Thriller Romance Drama

I couldn’t stop thinking about the looks on their faces, and I never forget a face.

My body count is thirty-two. Thirty-two faces I’ll never forget.

They don’t haunt me or torment me like some other poor souls. No, these faces only gently greet me as I drift away to sleep every night. I’ve heard some of my co-workers say they saw fear in the eyes of their targets, and that fear haunts them forever. Not me. I only remember the blankness in their gaze as the life leaves their bodies. That’s what I see every night, the hollow shell of a job well done.

My latest job was in New York City. A married couple. Initially, we thought it was just the husband laundering money, not paying back his debt to the boss, the usual stuff. But a recon mission showed he was a witless pawn, and his wife was the brains, calling the shots and pulling the strings.

The crime scene found them both seated in the dining area, slumped over the table, throats slit open, blood coating the tabletop, soaking into the wood. The only other thing on the table was a white card with a spider web pattern etched into the paper. The backside was black with a red hourglass, like a black widow. My boss’s calling card.

But this story isn’t about that. No, instead, this is a love story of sorts.

It started as I headed back home to Seattle from my previous job. The snow was falling heavily. I walked through the terminals of JFK airport. I had made it through security relatively quickly, so I had time to kill before my flight arrived. I was walking past a terminal. The electronic sign read the flight was headed to New Orleans. That was where I first saw this ebony goddess, sitting near the gate, face in her phone.

She had shoulder-length curly, wavy black hair. Stunning almond eyes, luscious lips coated in silvery blue lipstick. She wore a tight leather jacket and skinny jeans with frayed holes revealing her thighs. A pair of converse completed the outfit.

I’ve always had an attraction to ebony women, but I had never admitted it to myself before.

We briefly locked eyes as she lifted hers from the phone. She gave a small smile. I must’ve looked like an idiot. Was my jaw dropped? I can’t remember, God, I hope it wasn’t.

I continued to my terminal. I tried to convince myself to talk to her, but I suck at starting conversations. I get into my head and always chicken out.

I sat down and began trying to recreate her precisely in my mind.

I’m not sure how much time ticked by before an overhead announcement snapped me from my mind. All flights were delayed due to the heavy snow, and the runways were no longer clear. Groans emitted all around me. A crowd was formed of angry passengers. I didn’t want to be a part of it, so I made my way to a bar I’d passed earlier.

Standing in a small line, waiting to order, was the woman whose images flooded my head.

I got in line directly behind her and thought of a way to start a conversation by playing dumb. I asked her what was happening, pretending I hadn’t heard the announcement. She relayed the message about the delays. “Oh no!” I acted surprised; I hope my acting wasn’t over the top. From there, we continued organically conversing on the situation. We sat at the bar, continuing conversation into any and every topic that crossed our minds. I bought two more drinks for each of us, and then she bought us two more. Listening to the overhead announcements, we learned our flights wouldn’t depart until the next day at the least. In our inebriated state, I suggested we split the hotel room cost, and she agreed.

It’s funny; there are things I don’t remember that night. I don’t remember going to the desk and renting a room. I don’t remember taking an elevator to the third floor. I don’t remember taking my clothes off. But I remember the warmth of her naked skin against mine. The taste of her lips, the serenity I saw in her eyes. 

I admit, in my time on this earth, I’ve been a selfish lover on many occasions. Not this time. Unsurprisingly, I finished before she did, so I switched to oral methods to pleasure her until the end. That I can remember.

The next morning, we woke with only a hint of a hangover. We headed back to the airport terminals. They had plowed the runways and were hurrying to prepare our flights.

I gave her my number. I hoped we could meet up again somewhere. Then we went our separate ways.

She never texted or called me, much to my disappointment. So time went on. 

Five months went by, and I took more jobs. A new one sent me to Houston. It was an easy job. Afterward, I decided to get a steak from Jimmy Mac’s Roadhouse. It was a busy Saturday dinner rush. A small crowd gathered inside, waiting for a table. I pushed through and eyed the bar. Much to my astonishment, the same ebony goddess sat there, drink in hand. I asked the hostess if the bar was available, and it was.

I reached the bar and grabbed a stool next to her. I said some dumb line about the coincidence. She looked at me. Now it was her turn to be stunned.

She apologized and said she’d lost the note with my number before she could put it into her phone. Our spark went on, rekindled. We talked for hours on end and eventually split a room again. We fucked again. God, it was great. 

In the morning, we went our separate ways again, but this time with each other’s numbers saved in our phones.

Three more months went by, and we chatted nearly every day, whether with just a few texts, a phone call, or even a video chat.

Then I came up with an idea. I asked her if she would go on a trip with me to Hawaii. She excitedly accepted.

Hawaii was everything I wanted it to be. We had natural communication, and we opened up about ourselves, though obviously, I didn’t reveal my actual line of work; I said I was a hotel critic. She told me she was a flight attendant. 

This trip felt like a dream come true. We were there for five glorious days of conversation, dancing, drinking, karaoke, and great sex.

On our last day, I asked her if she would want to live with me. I told her I was willing to relocate if need be. She said she would love to live with me and had always wanted to move to Cali, not Hollywood, just somewhere along the Pacific.

We were planning on making the move in a few months. I flew home with a new plan in the works. I didn’t need money; my job paid damn well. What I needed was to get out of the business.

I told the boss, expecting him to be reluctant to let me leave. I was surprised that he claimed to understand. He told me a whole thing about how I’d be watched, and if I ever blabbed anything to anybody, he’d have my ass, blah blah blah. He said I would need to work for another month while my replacement was in training. One month became two, and before I knew it, I was getting an assignment, my last mission.

It was in New Orleans, her hometown. I was eager at the thought of seeing her, holding her again. Long distance fucking sucks. So I packed what I needed and left.

I should have known my boss would know about us and that I couldn’t take a vacation without being under surveillance. But I couldn’t have guessed everything that was about to happen.

I went to the address given to me, a small house in New Orleans.

I did some recon. It didn’t appear that my target was even home. The file they gave me on the target had little information. A blurry pic of a hooded figure, along with the address and a name, “Widow J,” that was what the boss called us, Widows. My target was like me, probably trying to run from the boss rather than confronting him.

I picked the lock, snuck into the house, and quietly went to the main bedroom. I peeked my head in, but there was no one in sight. The coast was clear. I decided to poke around and get something on my target. On the nightstand sat a small framed picture of a lovely African couple. The woman had some similarities to Sam, and I don’t just mean because she’s black. Their eyes, lips, and cheekbones were alike. The man I was surprised to have recognized.

I got into this business because of my Father. He did this before me. When I was a teenager, he took me on a couple of jobs, though I didn’t know that’s what they were at the time. 

He would do things a little bit differently. He would follow them to somewhere public and “meet them coincidentally,” I don’t know why he did this, but then he would follow them to a secluded area and kill them.

This African man in the pic was one of my Father’s targets. I know it. I never forget a face.

I felt something cold and firm pressed against the back of my neck. “Turn around slowly,” came a familiar but older voice.

I turned around to face the mother of the woman I loved. She held me at gunpoint.

“Who are you?” She asked.

I’m not proud of it, but I reacted without thinking. I swiped the gun from her with one hand while I drew my knife with the other. A slit her throat before she knew what was happening. Her dying body fell onto the bed. None of my victims have ever really haunted me before this one. God, I wished I hadn’t done that.

I am writing this from my new office in my house in California. I’m trying to be a writer.

The woman I love is maintaining working as a “flight attendant,” but I know her mother wasn’t the Widow. I’ve found the cards with the web and the red hourglass. I’m guessing Sam returned to work to find her mother’s killer. Maybe she started this job to avenge her Father.

I haven’t told her any of this. But I wonder, is it inevitable that she’ll find out? I think that she will. And when she does, will she kill me? Well, that will be her choice.

I’ve decided I’m not going to run, not going to leave her. I’ve hurt her family enough. It’s time she knew love. I will love her for the rest of my days, whether my end comes tomorrow or in sixty years. I will always love her. I will spend every day from here to the end trying to make up for what I did. Trying to deserve the love she shows me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that, but I’m damn well going to try.

Every night I still see her mother’s face; it haunts me. I deserve it.

I dedicate this story to righting our wrongdoings and sharing unending love. 

I bid you adieu.

November 08, 2022 02:59

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