Dark of night, the best cover for grisly deeds. The night has a way of bringing out the vile ones, those with evil on their minds. That’s what brought me to this place. I was in my element. I do my best work in places like this. I am a business man, a contractor.
I was lying in wait for my mark. I had planned this night for several weeks, manipulating and maneuvering the pawn into place so that at the decisive moment, checkmate. My mark was an upstanding family man but still just a man. Men can allow greed to overtake them. It’s a weakness, especially since this mark had recently come into financial straits, also part of my plan.
On any given night like this, decent men are tucked away with their families awaiting a new dawn. My mark was on his way to meet his demise. I was here waiting for him. He should have stayed home with his family where it was safe but his greed wouldn’t allow him to. He was an otherwise good man, well known and respected in the community, an influential man to whom people listened. That was the problem. In short, he had a big mouth and it was causing trouble for the ones who had hired me to shut him up.
Weeks of preparation were finally coming together. I had planted a glitch in his financial endeavors. I caused him to loose big on a bogus investment he made, one that unbeknownst to him, I had set up. I then baited him with an easy windfall that would more than double what he’d lost. I let his own greed lead him to his ruin. He never knew who was behind his misfortune.
I take pride in my work. I sweat out the details. I hone my craft to a fine art. It’s too bad they don’t give out awards for what I do.
My mark was expecting to receive a healthy payment for very little work. I arranged to meet him here under one of my many aliases. In my work, anonymity is a must.
I arrived at the rendezvous early to make sure all was as planned. I instructed him to come alone. He was to bring some documents for which I would pay him handsomely. He arrived right on time. The lot was completely empty, not a soul in sight. He was to park his car, flash his lights twice and exit the vehicle. Then he was to wait for my approach. He did just as he was told to do. I however did not make my advance. Instead I took careful aim from a distance and with the precision of a brain surgeon, I cut his horn rimmed glasses clean in two. A silent nine MM slug performed an instant lobotomy on the poor guy and dropped him like a sack of rotten potatoes. He would never see the light of another day.
This is my work. There is nothing personal about it. Emotions only get in the way. It’s strictly business and I get paid very well for it.
A few months later, a client I hadn’t heard from in over a year called me up.
“Rocco, I’d like you to come with me on Saturday if possible.” he said.
“Sure Max, no problem.” I replied. I arranged to meet him at the prescribed location.
He directed me to a most unusual place. It was a building lot with a slab and a stack of lumber. There was a group of eager workers there getting ready to build. I found Max and he began to introduce me to the group. This was a bit strange since my work didn’t allow me to get personal with any one. I went along with him in his ploy feeling certain that he’d soon point out the new mark. Before long. I was wearing a tool belt with a hammer in the loop and nails in the pouch. We all began building. I had to wonder what was going on here. These people were all hard working and clean living folks, none seemed like the kind that would need to be eradicated. There were young men, old men and boys as well as mothers, daughters and grandmothers. All worked and worked hard. The ladies prepared a picnic lunch while the rest of us built.
At noon we all stopped for a feast. During lunch there was true fellowship, a real joy among friends. A closeness unlike any I had ever seen. They spoke kindly to each other, not like most Chicago construction sites. They had a different perspective on God. They spoke about things I had never heard of before in any church. They talked about the future and about a plan that they believed God had for the Earth where mankind would live in peace. They spoke of a paradise in a time when people would never die.
I was hearing wonderful things for the first time. I was amazed at the understanding these people had. I asked various ones more about what they were doing here. They told me that this hall we were building was just one of thousands all over the earth where true knowledge of God was being taught. People the world over were getting ready for the dawn of a new day. They said that one day the whole earth would live by Gods standards and that even the dead would be brought back to hear this news and get a second chance at life. All of this sounded strange to say the least but if these people were products of this belief then it wasn’t so strange at all. These were genuine down to earth folks. It wouldn’t take much for me to want to be part of them.
I never worked so hard in my life as I did that day. I never enjoyed myself as much as that day either. For the first time in my life, I felt like part of something good instead of the bad that I’d always known.
Still, why was I here? Why was Max here? I was hoping he didn’t want one of these fine individuals to be the next unfortunate target of my services.
When the work day was finished, I met him in private to find out.
“So, who’s the mark?” I asked.
“The mark, you know, the hit. Why did you bring me here? You need one of these people taken out so you had me spend a day here to get to know who it is, right?”
“I’m sorry Rocco but that’s not it at all.”
“Well then what is it?” I demanded.
“Rocco, these people are my new family.”
“Your new family! What the hell does that mean?”
‘It means Rocco that I’ve gone straight. I’m through with the family business. I’m part of these people now. I have been for nearly a year. That’s why you haven’t heard from me in all that time. I’ve made a change you understand? It’s a new life, a better one.”
“You gotta be kidding me! You know the price you might have to pay for this? Sonny doesn’t like letting his boys go.”
“I know Rocco. I had a heart to heart with Sonny months ago. He was OK with it I think. Anyway I’m willing to take that chance to have some peace in my life. Besides, if the dead do come back again, what have I got to loose? ….Rocco, I brought you here for a reason. I’ve known you for a long time and I know that you are not the cold hearted killer inside that you are outside. I know you have a heart of gold in there somewhere. I can tell. I just ask that you think about these people sometimes. Keep in mind that there is real life out there, real truth, real people. Perhaps you may want to make a change yourself someday.”
“Perhaps Max, and listen, you know how it works. I may get a contract on you someday. I would have to turn it down you know? That would put me at odds with the family too.”
“Rocco, don’t jeopardize your own life on my account.”
“Max, if I ever turn against the family, it won’t be on your account. It will be because I want to and that’s all.”
“Take care of yourself friend.” he said and walked away.
I left Max and went home. Normally I’d hit some clubs but I was bushed. I went home to my empty house but with a different perspective that night. I looked around at the bare walls and the meager furnishings. This was a miserable mans house. It had no style. This was a place where a broken down fool would go simply to lay his head and await further orders. Is that all I am? I wondered. Am I just a worthless broken down fool? I laid awake that night thinking about my wretched life and all that I had done. I had helped fill up cemeteries. I left behind a wake of widows and fatherless children. Sometimes my marks were women which meant I’d rendered little children motherless. For the first time in my sordid career, I felt regret, remorse. Damn it, I should put a gun to my own head right now and blow my freaking brains out! The more I pondered my lot, the more regret I felt. I was raised around religion like most inner city kids. I believed there was a God out there somewhere and yet I found a way to justify my murderous lifestyle. I convinced myself that the people I off’d deserved it somehow. But what I saw today left no doubt in my mind that I was sorely mistaken. The people I met today had me thinking different thoughts. I laid there for a few hours rehashing my entire life. I didn’t like what I had become. Exhaustion took over and I fell asleep. My sleep was restless. I began dreaming. I began reliving the hits I had made over the years only something was different. Instead of the usual sniper attacks on my victims, they were looking me dead in the eye and asking me to please not take their lives. All of them lined up begging ‘Please, please, don’t do this.’ Their families showed up and started pleading along with them. Over and over they cried chanting the same mantra, men, women, children even babies. ‘Please, please, don’t do this.’ Their voices were freakish. They joined together and grew louder and louder in a deafening monotonous repertoire. I woke up screaming, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ As I sat there, I broke out in a cold sweat. I began to tremble inside. Tears flowed from my eyes as I wept like a baby. I screamed in wretched fear and sorrow for my evil deeds. For the first time in my life I felt totally lost and alone. I felt a darkness overtake me. I grew afraid of the dark around me. I turned on some lights yet the darkness remained. I’m loosing my mind, I thought. What did that son of a bitch Max do to me? He put a curse on me. This is not me damn it! I’m a killer. I kill people for a living! I should go over there and nix that bastard!
I called him on the phone.
“Max you son of a bitch! What did you do to me? I’m a physical wreck! I’m sweating bullets and crying like a baby. I‘m having nightmares for gods sake. I can’t stop thinking about all the hits I’ve made. I hate myself. Damn it! Those hits are my babies. They’re artwork, my stock and trade. I can’t be regretting them now. You know what I mean?”
“I know what you mean Rocco. Don’t forget, I ordered a lot of those hits. I am just as responsible.”
“So what did you do about it? How can you just write them off? Doesn’t it bother you now that you found this new life?”
“It does Rocco, everyday.”
“Well what about this new family of yours? Do they know about you, who you are, what you’ve done?”
“They do Rocco. Truth is, many of them come from sordid backgrounds as well. Maybe not like yours and mine but still, bad stuff. Now that they’ve seen the light, they’ve learned how to put the past behind them and live for the future. It’s called a turn around Rocco. People reach a point in life where they realize they are going the wrong way and so they make a change. They find a better path to follow. They look to right the wrongs they’ve done and they turn around.
“A turn around! It’s far too late for that Max. I can’t undo all that I’ve done. A hundred people are dead because of me and I can’t bring them back. I can’t live with myself now that I feel this way. I may have to make one last hit tonight, Max, my own. At first I thought about doing you too but you don‘t deserve it man, just me.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that Rocco. Listen, I know things look bad right now but it’s not too late you know? Let’s get together tomorrow and talk it over. Just try to get some rest will ya? Stop thinking about it OK? You can‘t change your past but you can change your future. It starts now. OK Rocco.”
I hung up the phone and laid back down. I pulled the 9 out from under my mattress and examined it. It used to be my friend. Now it was out to get me. I pressed the silencer against my forehead and said a prayer for what it was worth. I felt a calm come over me. I was ready to pay for my sins. It was only right. I slowly squeezed the trigger never thinking twice. This was how it should be. There’s was no tomorrow for me. I didn’t deserve any more tomorrows. My eyes were wide open as I stared at the cold steel barrel just above them. I’m about to know what it felt like for all those poor schmucks I had off’d in the past. Would it hurt? I didn’t care. It should hurt. Maybe I wouldn’t feel a thing except a sudden punch to the head. I can handle a punch in the head. I’d had my share of those. I eased the trigger back a little more. This would be sweet redemption for all my wrongs. I pulled the trigger full until the hammer dropped hard against the shell in the chamber. I laid there stunned. I was still alive. The damn thing misfired. Why? I thought. It had never done this before. I aimed it at the ceiling and pulled the trigger three times. POP POP POP. The silent shots ripped three gaping holes in the ceiling above me as the slugs went clear through the roof into the night sky. I laid the gun down and took a deep breath. ‘There’s gotta be a reason for this’ I thought.
I should be dead right now but I’m not. I pulled the trigger and I’m still alive.
Maybe this was it. Maybe this was my turn around.