Gilbert Brown readied himself for the task at hand. He was to kill a man who considered him a friend. It would be a very difficult thing to do, but he had made a promise. He had given his word. And Gilbert Brown was a keeper of his word.
Gilbert was fully aware that in this day and age, few people kept their word. To his knowledge, he had never broken his and that was one of the very few things he allowed himself to take immense pride in. Even if it meant completing the stomach churning deed that he had promised his friend he would do.
The date of agreement had come and the phone call had been made.
"Thank you for calling Abraham's, how may I assist you," the voice on the other side of the line had greeted him earlier in the day.
"Yes, may I speak with Bobby London?" Gilbert replied.
"One moment." Gilbert really needed no more information after that. He could have hung up, knowing that the task was meant to happen. Yet, he had waited for his friend to pick up the phone simply to be able to speak with him one last time.
"Abraham's, Bobby speaking," a familiar voice said.
"Is this who I think it is?" This time, a grin could practically be heard over the phone.
"You bet your sweet bottom. Still working at that joint, huh?"
"Yeah. I think I'm resigned to it now. Unfortunately, not much has changed since you said goodbye to the place."
Gilbert gave the phone a tsk tsk. "That's too bad."
"Tell me about it, hombre. So, what disease implanted itself into your brain that made you lower yourself to calling this place?"
"Had nothing going on today and wanted to hear a friendly voice," Gilbert answered, somehow managing to keep the quiver of fear out of his own voice.
"I tell ya what," Bobby went on, "I'm a bit busy now, so it's kind of hard to talk. However, my shift is over at three, so if you wanna meet up, maybe grab a burger or something and catch up, that would be cool."
"Sounds top notch to me, bud." Gilbert had closed his eyes and mentally cursed his friend for making him go through with this. He honestly had no idea what the consequences of doing what he was going to do would be, but as he kept reminding himself, he had given his word. And that meant something. He would simply have to deal with the aftermath.
"Okay, just meet me after work. Talk to ya later, man."
"Looking forward to it."
With that, Gilbert replaced the phone on its cradle with trembling hands. It appeared that it was still on and Gilbert mentally prepped himself to go about the dirtiest business he feared he would ever have to put himself through.
The gun that he would use sat up on a rack above the fireplace, surrounded by three mounted deer heads. The gun, and the deer heads, had belonged to his father. Taking the gun down, Gilbert noticed the notches on the butt of the gun. Each notch represented a deer that the gun had taken down. Of the thirteen notches, ten where carved by his father, the other three had been his doing. Never in his worst nightmares had Gilbert ever thought that one of the notches would one day represent one of his own friends.
Gilbert tried to calm himself, to steady his hands. He had never killed anyone before, but he knew without a doubt that steady hands surely had to be one of the requirements to go about it. Of course, this had never been a concern before, seeing as how no one had ever asked him to kill them in the past. He desperately hoped this would be the only time it would be asked of him.
As he loaded the .33 rifle, Gilbert reflected back on that fateful day, just over three years before. He had been working at Abraham's, a small grocery store, for a couple of years. In that time, he had made fast and easy friends with Bobby London. They had shared the same taste in music, movies, girls and a healthy discontentment for their job. For guys their age, that was about all that mattered.
Gilbert figured it must have been about three years and four months ago that found them checking the dates on some canned products down aisle two. They had found and chucked a lot of stuff that had gone out of date up to a year before. One can, however, had that fateful date on it.
"Dadgum," Bobby exclaimed as he checked out a nutritional shake can. "September 13th, 2011. This one has a ways to go."
"Good," said Gilbert. "One less we have to throw out. I'm sure it'll still be here when we check dates on October 13th, 2011."
"Probably so, but I have to ask you a favor."
"If I'm still working here on September 13th, 2011, three and some odd years from now... Dude, just shoot me dead. Stone cold dead. I won't deserve to be alive. Heck, if I'm alive and working here, I'll be in agony and you'll just be putting me out of my misery. So, seriously man, shoot the heck out of me." Bobby shuddered, the thought of being stuck at Abraham's that far in the future horrifying him.
"Um... okay," Gilbert said, somewhat unsure if his friend was right in his head.
"Do I have your word?" Bobby asked.
Gilbert sighed and looked over at Bobby. "Of course you do."
And so he did.
Casting the thought aside, Gilbert left his house to set out to do what he had promised to do. In no way was he looking forward to it. Fact was, he dreaded it in ways he never thought possible. However, he knew that he had to do it. After all, wasn't he a keeper of his word?