I crept along the floral wallpapered hallway, the colors muted under the moonlight that filtered in through an opening from the kitchen. The house was quiet, nothing rustled, and I steadied my steps as I moved, hoping for no squeaky floorboards.
Black-wood picture frames speckled the large print flowers and showed the same faces in different places, some smiling, some with a definite expression of not wanting a photo taken in the first place.
So many photos seemed odd to me; documentations of a family’s love, the supposed glue that held them together. That was never my experience. Always too much booze and too many unknowns to want to smile and hug and hang out where I came from.
I fingered one picture in particular: a single woman, long brown hair, soft eyes, a sleepy smile with an easy breeze splaying her hair away from her face. She was beautiful.
Was this the woman I was to kill? The mental picture I had was of a lady much older, at least twenty years her senior.
And then another photo grabbed my eyes, the same woman resembling the picture in my mind but reminiscent of the younger woman who stunned my eyes, where my fingers still rested.
Yes. She was the same woman. Older. Fatter. What a shame. For a moment, I stood and studied her face and her family’s faces, the sand that sifted in between their toes, and the ocean water that hid their calves from view.
Then, as if there was an automated light switch, my caring and doubt at killing her withered and fell away. That’s how it went sometimes, didn’t it? Sometimes the worst of us out there were the prettiest to look at.
I shrugged my shoulders, pulled the 9mm Glock from my side holster, checked the pipe for a ready-to-shoot round, and moved to the closed door in front of me. The brass knob twisted easy in my leather gloved hand, which I greatly appreciated, because there was nothing more annoying than cranky locks that shouted intruder.
I swung the door wide, sure to guide its resting point, and peered in. A four poster bed stood before me and heavy, hanging curtains obscured the view that I knew the large windows held: a spectacular beach scene, black-blue waters and pale sand.
I swept my attention back to the bed, where two people slept, one rounder than the other. The rounder lump under the blankets was most likely my target, but it didn’t really matter, the other would have to go too, just for being there.
I aimed at the first one’s covered head but hesitation stiffened my index finger and made my breath catch in my throat.
What the hell?
Was it because she was once a beauty I would have goggled at? Made sure to ask out on a date? I lowered my gun and went back to the photo, the one where she was pictured young and vibrant.
I scratched my head with the barrel of my pistol. Mmmm… The origination of my hesitation alluded me, annoyed me more than anything else.
Well, even if my hesitation was real, something to be considered if I were a flatlander like those damn normies out there, it was of no use to me. This line of work didn’t make sense under the light of normality. Better just step in the room and shoot them both dead.
My hesitation adhered my feet to where I stood. My eyes swept over her lovely, symmetrical face, as my finger traced her graceful arms down to her hips and then past to her elegant, bare feet.
Curly warned me of this—the unexpected and unwarranted attachment to a potential kill. “One day, out of the blue, you’re going to hesitate, Billy Boy. Nothing about it will make any goddamn sense, but you will, and then you’ll know if you’re a true killer or not.”
He’d laughed then, a menacing laugh that chilled my insides, but I had brushed off his warning, staying cool, and said, “No way. Won’t happen to me. I got this.”
Now here I was, hesitating. Damn it!
Curly’s voice surfaced in my mind again, “Remember, if you hesitate—I know, I know, you won’t, but if you do, two things. First, it’s a damn job. Just do it. No big deal. Second, money. Lots of goddamn money.”
It being a damn job didn’t spark my feet loose but the idea of money did.
I pivoted round, sidled up to the end of the four poster bed, and popped both of them in the head. Each body jerked when the bullets drilled their skulls.
No problem here, I thought. I got this.