and likewise had no brands on it. As I walked down the street, I could everyone seemed to have some sort of logo or brand name on their clothing. From kids to well dressed adults to not as well dressed people, most had some kind of logo, brand, or slogan on their clothing. Despite me trying to blend in with the public, I stuck out in my own way to the careful observer.

I continued jogging at a brisk pace around the block. I was on my third lap, and I had not yet seen the man I was looking for. Concealed in my sleeve and held within my glove was a knife. The man I was looking for, Joseph Martoli, would be on the receiving end of it when he showed up. The mobster had pissed off someone, and it was my job to send a message. I didn't bother with the specifics. It made things more complicated than they had to be.

It was my fourth lap around the block when my luck changed. I saw an obese, middle aged man walking out of a donut shop on the corner. He was dressed in an ill-fitting suit, on his way to the office of a dummy business that concealed a drug ring. He held a briefcase in his hand, and talked on a his cellphone, pressing his multiple chins towards it. I waited for him to walk past the last shop that had security cameras facing the street. I jogged towards him from the opposite direction, accelerating my own pace and moving my wrist and hand to prepare for the attack.

To any of the other pedestrians on the street, I was just an obnoxious jogger in a hoodie (which this city had plenty of), bumping into pedestrians carelessly. To a professional watching in slow motion, something different was going on. I moved the knife into a ready position, flipping it towards him and moving it up my sleeve. I ran up to him, and bumped into him with my blade. I allowed my hips, moment, and wrist to deliver a quick stab to where I estimated his (probably swollen) kidney would be. The blade pierced through cloth, skin, and fat in a single fluid motion. It was largely covered by my left sleeve until the last instant. The blade reached the maximum depth of its penetration, and I quickly twisted it and yanked it as far as it would go for the half second it was inside him.

The blade vanished back into my sleeve as I ran back into the crowd. I did not look back. It took about a second before he realized what had happened to him. I heard shouting behind me, and knew my job was accomplished. By this time, I had entered a nearby alleyway, discarded the blade in a dumpster, and tore off my sweater. I emerged from the alley onto the next street over. I moved at a calm, collected pace with the nascent rush hour just about to begin. I became one of countless other pedestrians on the street, all heading to our destinations. I heard sirens in the distance, and made it a rule not to make eye contact with anyone.

I took a circuitous root back home, trying to ensure I wasn't being tailed or followed. Paranoia's a survival trait in this sort of job. So is doing the job right. My mission wasn't necessarily to kill Martoli, but to ensure he'd go on a trip to the ER at least. The message had been sent. I picked up my payment a day later from a dead-drop location in Central Park. I had been told that Martoli was in critical care, having severe internal wounds and bleeding. He was just one of the latest.