The Burden of Contractual Fulfillment


Making a living as a death dealer—an oxymoronic, yet concrete notion if ever there was one—definitely lacked the glamorous appeal of some tuxedo-wearing secret agent a la Hollywood. If prostitution was the world’s oldest profession, then assassination was its snickering kid brother.

He felt a mix of queasiness and excitement, staring through bluish-gray wisps of smoke at the thing he held in his hands. It mirrored a sexual encounter, the foreplay being his gentle caress of the envelope, delicately undressing and opening it to reveal the contents inside. Like a potential lover, the blank manila held gravitational pull in his corner of the universe: details concerning the dispatch of some unlucky soul.

The deal, which as put in motion by the neat stack of bills that slid across the table—a 25% down payment for services rendered—called for something messy. The contractor was always right and, once he broke the seal, the job was as good as done. The benefactor wanted to make a statement against a business rival. The villain-for-hire could care less what the reason was, as long as the price was right.

There were two basic methods of carrying out the deed. The first would be to make the hit from a distance, which was like walking into a candy store, seeing all those colorful, flavorful confections and trying to find one to purchase. There were cyanide-coated sniper rounds that could rip through the best so-called bullet proofing, laying waste to the flesh and bone beneath; there were strategically-placed explosives that could level an apartment building or rip an armored vehicle to shreds. Hell, he could even go Old School contra style and resort to lobbing grenades. However, that wasn’t quite the message the contractor wanted to send. That meant the second basic method: up close and personal. A handgun was simple to silence, conceal and dispose of quickly, but that wasn’t enough. Using bare hands was an option he would give more thought, but even the ghastly sight of a broken neck might fail to deliver the horrific gravity of the contractor’s threat. Maybe a garrote would do…

No, the job called for special work to be done with his favorite tool of the trade: the knife. Like one of those old TV commercials, he could slice and dice a man to death, then make julienne fries. It was settled and his bloody symphony would be conducted with a masterful stroke.

The killer grinned while sharpening the blade, allowing beads of mercury to run down the steel and create a poisonous silver puddle on the table’s surface. There would be no coming back for his target; no chance of a second act or encore performance. He prided himself on his attention to detail and kill count.

The last unopened parcel from the larger envelope contained photos of the object of his financed affections. Careful not to nick himself with the blade, he inserted the point carefully between the fold and slit it open with a smirk. However, what his eyes rested upon was a near-mirror image…

Father?” he coughed, hesitating for the first time in his illustrious career. He’d dispatched people of all ages, nationalities, affiliations and sexes without as much as batting an eye. However, this was a target he couldn’t have imagined in a thousand years.

But the contract had been accepted. No matter how sick it made him feel or how foreign the stinging of tears was to his smoke-filled eyes, he had a job to do. Between soft, nearly inaudible sobs, reluctance and a running nose, he realized just how difficult it was going to be to carry out this assignment.