THE JUDGE

"I killed a guy! I fucking killed someone. Oh no! No No No No No No!"

Master Rick mumbled as he paced the entire room thrice.

"Why the fuck is it so hot in here?"

He adjusted the collar of his shirt for the second time. He walked back and forth like a mad dog. He took out a blue handkerchief from his left pocket and wiped his sweaty eyebrows. As his handkerchief left his forehead, a red stain resided there. There were blood blots on one side of the handkerchief. He prowled the room with the red stain on his forehead.

Master John pulled out a pipe of cigarette, ignited the lighter, tucked the cigarette between his lips, shielded the lighter's flame with his left hand and lighted the cigarette. He looked up to find a red stain on Master Rick's forehead.

"Hey you got red on your head," he said with complete indifference.

"Huh, What?"

"I said you got blood on your forehead. Wipe it before you make a fool of yourself in front of Judge. He will be here any minute."

Master Rick took out the same blue handkerchief. He noticed streaks of red blood on his handkerchief.

"Fuck! For once can something go right in my life? First I kill Captain Robert's wife. Then, I accidentally kill him while trying to reload. Nothing ever works as planned, does it? Where the fuck is Judge now? He left like forever ago" Master Rick shouted in his nasal voice.

Nobody talked. Master Rick kept himself occupied by attempting to clean his body in the nearby basin. He wiped his forehead, splashed water on his face and started wiping blood stains from his all black suit. He looked at himself in the distorted mirror. His crooked nose seemed more noticeable than ever. "Fuck", he said and continued his cleaning campaign. Master Rick was a grumpy old man. There was very little doubt as to what was going to happen to him that day.

Master John stood at the doorway waiting for The Judge to arrive. He would have killed this old guy but he always waited for the Judge to make all decisions related to business. So he puffed out beautiful rings of smoke on a bright sunny day and waited, standing with his legs crossed in an all black suit. He was a veteran of the business. He had been a part of it long enough to know that Master Rick was going to die that day. How and where, he did not know.

Master Rick's melancholic silence was disrupted by what he assumed to be tires screeching outside the warehouse. The Judge opened the back door, got out of the car and stood in front of the old warehouse. Master John noticed Judge's frail body and weak posture. The Judge seemed shorter today, his iconic black moustache hung limply by his lips, his eyes were sunken and he looked extraordinarily pale.

"Greetings, Judge," said Master John.

"Greetings Master John", said the Judge.

Despite his weak appearance, Master John was surprised by Judge's commanding voice. His hoarse voice reverberated against the air as he stood firm in his stance.

"I am afraid there has been a grave mistake from our part. I was not sure if I could handle the situation myself so I dialled for you" Master John said in an uncharacteristically polite way.

"Where are the diamonds?" the Judge's voice was resonant as ever.

Master John shuddered.

"We couldn't get them" Master John's response was bleak and inaudible.

"Are you going to speak louder or what?"

"We couldn't get them. Master Rick killed her before she disclosed the location of her diamonds. He... "Master John was paranoid with fear as words failed to reverberate in his voice box.

"He fucking what?" shouted the Judge as if he was about to kill someone.

"He killed Captain Robert"

"Where is he?"

"In... Inside" Master John stammered as he felt his shirt soaked in sweat.

A strange silence enveloped the scene for about five seconds. The Judge adjusted the brim of his plain black hat. He gave no response and ascended the stairs swiftly. He pulled his coat flaps inwards to button them in a quick gesture and rushed inwards. He pushed Master John away from the door in the process. He spotted Master Rick.

Master Rick's optical nerves caught the bloodshot eyes of the Judge. He couldn't move as if he knew what was coming for him. But somehow, extracting some unknown energy that lay dormant in his heart over the course of his life, he managed to utter few words.

"Please don't kill me" he begged as tears began to cloud his optical senses. Judge's intense stare showed no intention of leaving his vulnerability. It was as if the Judge could see right through his insecurities, twist it, turn it, squeeze every bit of pain out of it and leave it to rot in his subconscious.

Master Rick started to sweat like a dog. His underarms were soaked and his shirt was drenched like he had been running in the rain. He took out the blue handkerchief and started wiping his face from the other side.

"Please don't kill me. I am ready to resign. I am ready to do whatever you tell me to do. Just please don't kill me. Please ..."

POW.

Master John, a peaceful spectator of the scene, flinched a little as a bullet travelled through the air and entered Master Rick's head. He fell back with a thud. His head submerged partially in a small pool of blood that surrounded the near proximity of his head. He lay there, dead and lifeless.

The Judge walked up to Master Rick's corpse and stood over him. The gun still pointed at him. Behind the gun, one could see the Judge's smirk. His eyes radiated a weird psychopathic pleasure and his lips curled themselves in a devilish way. He put down the gun.

"A little to the right would have made a bull's eye," he remarked as he squatted to get a closer look. Blood gushed out of his forehead in successive plips and plops. A blue handkerchief laid by the left side of Master Rick's corpse. The Judge picked it up. 'Just a normal handkerchief' he thought. He flipped it.

He noticed streaks of red ink. He took it near his nostrils and sniffed. It was blood.

"Hey take this and give it to his family", he said as he threw the blue handkerchief towards Master John who was caught off guard.

He dropped the handkerchief. He bent down. As he picked it up, he realized that these random red blots were not some arbitrary stains of blood. He noticed they were letters, legible but smudged to the point that it required careful scrutiny to understand what they meant.

He concentrated and forced his brain to make some meaning of the red streaks.

"With Love, Madeline" it read.

A sudden wave of realization jerked him emotionally.

"Judge!" he beckoned as the Judge was about to leave the warehouse.

"What now?" Judge shouted.

"There is something written here. It is Madeline."

A look of bewilderment colonized Judge's face. He walked swiftly towards Master John and seized the handkerchief.

"With love, Madeline" he whispered to himself.

"Madeline. It's Captain Robert's fucking wife" Judge shouted as his face grew redder by the minute.

"I knew it was a mistake to recruit that fool. I knew there was something fishy but GODDAMMIT" he shouted with greater vocal power than all of his previous shouts.

"Forgive me but why did you choose that old bastard instead of all of our other veterans? I mean, Master Tom or Master Snow or even Master Chuck would have done far better than that old fool. To be honest, I was a bit surprised that you paired me with this dimwit to execute a delicate operation like this. Now, Captain Robert's brothers are going to come for us. We are fucked. Absolutely Fucked."

"He said he fucking knew her. I thought that it would be easy for him to gain her trust and then break it later. I never knew they were fucking lovers. Fucking Love. It gets me every time and every time it gets me, it gets me hard. FUCK" Judge shouted again. It was clear he was fuming with rage.

"But why did he kill her? Why would anyone kill their own fucking lover?"

"It was revenge. It was fucking revenge. The moment I saw her photo in his wallet that day, I knew something was fishy, but I thought he was the best we could get to getting close to Captain Robert and his wife's diamonds. Who knew he would turn out to be a fucking pain in the ass? Have you seen his wallet, Master John?"

Master John looked puzzled. He walked towards the corpse, kneeled down and took out Master Rick's wallet from his back pocket. There was a Polaroid photograph inside. Master Rick and Madeline stood side by side. Master Rick's arm rested on Madeline's shoulders. Master Rick looked young and juvenile. The neon lights in the background gave the impression that they were attending some party. The photo was old and wrinkled in many places.

"Can't you see it?" Judge asked Master John.

Master John replied with a gentle nod."I have a vague idea of what happened but I would very much like to listen to it from you" he said.

"It happens all the time you see. A boy loves a girl. They marry, become a couple and then, slowly things start getting sour. And then, one day you wake up and find out that the girl you love loves someone else. She has run away. The boy is devastated. The boy becomes all depressed and he pledges to find the girl and take revenge. In our case, the boy has been very clever but not as clever as to dodge the bullet of the infamous Judge" the Judge laughed heartily as he said this.

He enjoyed every bit of what he did. Killing and Ruling, that's what he was good at, not love or romance. He liked seeing someone getting punished for doing something that he had never been able to do. He was ecstatic.

"So our very own gullible Master Rick loved that girl Madeline but, Madeline, allured by all the money and prosperity of Captain Robert ditched her innocent husband and married the infamous don of the Munics? So he decides to take revenge? But why did it take him so long to kill her?"

"Oh Come On! Seriously! You think Master Rick was as swift and pragmatic as to find and kill someone in an instant. Of course, it took him so long, that dimwit blind lover bastard. It's good that I put a bullet into his head."The judge continued his declaration of exuberance. Suddenly, his face grew solemn in an instant.

"If he killed her as well as Captain Roberts, then he must have had ample time to search for the diamonds. He must have the diamonds. Master John, check him."

With a swift movement, Master John busied himself checking every one of Master Rick's little pockets. He found nothing except for some backup bullets and some cash.

"Nothing," he said as he stood up. Then, manoeuvring his masterful wrists in a quick movement, he reached for his pistol on his left hip holster, pointed the gun at the Judge and with no hesitation, he pulled the trigger.

He hit the bull's eye. The Judge fell backwards and landed with a thud. The death was eerily similar to that of Master Rick's, only this time, the bullet hit the bull's eye.

Master John smiled, kneeled down, took Judge's black hat and positioned it majestically on his head. He stood up. Still smiling, he reached for his left pocket and took out numerous beads of a heavy substance. He positioned his hands in front of him and on his palm laid numerous diamonds, shaped like pearls. The diamonds shined with lustre and sheen. He walked out, pointed his gun at the driver and pulled the trigger. Splashes of blood stained the window on the driver's side and the windscreen. He entered the car, pushed the driver out of the vehicle onto the street, turned on the windshield wiper and started the car. The diamonds, wrapped in the blue handkerchief, rested in his left pocket as he drove away from the warehouse.