The Vacation

Yet again it was Monday. That part was fine, but I didn't like the idea of having to go into work at god-awful o'clock. Don't get me wrong, I love my job at Assassins Select Services Incorporated (or Ass-inc as we called it) and they cover dental, but I hadn't finished up my last hit until three this morning. Now I had to be back in the office and ready to work at exactly thirteen-hundred hours.

The first rule of Ass-inc is we do not talk about Ass-inc. At least most employees aren't allowed. Marketing has special code phrases they use with potential stockholders, and somehow our name gets out enough that we keep getting hired. Not really sure how that all works, I'm just an assassin. The building itself is a two-story cement cube with a torture chamber in the basement where collections resided. A reception area takes up the first floor, though pretty much no one ever actually came by, with marketing and finance and other such non-killing offices in the back. Our boss has a large dark office on the second floor, and we all have little cubicles throughout the rest of the floor. Various motivational posters depicting Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, and former President George W. Bush, with reassuring little statements litter the walls like propaganda during WWII.

As soon as I got to my desk, I noticed a note sitting there impatiently, twiddling its creased thumbs in utter boredom. I read the summons, sighed, then walked into the Boss's office. I strode in, only managing to go a few feet before walking into a piece of furniture that was barely illuminated by the few faux candles in the room. I gasped and the thick fog machine air rushed into my lungs and choked back my words. He always came in before anyone else so he could get the fog machine warmed up and move the furniture into optimal tripping position. I heard a snicker from under the desk, then soon a deep raspy voice coughed out from the speakers all around the room.

"Good afternoon Agent Scottish Play, I trust your mission last night went without a hitch?"

"Yes sir, Boss Bard. The job was completed to the client's satisfaction."

"Good, satisfaction is a hard thing to get these days. Well, actually it would seem you are a little too good. You see, you may not have kept count, but you have killed a multitude of rich and influential people within a very short amount of time—"

"Five billionares and twenty-seven millionares who all made their fortune via enterprise, two cultural icons from the entertainment department, thirty-nine pro-athletes, nineteen politicians, and a partridge in a pear tree this month."

"My point exactly. Wait, when were you contracted to hit the partridge?"

"A favor for a client who paid well. He said the bird had a tendency to sit outside the bathroom window and watch the his wife in the shower."

"Regardless, you are my most profitable employee. I can't have you getting on the cop's most wanted list. Which is why I'm ordering you to take a week off or else you will be suspended for a month, your choice."

I stood there motionless, aware only enough to keep my mouth shut. Really didn't need drool to fall out at the moment. "I'll take the week off, I guess," I began to shuffle out.

"Go have fun or something. It's only a week after all, how hard could it be? Oh, and get Agent Yorrick in here while you are at it."

Alas, poor Agent Yorrick, I knew him well. We went to elementary school together. He would always steal my lunch money and then beat me up. He had failed his last several missions, and he was up for the chopping block. I motioned Yorrick to enter, and with a slight nod he proceeded. I lingered about the office door for a moment. A bubbling slice like a machete chopping down a rotten tomato, then a thud like a bowling ball hitting the lane, then silence. I clutched my hand to my stomach, forcing it down out of my throat and back into my abdomen. I hastened to the stairs, all but running away from the grim black office door behind me.

So, a week off, where to start? It was only a few seconds after 13:12, and there was a coffee shop nearby, so I stopped in there. There were three male hipsters in one corner, talking about how next year had already become too mainstream for them. A pair of perky tits attached to a disinterested twenty-something face was working the counter, watched over by a crone whose body was so old and sagged it looked more like a ziploc of vegetable soup with onion juice eeking out of it through moldy pinpricks. I asked the barista for an espresso. She asked me for three dollars and forty-five cents. A deal was reached.

I took my espresso and retreated to a table against the wall with a clear view of the street. Today's weather was the sign that people had been looking forward to all winter: a day that was warm enough for jeans and a light jacket, or whatever one felt like wearing in that kind of weather. People would be spending more time outside, even if that just meant walking a little less briskly from the office to the parking garage.

Soon after I had sat down, a man in a suit and tie sped-walked in. His eyes focused straight in front of him, only occasionally darting about to take in his surroundings. He ordered nine drinks, fumbled through his wallet to find the right credit card, which given what I could see and hear, was a hard selection as he had over a dozen of them. He twitched about like a rabbit on speed while he was waiting for the coffee, and I was pretty sure I could see him sweating. As soon as the coffee was ready, he grabbed it awkwardly and rushed out of the building, diving into his car and zipping off. I couldn't help but laugh, he was such an unfortunate characture. Most likely he was going to die of a heart attack or a gun in the mouth and brains strewn everywhere, or he could be killed in a car wreck or plane crash, those were also pretty likely.

I chugged my espresso. One can stand only so much apathy after all, and headed to the park to burn off some of the excess energy. The park was half of a mile away, but I didn't want to go back to the office just to get my '99 Volvo S70 and have to see everyone working away. Besides, I couldn't turn down free parking.

The park was littered with people soaking up the uv radiation, bathing in its warmth and light. I could only see about fifteen percent of the park, but there were thirty-one old men, twenty-five old women, seven forty-fifty-something men, eleven forty-fifty-something women, three young men with three young women, and fifteen children too young for gender to be important. There was a northeastern wind blowing at about three miles per hour, and the humidity was around twenty percent, perfect weather for a target to enjoy the park. I stuck to the shadows lest my day-glow skin catch fire and draw attention.

In walking through the woods, I came upon a couple who appeared to be nearly thirty, though with the languor in which they carried themselves, they could have been infinitely older. They had yet to notice me, and so I paused to listen to their conversation.

"I'm supposed to be at work now Rachel. You said this was important so I'm here, but could you just get to the damn point."

"Alright, I'm absolutely tired of this plateau in our relationship. Either we need to take the next step or you need to go."

"The fuck Rachel? You know your husband would be pissed off if he found out about me."

"So you want to leave?"
"No, you are great to screw, but goddamn it you're not being practical at all. I thought this was supposed to be casual screwing, nothing serious?"

"Yeah, when it was every few weeks it was casual, but with you coming over nearly every damn night, I have to think it's something more important than that. And why is it always at my place? Isn't there any time when your wife isn't home?"

"She stays home with the brats, you know that. Now let's drop this nonsense before you really piss me off."

"This isn't nonsense! What if I were to conceive your child? What would you do about that?"

The sound of a slap reverberated amongst the trees, "you wouldn't do that to me, bitch. I'd kill you if you did."

That was enough of that. I snuck off to the other side of the park, though it would have been hard for them to hear me over their yelling. Neither of them would last very long. She would lose everything and everyone and sink into a depression, with death creeping upon her like a hug from a best friend. He would continue with his abusive ways until one of the women he screwed would snap and kill him in cold blood.

I smiled to myself, the world would always need people like me to eliminate the sorrows of their lives. Assassins were in such demand, it would be cruel to deny my services to a wider clientel. One week only: assassinations on sale; different financing plans available. I couldn't wait to live up my week off.

So it wasn't quite what Boss Bard had said for me to do. But I was still taking time off from Ass-inc, so it was still technically a vacation I guess. Now to advertise my services and wait for the hits to roll in. A quick post on a few internet sites would be enough exposure. I walked back to the office to get my car, then drove home.

I parked my car in the two-car garage, opened the white picket gate, then walked the flagstone path up to my split-level ranch. The first floor was tidy and plain, with an open floor plan that was great for entertaining guests. The upper floor contained my bedroom, a few spare rooms used for storing various weapons and poisons and extra toilet paper, and my secret lair. It was protected by an assassin-proof door, which like the child-proof lid found on medications, meant that only an assassin could open it.

My computer was in the secret lair. I woke up the computer only to have the picture of a pair of naked double d's staring at me. I didn't really have to post the ads right this second. It could wait an hour or two.

It had already gotten dark when I got around to posting my ad. It would seem desperate if I immediately responded to the first person who replied, so I went downstairs to make dinner. I made stuffed peppers with a side of kidney bean salad. It was delicious, even if I forced myself to include beans and such in everything so I would get protein somehow. I had been doing it for the past five years, after I had nearly been fired because my body was weakening from lack of protein. And they say vegetarians are the healthiest people.

After dinner I went back to the computer to evaluate the dozen or so messages I would have received. Nothing. No one had messaged in an hour and a half's time. Well, deciding that someone needed to die was a monumental decision, so I could see why it would take some consideration and time. I went back downstairs to catch up on America's Next Top Model.

By dawn I had caught up on shows I had never seen before. I checked the computer once more: nothing. I could wait for a job until I woke up this afternoon, I wasn't that desperate. That would give me six nights to freelance before returning to work.

The next day was more of the same, but I did not despair, twenty-four hours really wasn't much time. The client would have to confirm that they truly wanted the target dead, and collect the funds, which probably would take at least twenty-four hours. Nothing to worry about.

Wednesday evening: nothing. Thursday evening: nothing. I cruised around town on Friday looking for trouble, but even the street gangs I found didn't want an assassin to take care of things, even for a reduced price. Saturday evening I contracted myself to murder a head of lettuce. I crept up on it. It didn't see it coming. I sank the chef's knife deep into its skull. Repeatedly. Listening to the leaves crackle and break with each stab. Sunday evening: why? Why no messages? Why no contracts? There are many evil people. People who need to die. I can do that, cheap. What was wrong with people? I could remove their problems in one fell swoop. Why would no one take me up on it.

I didn't sleep that morning. Too close to Monday. Glorious Monday. Work. Contracts. Death. Too perfect. Too wonderful.

In early Monday. Immediately went to Boss Bard.

"Got any contracts? It's been a week."

"Yeah, you can find it on your desk."

"Great. Thanks."

I all but ran back to my desk. Contract. Work. Need. Paper skull and crossbones. Agent MacDuff. Gun. Bang.