CW: drug use
I was broken. Hopeless. Pathetic. Desperate.
I had never known my father, and my mother simply wasn’t there. Though she may have been physically present, she did not care for me and usually left me to my own devices.
While as a kid I thought it was fun to be independent, that lingering yearning for affection--for love--remained very present and weighed down on me like an abandoned dog in the streets.
I was fifteen when I first tried that horrendous drug; heroin.
At first, like many, I had enjoyed the highs and thought that it had brightened my depressing life. However, as time went on, it had only become a heavier burden that I had not wished to carry.
Still, as they say, addictions are hard to break, and I had soon found myself unable to cope without the substance in my veins.
Money had been tight and I had begun to crave for more and more of that deadly drug, but I couldn’t quite cut it. So, I had become eager for every penny I could earn, no matter the measures it had taken.
I was desperate.
I got pregnant at sixteen.
I had not know who the father was, but had refused to go searching, deeming the quest impossible and most likely hopeless.
I had not consulted my mother on the matter. I had not been prepared to be faced with the wrath of that woman and I had definitely not been prepared to give up the baby--my baby.
So, I took matters into my own hands.
I ran away from home just days after my seventeenth birthday.
I had brought with me nothing more than the clothes on my back and a small bag of snacks.
I took refuge in a shelter, and though it was dirty and crowded, I was grateful for the roof over my head.
It had only been a matter of days before I met Anna Schneider, a middle-aged and single mother of two. She was a volunteer at the shelter and had taken great pity on me after having heard my story. Anna understood my struggles first-handedly, having been pregnant and homeless herself after having gotten kicked out as a teen.
Anna was an angel, nice enough to let me into her home; something that was quite risky on her part but of which I was forever grateful.
I worked hard to never betray her trust and helped out constantly with the children and chores, determined to make a good impression.
Not only had Anna become a close friend, but she also acted as somewhat of a mother figure to me; her being older and more mature. She had been there throughout the final stages of my pregnancy to coach and support me during the difficult and frightening journey. She’d even helped me through my agonizing heroin withdrawals as my due-date had approached, knowing that the drug would have a terrible effect on my child.
I soon gave birth to my baby boy whom I named Zach.
He was born prematurely and with a defective left hand. I had been told that we were both very fortunate that the damages were minor considering my heavy and seemingly uncontrollable drug use.
Anna had made sure to promise me that my baby and I would be able to stay with her for however long was necessary. She had been adamant about helping me through the struggles that she had previously been left to face on her own.
I was relieved and immensely grateful to know that I was safe for the time being, but knew that this would not last forever. Living with Anna was extremely comfortable and enjoyable, but I did not want to take advantage of her hospitality and knew that I was soon to be an adult as well.
I was now a mother and I had to be able to raise my child properly.
So, I soon found myself standing in front of a local corner-shop. There had been a job opening and I had decided to apply for the position, knowing that I needed some type of income.
I had entered the small building, biting my lip nervously, and was led to a small white room in the back.
A man whom I’d assumed was the store-owner then took a seat across from me at the table and asked me a few questions. I did not feel as though he’d been too fond of my disheveled appearance and my apparent lack of experience did not help either.
So, I left the building feeling extremely discouraged. Working at a corner-shop had to be one of the most basic jobs out there and I somehow couldn’t even succeed at that. I thought to myself miserably that I was a failure. How would I be able to support both myself and Zach without a job?
However, upon exiting the shop, I spotted a familiar face in the shadows of the alley beside the building.
He had been gesturing towards me and I approached without hesitation.
“Hello, Sonny.” I greeted with a sigh when I had reached the man.
He smiled up at me, being a few inches shorter than I, and told me to follow him, so I did.
I knew Sonny from the streets, having encountered him numerous times. He was involved in the drug business.
“Listen,” he began as we got further away from the civilized street “I heard you needed money.”
I was slightly taken aback. “How did you know?”
“Word has it that you’ve got a baby…” He trailed off looking around before finally taking a folded paper out of his pocket.
I nodded, crossing my arms. “So?”
“Well, I thought that I might give you an opportunity,” he began.
I cut him off instantly. “I’m not getting involved in your drug ring, Sonny, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“No, no, no, of course not,” he laughed “wouldn’t want your kid being raised like that, eh?”
I stared at the shorter man firmly. “So then what are you proposing?”
Sonny looked around once more, before handing me the paper. A phone number had been messily scribbled down and below the numbers were two letters: D.Z.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“You’ll have to call him, and ask,” began Sonny “but I believe he is looking for someone to do some...easy jobs.” He trailed off.
I frowned. “What does that mean?”
Sonny simply shrugged and raised his arms. “None of my business, really. I just wanted to help out.”
I gritted my teeth, but nodded, knowing that this job offer was most likely in some way immoral or dangerous.
Without another word, I turned around and made my way back into the daylight, gripping the paper firmly between my fingers and returning to Anna’s house.
When I got back, Zach was in a deep slumber and I smiled at how sweet and innocent he looked. However, it also seemed to provoke a more profound disappointment in myself over the lost job opportunity at the corner-shop.
I trudged to the kitchen in despair where Anna had been baking some cookies and sat down on a chair.
“So?” She inquired as soon as I entered the room “How did it go?”
I shrugged with discouragement, taking a seat. “I don’t think I got the job.”
“Oh honey, it’s alright.” She responded upon turning around to see that I had begun crying. “I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities.” She assured, rubbing my back.
I was embarrassed at my sudden break-down, but simply couldn’t hold back the tears. I felt pathetic. “I just really want to raise Zach well. I want him to have a good life, and a future…” I trailed off “And I don’t want to be taking advantage of your hospitality either. You have bills to pay too and I’ve just been staying here as if...well, I don’t know.”
She cut me off immediately, crouching down in front of me so that our eyes were level.
“Don’t say that, you are no bother at all.” She assured me, “Truly, I enjoy your company, and I understand how much you have gone through in life...you can stay here as long as you want.” She promised.
I nodded, though in my head, I had decided that I could take advantage of this hospitality no longer. I did not deserve it.
Later that night, I found myself fumbling with the paper that Sonny had given me earlier. Zach was lying silently in my arms, his eyes closed and his breathing soft.
With a sigh, I dialed the number before I could change my mind again.
There were a few rings before a deep and chilling voice answered on the other line.
“Hi,” I replied in a quiet voice as to not wake Zach nor stir Anna’s curiosity. “A friend of mine gave me a paper with this number and told me to call. He said you might be able to offer me a job.” I explained rapidly.
The deep voice on the other line simply chuckled. “A job, you say? Are you sure you are willing to hear my offer? Surely, you know how serious this proposition will be.”
“Yes, well, my friend--he didn’t give me any details,” I replied “but I have a little baby boy and an unfortunate addiction…” I trailed off with embarrassment.
“I understand.” Said the voice on the other line “Listen, if I can trust you to fulfill this task, a large amount of money is guaranteed.”
I nodded eagerly, though I was still uncertain. “Yes, anything, I just really need to be able to support myself and my son right now.”
“Alright then,” Replied the voice “but are you prepared to commit a crime in order to do so?”
I bit my lip nervously. “Well, I guess it really depend-”
“Are you prepared to kill a man?” Asked the voice abruptly, cutting me off.
I suddenly froze and could not say another word. Kill a man? Was he insane?
When Sonny had given me the number, I had not doubted that this supposed offer would include serious implications, but I had definitely not imagined he would have asked me to take somebody’s life! Surely, he wasn’t serious! How could he even suggest such an idea?
“Well then, Miss, I presume you are not prepared then-” Began the voice once again.
I blinked a few times, before taking a deep breath. “Wait.” I said, firmly.
I heard him hum in acknowledgement on the other line.
I looked down to my sleeping baby and thought that he deserved the world.
“What exactly does this job consist of?” I decided to ask, unsure and scared.
“Well, my dear, there is a man by the name of Jason Peterson.” Began the voice once again. Though I could not see him, I could picture his sly and evil smile as he explained the details of the job. “Let’s just say that Peterson has done something to upset one of his superiors...and wouldn’t it just be unfortunate if some type of hunting accident occurred?”
I did not know how to react but listened on nonetheless as the voice continued to explain the plan. I held Zach tighter to my chest and put a protective hand over his head as if to shield him from such evil.
“The gun will be placed under the dumpster bin in the alley beside the corner-shop. Finish the deed by tomorrow at noon and there will be great rewards.” Said the voice “Oh, and wear gloves; don't want the cops to find your fingerprints on the weapon.” Were his final words before hanging up.
I don't know how long I spent sitting still in the chair, but was pulled back into reality when I heard the small and hungry cries of Zach who had begun to stir.
With a small smile, I held the bottle to his tiny mouth and watched as he hungrily emptied half of the clear container.
“You deserve so much more.” I whispered to the little boy who had now calmed down as I placed a delicate kiss on his forehead and set him down into the crib that Anna had put beside my mattress.
That night brought nothing more than a restless and uncomfortable sleep.
I had been weighing the options, going back and forth between each scenario.
Sure, the job offered good money and was discreet (if done well), but it would consist of taking somebody’s life. Was somebody’s life worth losing for my benefit? Then again, I did not know this Peterson fellow, so the act would not have been carried out on a personal grudge from my part; it would be nothing more than a professional job I had been given and asked to fulfill.
But then, I thought of little Zach and wondered what he would think if he found out his mother had killed somebody--although maybe he wouldn’t find out...maybe he would simply live his life without questioning such things.
All I knew for certain was that I was determined to provide a good life for my son no matter what it took because I was a mother, and a mother provides for her child.
The next morning, I hastily made my way back to the corner-shop having made up my mind. Zach was what mattered to me most, and I was ready to do whatever it took to provide him with a good life--even if it meant ending somebody else’s.
Just as the voice had described on the phone, a bag containing a gun had been placed under the only dumpster bin in the alley. So, I slipped on a pair of gloves before picking up the bag and placing it delicately in my coat.
The bag had also contained a little paper on which was written an address along with a picture of none other than the victim--Jason Peterson.
I quickly consulted a map and took a final deep breath before making my way towards the forest.
I sat quietly in the bushes, holding my breath as I watched Jason Peterson cut the animal open, preparing to remove its organs.
I had been scared and hesitant, mentally unprepared to commit such an act, but was holding the gun firmly in my hands.
I thought back to Zach and to Anna who were most likely at home, either sleeping or eating breakfast. They both deserved so much more.
I then raised the gun carefully and closed one eye, looking through the strangely shaped scope and aiming the weapon directly at my prey.
I knew that this was wrong, but I had to do it; for Zach.
So, with a final breath, I pressed down firmly on the trigger and listened as the loud shot rang out through the air.