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A Life Worth Something in the End

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1

I see the same bad actors playing the same poorly written roles, going about their lives, day after day.  Unaware.  Unconcerned.  Uncomfortable as it was at first, I got out earlier than most of the others.  There still aren’t many of us.  But we too are unconcerned for one another.  We acknowledge and occasionally show respect to our own kind, but only to a point.  Let’s not make anything else any more uncomfortable.

Recently and far too often I’ve been having a recurring thought.  What would happen if I killed somebody?  I’m not homicidal.  It began as a hypothetical question.  I would rather kiss, not kill.  I like to ponder, not plunder.  But surely you’ve wondered the same at some point?  The questions come quickly, each one more horrifying all the while less shocking than the last.  How would I do it?  Would I prefer to be up close or do it from a hiding place?  Would it be someone I know and hate or a total stranger?  Decisions, decisions.
The scenario only lingers for a short while.  Then my thoughts turn to what this damnable deed would accomplish.  What purpose would it serve?  Why?  Always why.  Too many times and for too many reasons. . . why?  Always there.  So many variables.  I would inevitably lose interest in less than half of an hour.

These thoughts – no, urges maybe – grew and festered as matters often only got worse when my kind and what I now call the drones, or worker bees, mix.  They do not like to have their hives jarred and are too quick to anger so I usually try to stay as far away as possible.  Even though I appear no different than them at the first through third glances, it is not long before one of them can smell out my difference and indifference.  Times have changed and look like they’ll continue to do so.  But no prejudice is ever totally eradicated.  Ask the Rothschilds.  We will always have to intermingle but invariably we stick together in very small groups or are solitary like me.  As far as I can see this is our only true choice.

               As silly as it all sounds, the longer I continued to have these thoughts and experienced these phantom sensations when executing them in my head the more I became convinced that I could get away with it.  Two things about this struck me as very strange.  First, never have I ever had recurring dreams but lately as the days and weeks became months the eventuality of doing this became all encompassing, even in my subconscious.  Second, I have never been interested in serial killers.  Too gruesome.  I couldn’t even dissect a frog in biology.

And now, if I decide to do it…what the hell do I mean IF I DECIDE?  See?  All-encompassing and invested interests.  Hello, Freud?  If I WERE to do it, how?  Clearly not up close and personal like so many neglected amphibians.  Poison?  Probably something like that.  I am terrified of guns and truly detest violence so some way humane, preferably.  Again, too many variables.  Lately I have only been dreaming of all the different ways to do it, consequences be damned.

Just as quickly as it became all consuming, the act became less and less important to where even seeing violence on TV did little to excite my thinking.  Unknown to me at the time was that by not thinking about it allowed a deeper part of me to continue mulling over the specifics.  Here I was supposing these feelings were being successfully sublimated.  So I was surprised when I overheard a conversation recently which immediately reawakened these thoughts, these urges, and also even more surprising was it didn’t take long to determine the means to the end.  But before I get into all of that, I should go back a few months prior to the conversation.

Ever since my self-ejection from the currents of society I actively try to stay as far from the stream as possible.  Not that the happy fish within the cool, running waters would even glance twice at a brother flopping on the shore, so near such sweet relief, let alone help him return.  But often it is inevitable so I try to keep it brief, at the very least.

I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I don’t have to work.  My parents died while I was very young and they left me with a lot of money and a very loving maternal grandmother and grandfather.  They raised me no differently than they would have their own child and despite the money we all had, I still was raised to understand the value of both hard work and hard workers.  I never took anything for granted.  I never misbehaved in school, I  never even saw the inside of the principal’s office except to maybe accept an accolade.  So as far back as I can remember nothing ever could have prompted or predicted my future actions.

To some it may eventually seem like it was done out of sheer boredom but I have always had plenty to keep my admittedly overactive and impatient attention fully occupied.  A luxury of having no financial responsibilities.  Honestly, the more I think about it, the more difficult it becomes for me to find the real reason.  I keep defaulting back to me really just wanting to be able to chalk one up for experience.  Who knows?  Maybe you can decide.

I keep an apartment on the top floor of a building I bought a few years ago when I was told I should invest.  It’s a pretty neat experience, being a landlord.  The building is certainly the nicest on about five blocks of ­­­­­­­______ Street, NW, but not luxurious by any standard.  It is popular with young professionals, young couples and families just starting out so I don’t seem out of place.  Nobody in the building knows I own it, save the maintenance men and building management.  I appreciate the anonymity and use the place mostly for when I want to be alone.

In keeping with my wish for privacy while staying in the rooms in my building I don’t really know any of the other tenants, not really.  Sure, I’m acquainted with a few of them but I couldn’t tell you any of their birthdays.  Often I thank the 21st century and its average person who rarely wants disturbance or disruption to any of their varied routines.  And sadly, even in this great District of Columbia, even with it being a tiny diorama of the true diversity of this country, certain archaic prejudices are still practiced.  And as a reminder, those of us who have removed ourselves from the circle carry a special stigma and the penalty of judgment is always swift.

So I’m not one hundred percent sure why, when in the elevator with a tenant named Veronica, I agreed to show up at a small get together she was planning that evening.  Nothing crazy, after all it was only a Wednesday.  Nor was it going to be anything formal.  “Just come as you are” were her only instructions, even when I asked if I should bring anything.  Considering I had nothing else pressing happening that evening, I decided to go.  “You’ll wanna put in more than just an appearance,” she said with a sly smile and tone, “there will be some single ladies there.”  Silly bee, I thought as I went along a bit more with her ignorant imaginings.

               The party was as to be expected, right down to the guests.  Everybody seemed genuinely interested in being there with the exception of our hostess.  It took me but only a few minutes to find out why she was not in higher spirits, especially given the amount of spirits that were inside of her.  An already quite tipsy “single lady” was more than willing to divulge the information to any attractive and well off gentleman who showed up alone, whether he wanted to know or not.  It seems she was trying to drown an embarrassing scandal involving her mother in an ocean of alcohol and was appearing overly successful.  She was doing only a passable job at being somewhat lively.

All evening I would only talk to people who were in her vicinity.  Eavesdropping on her conversations usually proved to be more fascinating than whatever forgettable story was being shared by the person speaking to my face.  I never developed a taste for drugs or liquor so being sober was certainly an advantage here.  I was able to piece together the purpose for her intended self-annihilation by drink.  And it wasn’t until just before I was about to excuse myself for the last time that I heard her say what would set everything in motion.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Veronica said, exacerbated at having to think about it all again, and probably at still being able to think about it in spite of her alcoholic efforts, “I’ve got a lot of money, I should just pay somebody to kill her.” I have been around people enough to know that these days they say things that they don’t necessarily mean, more often than not, especially when threatening physical violence.  Veronica’s voice had conviction and honest intent.  This got me thinking.

By the time she finished the conversation I had already finished mine with whoever he/she was.  I mentioned to Veronica that I was soon to leave but also made it known that I would like a word with her in private, if possible.  Assuring her that it wouldn’t take long she consented and I followed her to a nearby room, her room I gathered, the only one unoccupied by coupling.  No sooner were we inside with the door closed did I quickly understand from a certain look in her eye that her room was deliberately unoccupied for her own intentions.

“I just wanted to talk to you about something I overheard you say earlier, if you’re sure that you have a few minutes…?” I said quickly, trying to diffuse her building seduction.  It worked as her face began to display a desperate attempt at recollection.  The alcohol was good at helping her forget some things, I thought to myself.  Taking her confusion as my cue I reminded her of the conversation with the lady earlier.  She nodded slowly.

“I wasn’t serious” she said quickly.

“You were serious.  I could hear it in your voice.”

“I admit the thought is certainly more than just a flight of fancy but the likelihood of any of it happening or even turning out well is out the window.”

Veronica moved to the window and opened it before pulling a joint out of her bra.  She lit it dramatically as if trying to shock me and after a few pulls it was offered to me.  I figured I could gain her trust a bit more if I acted like one of them so I agreed.  I fake inhaled and she appeared satisfied.  After a few more minutes of this silent back and forth, with her visibly more relaxed and intoxicated than before, I began again our conversation.

“What if I could promise you that nobody would ever get caught and that the only justice that would be served would be in favor of your family honor?”

The mention of the restoration of her family’s place in Washington society was apparently what I needed to focus on with her if I wanted to be successful in getting this job.  So I went with a plan that would be foolproof, sure to leave no traces of foul play or implications of unnatural causes.  Simple, fast and effective was both the promise and guarantee.

“I still have some reservations” she informed me and as soon as each one was listed I dispelled them with accurate and lightning responses.  Little doubt was soon left that I would be able to execute the deed.  She was having the hardest time with the moral concerns.  After all, she kept saying we are talking about not only murder but matricide.  My options were running out.  She was still at the tipping point but the scales were about to swing out of my favor if I didn’t act fast and right as I was about to resign my bid I saw my opportunity.

Veronica was eyeballing me hungrily, still, since the moment we walked in her room.  Giving up my place in their society precluded me from this type of interaction.  I had even given up these desires for my own kind.  It was then me who began having reservations.  Was experience worth having to go down this road again?

Before I knew it Veronica’s hands were on my knees and advancing up my thighs.  Surprisingly I made no effort to stop her.  Even more surprising was the erection I got.  I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with her actions.  And no sooner were her hands up my thighs and on my hips did she have my cock out and in her mouth.  Throughout I managed to stay hard.  This evening in particular was full of surprises.  And imagine my joy and relief when after only a few minutes of service she passed out cold in my lap, fortunately not with me still in her mouth or hands.  This made it all the more easy for me to get up and finally leave.

2

For two days I was left to think about my offer to Veronica since it was to be two days until I saw her again.  Apart from old questions, new ones naturally arose.  As all these quandaries racked my brain incessantly I never once thought about whether they were all in vain.  I knew she was serious.  I knew she would not back out and importantly that she would not have forgotten.  This meant now it was expected and I have always been counted on to do what is expected and I keep my word.  It’s when making decisions like these that I am glad I don’t have a taste for intoxicants.  Only I can be blamed or praised for any decision I make.  And unlike the majority of people today I always mean what I say.

The first day I was hesitant to leave my apartment.  Not due to any feelings of awkwardness on my part, I just wasn’t sure how she would feel given her state and behavior earlier.  I decided to spare her the embarrassment and to give her some time to process it all.  This is when I did the majority of my pondering as well.

Not necessarily about the mechanics because the plan, even though I winged it at the time, was simple and most certain to be effective.  Not necessarily about any moral repercussions on my end either.  I was certainly not doing this because I need the money, though the fee was substantial.  Some local charity will be very happy very soon.  I am not doing this because I am evil.  Again I remind you, I have never known a moment of physical trouble or danger.  I have never been in a fight, even.  There is no blood lust to satisfy.  Thank god since I hate blood.  So if not for any of these reasons, if not out of boredom, if not for the need to prove something, then why?  Any thoughts of your own yet?  Thankfully none of this occupied my thinking for very long.  I needed to make sure I had more than one way, should the first or even the second fail, to keep Veronica on board.

The second day was me being proactive.  I decided to do my homework, which I knew would impress Veronica.  That lot is always easy to impress with even the slightest display of going the extra mile.  Given that her family was extremely public I had no problem finding out about a few of her mother’s planned social appearances from the computer.  Planning the where became simple since one of the gatherings was being held at another property I owned in the District.  Making an appearance there would be easy and therefor again, nothing out of the ordinary.  There would also be nothing unusual for me to be anywhere in a building of mine during a party or function, as it has always been a habit of mine to make sure everything  is going well.  The interaction, though brief, is always painful and mostly done at a distance.  Sometimes even just having to watch the bees with their endless buzzing and jockeying for position in their inorganic hive was too much.

“Hold the elevator please” a familiar voice said before the door closed.  In walked Veronica who upon seeing me smiled the biggest grin.  “Hello stranger” she then said.  I returned the smile and forced pleasantry.  I wanted to mention our agreement from the night before right away but felt that would be tactless.  I decided to leave it up to her.  Within thirty seconds of the door closing she spoke again.  “If you have a minute or two could I see you at my place?  I believe we have something to finish discussing.”  I agreed, relieved.

I went with her to her apartment.  I figured the sooner we had everything wrapped up on her end I could finally get things going on my end.  She offered me a drink upon entering and I declined.  “That’s right, I forgot that you don’t drink.  I’m out of pot so I can’t offer you any of that.  Sorry.”  I assured her that I would be okay and from there I began and ran the discussion.  I told her what I learned from my homework and how it would be incredibly easy to execute.  True to form Veronica was impressed.

After the particulars of my performance were divulged and she was confident it could be both pulled off and free of incrimination Veronica took the floor and discussed her portion expertly.  She had apparently been doing a little homework too.  In a way I was a little impressed with her as well.  All in all our conspiracy was fully planned and agreed upon in under ten minutes.

I’m not sure if it was to further entrust myself to Veronica or what but I agreed to stay a while longer to chat with her while she got ready for a date.  She apologized for her previous behavior profusely and was visibly relieved that I held nothing against her given her condition.  I even took a stab at comic relief by telling her it was also a little understandable with my rugged good looks, all the while stroking my full ginger beard.  She appreciated the attempt politely.

When the conversation then moved to her date and their plans, her plans in particular, I began to think a lot about Veronica.  She was completely blank.  She only took on the appearance of whatever person or situation she was involved with at the moment.  Speaking with a peculiar accent, an affected intelligence was beyond obvious.  It knew no neighborhood, city or country in particular but her pretty face invited an uneasy trust.  A blank canvas can be an inspiration when possessed by a capable and patient artist but Veronica was visibly often in the wrong artists’ hands.  And sex was also something meaningless and often employed as a tool of persuasion depending on person or situation.  This makes sense why she displayed no sign of real embarrassment concerning her advances.

She was pretty much put together in no time at all.  I would say I was again impressed but Veronica really is a very pretty lady.  As I was walking out of the door in front of her, I felt her stuff something into one of my back pant pockets.  “The first half” she said, patting the wad once planted.  “The rest comes when the deed is done.”  I thanked her as she locked her door.  We made very small talk on the way to the elevators and were both secretly pleased that both came quickly.

Most people would probably believe that anybody who was completely calm, cool, collected and showed no visible concern for the consequences of his upcoming foul deed would not have a soul.  I’ve never given much speculation to non-tangible things.  I know air exists because a billion things breathe it and need it to live.  A god would need us billions to live and judging from the current state of the world it’s apparent I’m not the only one who isn’t believing.  If pressed to answer what I do worship, then, I would say change.  It is the only true constant and it is the real and justifiable need.

Since as far back as I can remember I was never ruled by emotions, desires or irrational fears.  But the one thing that truly would terrify me was stagnation.  I guess it still does.  From the drastic change in my actual life as a young boy came this need to constantly change.  I am not nor have I ever been a re-inventionist.  I still wear the same type of clothes I have for several years now.  It is just what I am used to and recently it’s been manifesting as a need to change scenery which is why I have not only the rooms in this building but in three others in and around town.  Before it would take at least that and something like a new pair of shoes a week all the way up to a new lover every week to do the trick.  Given the severe circumstances of my first remembered immediate change, any one that followed was naturally of a far lesser degree.

So there I was, the day before the deed was scheduled.  Preparations were meticulously planned, sorted out and then made.

Location.  Building access?  The staff was already waiting with their usual acceptance and welcoming speech at the ready.

Target.  Party attending?  Confirmed by another quick internet search.

Method.  Untraceable?  A friend who reads crime novels tells me how: both acquiring the means and teaching me its uses.

Minor details are just as important I feel, so after checking and finally triple checking I found myself with a sense of accomplishment at having figured this all out and planned it.  Satisfaction didn’t even feel guilty given the eventual outcome of my actions the following day.  Actually it was the best night’s sleep I’d had in quite a long time.

3

That party was also as I expected.  Really not much separated it from Veronica’s except maybe the average age of the guests.  I was again a minority, even in my late thirties.  Also different was the conservative nature of their dress.  I had no doubts that it didn’t end with their clothes.  Quite the opposite as it seemed it bled from their shirts and ties and dresses and coats into their skin through their properly exfoliated pores and into their blood and polluted them from the inside.  This explained their tired taste in attire.  It was an endless and continuously corrupt cycle, much like the way they ran their District.

I grew up around these people, these situations and plays.  I knew the etiquette and was still an expert at playing along.  Thankfully they still bought it, though almost everybody in attendance knew of my removal and disdain for their lifestyle.  But a gracious host is a gracious host and my cheap rental fee was always appreciated.  So was the cheap entertainment they secretly provided me.  Tonight, however, was going to cost somebody very dearly.

There, in the middle of it all, was Veronica’s mother.  You could see on the faces of anyone in her vicinity not speaking to her wanting to ask her all about IT.  Fortunately for her their code of conduct forbade even an acknowledgement.  But the stares she was forced to endure were much worse, judging from a weary expression only slightly evident beneath her freshly applied makeup.

I decided it best to circle her by being only slightly social with one person and the next, as was sadly expected of the host, then tightening my circle, literally spiraling towards the eye of the hurricane.  With each break between greetings I would take quick snapshots of her and the composite became truly incredible.  I could see why everybody wanted to talk to HER, to be seen with HER longer than their predecessor.  It was more than the scandal that lent her this magnetism, she was genuinely a beautiful woman for her age and I imagined her daughter will also be similarly blessed.  The closer my position the more of her I was able to observe and for a moment I nearly lost myself to her grace and charm and beauty.

It also became very evident the closer I got that she could clearly play this and any other game expertly, no doubt even better than her daughter.  I decided against debating if a jealousy on Veronica’s part also fueled the desire to want her mother out of the way.  Eventually it would be my turn in her presence and I wanted to be ready.

“How are you doing today?” she asked, sincerely.  The only feigned interest was on my part and she was certainly none the wiser as I welcomed her anytime to my establishment.  We did indeed spend more time in one another’s company than any other two people . . .certainly I was her longest discourse.  Background on the charity that the function was raising money for was discussed at length. Before our conversation was finished I told her I would pledge some money, as I had recently come into an unexpected and tidy sum that I could take or not.  Oddly, she didn’t try to convince me or sell me with her description of the work done by her organization.  She was so compelling and compassionate about the mission of her group that I was maybe more than a little moved by her near fervor.

By the time I turned down her third attempt to share a drink and a photo op, thirty minutes had elapsed and she politely excused herself.  More people were eagerly awaiting their chance to chat and possibly be photographed with her.  I smiled my consent.  Before she fully turned away from me, she mentioned wanting to speak to me later about my promised donation.  Only after assuring her I wouldn’t leave without another meeting did she turn back to the hungry queue.

It proved to be in my best interest to stay close to wherever she was standing or sitting.  More than once I noticed her staring at me and when she was caught she would only smile.  Nothing sexual at all but again, it was always with assurance.  Could there be another reason?  If there was I wouldn’t know.  I have always been dismally unaware of that sort of thing.  Especially now, at this point in my life.

Everybody not talking to her was talking about her.  Hardly any of what was being said was good.  Predictable people.  Surely I wasn’t the only one aware of this.  Given my proximity to the focus of all the gossip I would be surprised if she didn’t at least suspect the subject on most people’s lips.  This made me stare at her more intently, often to the point of being extremely rude to whomever was regurgitating the same shit they were just handfed from the person they encountered earlier.

A veneer seemed to be cracking, indeed.  It could be seen manifesting in the lines on her face that before were unnoticed but even at my slight distance were growing deeper and longer the more she had to talk.  Carrying these conversations were exhausting her body mind and soul.  Yet somehow through all of the constant buzzing around this dying queen she kept her head held up, always a slave to nature.  Somehow, I thought, she must’ve known that she was about to die.  Judging from what happened next proved she was only planning to die metaphorically.

Each successive person she had to suffer through was chiseling away more and more at her composure.  Her patience was shortening but so was the number of people she needed to talk to.  The relief on her face was apparent when at last, after three grueling hours, her chores were done.  Only because I was staring at her at the right moment when she thought that nobody was looking did she take off her mask to let her true face breathe.  Had I blinked for a second I would have missed it.

The lines in her brow were nearly trenches.  A murder of crows both marched and nested on the soft and slightly sagging skin by her temples and in her mess of hair.  Cheeks fell and sloped like landslides.  Dark and oily blood pooled under red dirt eyes.  Still, I felt no pity or the need to pretend anymore that I did.

She was quick to excuse herself with her ever present pretend smile still pasted on her face.  With her out of sight the hive was finally free and frenzied.  Not only did the level of buzzing increase a decibel or two but so did the number of stingers offered to take her down.  Hard to decide, I allowed myself to think, if displays like this are why I occasionally enjoy being in the thick of it all or if it only reinforces the reasons I had for quitting these people.

A full hour passed before she resurfaced.  Idle and innocent topical chatter was resumed to uphold propriety and certainly not for her sake.  The time away only seemed to worsen her ability to manage the effects of her drinking.  She had almost as many drinks as she had encounters with her social assassins.  At least she thought to wear sensible shoes.

I don’t think she even stopped to talk to anybody else.  I sensed her coming but acted unaware until she excused herself and broke into an already strained conversation.  Recognizing a prime opportunity to act, I gladly excused myself from whoever I was talking with and followed her out of the main room.  Good sense again blessed me with foresight and I grabbed a glass of champagne for the lady.

When we were in a more quiet location she asked me if there was somewhere we could talk.  About the donation she assured me but I swear I noticed a faint glimmer of an ulterior motive as she downed the champagne.  It couldn’t have been very subtle if I noticed it.  Instead of being aggressive it was truly more desperate than anything.  Nevertheless it was still off putting.  To me it was only more ammunition.  So, too, was her attempt to recover from my speedy rejection.

There was a locked door near the entrance to the main room.  It was sizeable as it stored extra tables and chairs so it being half full made the encounter less intimate than she probably was hoping.  The door was not closed all the way, either, to further deter any more inappropriate intentions.

The smile she forced left her face as soon as she looked at me.  My mask was changed to another one more sinister than any of the true faces that waited just outside to seal her doom.  It was a mirror reflecting back to her everything she feared and everything she knew was true.  She was forced to see her falsehoods for exactly what they were.  No longer could she try and pretend them into being true because now someone else knew.  Now someone else knew that her truths were false and that her true fault was believing in her own lies. And finally, she saw reflected from behind her a tidal wave of judging faces in the gathering swarm.

It was then that I realized I wouldn’t need my anachronistic detective story method to fulfill my obligation with Veronica as her mother went pushing past me frantically, nearly knocking me to the floor.  Gaining my composure took no time at all and while I was straightening up my normal person’s disguise there was a loud crash followed by screams and gasping.  With no real urgency I made my way towards the commotion.  It didn’t take long for me to realize what happened.  I could see it all in my head.  Given the fall I was certain she must be dead.  I didn’t need to gawk like everyone else.  I hate the sight of blood.

4

In this day and age everything is cheap, even the cost of a life.  For some people it might take a lot of money and fuss to help them “live” but would even they be shocked and appalled at how little could actually be spent to end their high cost of living?  Hell, in some countries a human life costs less than a full tank of gas.  That must surely upset somebody still caught up in the stream.

Veronica’s mother was different.  She only played the role of a society blueblood.  At one point it was the role of a lifetime so it had to be real.  Watching her after our conversation, noticing the hiccups in her performance and the viewing of her real face, showed me that she was tired of playing the part.  Much had changed recently in her life and obviously she wasn’t strong enough to carry the weight of two worlds on her shoulders.  Was she ever really as strong as she thought?

Why did she allow me to see her true face?  I’m now convinced she recognized me not as her killer, which I was, but as her deliverance and again, her assurance.  Did she notice the blank stare behind my mask?  Did she see a recognized indifference in my eyes, reflecting back, or so she might have thought at first?  Suddenly a lot of questions surfaced.  Sadly I will never know their answers.

A couple of days after the party I ran into Veronica again.  Or rather, she pretended to not notice me as she was about to walk out of the building and changed her course deliberately to end up in my vicinity.  A smile was successfully stifled.  She was in full character by the time she reached me at the elevator, her transformation witnessed during her trip across the lobby.

Apologizing profusely as she entered my line of sight, she laid it on extremely thick as she dramatically mentioned how busy she’d been with her mother’s estate and arrangements.  Again I held back a smile, but nodded, understanding.  Learning I was heading up she announced that she would join me saying something about forgetting something in her apartment.  This time a smile was allowed but it was tight and fleeting.

When the elevator door closed she dropped all disguises and was again the Veronica I knew from the day after her party.  Gone was the affability and affection from the lobby.  An amazing indifference radiated outward at nobody or anything in particular.  It turned harder before we even reached the second floor.  Never before had I felt an air of pure spite, of unchecked animosity and aversion from a human being.  Truth be told it made me feel uncomfortable.  Unnatural almost.

Finally the doors opened and I was the first out of that oppressive atmosphere.  She took the lead towards her apartment and I instinctively followed.  Everything inside was all business.  No questions about the disposal were asked.  Judging from the size of the envelope filled with cash she pressed in my hand she was extra happy with the end result.  All in all it was very brief.  Veronica could barely be bothered to keep herself away from playing the exciting new role of recently bereaved daughter.  I didn’t know it then but that would be the last time I would see her as she moved out shortly thereafter, having inherited a small fortune from her mother.  This was also to be how I would always remember her, her face as blank again as a brand new canvas.

Back in my apartment I threw the envelope on the couch and sat down beside it.  Fell down, would be more like it.  Exhaling, I looked around the room and to my surprise nothing seemed different.  So much for the idea that the world would look different through the eyes of a killer.  Maybe because I didn’t physically kill her.  Would that have changed it?  By then I couldn’t even bring myself to care anymore to find out.  My attentions would change now that there was some finality to the situation.

What had I actually done but show an already foregone woman a way out?  Or, a last chance path of a break between a crowd that was also advancing to kill?  Everything turned out for the best in that regard.  Blame fell on nobody but the victim since she clearly chose to eject herself from the building.  There were naturally a few questions from the police who were first to respond shortly after the event.  After all, I was the last person seen speaking to the deceased.  This was another reason I was glad I left the door open.  Anybody could see us and thankfully many people did so foul play was ruled out immediately.  A sudden mental break was the eventual settled upon verdict, meaning I wouldn’t have to wash my face every day for the rest of my life with bloody hands.

The money in the envelope joined the first retainer portion paid.  I had to get a larger envelope to present and fit the absurd wad for mailing.  What looked like a veritable brick was prepared, addressed and placed in my bag as I left to go to the post office down the street.  Walking down the street, the parcel would tap against my hip in rhythm with my step.  Each bump made me remember the deceased one snapshot at a time, just like how I first formed a picture of her.  This picture, when complete, was just that . . . complete.  It wasn’t just a physical portrait, either.  It was more, as now it was made whole with both encountering her in life and being a factor in her death.  If I had to guess what she would think, I think she would be proud that her life was worth at least something in the end.

(c) 2015 by Jarrod Campbell

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