By Parson Thru
It didn’t really matter where he picked up his work.
The people were always ok.
The money was reliable. They always paid on time and it was enough to keep him in the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed.
He hadn’t set out to land himself in this line of work, but he’d picked up the skills. He had a flair for his trade and that hadn’t gone unrecognised, although he acknowledged his lucky breaks.
He didn’t talk to anyone he knew about his job. It wasn’t done. Too many risks.
Work was work. Contacts were just that. There was no suggestion of anything more. That meant he only had his own thoughts for company. Just about everything else was fake.
He broke the boredom with beers in the scenes he landed into, the occasional fight and the occasional woman - most of them whores.
Sometimes, in the darkness, he lay and thought about who he was. What he’d become.
He never thought about the marks, other than getting to know their pattern - that was just research. He prided himself in his work.
But like every human, from Jesus to Hitler, he had a conscience – the voice somewhere in the heat of the night or the cold grey dawn. Like the busted faces in the beer-hall brawls, it harried him.
No matter how much whiskey he drank, how many whores, it whispered its subversions into his ear.
He was always one step from madness, but there was no way out. He was owned.
If he walked away; went to ground; tried to start up a new life they’d find him. Just as he’d put the heat on every job he’d been given, a stranger would mark him out. There was no exit – he was in.
This unnerved him in his darker moments, and sometimes he took out a piece and laid it on the mattress by the pillow. He tried the feel of it by his scalp. He’d dismissed the idea of laying it into his mouth a long time ago. The taste of the oil made him gag.
He knew that one day he’d find himself in the path of a slug. The only question was who would pull the trigger.
Until then, he’d a job to do.
And after this one, the next and then the next. Each time, the money came in.
Another city. Another hotel.
Then time to sweat it out. Hit the streets, the beach, get some action.
It had always been this way. He couldn’t imagine any other life. There was none.
He smiled to himself. Rolled the glass in his hand.
Tomorrow, he’d pick up the piece for the job. He never used his own gun. Each time a new weapon. Beat the shit out of forensics. His own piece was personal protection. Or annihilation.
He poured another glass and made a deal with himself – the usual one. Some day, he’d turn this on the bastards. Some day, he’d walk away from it all.
He knew the odds.
He tried the revolver against his temple.
Eased the trigger.
First pressure. Second pressure.
He felt the percussion against his skull.
It felt good.