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Mariah 17

Muhammad Bashir


My psychiatrist tells me to keep a journal. If only she knew what I did for a living.

I'm a killer.

That would be uncomfortable…for her. I'm a fucking killer. I don't get uncomfortable anymore. No, not since I started killing people. Sometimes two a day. More, even. They were all hits or related to hits. I don't do randoms, not unless they deserve to die. My slice of dignity. Research is important to me; it takes a while to get to know my target, judge them, decide. I never take a kill unless they break a few of my rules. Killer has rules. What a crock of shit! But, if I didn't, I would be worse than an animal. A beggar. I'm plenty rich, so no need to beg. No thrills from killing, no need for money. I live in hotels. No religion. I just kill people. I'm sure there's something there, but that's why I have the psyche.

My rules are rather simple:
1. They must be unrepentant.

By no means am I a religious fellow, but, I respect the conscience. It never quits. Never does a day go by that I don't mull over a kill. Sometimes I'm numb, but I figure I'm a killer. Men and women who do things for which my services are needed must still have a fully-functioning conscience, or I will kill them.

There's obviously prep work. Let me backtrack for one second. I killed those seventeen people in a very small window of time. The research and prep took months, a lot of timing to kill three people in one day. I did and they are dead.

2. No good intentions aloud.

I hate killing good people, humble people who have good intentions. I’ll kill them, but I’d rather keep it to villains and delinquents. And women. It never feels good killing a woman, can’t be justified to the mind. I made some of those kills as a beginner. I'll kill a woman. But killing people who do bad things for the right reason, that I'll never do again. Never!! But some women, they don't pass the other test. I'll kill her, and, well, it’s no different from a man. It’ll ripple in my stomach and fester in my mind for a while, but it is my value, it is my work. It is the thing that separates me from laymen.

3. I prefer arrogance, pride, dirt bags, jerks, or anything in that class.

It’s obvious, huh, that I'm making this shit up as I go. The truth is, I go with what they did, and how I feel about the act. That's my rule, but those three things are important to me.

Your life is defined by your past mistakes. I’ve had my fair share and I don’t regret them. They’re a part of me. Still, they rot. They smell and create an odor and it never fades. My third hit. Mind you, I'm forty-two years old and I've killed 229 people. Who the fuck remembers number three? It wasn't just a woman. He was an ex-football player out of Missouri, and he meddled with people you don't meddle with: gangsters. Not mafia; I mean thugs. Tatted up, no shirt, baggy pants hanging down their ass, thugs.

My name was on the wire now. I'd hit two mafia boys and made it look like it was two thugs. Funny, right? Fucking idiots hired me and I was the reason the mafia was digging up their asses. But, I met them. Always over the phone. They didn't know me. Let’s keep it that way. I called them. It went normal, they gave me the name. No problems. I burnt the phone. I didn't do research back then; it was all about money and reputation. Kill a mark, move on, who the fuck cares.

I remember everything about him. Scott Mack, quarterback out of Missouri. Four-time all pro, two bum knees. Retired the year prior. I'd be quick and I'd need a gun. He was 6 feet 2 inches, 223 pounds. I remembered this guy. He broke all types of pro combine records. A gun, simple, quick kills. It was made easier by the fact that the guy was cheating. Meeting some young college cheerleader at a hotel, for two years now. She was a part of the hit. I didn't like iteven then, but it was about reputation.

The kill was quick and easy. They met, they fucked, and they slept. That was the routine. I came in, found them in bed asleep. I killed him with one shot to the head. The silencer on the gun did the job. Then the girl; the same, but through her temple, not the forehead. Now the set-up. I laid them out, put Scott facing the entrance door. His dead body sitting up on the ground, his back against the hotel bed. His head lay limp in his chest. The shot was clean, but one line of blood rolled down his forehead and onto his chest. It was a good kill. The girl’s body, I left in the bed. It screamed murder-suicide. Jealous girlfriend, married ex-football star. She shot him, tried to clean it up, gave up, shot herself. I cleaned the gun. I always clean the gun, even though I wear gloves. Idiot. I laid the gun in front of her after first putting it in her hands for prints.

The scene reeked of a third party. This was Missouri. The story was too big, too juicy. I was too good. Unseen, no evidence. They would throw in the towel.

Three weeks passed. They ate the story alive. Some suspected the wife, but she had an alibi. The story grew. They documented the girl. Fuck!! I didn’t want to know about it, but I watched, anyway. It was national news. It was so fucking clear, and that annoyed me. She was innocent. She fell in love with the college coach, the great champion who'd returned from a good football career to his hometown. He promised to leave his wife, to take care of her. She was a mother, and she was expecting. Every night there was something new. Scott was leaving, the divorce papers were in, still, the wife played the innocent role. She knew. I got played. The cops investigated and stories of her thug new boyfriend began to come out. I'm too good, I wasn't concerned. They wouldn't link the two. But, now I was interested. I didn't know about the kid, it was a girl, and now she had no mother. The fetus was dead. I added it to my kills. Fuck!! It was obvious and I was oblivious. They played the rookie. It was a month later now. I'd killed two others since. And I had flown back to Missouri.

I was not happy, so I killed that bitch. First, I broke into her new boy’s house and stole his gun to make the kill. He wouldn't have an alibi. He was tied up in the closet. She was in the bed, dead. I left him unconscious in the living room. The cop sirens were clear. I was away. Life in prison. Now, I have to abide by other people’s rules.


I hate killing young people, but this kid deserved to die. White male, twenty-four years old, medium build, rich. He had a name, but you have to remember that when I killed this kid, I was in the hundreds. Still, I remember him as one.

I remember him going into a bar at 11 pm and then coming back out at midnight. He walked away, his legs strong; he was sober. Something happened inside. This was an upscale bar, hidden in an urban setting. No name on the door. I walked in, the door slid and brushed against the floor, but made no sound. A couch lay directly in the middle of the room as you entered. It was well lit. The walls were all bright, each one a different color. White trim lined the top and bottom of each wall. Full leather love seats, and leather chairs were all around the couch. This place was made of money. The door closed, and I looked to my left. There was the bar. A clean-cut man stood behind it. What bartender doesn't have facial hair, I thought.

The top of the bar was made of a fine glass; the stump was of mahogany. The floor was marble; the environment screamed wealth.

"Who was the guy who just left?" I asked the bartender.

"Who the fuck are you?” he responded.

There's the bartender, I thought again to myself.

I approached the bar, got close. Quickly, with my right hand, I grabbed his head, put my thumb in his eye, and grasped his head with my fingers. I slammed it against the glass. It cracked, but only a little. His body bounced back against the wall, as if he was pulled back by a rope. His body, limp, fell to the ground and he lay on his right side. No blood, but he was out cold. His left arm drooped over his head, his right stretched out passed his head on the floor.

I knelt down. "Hey!” I said, as I slapped his face with the back of my hand. No use.

I stood up and walked over to the bar. I found a tap for root beer. I rarely ever drink, especially not while on the clock. I poured myself a glass. A refrigerator was behind me, but the motionless body of the bartender stood in the way. I stepped over him and while stabilizing myself against the refrigerator door, I pushed his body out of the way—all for a lime. That reminds me, I thought, as I added the slice of lime to my drink. It always reminds me of one of my most memorable kills. He was unrepentant, an arrogant fuck, from Reno, where arrogant fucks live. I'd had this guy on my radar for some time. I was well established at this point. My guess, this guy was somewhere between thirty and fifty. Fuck face. This would be the night, but I was still very hesitant to make the kill. I took a seat next to the guy; one stool separated us at the bar. The place was a hole in the wall, not the cool type, but the shit-hole type. That was the smell it gave off; rats ran around on the floor. Their droppings sat in corners, built up like mounds. One guy, save the two of us, was a visitor. Drunk off his ass. I think he was more at home than a guest. He faced the wall, his head hovering over the top of his glass, his eyes staring into the glass.

"What'll it be, buddy?" the bartender asked.

Before I could speak, the mark, drunk, jumped in. "Buddy!" he barked. "I swear bartenders are becoming fairies, real fucking fairies,” he said.

I turned my attention to the bartender after looking at the mark while he spoke. He didn't turn to acknowledge either of us in his rant. Again, before I could speak, "Just ask him what he wants to drink. You don't need to say ‘buddy’," he said, finally looking at the bartender. "What kind of drink do you want? That's it! Fucking faggots! I swear, taking over the fucking world."

The bartender, not bothered, just raised his eyebrows at me. His hands clutched the edge of the mahogany bar. I could feel his displeasure and anger. But, he remained still. "Root beer, with a lime," I told the bartender.

"You serious? You fucking serious?" he responded immediately.

I knew how this would end. Today. I would sit and he would berate me. I would wait for the opportunity and then kill him. One stool still separated us. I sat to his right. He opened his body to me.

"You a faggot?” he asked, his head nodding up and down. I looked at him and slowly shook my head in the negative. I kept my body straight, and after looking and answering the mark, I gave my attention back to the bartender, as he placed my drink in front of me.

"What's your name?" the mark asked me.

"Mariah," I answered. I knew what his response would be, and that would be all I needed. I came here to see if he had a soul or a conscience. He was giving me my answer, and now I had obligations. When the opportunity presented itself, I would finish him.

"Yeah, you fucking chance,” he started drunkenly. Or, you never had a fuckin chance with a faggot name like that?” he said, laughing.

That was enough for the bartender. He wiped his hands with a towel hanging across the bar. He headed down toward the end of the wall, opened a door, and walked into a back room. I had a strap on, the ones you see cops wear. Neither of my two guns had a silencer, but it was in my inside jacket pocket. I had no plans of killing this guy in the bar, but that was about to change. I turned to look behind me. The drunk was still at it, his head still hovering over the glass, his right eye looking into its emptiness. I reached behind, grabbed my drink, and squeezed the lime into the glass. I took a small sip, walked over to the drunkard, and put the glass down in front of him. I put my hand out to let him know it was his. He immediately pulled it over in front of him. He had a big smile. He'll be disappointed in a second. As he began to drink, I pulled my mosquito and put on the silencer. I turned back to the wallowing mark behind me, walked up to him, and put two shots in the back of his head as he was pulling the glass up to his mouth. I didn't stay to review my work. He was dead. As I walked away, I heard the glass hit the bar, followed by the thump of his head and the smashing of the glass bottle. I opened the door and in the background, I could hear the drunkard mutter, "Heyyyy, this ain’t beer."

As I finished my drink, I heard a scream. The bartender was still unconscious. Halfway down the bar, which went the length of the wall, at least thirty feet, was a door. I walked down and waited. Nothing. I thought, it must have come from outside the building. But, I heard something. Crying. I jumped onto the bar, positioned myself, and slid my feet across. As my feet hit the ground, another scream sounded. It was soft, but definite. I went to the door and placed my hands, then my right ear. It was a girl; she sounded young. I was afraid of what I might see. It was locked, of course. I pulled my mosquito out, screwed the suppressor on, and took one step back. I barred my eyes with my left forearm and took the shot. It hung a little, so instinctively I just kicked the door. It flew back and slammed against the wall, the top hinge broke off, and the door fell down like a guillotine, stopped only by the wall across. I grabbed it on opposite sides and pulled the other end off its hinge. I placed it at an angle against the wall. The whole time, I could hear the young girl’s cries speed up, and soften. Every breath accompanied by tears, and a failed attempt to hide a fear in controlled deep breaths.

The room was narrow. It went no more than six feet before turning into a downward staircase. Quickly, I turned and jumped over the bar counter, using only my left hand to brace myself. I stumbled forward a little, as my feet hit the ground. The bartender was still out cold. A metal pole stood from the floor to the roof. I hurried over to him, grabbed him by both of his wrists, and dragged the body to the pole. Each hand on either side, I pulled out a pair of handcuffs and tied them. I went to move, not realizing that my right glove was caught. With the weight of his body, they tore. Leather, $200; I was pissed. I ran around the bar and back to the opening. I pulled my mosquito out and started down the stairs. Anyone could come in; anyone could be down here. Either way, what the fuck. I made little noise as I went down the stairs. The right corner of a bed came into view, then her wrist. She was tied down. I moved, I stopped. She heard the thump.

"Please!" she screamed out. "No more! No more! Please! Please! Please!” She was hysterical.

The edge of the wall was at an end. I could see her struggling on the bed. I paid little attention. I turned quickly to my left. No one. She saw me. Her wrist and ankles were tied to the bed. White linens, blood soaked. She pulled inward with all her strength to cover her nude body. The veins in her neck and thighs bulged out aggressively. I went to her, quickly. Anything could be happening upstairs.

"No! Please!" she said, begging for mercy.

I could only muster, "I will not hurt you." I said nothing else to her.

I pulled out a pocket knife, cut the thick rope holding her ankles to the bed. Free, she pulled back immediately to cover her nude body from me. A wrinkled-up line cloth lay on the floor next to the bed. I grabbed it and quickly moved back. She was terribly uneasy, frightened, trembling. A shudder rushed through me. I stood my distance, extended the cloth into the air, stepped a little closer, and let it fall gently to cover her nakedness. She cried hysterically. I'd done all that I was willing to do for her. She was maybe seventeen. I turned and walked back up the stairs. I heard her say, "Please, help me!" but I didn't remember much else until I was standing over the motionless body of the bartender with a glass of water in my left hand, my mosquito in my right. I thought, I could just kill this guy and walk out. I didn’t need the extra work. I knew my mark. I knew where he stayed, where he hung out, and where he worked. I didn’t need this guy.

I threw the water, angling the glass downward. Some hit his face, some missed entirely, landing on the floor. My hand still vibrated with nervousness and anger. It distorted the launch. He did not wake up quickly. Good! Had he, I’m sure my anger would have overtaken me and I would have shot him, many times. He woke slowly, and I stood patiently waiting for the right moment, for him to be aware of the moment and what was about to happen to him. He had to fully appreciate my mood and then he would die. So I waited.

He was awake, groggy. Still, somehow I knew that he was not playing around with me. My mind began to clear up. I realized I was still holding the empty glass in my hand, as though it was still filled with water. Dazed, I looked down at the glass. I threw it up against the wall and it broke. The sound of glass shattering seemed to do the trick. His eyes bulged out. He stared at my shoes. He tried to gather himself. It was quick, but you could see his brain trying to make sense of the situation. One second, he was standing and a badass bartender. Now, he was lying on the cold, wet floor. The feeling of defeat seemed to hover over him. He knew he would die. He was just coming to terms with how.

This is where I came in.

I reached down and grabbed the hair of his head so fast that my coat seemed to stay put, only agreeing to move by force. My knees bent with me. I thrust myself back up in the air and pulled him up. It was easy, like he was a child. It was my anger. I recognized the tap, tap, tap of the metal from the handcuffs hitting and grinding against the metal pole. I stood him up, maybe four or five inches above my head.

I don’t know where the strength came from. The young lady? Probably. How many times had they raped and abused her? I was filled with blind rage. It came back in spurts.

As I looked at him, his body reminded me of the magician holding the rabbit after he’d pulled it out of the hat. The metal pole was up against the guy’s right shoulder. His left arm forced across his body, chained by the handcuffs to the pole. I imagined walking in on myself, that I might look like a superhero at this moment. How dazed I was. What if someone came in? The thought popped into my head shortly after my fantasy faded away. I turned to look down at my mosquito that I held at the middle of my thigh. Then I focused back on him. His eyes were also fixed on the mosquito. We have our coward.

I pulled the gun up from my side and placed it under his chin. “Yeah” I said, pausing. “it’s a small gun, but it gets the job done.”

My right arm was steady. Not his heart beat. My hand wrapped around his neck, I could feel his pulse. It gave him away. His heart raced. I could almost hear it beat. It didn’t say anything. It felt as though it would jump out of his chest, and I looked down, as if to confirm.

“Mmmmm,” he mumbled.

I focused back. “You got something to say?”

His head bobbed up and down, up and down. “Yes, yes,” he said, struggling.

“Who’s the girl,” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

His legs began to swing in the air; they seemed to nibble at my shin. I looked down. His feet were five inches from the ground. I realized that my strength was coming from my right leg, I’d straightened it out to brace him up against the metal pole. All in a second, I thought this. My mind was beginning to reason.

“But, I know who may know,” he remarked. Spit seemed to be gathering in his mouth.

“I don’t care.”

“What?” he tried to begin.

“Shut up!” I shouted. “I’m going to kill you shortly. That’s going to happen. I need to know two things first, though: The girl. Did you rape her?”

He seemed to only hear the news of the eventual outcome.

“Understand, there’s more than one way to die. Long and short. Painful and easy. Now,” I asked softly, “did you fucking rape that girl?”

He nodded his head up and down, just the once.


The snot in his nose and the tears in his eyes begin to roll down his cheek and lips. It coalesced at his chin and began to stream into grooves between my hand and his neck. I knew that with the moisture I wouldn’t be able to hold him for much longer.

“Now, the guy who just left,” I began, “did he?”

This time, his head went up and down, again and again, and again. He seemed to be trying to make a deal. Or he thought maybe I wouldn’t kill him because he wasn’t the only rapist. But no.

I told him, “Don’t worry. In a short time, I’m going to kill him, too.”

I let his body drop, I stepped back and wiped my right hand quickly against my pant leg, above my thigh. He hit the ground steady, but bent at the knees, nearly completely falling on them. He braced himself up against the pole. I switched the gun into my right hand. He began to maneuver his body, with the help of the pole, to stand upright. And, when he stood up straight, I had my mosquito, my arm straight, and my mind set. He looked me in the eyes. I saw regret. I pulled the trigger.

In all the excitement and anger, I’d forgotten to put my silencer on the gun. It was like hearing a canon, maybe, because I was close. Maybe because I was unfocused. It hit me fast. I did not stay to admire my kill. I only saw his head fly back upon impact with the bullet. And, a bead of blood that shot out, boomeranging behind his head. At that point, I turned and ran, first, hitting my pelvis hard against the bar. The pain bent my body downward a bit. I gathered myself with my right hand and leaped over the bar, my buttocks and right thigh sliding across. I put the mosquito away and headed for the door. My right arm was killing me. What a mess!

If someone walked in now, they wouldn’t see the superhero; they’d see the old man, just a perpetrator. I burst through the door. No one. I took a long, deep breath and grabbed my right arm. I took a second to collect myself before starting to walk slowly across the street, holding my arm the entire time. Now my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I thought about the girl.

I went down the road a bit, parked my car, and walked up. I reached into my jacket pocket and grabbed my phone. I called the police. My heart was steady beats now.

“Girl, being raped. Guy shot dead. 304 Pointer Street.”

I rested my arms on top of the car after putting the phone back into my pockets. It took twenty minutes before I heard sirens. I understood the neighborhood choice. By that time, I’d gotten back into my car. I only waited to be sure no dirt bags came back and went into the building. I thought about the girl as I drove away. Each thought brought tension. It does so to this day. I took a back alley to avoid the police sirens.

I managed to arrive back at the hotel, a two-story building, with no fuss. I walked up the stairs. My back was strained and, as I walked, I was humped over with my right hand pressed against my back. My left grasped the rail as I ascended. I got to the door, one deep breath after another. I was exhausted. I opened the door and walked through. I went straight to the bathroom. I leaned over the sink. Deep breaths, in and out, in and out. I looked into the mirror. I thoughtfully reminded myself, You’re old, buddy.

I washed and checked all my clothes for blood. My shirt and pants were clean, but the bottom of my jacket had blood stains all over it. When I went to run, my jacket must have shot into the air and collected his blood. It all happened so fast. I wouldn’t take the risk. I put the jacket into a black plastic bag the hotel provided, went downstairs, and threw it into the garbage. No one would check some cheap motel for a killer’s jacket. They wouldn’t even know who I was.

I’d reserved the cheap hotel just in case something like this happened. Now, I would check out and go to the Grand. I’m rich. I don’t do hole-in-the-wall hotels or motels. When I checked into my room at the Grand, I went straight for the bed and fell asleep.


I’d made my move. The kid had to be afraid now. He knew his hot spot was not an option anymore. I woke up around 8 pm. I’d slept for about four hours. I’d unwittingly spent four hours making a fool of myself, two in the bar. I’d remembered the girl. I thought she may give me up. Still, I came to San Francisco for one reason, two now, one unfinished. I turned on the news. The twenty-four-hour news sites were all over the story. I waited for fifteen minutes to see if my face would turn up, but nothing. So I left. This little devil went in to work from 1 pm to 9 pm every day. He was an investment banker who worked for his rich father. He did nothing. He was a puppet king, puppet prince, who walked around the office spouting orders and yelling at employees. Worthless. He brought in an eight-figure salary a year. Really just an allowance he received from his father. I can’t wait to kill this guy.

I stood in front of the coward’s building outside my rental car, a black Nissan Altima. I was dressed nice in a black coat, black slacks, and thin black tie. You get the picture. This would be a lot different from the bar scene earlier that day. I reached into my back pocket and grabbed my gloves, and slid them on as I admired the building. It reminded me of London. The buildings slid up right next to one another, hugging. You could not distinguish where one building ended and the next one began, save the entrances and alleyways that separated one building from another.

I walked toward his building and passed the entrance. The alleyway would be my entrance. I turned the corner and looked down the way. It was dark; only light came in from the opposite side of the street, bending just enough to make shadows of the trash cans and bins that indented from the building into the street. I’d broken in twice already, just for practice; I’m a perfectionist. Thus, I knew exactly how to get in and where to go, so I headed straight for the ladder that was attached to window fire exits. I’d pulled it down once before, and I guess I’m the only person who comes and plays down dark alleyways. He was on the third floor, so I climbed.

I’d come to his building and the window was unlocked, exactly as I’d left it two days earlier. This would be an easy job. This kid had everything easy in his life, and would never expect that a hit man was trying to kill him.

He must have enemies on top of enemies, I thought as I climbed through the window into the home.

He was obviously a twenty-something-year-old. The place reeked of beer and ass. I don’t know of any other euphemisms. It smelled. I thought to myself as I began to position myself, how I would kill this kid. I could not help but reference in my mind the villain who sat in the dark room waiting as the victim comes home. As they enter and close the door behind them, you hear, “Hello.” They are startled. They put their hand over their chest, drop whatever it is that they were carrying—keys, purse, what have you. I wanted to be cool, like one of James Bond’s villains, if not Bond himself. So I waited. I decided not to wait at the door. If he had guests, I’d have to kill them all and that’d be a mess right at the entrance. No, I’d wait in the kitchen, where I was sure he would hunt for a beer or a Jack.

I’d looked in the kid’s cooler—refrigerator, whatever you wish to call it. No food, just juice, alcohol I should say. I call it “juice” the way people drink it these days. Jack Daniels, three or four different light beers, two separate Vodkas, and more. Stuff I’d never even heard of, like Russian-titled shit. I imagine you’d need a host of different drinks to live with yourself after doing what this guy did to that young girl.

I took a chair from his dining room, placed it in the kitchen, and sat down in it. It was nine o’clock now. The kitchen was the size of a small studio apartment. The type I lived in, after living with my mother and two sisters. I crossed my legs, the right over the left, as I waited. I placed my left hand on my thigh. In my right hand, I held my mosquito, silencer on and ready. I rested it on top of my left hand inches away from my knee. I tapped the end of the silencer against my knee, as I thought of playing my guitar and how my mother and father would play. Every night, I began to think as I heard the key at the door. The lights were out; I remained still. I waited. My only hope was that the mark was alone.

The lock shook and then turned hard, given the hard click. The door rushed open and I could feel someone come into the apartment, even from the kitchen. Then the wall shook. “Fuck!” the mark screamed out.

“What the fuck!” he yelled again, this time closer. It was followed by the sound of his keys hitting the ground and sliding on the floor with a soft jingle.

He was coming my way and he was moving fast. It was clear that he was upset. I could only surmise. It must have been the dead bartender and his favorite bar had been shut down. My guess. He rushed into the kitchen and flipped the light switch. I remained still. No longer tapping the silencer on my knee. He went right for the refrigerator door. He was in a rush, so I felt the need to stand. I pointed the mosquito at him. He turned my way; he’d grabbed the Russian. As soon as he saw me, he dropped the bottle to the ground. His lips read a big, “Oh shit!” The plastic bottle bounced off the ground and quickly landed straight up. I waited, turned my head to the right a little, and then back to the left. I wanted this prick scared, like that young girl was scared.

I stalled and looked at him with a blank stare, not moving, letting his mind wander in every direction possible. Finally, “Hello,” I said.

“You like raping little girls,” I followed in a soft voice, low enough that maybe he wouldn’t hear every word. In the middle of the kitchen, there was an island, which separated me from him. I thought he may try to duck underneath, so, “Put your fucking hands up,” spit right out of my mouth. I could not lose my composure. Again, I thought, play it cool, “and don’t make any sudden movements,” I finished.

“You a cop?” he finally spoke. He didn’t sound afraid. Maybe he thought he could buy his way out of this. A bribe, or just get a good lawyer. Not this time.

I shook my head side to side.

“Not a cop,” he said, his hands still raised.

He glanced down at the floor. I thought he might try something, but, it was only for a second, such as to gather a thought.

“Then who the fuck are you?” he replied.

There, the unrepentant little prick I wanted. This would make it worth my while. If the girl wasn’t enough, this idiot thought he could do or say whatever he wanted, no consequences.

“Hey, you with the gun,” he began.

I shot off a shot. It wisped by his left hand and into the wall. I said nothing.

“Look, man, I don’t…I don’t know what you want. Who are you?” he asked, dipping his shoulder to express his confusion.

I signaled with my head for him to head out of the kitchen.

“Keep your hands up. Don’t make any sudden movements. Or I’ll kill you. Do you understand?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“Now, head to the living room and sit on the couch.”

“I’m not poor. It’s a study, you dumb ass.”

That was enough. He needed me to communicate to him the seriousness of the moment. I took four quick steps toward him to get closer, picked up my arm at an angle, aimed the gun at his leg, and pulled the trigger. It took him by surprise. He jumped in reaction to being shot, but as soon as he moved, the bullet went through his calf.

“Ahhhhh!” he screamed. “What the…” he began to say.

“Scream again,” I responded, “and the next one will go through your head.”

“I don’t know, man. I don’t know,” he said as he lifted his leg into his hands.

Blood ran down through the wound in his leg and into his hands. It dripped out onto the floor. He cried softly, sniffling as he stared into my eyes. There was some fear now. He wanted to speak, but he didn’t know what to say. He jumped up and down on his left leg, his good leg, trying to balance himself. He awaited my orders. He was flustered. His eyes blinked erratically as the blood dripped down his leg into to his shoe. I wasn’t sure if he would lose too much blood and fall out. Either way, this needed to get on the road. I had a whole week of killing ahead of me.

“What are you waiting for?” I asked him.

“I don’t know man. Whatever you want.”

“Put your foot back on the floor and walk to the…” I paused, “study, and take a seat on the couch.”

“Ok, ok,” he said, as he put his bloody leg back down to the ground. He hesitantly put his foot on the ground, as if he was afraid of stepping on glass. He gripped the walls in the entranceway, each on opposite sides of the other, with his bloody hands. He limped a little, but mainly tried to hobble his way, using the wall for strength. This just made me indignant.

“Let go of the wall, you prick, and walk on both legs, like normal.”

He immediately let go of both sides of the wall, fell forward a little, but did not lose his balance. The walls were white, and his bloody hands left a clear hand imprint on both sides. Smeared, but still obvious. He bent down and placed his head into his hands and cried aloud obnoxiously.

“Every time you search for pity, think about that girl you raped,” I said. “Now, move, or I’m going to shoot the other leg and make you crawl to the…study.”

“OK, OK!” he said as he finally pulled himself up and began to move forward.

As he walked, and his right foot hit the ground, I could hear the blood that had dripped down and built up, squishing around in his dress shoes. With each step, he grimmest in pain. It brought me no joy to see or hear him in these uncomfortable moments. My thought as I followed behind him slowly was, it was my responsibility to make him pay, that I had to make him feel the pain. But, the actual moment itself brought me no joy.

“Take a seat,” I said to him, as we entered the study and he was standing in front of the couch.

The room was, if you could imagine, a rich shit hole. Clothing everywhere, empty beer bottles, pizza boxes sitting in the fireplace. There was pizza still in the box.

“What a slob,” I said in a low voice. I wanted him to hear it, so I said it louder, “What a rich slob you are!”

He sat down, letting out a groan of relief.

“I’m never here,” he said.

“Get a maid.”

“I’ll keep that in mind for the future. A maid, a bodyguard.”

“Don’t test me, kid.”

He just shook his head up and down quickly. Sitting down must have made the pain subside a bit, and just like that, he was back to being a dick.

I walked along the back of the couch, toward a small chair at its end. He was holding his leg still, covering the gunshot wound with his two hands. The blood had mainly stopped pouring out, but was still coming down, slowly.

“You think that’s going to help?” I asked as I took a seat in the chair next to him.

“I don’t know. My first bullet wound.”

This kid was made of sarcasm. My comments didn’t help. Maybe, I was mad that he had a quicker wit than I.

“How do we end this?” he asked.

I wanted to tell him how it would end. I’ll shoot you in your other leg. Then in the groin. The arm. The opposite wrist. All, of course, after taping your mouth shut with duct tape that I’d been carrying in my jacket pocket. I’d have a seat and wait. Not to enjoy. For you to feel the pain. Hell, who knows if that even exists. Just in case, I’ll take care of my part on this end. I’ll give it about twenty minutes and walk over to your bloody body. Rest my silencer on your forehead and shoot you between the eyes, from inches away. All while imagining classical music playing in the background.

But no, I couldn’t tell him that. He would scream, run, and it would be an entirely different scenario. Louder, quicker, less bloody.

“No, I can’t. Really!” I responded. “Tell you what, you answer some questions I have for you and we’ll see if…oh, I don’t know…we can end it in a more efficient way than I’m imagining.”


“Now, your rough-and-tumble bartender friend gave me a few secrets, before, well, you know…”

His head popped up and his eyes, which were focused on his wound, were now fixated on me.

“You killed…” he began.

“You didn’t put that together. You thought that the two things didn’t coincide. You get held up the same day the rape game ends and your friend turns up dead.” I glanced over and shrugged my shoulders. “Sure.”

He bent back into the couch. His eyes drooped into his chest. “You going to kill me?” he asked, picking his eyes back up to await my response.

I sat back in the chair, adjusted for comfort, and sat both arms down on each armrest. I crossed my right leg over the other. Tapped the tip of my silencer against the side of the chair. I rolled my head in a side-to-side motion to express my uncertainty to him. I expressed it deeply in my facial expressions, as well.

“I mean, what do you want to know?” he asked.

“I, ugh, well, like I said before…and quickly. There’s no scenario where you scream, or run, or scream and run…and don’t die,” I said, motioning with the gun for emphasis.

He shook his head up and down, quickly, attentively.

“Questions. I have these questions that I need you to answer. Some for my own curiosity and some for future reference. Potentially. OK?” I asked, opening my palms to him.


“Ok. Good. The bartender said you raped the girl. I know that. By the way, don’t lie to me. Some of these answers, I know already. Maybe the guy told me, maybe the girl told me.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“How many times and for how long? I mean weeks, days, how long was she there?”

“It’s not just me,” he began.

I shot at him, missing on purpose. Aiming and hitting the pillow cushion next to his right leg. He jumped back, letting out a quick and effeminate shriek.

“Answer the question, kid.”

“Me, um,” he took a deep breath. “Ten times.”

My heart dropped. I thought it’d had to have been repeatedly. By him, also the bartender. Maybe another, who escaped through a back exit.

“How long?” I asked.

“They bring in a new girl every day. Sometimes they’re American…” he picked up his right shoulder and raised his eyebrows, “and sometimes they're not. Mainly not. That’s why this girl was special.”

“Ok. I don’t want you to elaborate. Not at all. Just answer the questions,” I said.

“What do they do with the girls, when you're done?”

“I asked once, jokingly. And, the bartender told me they just leave the foreigners in the street. The Americans, they threaten, take their I.D., and then leave in the street. That’s why they’re rare.”

“Were there any others? Who raped her, specifically?”

“Just me and the bartender.”


“Do you know this girl, or something? Because, if you do, I’m so, so sorry…” he began.

“No,” I responded. “Don’t elaborate, don’t add subjects, and don’t interrupt. Just answer the fucking questions.”

He shook his head hurriedly in agreement.

“Who supplies the girls?” I continued.

“I don’t know, the bartender and the owner. I don’t know.”

He’d totally forgotten about his wounded leg. Even tapping it on the ground nervously as he answered the questions I put to him. He was attentive, which was clearly based in fear. He didn’t know, that was obvious. Either way, it made no difference. I’d kill him here shortly, just maybe not as I’d imagined.

“Who’s the owner?”

“I don’t know. The bartender never told me his name, never told me the owner’s name. That’s how they referred to everything. He was the bartender. The owner was the owner.”

“One more question,” I began, but first I paused and looked all around the apartment. “What leads a rich person like you to do something like this? I mean, you got all this.” I said as I admired the lavish, aesthetically-pleasing room. Even behind the clothing and wreckage of an out-of-control twenty-four-year-old kid, you could see the potential.

“Money’s not everything,” he answered. His eyes were glazed over. His voice laid out a serious tone. He stared me in the eyes. And, gave his appeal for life.

“Yeah,” I responded.

Before I could speak, he added, “Are you poor?” I stared at him with a blank stare. “No,” he responded, answering for me. “You kill people.”

That was as fair an assessment as I could ever have asked for, but not enough for reprieve. Still, something in me connected with him. I wanted to inquire about his childhood, about his upbringing, where he went wrong. Perhaps his mother was raped by his father, or he beat her. What was the connection? Enough, I thought to myself. I have not come here to inquire, save for a third rapist, or a supplier. Had he had their name, I would have killed them, as well. But, he knew nothing. Now, he would be put to death and this episode put into the books.

I uncrossed my legs slowly. His eyes still fixed on me. I raised up to my feet and stood up straight. I pulled my right arm up and, with my left hand, checked the tightness of the silencer on my mosquito. He stared on.

“You know, maybe you’re right,” I answered. “But, in no world did that bartender deserve another breath.”

“What about me?” he asked. He knew the answer to the question before he asked. But, he let it drift in the air, waiting for me to answer.

I would not do it as I’d first imagined. He’d gone a long way to appeal his punishment. I was no longer inclined to make it full of pain. Not as I’d imagined at all. I pointed the gun at him, and placed aim.

“Kid, this could have been a lot worse.” I proceeded to shoot him through the heart. His body shot backwards. His buttocks rose an inch or two off the cushion. His body fell and lay on top of the armrest. His upper back, shoulders, and head arched into the air. He did not move. I was not sure if the deal was done. I walked up closely to his body and reached down to grasp his left wrist that lay lazily into the air, outside the frame of the couch. I waited. No pulse. Sixty seconds passed, no pulse. For good measure, I took another shot. Through the forehead. But, he was dead. I looked down at his motionless body. I felt empty. There is no glory in this gig, I swear. No joy. Only remorse.

I left. I walked back down the dark alleyway to my car. Still parked. I walked slowly over to the driver seat. I acknowledged a passerby as she walked along the sidewalk. I opened the door and got into the car. I removed the duct tape from my jacket pocket and threw it over into the passenger seat. I stared at the lady through the window as she continued to walk away from my car. She could be next, attractive woman like her. Anyone. I failed to accomplish anything, but my payday. It’ll just continue on and some other piece of shit will take his place.

Were he and I the same? I wondered as the door slammed shut. I drove off, headed to Los Angeles to continue my work. A six-hour drive filled with contemplation. Who did I just kill? Was it a boy who’d been raped repeatedly himself? A man who had to watch his mother physically and emotionally beat by his father? Or just some rich kid, who didn’t have enough, so he felt he had to take even more? Who made the hit? Some prior rape victim? A hedge fund client who’d been screwed out of a fortune? I didn’t know. Either way, I got the call. The crime was a legitimate one.

He was right about one thing, for sure: I do kill people. And, he had to die.


The Cartel. This group, you don’t mess with them. You kill who they want you to kill, when they want you to kill, where they want you to kill them. Or you die. They don’t call you, they don’t work through the grapevine of the hit man market. No. They come to your door and hand you the letter. You make the hit or the general feeling I get is you become the hit. I’ve killed exactly five people for the Cartel. Four guys and one nurse. I don’t know who wanted them dead, where they were located, or why they wanted them dead. I know that I am the best hit man on the face of the Earth. I’m discreet. I do my research. So when a man, or courier, comes to your door in a random hotel room in a random city, it makes you say, “Holy shit!” I remember all five.

Heather the nurse.

I was in a hotel in Springfield, Illinois, doing a job. Don’t remember anything about the job, but, I remember packing my bags in my hotel room, preparing to checkout, and there was a knock at the door. When you’re in my line of work, everything puts you on high alert, especially when you’re half-way out the door.

It must be housekeeping, I remember thinking. Either way, it didn’t make since. So I reached into the side pocket of my bag and grabbed my mosquito.

“One second!” I screamed out. The silencer, I’d had in my coat pocket. On edge, I fumbled around with it before finally screwing it onto the gun.

Three very loud and aggressive thumps followed. “I’m coming!” I yelled out.

“No problem, Sir,” I could hear the man on the other side of the door say.

My heart raced as I inched toward the door in a sideward motion. Gun in prime position to make a kill. Scenarios flew through my mind of how I would cover this up. In all the action, I’d realized my gloves were not on, they were still in the bag. I knew it was too late for them now. This guy wasn’t room service and he was growing impatient.

I finally reached the door. I grabbed the handle with my right hand and pulled myself up closer to get a view through the peep hole. The man was Hispanic, dressed in black slacks, an unbuttoned black coat, and a white t-shirt. It was a hard guess, but through the peep hole, he looked maybe six feet tall. Normal weight.

“You gonna open the door, Sir?” he asked again, “or just stare at me through the fuck hole?”

I took a deep breath and opened the door. I swung the door open and rested my right shoulder against the edge to hide my right arm. To hide my mosquito. He was unarmed and cool. He had an envelope. He held it in his right hand and chopped it against the open palm of his left hand, just once.

“You the guy,” he said.

I could hear the condescension in his tone. I thought to myself, I’m sure that’s what they’d all say, had they lived long enough.

“You the one they call the ghost, the fucking dark sparrow. Oh, yeah, whatever,” he said finally, handing the envelope over to me.

“Who the fuck calls me that and who the fuck are you?” I asked him. He didn’t respond. He just began to walk away. “Who the fuck are you?” I screamed out at him.

“Fuck you, homey,” he said without even turning back to acknowledge me. “Read the fucking letter.”

He knew who I was. Still, he was confident enough to curse me to my face and walk away. No concern that maybe I’d kill him.

I wasted no time opening the letter. I read it with the door still open, exposing myself to the hallway. My right shoulder still rested up against the edge of the door. I’d pulled my right arm around to help open the letter. I held the letter with my left hand as I read. The mosquito drooped down to my side and I tapped it against the door as I went through the letter. It didn’t dawn on me that anyone could walk by at any given moment and see me, see my gun. I didn’t care. I wanted to know what the hell was going down.

The letter was short and sweet:



Her name is Heather Vasquez. She works the night shift at St. Vincent De Paul Hospital. Miami, FL. 10pm - 10am. Plenty of time to kill her. No questions. We found you. We can find you again. Kill the girl. $150,000 for you. You have until the end of the week. Today is Monday. We’re Catholic.

That was it. I saved every letter. Some I memorized. Heather’s I memorized. The four subsequent letters would be the same. Once trust was established, they dropped the bullying tone.

I flew to Miami right away. I could only guess that “we’re Catholic” meant I had until Sunday. I’ve never been a religious guy. But, it’s funny…she was a Catholic, Heather. I landed on Tuesday morning. Six a.m., to be exact. I took a cab directly to the hospital. I looked around for her outside, hoping to get lucky. It’s not easy to get into a hospital and kill a person on short notice. It’s not like the movies. You don’t wait outside and jump a doctor and swipe the I.D. card. No, not at all. I figured I had time. So, I sat in the emergency room and waited.

I went through the entire process—insurance, none of course. “What’s bothering you, Sir? On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the pain?” I’d finally made it through the crap shoot that is the American public healthcare system. I waited in a curtained-off room for the nurse. Heather. Of all the nurses in the hospital, she walked in. I remember thinking, What a beautiful girl.

I immediately noticed the clipboard as she began to write. She held it up high. She went to ask a question, dropping the clipboard down to her side. I noticed a necklace with the crucified Jesus.

“So,” she began.

“You Catholic?” I asked.

It drew us into a conversation that seemed to go on forever. I’d never gotten on with anyone so naturally. Not in my life. What a shame. She opened up about having a cigarette addiction. She was trying to kick the habit. But, she slid the pack of Brunswicks out of her lab coat pocket and murmured, “Just haven’t yet.” I saw my opening. We talked for what I assume was an hour. I never forgot why I had come to Miami, to the hospital, though. But, still I’d enjoyed the conversation. By the end, I knew what car she drove. Hell, I knew where she was parked. One little secret about women: Ask a question, make a statement. Either way, they open up like a book. It’s the way in. Unfortunately, it can also be the way out.

“You happen to know what time it is?” I asked her.

“Ten minutes to go,” she said as she smiled, gazing down at her watch.

“It’s 9:50...Ok, Bill,” she began. “I have all your information and a doctor will be with you shortly. It was really nice to meet you.” We shook hands.

“Same here,” I responded. I slid the curtain back and waited for her to walk out of sight. Since she said the doctor was going to be right with me, I figured that would give me a half hour, at least. I took off my patient robe. Never understood why I had to put it on over my clothing. No concern now. I slipped out of the room, walked by ten or twelve doctors and nurses and headed for the door. I waved and smiled at the receptionist as I left. Would it really be that easy?

It took no time to find her car. A black jeep compass. Tinted windows. I thought, could a nurse make enough money to buy a car like this? Probably. How can I make sense of this? I looked to my left at the entrance and Heather was headed my way. She saw me. She smiled. She waived. I smiled back at her. I turned back toward the car, quickly. I justified myself.

They had this girl on the inside of a hospital pulling needles and flipping switches for fifteen years. My guess, they caught on. The cops, DEA, whoever. They got to her. And, she flipped. That will have to do. Either she was going to die or I was. Just as I finished my thought, she was right next to me.

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