I creep along the floral wallpapered hallway, the colors muted under the moonlight filtering in from the kitchen. The house is silent, nothing rustles, and I steady my steps as I move.
Black-wood picture frames speckle the large print flowers and show the same faces in different places, some smiling, some with definite disdain for having a photo taken in the first place.
Who takes so many photos? Seems odd. Were they attempting to document their family-love, the supposed glue that holds them together? Christ, how lame can they get? There were no smiles and hugs and hanging out where I came from.
I finger 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’s beautiful, seems kind. She wouldn’t care for me. No one good cares for a killer.
The woman is familiar somehow, maybe a younger version of the woman I was hired to kill? I secretly hope not, wishing she could stay in the picture with the sea breeze combing her hair, enjoying the sunshine.
Another photo, an older woman — the same photo I was presented with when hired. A matured version of the younger woman. Older. Plumper. Her smile is bright, belying who she really is and what she really does. For a moment, I study her face and her family’s faces, the sand sifting in between their toes, and the ocean water that hides their calves from view.
That’s how it goes sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes the worst of us out there are the prettiest to look at. I quietly chuckle. Maybe she would care for me, a branch from the same tree, her having murdered more than I could ever kill in a life time. She lost whatever kindness her younger-self embodied before. Her family photos are just as fake as other’s are real. Beauty can be so darn deceptive.
I shrug my shoulders, pull the 9mm Glock from my side holster, check the pipe for a ready-to-shoot round, and move to the closed door in front of me. The brass knob twists easy in my leather gloved hand. Thank god, because there was nothing more annoying than cranky knobs shouting intruder.
I swing the door wide, careful to guide its resting point, and peer in. A four poster bed stands before me. Heavy, dark-colored curtains obscure the view that I know the large bedroom windows look out on — a spectacular beach scene, black-blue waters and pale sand.
I sweep my attention to the bed, where two people sleep, one rounder than the other. The rounder lump is most likely my target, but it doesn’t really matter, the other will have to go too, just for being there.
I aim at the first one’s covered head but hesitation stiffens my index finger. My breath catches in my throat.
Why can’t I pull the trigger?
I scratch my head with the barrel of my pistol. I am fairly new at killing but still, this isn’t supposed to happen. What’s wrong with me? Reconsidering my turn against humanity?
You know what this line of work is all about, I chide myself. Curly went over it, trained you, readied you for this. Do you know what he’ll do to you if you don’t go through with it? I shudder to think. Curly is ruthless, volatile at the most unexpected of moments.
Better just step in and shoot ’em dead.
Curly’s voice bobs to the surface of my mind, “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 brushed off his warning, staying cool, and said, “No way. Won’t happen to me. I got this.”
Now here I am, hesitating. Damnit!
“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 pivot round, sidle up to the end of the four poster bed, and pop them both in the head. Both Bodies jerk as the bullets drill their skulls.
No problem here. I got this.