He was an assassin in his youth. A keen eye and a resolute constitution, paired with a distinct lack of empathy or morality, made him the perfect vessel for contract killing. It paid well and he saw no reason not to use his skill. If he did not kill his targets another in his profession would. Each was already marked for death, the means of their passage was materially and spiritually unimportant. And he was good at what he did.
They would die quickly and cleanly. He was not, I must admit, a cruel man. When I knew him he was growing into a creature of some refinement, and while he did not value life he did not de-value it either. He saw no sense in hurting others in their deaths. It was just a job.
He grew wealthy, and for many years relinquished his bloody pursuits. I remember seeing him once in Venice when my family and I vacationed there. We sipped expensive wine on his tab and watched the gondolas float by us. He would casually point to someone at the helm, or even lazing at the back of one of the boats, and discuss the best rifle to take down such a mark. I found it entertaining, but I was glad he did not choose to demonstrate his point. I never had any reason to doubt him, so he never had any need.
Then one day someone did irreparable harm to me. Took my wife’s life casually and negligently in a drunken driving spree. It was the first time death had touched me directly, or indeed that the world had been unkind. I had considered myself blessed and protected in some way, though I didn’t consciously think about that. Not till the chimera was exposed to me and I realised I was as vulnerable as any.
That’s when I called my friend out of his retirement. One more mark, one more mission.
“And this time there must be pain,” he said, hearing my tale. “This time it must be intimate, personal, painful and precise. I promise you, this one last death, will be an art form in itself. Your wife’s careless killer will not die carelessly, or easily. I promise you this, my friend.”
He was an assassin in his youth, and just once in his aged years. He kept his promise, asked no payment from me and then I never saw him again. But he was precise, he was a man of his word. And he was my friend.
And that is all that you, or I, need to know of the matter. That is all.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2017