Rum, smoke and poetry. The three things that actually meant something to me. And the same three things that would come together within 10 short seconds to end a life. Sip, feel the burn and now swallow. That’s the rum. Take a drag on the Cuban cigar I’d been saving for just this moment. Exhale and see the smoke curl in front of your nose. That’s the smoke. Hold up the oily black metal. Shoot. And that’s the poetry. Because isn’t it poetic? Isn’t it just so romantic how lives can start and end with lovers? And that, as you walk away puffing on that chunky cigar leaving streaks of red lipstick on the rim as his body folds and crumples around the bullet, is 10 seconds on the dot.
It’s surprising quite how far 10 seconds can stretch. It’s not enough time to drink a coffee or walk a dog or even tie both shoelaces but it is most definitely enough to end a life. I could’ve probably done it in 5 but I liked the build up. I enjoyed the aesthetic of drinking and smoking to his life first. It was a mark of respect.
I’d loved him, I still do and that’s what made my heart ache. That was what the rum was for, my numbing agent. I’d looked him in the eyes, his gorgeous azure blue eyes and silently begged him to tell me it was a lie. It was good spiced rum, the sort I associate with dark winter nights when the wind moans against the windows and the angels cry, their tears soaking everyone unfortunate enough to be wading through puddles to get home. I say unfortunate but isn’t rain a part of poetry? The way it hammers down unforgivingly, the way the air feels before and the smell of the grass after. It’s like a warning and then a goodbye.
Nevertheless, he wasn’t going to tell me it was a lie because he couldn’t. I’d say the silence stretched but how could it when I only gave him a fraction of a second to reply. But to me it felt long enough, when faced with losing the one you love the most you shouldn’t need to hesitate. An empath would say the gun I was holding could’ve panicked him, caused him to sweat and his tongue glue to his mouth. But it was me. Surely, he’d know I wouldn’t shoot unless I had too.
The cigars were real Cuban cigars we’d brought under the fading sun and promised to keep for a big moment. I thought this was a big enough moment, and also the last one I’d spend with him. He could be buried with his, after all we don’t really know what comes after this and I’m not evil enough to deprive him of his big moment that could come after. He’d smiled at me when we brought them, actually he’d laughed. In my memory I can’t remember the sound he’d made but I remember the way his mouth tugged upwards and his eyes creased at the corners. A strand of his fringe had fallen out of place but somehow that made him look better. I guess that’s what happens when you love someone, the imperfections don’t seem to matter. They don’t deter you, but make you fall for them even more. You love how perfect the imperfections are.
I’d worn red lipstick to leave a mark on the part of the cigar I left behind. To analyse and confuse people who have to find a greater meaning in everything. Remember English lessons when that lady from that book wore a blue dress and we had to write essays on how blue was the colour of the sea and that could drown you the way you drowned in emotions and she was wearing blue to mirror her mental state. I wanted people to ponder over me that way, to look into all the details of this 10 second crime that had been committed and find me so intensely interesting they compared the red to blood or chilli peppers or roses studded with thorns. Honestly I chose red because I like the colour red.
I might’ve been aiming a gun at an unarmed man but only because his knife was already in my back. I felt my steady finger tighten on the trigger, the vibration as the bullet left the chamber and the shock that came after. He doubled over clutching at the bud of red that bloomed on his shirt, his face twisted into a mask of pain, of betrayal. I hadn’t had enough rum because I felt that pain too. It was like I’d aimed the gun at myself, I physically felt the pain in my stomach. He looked pale, really pale. I imagine I looked the same, shock will do that to a person. Could he not just have told me what I wanted to hear? What I had needed to know to ease the ache in my chest? No, he had increased it tenfold by looking at me with his beautiful arrogant face and stayed silent. It was the silence that killed him. His chiselled features, like they’d been carved from stone, remained unmoving as if he were trying to imitate the material he appeared to come from. That’s not true, his finger twitched so I knew he had heard me and knew he saw me staring straight at him. My eyes full of longing, hope, pain. One last look at his body to memorise every line and angle in the hopes of never forgetting. See how hopeful I am even at the end.
And then I walked. I stepped over his limp hand that had fallen to the floor and felt satisfaction as I heard my heels click on the tiles. Crossing my legs one in front of the other like a model on a catwalk and blowing cold air across my gun to feel like a badass from a movie, I walked.
‘This is all my fault.’ I paused for a millisecond, my foot hovering mid air, my stiletto heel barely scratching the red coated tiles at the thought that had slid into my head like those people that glide right in front of you when you’re ice skating and make you stumble and fall. A minuscule shake of my head and a turn back, my asphalt black hair twisting and coming to rest on my shoulder.
He did it, he’d made his choice, I was merely an enforcer of consequences. A mild anger come over me for a moment at how, even dead, he could somehow convince me it was my fault and make me feel inadequate. Well I wasn’t and if he hadn’t wanted this to be his fate he should’ve just reciprocated the only thing I ever gave him. A loyalty so fierce it would bind us beyond gun bullets, so I took small comfort in the fact that I would see him again and so really it wasn’t too much of a burden to even be my fault.
A smug smile settled on my face and I turned back to face the door and stepped forward with my black heels, a fingerprint sized blood smear on the toe of one to remind me where I’d come from.
Rum, smoke and poetry. It was all kinds of beautiful.