I absolutely abhor the rain. Each drop falls on the ground, pitter patter, together creating a cacophony of incoherent sounds. Some call this an orchestra, but this is nothing but chaos. It impedes my vision, makes looking at my objective a much more taxing exercise. It makes me soaked, an uncomfortable feeling in itself. It makes everything slippery, try finding a footing in that. Worst of all, years of cliché have made heavy rain a sign of sadness, distress and a general feeling of unease. As if my job wasn't hard enough, this isn't helping. Rain is really at its worst in an urban setting, the stench is absolutely horrendous. All I can do at this time is to sit and keep my eyes open while I wait, and this smell doesn't help. At least it is the wee hours of the night, the streets are empty, as empty as they can get in this district. Doing what I do, patience is a key skill, but something I truly hate to have mastered. The Apartment complexes in front of me are mostly asleep, except a few. I am only interested in one.
The higher floor, away from all this stench and muddy mess. This is one lucky man, as long as it comes to being a divorcee living it up in a 'singles' apartment. Empty bottles of booze, an unkept beard and messy hair, both black in color, and a general look of defeat on the face of this man, visible from the single window of that small apartment. He was talking into the phone, rather shouting. The anger on his face was raw, primal and strong.
"I have as much a right to see her as you, she is my fucking daughter," he screamed. Noise was coming from the phone, each second only exacerbating this man's anger.
"Well fuck you too, bitch," the man said, as he cut off the call and threw the phone into the nearby wall.
The phone had no chance, flying off into bits and pieces. The man sat down on a nearby couch, taking a huge gulp from a nearby half empty bottle of beer as he turned off the lights. He was distressed, and finally ignorant of his surroundings.
I had to be quick, I crossed the nearly empty road. At this hour of time no one will really be looking out for a man dressed in a black suit breaking the law by not using the zebra crossing, nor any cars that would send me flying into the pavement. A short walk across the street and I was in front of the building this man lived in. The building was pretty dull if you ask me, a pale yellow color caked with smog from the street in front, but almost all such urban housing was like this, so no one paid heed to it. The front door was locked, they were always locked this time of the night, only the tenants had the keys. However, I had come prepared. There are things one has to be good at to do this job, get things done is one of them. The door itself was pretty old, dark green paint that was pealing. Even if I didn't have the key, I could have simply broken down this fragile mess. The staircase inside the building was dark, only a few dim lights turned on. The smell of alcohol was strong, most of the denizens of this building were out cold from their daily ritual of numbing their existential pain. I made my way up the stairs quickly, there was no need to be silent, no one was getting up at this time. The man lived on the third floor of this 4 floor apartment complex, pretty long climb if you ask me. I finally reached his floor, apartment 301, a simple door with a fresh coat of red paint. Whatever you wish to say about the man, at least he bothered to keep his apartment in shape. I rang the bell, the next moment would be crucial if I needed to get in. He would be drunk in all possibility, and won't notice if I slip in.
I was right. The man clumsily opened the door, and stumbled out to look for the source of this disturbance. Hiding behind the open door, I sneaked in as he came out in the hall looking for me. Finally giving up, the man went back in. He made his way to the couch, bumping into every table possible. He sat down with a thud, leaving his weight to the mercy of gravity. He was too inebriated to do anything, it felt almost wrong to do what I was about to do. He hadn't even noticed me standing besides the couch, though it was too dark for someone in his condition to really notice. I turned on the lamp light, startling the drunk man. He quickly grabbed a nearby bottle, ready to bash my skull.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," I said, raising my gun in his face. The man understood what was happening, and kept the bottle down.
"Mr. Salzar, it's a pleasure to finally meet you. My name does not matter, what matters is my motive. I am a contract killer, and am saddened to inform you that you are my current target," I said with a straight face. Sugar coating was never something I bothered with, it made things messy.
The man stared at me blankly, trying to register what I had just said. I expected panic to set in, but to my surprise something else happened entirely. The man picked up another nearby bottle of beer, opening the cap. All I could see was a look of defeat in his face, a man who had given up on life.
"Would you take a sip with me? Grant a man his dying request will you," he said. I was taken aback by this request, but wasn't going to refuse such a request.
I am only human, and alcohol was one of my failings. I grabbed the bottle which he handed me. Taking a big gulp of beer, it felt nice. A warmth came inside me, the cold air of the rain was finally at bay. I felt better, this wasn't as crappy a job as I had expected to be. The man sat there in silence, taking a sip from a half empty bottle of beer.
"You know, I left this demon for my little girl. Such a cutie she is. Love her with all my being. But, the courts, and mostly my bitch wife won't let me see her ever again. When a man loses his reason, all he can do is indulge his demons," he said, taking another sip from his bottle.
I kept the bottle aside, and looked at this poor defeated soul. I was curious, and finally asked him, "aren't you scared of dying? You know the only way this will end is with your demise."
"Today was her birthday. I hadn't seen her in three months, but this was supposed to be the day I would get to hug her. I am not a good man, but even I deserve some happiness. I even cleaned up, spent money to make this place safe and good. I wanted her to know that I am fine, that everything would be fine. But, the courts think I am too dangerous. What reason do I have to live if I can't hold the only thing I cherish in my life," he said, a deep sadness echoing within his voice.
He was right, the apartment did not look like a broken mess one would expect. The floor was clean, the walls had seen a new coat of paint. A wrapped gift was kept on the table, and a huge banner hung from the ceiling, 'Happy 5th Birthday' written on it. It was in stark contrast to the couch and the table in front. Empty bottles lying here and there, spilt beer everywhere. One could see some vomit on the carpet. It suddenly became clear why the front door looked so clean and fresh. This was a man who only cared for one thing in his life, and that had been taken away from him.
"Why did she leave you," I asked, taking another sip from the bottle Salzar had graciously offered.
"How about you answer a question of mine, then I will answer yours," he said, taking a huge gulp of beer, and putting the empty bottle aside.
I kept my gun pointed at him, a silencer attached on the nozzle so that no one could hear the kill. I could kill him here and now, but I was intrigued. Against my better judgment, I continued this banter to humor the dying man.
"You are an unstable man who works for some dangerous individuals. You were a great lawyer once, but now you are washed up. A certain subset of your clients were worried you might spill the beans, and hired me to take care of this mess. Now it's your turn," I said, nonchalantly taking another sip from the beer. Something about this beer was absolutely intoxicating, more so than your average brew.
He looked at me, a weak smile on his face, a sign of derision for his own choices. He answered, "you just answered your own question. Tell me which wife in her right mind would let her kid hang around a father tangled with the underworld? It was over the moment she found out, and all because I messed up a trial. They came to visit me, and instead found my wife. After a small exchange of words with them, my wife found a divorce attorney and the rest as they say, is history."
"I have another question for you," He said, looking at the gun in my hand.
"Go ahead, no one's stopping you," I said.
"Why haven't you killed me till now? Is my story that great," he asked, slight amusement in his voice.
"I believe in giving a man his dying wish. You wanted company, you got it," I replied, my face stern as a rock.
"You must be good at your job. I haven't seen you react to a single thing I said. Yet, here you are drinking on the job and just savoring the kill. Pretty careless don't you think," he said, for a man this inebriated, he was surely insightful.
"Why did you get into this line of work," he asked.
I wasn't really in a mood to kill him right now, so this was the best way to pass the time. I replied, "money, it's as simple as that. I was a common gangster, then I got into this business cause it paid good. Before you know it, I was in demand. A company hired me and I became a professional."
"Doesn't it feel weird taking a life? I thought all humans feared death on some level, you are just confronting that fear everyday in your line of work," he said, he was starting to sound a lot more coherent, or maybe I was a bit buzzed myself. I should probably kill him soon.
"After the first few kills, it becomes mechanical. I stopped feeling anything from taking a life. On some tougher days, the booze helps," I replied, putting the beer bottle in my hand down. Over the course of our conversation I had almost emptied that bottle, I need to be more careful.
"Nah, I don't think its mechanical for you. I think you like it, I think you love the feeling of taking a life. Gives you a feeling of control over this fear eh? Maybe the booze is there just to numb the pain on slow days," he said, this man was truly intriguing, and unnerving at the same time.
"You seem to know a lot about me," I said. Things were starting to get all too weird for me, I wasn't planning to wait any longer.
"Everyone has the same fears my friend. Death, the great unifier. We keep busy as a distraction, our lives are repetitive and mundane for distracting us. We seek thrills, believe in a higher power, pursue the concept of love, all for one thing, a distraction. A distraction from the inevitability of our actions. A distraction from the fact that our actions, our material wealth, all of this won't matter once we are one with the sands," he said, getting up with a finesse not expected from a drunk man.
I got alert, aiming my gun at him. Something was amiss about what was happening here. The worst of all was that my hands were shaking, I couldn't aim properly, and that man knew it.
"You and I are the same kind of people. Unstable, unreliable, and unapologetic about it. In my line of work you need to be able to read people, something you should yourself learn. The only difference between us is that I am careful while you are a careless mess who let his success get into his head. You may be a professional, but not a good one," he said, his tone becoming a lot more serious, coherent and haunting.
This was my only chance to salvage the situation. There was something in the beer and it was affecting me. I took a short breath, steadied myself, and took aim for the chest. Whoever this man was, he was faster. With a kick, he took the gun out of my hands as I was ready to shoot. He I wasn't so intoxicated, he would have been dead. I quickly got up, it was now certain that I had to get bloody. I took a quick jab at the man, but my senses were extremely dulled at this time. He effortlessly blocked it with his right hand, catching my hand. He swung his leg in a low sweep, causing me fall on the floor. I came crashing down, causing a few empty to fall down and break into pieces. It was odd, they smelt like apple juice. Was he faking to be drunk all this time? I tried to get up, but whatever was in the beer was starting to affect me. I was too numb to stand up, again falling on the floor face first as I tried to get up. He stood in front of me, his boot almost touching my face. The expressions of defeat were gone, that weak man from before had a disappeared. In his stead, a man with rigid expressions and emotionless eyes stood tall. I could swear those eyes bore into my soul, those icy cold steel blue eyes. At least one was, the other was a colored lens, a little emerald green showing from the edge. I tried to reach for my gun, only a few inches away from me at this point, but he crushed my hand under his other boot, and reached to pick up the gun. He pointed the gun at me, those haunting eyes staring at me.
"I am dismayed to inform you that your services are no longer needed at Sicarus Co. Due to your recent subpar performances, I am afraid they have let you go," He said, looking at me.
I struggled to turn my head, but with all my might I looked up at him and said, "What do you...mean? Why does this...mean I have to...die?"
My words were nothing more than a slur by this point, but he understood what I was asking. He replied, "you aren't a reliable asset for them anymore. Seeing how careless you were here, I would agree. You took a drink from me which was obviously laced, and didn't kill me despite the multiple chances I gave you. If you were a little more alert you would have noticed the body lying in the bedroom."
He was right, I looked towards the bedroom. It was completely dark, nothing was really visible, except a faint outline of a man. He was completely motionless, chances are he is dead. If that wasn't a giveaway, a few small splatters of blood were visible near the entrance of that room. A trained eye could have easily caught that, if it were alert enough. I had let my guard down, grown complacent, and this was my punishment.
"You and I both know what happens to assets not deemed worthy of use," He said looking at me, he wasn't going to waste any more time in killing me, something I should have done myself.
"You know too many company secrets. They couldn't have someone on the inside do this, such delicate matters have to handled with outside help. That's where I came in," he said, his trigger finger itching to shoot.
I looked at him with pleading eyes, the fear had finally set in as I said, "will...you...grant me a-"
He cut me off, "I don't believe in granting a dying man's last wish. I hope your journey to the next world is calm."
Utter bullshit, he was a practical man just like me, he knew there was nothing after this life. I knew there was nothing, death led to nothingness. This very well was going to be my last moment on this earth, I didn't want everything to end so soon. I feel scared, is this what my victims felt like in their last moments? My life cannot end in this manner, I have more things to do, a lot more to achieve. This can't be the end, no it simply cannot. Why must we go through this torture if it is to end in nothingness. Is this our destiny? A futile exercise of existence that simply stops one day and then nothing? No it cannot be, there must be something more. I cannot die here, not so soon.
I looked up straight into the barrel of the gun, my own gun. The irony is truly rich, my weapon of murder being used against me. Maybe it would jam, maybe the ceiling would fall. Something, god damn it something would stop this! But, I was wrong. His index finger pressed the trigger, and I heard a bang.