I watched her through the scope, my elbows resting on the ninth floor window ledge. The crosshairs painted a red ex on the back of her head as she sat at her desk, working late again. My finger brushed the trigger, but then pulled back and rested lightly on the trigger guard. Now was not the time. I still had the rest of the week, I told myself. Today I’d be tracking her patterns, just like I had been doing for the past four days.
Her slender fingers tapped a staccato rhythm on her desk as she poured over the papers before her. The light over her desk cast a dull glow, bringing out the red highlights in her brunette hair. She was beautiful, I’d give her that. Not that it mattered. In the end, I was still going to kill her.
I glanced down at her file, open on the floor. It was too dark to read it, but I didn’t have to. I already knew it by heart. Samantha Hart. Age 26. 5’ 9”. Hobbies include reading, playing piano, cooking, and swimming. Loves dogs. Gives to charitable organizations. Volunteers at soup kitchens. No family, no boyfriend, lives a quiet life. Doesn’t seem to have an enemy in the world, but if that were true I wouldn’t be here.
Part of me told me that I was wasting valuable time. That I should finish this contract right now and move on to the next. But something inside held me back. I wanted to believe it was just caution whispering in my ear, but I knew that wasn’t true. There was something different about this one. Something that I didn’t like. Something that, in my line of work, could be a very dangerous way of thinking. I was starting to like her.
I checked my watch. 10:54. Judging by past experiences, she’d wrap up her work soon and head for her black BMW in the parking garage. I had scoped out the garage yesterday, and established it as my secondary location if something interfered with my ninth floor firing position. In swift motions, I broke down my customized bolt action Heckler and Koch 308 and tucked it out of sight in an inconspicuous bag, which I slung over my shoulder. I had a shoulder holster with a Smith and Wesson 1911 .45 and a short-barreled .22 in my pocket, but if long-range shooting was needed I knew I could have the 308 out and reassembled in 30 seconds. I grabbed my dark grey jacket and rushed out the door.
The chill in the air did not bother me, but I slipped into the jacket anyway, zipping it halfway to leave my shoulder holster accessible. The dark grey was a much better choice than black for sliding through the drab city shadows unnoticed. Most of the time, black stood out like a shiner on a pale kid’s face in the dim half-light of the streetlamps.
I leaned against a wall and stuck a cigarette in my mouth, but didn’t light it. I waited there until her car exited the garage and started heading west. I took my time as I strode down the alley and dug my Harley out from under a heap of trash. Black, no chrome, and it purred like a kitten. Perfect for weaving in and out of traffic without being spotted by the target. I kicked off and entered the traffic flow. I couldn’t see the BMW anymore, but that was okay. I knew where it was going.
I approached her apartment complex just as she closed the door behind her. I glanced at my watch and counted exactly two minutes before the lights came on in her room. They stayed on about a half an hour longer, her silhouette crossing the window every now and then, then the lights blinked off. I rode back to my room deep in thought, cussing silently at myself for being a fool. This was day five. Two more days, and I’d breach the contract. It had to be done tomorrow.
I awoke bright and early, and watched through closed blinds for the BMW to pull in. It came right on time. I had never seen her late. She was a very predictable person.
Most of the day was spent preparing for a quick getaway after I fire the shot. Odds were that it would take people a while to discover that she was dead, but the risk was always there that the sound of breaking glass would alert some late night passerby, who might phone it in. I couldn’t afford to stick around and find out at that point.
The day passed too quickly. Soon I was back at the window, my eye on the reticule. She was at her desk again. This time, she wore her hair up. I didn’t like the change. It meant that she might start breaking patterns soon. My finger touched the trigger, and this time it was firm and with purpose. Just get it over with.
A shuffling of feet in the hall outside my door caused me to look away momentarily. The shuffling moved on. When my gaze returned to her window, she was gone. The light was out. It was only 8:00.
I grabbed my stuff and was on the move instantly. Did she get off work early? Did something happen to her? Had somebody tipped her off? I started for my Harley, when out of the corner of my eye I saw her exit the front doors of her workplace on foot. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it up, watching her peripherally. She was on her phone.
“I’m heading there now, Jo. So glad you called. To think I might have missed you,” she said.
My mind cycled through the wealth of information about her in my head, until something clicked into place. Josephine Kimmel, her best friend from high school. Lived in Florida now, taking care of her grandmother. They still kept in touch, and she visited the Big Apple once a year to catch up with old friends. Out of the 365 days she could have chosen to do that, she chose today. I’d bet that’s her right now, standing outside the Italian restaurant next door to the hotel I used for my stakeout. She held a phone to her head with one hand and waved excitedly with the other.
I might have to kill them both.
As I watched, Samantha Hart began to cross the street, still talking on the phone. “I know it’s right across the street and all, but would you believe that the only time I ever eat at Louie’s is when you stop in? Can’t wait to hear…”
I saw the motion out of the corner of my eye, and my instincts kicked in before my brain did. The car approaching wasn’t going to stop. I lunged into the street and tackled Samantha, taking her with me in a barrel roll that put us just to the left of the screeching tires. The car whizzed by. I lay atop of her, catching my breath, my heart pounding. I was an idiot. It occurred to me that pressed against her, she could feel my shoulder holster, and I started to pull away, when I felt three shots rip through me. When she stood up, my gun was in her hand.
“This is the third one, Jo. He’s been following me for days. Do you think Jake’ll ever give up?”
“Not so long as you keep turning him down. C’mon, let’s get out of the street.”
The streetlights looked dimmer than usual as I lay there on the gritty asphalt. Horns blared around me as cars swerved to pass. I was dying. I looked up toward her dark office window, and wondered why she didn’t marry the psychopath already.