Rambo, a wild-eyed kid in his late twenties stands facing the horizon. To his left stands a stern-faced fifty-year-old named Octavius, still donning his signature jet black hair even in his advanced age. Both dapper in their fitting, yet nondescript suits, they are smoking cigarettes, looking out at the sunrise. Octavius, just because he’s trying to keep the time. Rambo, because he is genuinely in awe. 

"You know, I'm as atheist as fuck,” Rambo says, “but it's shit like this that makes me believe maybe there is a god. Like he painted this shit just for me." 

"Sounds like a bunch of bullshit,” Octavius complains his mind still occupied by staying on schedule. 

“Well, what else could it be? How does somethin’ that beautiful happen by accident?” Rambo says pointing to the sky as if it could speak and testify on his behalf.

"Years of evolution,” Octavius just says. “It probably has somethin’ to do with fuckin’. Everything does.” 

“Where do you get this shit?" Rambo laughs, putting out his cigarette.

“Books,” Octavius cocks his gun. "it's a good thing, you young bucks should try it and stay off that damned Netflix."  

They both get in the car. A small, unassuming Ford. Any nobody could be driving it. Octavius takes the wheel. Rambo at his side, they drive off.

"Ok, what's the job today?" says Octavius, already getting down to business.

"Some woman in the upper east side," says the younger one, showing a photo of a Brunette in scrubs. "This is her picture."  

Rambo catches himself looking at the woman a little too long.

Octavius continues driving. But notices in his periphery. At first, he says it with a smile, "Don't think about it." 

"About what?"

"About catchin' feels for the target. I know how that ends." 

"Really. how does it end?" 

"With one of us looking up soulfully at the moon and the other in a body bag." 

He snatches the picture from Rambo, serious now.

"For real. I thought this would go without saying, but love and contract killin’ don't mix." 

"What? I'm in love now? I was just staring at the picture a little while. Wanted to make sure I got the face right." 


"What? You don't believe me?" 

"Fine," Octavius says, "let's do a walk thru."

"She's a part time nurse working her way through school. likes Thai food, poetry, and old Star Trek reruns. Smart as fuck. Been on the dean's list every year. But she’s coming off a bad divorce." 

"On the rebound, that means her poonanny is ripe for the picking huh?" 

Rambo gives a disapproving look.

"Sorry,” Octavius laughs. “go ahead tell me what's her schedule like." 

This question gives Rambo pause.

"Why I gotta tell you her schedule? The fuck that gotta do with anything?" 

"Because it's important so we can know the optimal time to kill her ass. You know? Less witnesses, know the location, maybe there's a pizzeria nearby. I get hungry after a kill." 

Rambo continues reluctantly, "She’s pretty busy. She has class Mondays through Thursdays. Works. double shift on Fridays and Saturdays but has every other Saturday off so she can--"

And that's the moment. Rambo hesitates for just a split second and Octavius knows. The elder shakes his head with a knowing smile. 

"Come on, Rambo, don't leave the world in suspense. So she can what?" 

Realizing defeat, Rambo admits, "So she can be with her son on visitation days." 

Octavius wraps the steering column in victory, "Badda bingo!" 

They're nearing their destination. 

"Look," he goes on, "we can't kill her at a school or a hospital. There are cops all over the place. If we get her, we get her at her home and yes there's a possibility her son will find her dead body in the living room. There'll be blood everywhere, a violin playin like somethin' out of a Disney movie." He turns to Rambo with serious eyes, "If she doesn't die, she testifies against the boss and he’s goin’ down and both you and me are gonna start getting fitted for pine boxes so I gotta know if you're gonna freeze because frankly I don't give a shit about you but I'm kind of fond of my ass."

“So I gotta know,” Octavius concludes, raising those black eyebrows inquisitively, “Is this gonna be a problem?”



Rambo pulls the trigger and the bullet flies from the chamber on a predetermined path unable to be pulled back in.

He watches as the ball of metal rips right through the young girl's cranium, tearing away flesh and turning a once walking, breathing human being into a lifeless clump on the floor. 

Octavius looks on, impressed. 

"Now, was that so hard?" 

He goes toward the kitchen as if he didn’t just witness a woman being murdered. 

"I wonder if this broad keeps beer in the house." 

Octavius's words are mere echoes in the background. Rambo hangs over his victim. Her eyes frozen on the final frame of her life -- pure terror written in her pupils. Rambo remembers his mother, finding her dead and what that did to him. How he burned to find the man who did it. How a younger Octavius helped him exact revenge. Now, he finds himself squarely on the other side of that equation. 

He looks toward the kitchen with pleading eyes as if Octavius has a magic wand to turn back the clock of time -- as if there is a solution to this dilemma of the soul. But Octavius merely strolls in slurping on a bottle of vodka.

"I'm impressed," he says, "this broad knows how to drink." 

But right before reaching the living room, he pauses, slightly taken aback. Rambo panics, realizing that his mentor has seen the worry in his eyes. A look, Rambo knows, that doesn't belong in the eyes of a contract killer. But soon Rambo realizes Octavius is not looking him but over his shoulder. 

"What did I tell you?" Octavius smiles as Rambo hears sobbing. 

He looks over his shoulder to see a young brown-haired boy hanging over his mother's dead body, crying. 

"Just like Bambi,” the cold-hearted Octavius beams. 

"Oh well," he goes over and pats the young boy on the head, "guess we gotta clean up."

He aims his gun at the boy's head. There's no hesitation. He pulls back the trigger. 

"Wait!" yells Rambo.

Octavius rolls his eyes, realizing that Rambo has interrupted him again. 

"What now?" 

"Nothing," Rambo says coldly. "I want to be the one to do it." 

Octavius is getting impatient. 

"You sure about this?" 

His resolve is steadfast, "Never been more sure in my life." 

"Fine," Octavio says. "be my guest." 

Rambo knows the road it leads to, but still he aims the gun and fires. It rips through the heart and blood explodes everywhere. When the dust has settled, Octavius lays on the ground clinging for life. 

"You ungrateful son of a bitch!" Rambo finishes him off with a killshot through the head. 

"Come with me," says to the boy. 

His tone is decisive but in truth he has no idea what he will do.  


As they ride to an unknown destination, vast roads in front of them silence pervades the entire trip. Droplets of sweat are forming all over Rambo's body. Finally, from boredom, the child asks the obvious question, "Where are you taking me?" 

Rambo gives the obvious answer, "I don't know." 

The child wrinkles his brow as much a child can wrinkle it and then asks the main question on his mind, "Did that other man kill my mother?" 

Lying is in a contract killer's nature. It comes natural to them, but there is something about coming face to face with your past that shatters a man. 

Rambo approximates the truth with, "He was sent by another man to kill your mother."  

"Who is he?" the boy asks. "Jules Espicito," Rambo confesses, because it feels good telling a full truth to the boy once and for all. But then Rambo realizes the boy is stirring. He is thinking and Rambo knows how this ends. The boy looks at Rambo's gun and says the words he himself said long ago, "Can we kill him?"

Rambo remembers this: the insatiable lust for vengeance. Key word insatiable. 

"Well," Rambo says to the boy, "why would you wanna do that?" 

"He killed my mom," the boy says and in that instant Rambo knows what he must do. 

"We'll kill him together," he says.  

The rest of the trip is a fog. They arrive at midnight and are in the middle of what might as well be nowhere. He walks the kid to a lake.

"Are you sure he's here?" the boy says. 

"The person who killed your mother is here, yes," Rambo says, going into his pocket for the gun.  

Killing the kid, after all, is for the best. He knows the road of vengeance, after all. It's a very long road. A road that leads to nowhere and goes on forever, growing with each kill. He reaches for the gun before realizing it's not there. 

At that point, all he can do is stand there and laugh in this Eureka kind of moment and say, "Kid's smart like his mom." 

The bullet blasts through Rambo's brain and his body plops to the ground. The boy, holding the gun, looks down at the clump of flesh. The satisfaction lasts for an instant. He looks at the moon reflecting off the lake and loves what he sees. He sees the next kill. He sees Esposito. 

One more, he tells himself.

Just one more. 

November 21, 2020 04:37

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