Weeks upon weeks. Months and days and moments. Agonizing seconds and flightless minutes. Aching muscles and straw-like hair, as stiff as twigs from sweat and neglect. Burning joints and dead eyes. Sleepless nights and fruitless days. Boiling afternoons wasted stalking the wrong blonde. Freezing nights spent hiding and dodging from livid cops. Horrible days, one after another.
Losing a comrade to the town jail. Memories made, enough to haunt me through to the grave. Debts upon debts upon debts racked up for apartments and guns and ammunition and cigarettes and bus tickets to the most expensive neighborhood in the city, grumbling and threatening Robin in my head. She’d better reimburse for all this, though I don’t know if money can replace lost sleep and dead brain cells.
Months upon weeks. Days upon hours. Endless searching, find the right one. Find him, find him, and don’t let him keep breathing. Don’t ask why, don’t think, don’t wonder. Just do it. Do it quickly, do it soon. Do it, get paid, head straight to the next job.
Quick, run, jump, thrill, stab, shoot. It was all a mantra, no matter how morbid or horrible. It was business. Every mugger in New York knew about it. Every murderer, every hit man, every thief hired on Craigslist for this sort of work knew of it. It was business, it was life, it was how we kept ourselves alive.
Alive and appreciated.
I had a next job, too; hunting for some man’s wife who’d left him and then blackmailed him. A typical job, of course. One found these sorts of cases in “murdery” as often as in law and bankruptcy.
After Robin’s job—I’d be glad to get hers off my back. Hers took me to places I never wanted to go, places no hit man of New York City would dream about. Murderer’s Heaven, thus My Heaven. But I didn’t want that kind of Heaven. I didn’t deserve Heaven. But after hers I could go back to the short jobs, the easy ones. A quick killing in the dead of night, then over. Or a robbery, netting millions in a night. Those were the sorts of jobs every hit man coveted, and those were the sorts of jobs I enjoyed, being of course the most highly renowned (and highly adept) hit man in the city.
I did her job, though, because I loved her and it was the perfect gift for her. She’d pay me anyway, she said, but it was a great gift. She said.
I’d tracked the man from Provo, Utah, to New York, then lost him to Boston. I was finally closing in on him, filing my knife, cleaning my gun, already spending my million dollars in my head.
I’d never gotten caught. No question. No way. I was too careful. Others, the careless ones, slipped up and fell into Sing-Sing. Not me.
This man was like an eel. Ten months ago I thought I’d be done, heading home and collecting the well-earned money. No sooner would I pin down his room number and set a date for the kill than he’d dash off to Baltimore or someplace. I would ease open his bedroom door, gun ready, and the sash would already be swinging, announcing his departure.
Late night. Dim lights. Slick gun and a muffled scream. A breathless run to the corner, a gasp to the police that someone had been murdered, and a quick, contented text to Robin.
Job done! Heading 2 Provo now. Where R U & my $1 mil?
And then I waited.
I waited two days. No response. Coward. Jerk. Liar. I trusted her. She’d regret it, though.
And then, finally, a response.
Thanks? My ego swelled a little, but then common sense kicked in. She hadn’t answered me. No mention of my payment. I ground my teeth to powder, and then typed back, my calloused, too-big thumbs, used to the large triggers and heavy knife handles, fighting each other for space on the virtual keyboard.
R U avoiding me? WHERE IS MY $1 MIL?????
No response. I hadn’t expected one, of course.
I caught a direct flight to Utah, scraping past security twice. Walk to the bus, long bus ride, watching a Mormon family with more kids than there are donuts in a donut shop, then walk and run intermittently to Robin’s old house. I knew better than to give her a warning. I didn’t expect to find her at the house she’d been in when I’d first been hired. The people who employed me were too paranoid to stay in one house. But I’d done my million dollars’ worth and I intended to get it. No one cheated me. No one ever had. Well, Billy had tried. And boy had he regretted it. I left him alive long enough to gasp out an apology to me and a confession to the police. Word must have gotten around—I hadn’t been cheated nor lied to in over ten years. Robin must not have heard the dismal story.
The people who’d moved into her house since directed me to her agent, who told me, after some bribery, that Robin had fled to Saskatchewan. Smooth. Some hit men might have killed the man for lying, but that’s unprofessional. I’m better than that. I am nothing if not professional. I knew better to trust him and instead just looked her up. She’d foolishly posted where her new home was, on social media.
Quick flight. Quick squeeze through security. Quick run to her flat.
I texted, Right outside UR door. What about my job 4 U? Give me my $!
What? Why was she sending me the exact same text? Was it fear? Lack of imagination? A computation in the phone that just sent that phrase whenever my number texted her?
I burst into her flat. Robin wasn’t in there. That was okay, though. I can be patient.
When she comes, she won’t be thanking me. My gun was loaded. I could be patient.
She never came. She texted later, and said Cops right outside the door.
Look at what Robin, my wife, has done to me. All I’d done was try to find her the perfect gift, and look how she’d treated me. I’d did what she asked me to do, as a gift to her. And she called the police.
I replied, while walking toward the window Thanks!!!!!