Sweat was starting to collect on my shirt collar. My hands had a slight tremor. My legs were restless, my breathing shallow. My first time and my nerves were having their way with me. I was in his neighborhood now, eyes unblinking, parked about 60 feet from the front door. I watched in silence as the garage door opened, sat motionless as he pulled his new Escalade, the one with the recent scratches above the left rear passenger window, into the driveway. Just on time, never missing a beat, always on schedule, just how he operated. It took about three and a half months to memorize it all: who goes to work, when they go, where they go, where the children go to school, how old they were. I knew everything about them. I even knew the family dog’s name and their next vet appointment: Next Tuesday at 4:15, slightly early per the vet’s request. Everything was perfect. Just like he showed me. I couldn’t fail … This was important. Personal. It had to be done.
My old man, back when he was alive, was a sentimental person. Everything meant something to him. Even the most miniscule and mundane thing that you’d overlook, he’d find some sort of charm in it; he’d always attribute his luck and success in life to these stupid little objects. “Things that have life to them”, he’d always say like some old sage, “have a good energy that can pass to you and everything you do”. So, there he’d be: all black suit, black gloves, black hair sleeked back, black dress shoes, black shades, black Colt M1911A1 with a silencer, and a lucky acorn in his front pocket. As a kid, I used to love his lucky trinkets. I remember digging in his pockets after a job to find some special treasure he had found, hoping some of the luck would jump from him to me, an energy memento. But now as an adult, it all seemed totally outrageous. How was he even able to identify the “life” these objects even had? Looking back, I wonder if he only had these little good luck charms to make himself seem more human to me, his young son that never understood why daddy needed a gun to make money. Maybe he wanted a sense of normalcy for me, instead of all the killings and crime.
Now, out of all the things he collected in his life, there was something that he cherished the most, his absolute treasure. I remember when he first showed it to me, how he appreciated it and kept it safe; you see, my mother and father were married long before I was born. When they were about to get married, my mother had gifted him this amazing wedding ring that meant the world to him. It was solid gold, with a beautiful red ruby in the center, and on the inside of the ring was a written word, deep blue and cursive, “Legacy”. I was still a child when he took it off for me to admire it. It was heavy and shiny, and the jewel was a deep blood red, but the thing that caught my eye the most was the blue “Legacy” on the inside. My father could see how intrigued I was and decided to tell me the story of why the word legacy was important to him and my mother. He sat down on his large leather sofa while I sat on the floor, legs crossed, excited to hear what he had to say. He had the ring in his hand, slowly examining it with his fingers. After a time, he put the ring on and exhaled deeply. “You see my son”, he said with a tinge of regret, “Your mother and I were the very best in the business.”
My father told me this amazing story of his life. How he had to run away from his abusive parents when he was only fourteen.
“My father was an abusive drunk, and my mother had been hopelessly addicted to heroin for years. I had to get out of there”, he said with his eyes glued to the floor.
He told me how he lived in homeless shelters when he was still a child. I couldn’t believe the things I was hearing about my strong father's childhood.
“When I was about sixteen or so, I met a man who promised me the world: success, money, respect, a real family”, he continued. “This man headed an organization that specialized in hurting other people, for money.”
His eyes slowly met my incredulous gaze. He cleared his throat and continued.
“This man was my new boss, like a father really, and he wanted me to hurt people too.” He interlocked his hands in front of him. “At this time in my life, things were intense, but I was good at what I did. Really, really good.”
He cleared his throat and continued, now teary eyed.
“I had been working for this man for about two years now when I met your mother. She also had a similar job to mine; she got paid to hurt people just like I was, and she was damn good at it too. She was a few years older, and when we met it was like
magic. I loved her from the very second I saw her. After a year of being with her, I wanted her to be my wife, and soon after we were married, she had you.”
He leaned back in his chair; his eyes now locked to the wall behind me.
“Your mother and I had to work together on a job. We had to find a deserter from the organization and take care of him; you know what I mean. This man made our boss upset with his departure, and we were the ones assigned to make him pay.”
My father slowly started to laugh, reminiscing about this story of murder with my assassin mother.
“The target lived in a beach house in the Florida Keys, super wealthy guy, and after the job was finished, your mother took some of our target’s jewelry.”
He was laughing now, throaty and deep.
“She got his jewelry smelted down and had this beautiful gold ring made for me. The wording on the inside was blue to commemorate the water of the Keys while the
word legacy, well, that was to symbolize you, our son”
And that was it. My father cherished that ring more than any other of his possessions, acorns and all. A few years later, I started learning the family trade from him. At this time, the only parent that I interacted with was my father. He was my everything in this life, but most importantly, he was my teacher. He showed me all the things I needed to know to be “successful” at our secretive family business. I missed my mother dearly, but she was still flying around the world taking care of different targets the big boss ordered her to kill. We were strangers to each other now, and things went on like this for years. Until one day, when my father received that fateful phone call from the big boss. I didn’t hear what he said on the phone, but I was able to see his reaction; he was destroyed. The expression on his face was a mixture of furious, morose, and determined. I had just graduated high school earlier that year, and when my father walked out of the door, the only thing he said to me was, “Your mother’s dead. It's time for me to go.”
And that was the last time I saw him. The organization called our home a few weeks later to inform me of my father’s passing. They had arranged the funeral services and took care of all the expenses. Before the funeral, they sent a representative to our house to make sure I was okay. I was numb to it all, and I didn’t feel anything until the funeral service. My father was in the coffin in his old suit I remembered him wearing all the time. The only problem, however, was what was missing from his hand: the ring my mother had given him for their wedding wasn’t anywhere to be seen. When I asked my handler about the missing ring, they told me the big boss had taken it for himself and had my father “offed” for breaking the organization’s rules. I was speechless, furious, hurt, and confused. My father was killed because he broke some stupid rule, and now his cherished ring was in the hands of the man that had him killed. That ring meant everything to my father, and some “big boss” having it was totally inexcusable. It was time for me to have a face to face with this big boss that thought he could do whatever he wanted with my family.
I was at the back door now, slowly jimmying the lock open. A loud click, and I was in. I walked as slowly and as quietly as I could to the master bedroom. I had the interior memorized, and I knew exactly where I needed to go, knowing that everyone was gone, except my target. Every Thursday, when his wife was having lunch with her friends, his mistress would sneak in to keep him company. I knew he was all alone while he waited for her, and I had about thirteen minutes to get this done before she arrived. I was walking down a long curving hallway, past his massive office with all the bookshelves, to his bedroom. I pulled out my late father’s all black, silenced, Colt M1911A1 and listened outside of his door. The sweat on my collar was starting to itch, but I didn’t move. Not a single muscle, not a single inch. I could hear him walking around inside, heard him lay down on his bed, letting out a deep sigh. I opened the door and stepped inside, aiming my pistol at anything that moved.
He was lying down, shoes still on, on his bed with his arms covering his face. He was relaxed and unsuspecting. Perfect. “Gloria”, he said with his arms still over his eyes, “I’ve been waiting for you all day!” He uncovered his face and sat up. He looked right at me as I looked him in the eyes. No Gloria, just me with my father’s pistol aimed at his face. He didn’t even speak, just started chuckling to himself under his breath, slowly shaking his head. He showed me the back of his hand, and unbelievably, he was wearing my father’s wedding ring. He saw me eyeing it and gave out another laugh. I had two shots in his chest before he could even blink, the wretched bastard. He was lying back now, coughing violently, blood beginning to ooze from his mouth. I carefully walked over to him. I wanted him to look me in the eye. I wanted him to know that the child of the parents he killed hadn’t forgotten what he had done. I wanted my father’s ring, and I wanted to finish this job before it got any messier.
I lifted the gun to his face, and through blood spurts and coughing, he began to speak. “Your … father was … killed … by your mother … not me.” He started coughing more now, blood erupting from his lips. He took my father’s ring off and, with barely enough energy, handed it to me. I put it into my pocket and whispered to him, “My mother is still alive?” Tears began to well up in my eyes. The big boss started to laugh again and tried to speak but couldn’t get out any words. I placed my ear above his mouth and heard him say, “Yes … she is … my … grandson.” And with that his body went limp, all the air escaping from his lungs, bubbling through the blood in his mouth. Grandson, I wondered to myself. Did I just kill my grandfather? I had to leave.
The job was complete. I was still in the neighborhood, in my car now, deciding what to do next. I took my father’s ring out of my pocket and observed it. The gold was still polished just how I remembered, the ruby still blood red. The inside still had the blue “Legacy”, flawlessly written in cursive. I put it on. Perfect fit. I knew what I had to do now. It was time to find my “dead” mother, to find the true meaning of what this legacy was that they both had given me. I started my car, took a deep breath, and was gone.