Saturday, February 21, 2015

"You Just Know" - A Short Story by Damian Michael

I sat in the corner of the office with the lights off, cradling a sawed-off 12-gauge in my lap. I kept one eye on my desk, the other eye on the stairwell. I didn’t move an inch, and I was barely breathing. I wasn’t blinking much either. I don’t know how long I sat there. Things had been getting strange around the office building where I was currently employed. Even since I had carried out The Job for my client a few weeks ago, I had been finding post-it notes on my desk saying, “I know you did it”. Someone was on to me, that much was clear. I had wanted to abandoned my cover as soon as The Job was finished, but my client insisted I stick around for a while, maintain my cover, so as not to arouse suspicion. Then the notes started coming in. I’d had no luck so far in uncovering the author of the notes. There were a few people that seemed likely, but I couldn’t be 100% certain. However, since it seemed that whoever was leaving the notes was also rummaging through my cubical (looking for proof that I had been involved in The Job, no doubt) I thought that catching them in the act would be the only way to finish this before getting the fuck out of Dodge. Hence my sitting in a darkened office with a 12-gauge on my lap.
I know you did it.
I know you did it.
I know you did it.
Finally I saw the door of the stair well creak open, and someone in a dark hoodie and sweatpants creep into the maze of cubicles. They looked around, and I sank further back into the pools of shadows. The intruder crept towards my vacant cubicle, and upon reaching it started going through my desk. I got up and walked softly down the aisle towards them, not making any sounds. Their movements were growing frantic, suggesting panic. This was it. In a fell swoop, and got behind them, cocked the sawed-off, and placed the barrel at the back of their head.
“Alright, Billie, enough is enough. Back up slowly.”
Billie stood up slowly and turned around, the dim light from the windows playing off her pale skin. Her hazel eyes fixed me with a look of hatred that you only see in the eyes of people whose loved ones you have murdered.
“I knew it was you,” she hissed.
“Of course you did, now step away from my desk. I don’t want to get blood on my Magic 8 Ball.”
She stepped forward slowly, and I took a step back simultaneously, keeping my sawed-off inches from her eyes. I must say, they were very pretty. I gestured with the gun for her to sit down, and she did, sliding into the desk chair near my desk.
“Take your hood off,” I ordered.
“Why?”
“Because I want to look at you.”
Billie reluctantly pulled her hood back. I liked the way her hair looked: a natural dark red, now tangled and stringy from being in the rain. Her eyes still burned into mine with a hate that would put the fear of god into the devil himself. Our gazes locked for a silent minute.
Fire and Ice.
“Why did you have to kill her?” she asked, her voice strangely level and calm.
“Are you familiar with the phrase ‘Ignorance is Bliss’? Well, the last few days of your little girlfriend’s life weren’t too blissful. Especially once I got to her.”
“I don’t get it, what could Shelly have done?” At this I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t act like she was special, she was just another cheap lay from that dyke bar you like to hang at. Besides, Shelly got a hold of something she shouldn’t have, and my client didn’t like that. She could have gone public. Something had to be done.” Tears were starting to trickle Billie’s face.
“She wasn’t just a cheap lay. I loved her.” This information surprised me.
“Really? How can you tell?” She looked at me surprised, confusion on her tear-stained face.
“Wuh?”
“How do you know if you’re in love with someone?” Billie fixed me with that intense stare of hers.
“You just know.”
This was a bit confusing to me. I’ve never understood this sort of thing. Not just with women, but all humans. I can’t believe they think I’m like them. I stroked my chin thoughtfully before responding,
 “Are you sure?” The look of rage and hate returned to Billie’s eyes.
“Damn sure.”
“Oh. Well then, I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? SORRY?! You tore Shelly to pieces! They had to ID her using her teeth!”
“I had to send a message. I swear on my mother’s grave that it wasn’t personal.” Billie bared her teeth in anger as the tears ran fast and hard down her face. Despite her smeared makeup, tears, and the rage in her eyes, she was quite beautiful. I think I understood what Shelly had seen in her.
“Just fucking kill me already.”
“Very well. Move over to the other side of the cubicle, there’s still a chance of blood getting on my Magic 8 Ball from this angle.” She looked me not with anger at this remark, but with sadness.
“You care more about a desk toy than a person’s life.”
“Yes I do.”
Billie slid the desk chair across the floor so she was now facing completely away from my desk. She looked up at me, without fear or that pleading for mercy I usually hear. And in that moment, I felt something. Something new. But before I could voice it, instinct kicked in and I had pulled the trigger of my sawed-off, hollowing out Billie’s head like an overripe melon. The roar of the blast echoed through the building, and my ears rang for a bit. I looked at where Billie’s face had been, now seeing only a gory crater in her skull, with blood staining the rest of her like a crimson waterfall.
It matched her hair.

A little while later I was riding in the back seat of a car with tinted windows, cradling my Magic 8 Ball in my hands. There was a tiny speck of Billie’s blood on the white circle surrounding the eight. A man in a suit, who represented my client, was handing me a briefcase full of cash and explaining how the ID I had been using for the past three months was now void, how I’d be living in Amsterdam for a while, and how happy my client would be to hear this was all over with. But all I could think about was what Billie said to me. And as we drove towards my client’s private jet at the airport, I gazed deep into the Magic 8 Ball and smiled while a tear rolled my cheek.
“Something wrong?” the man in the suit asked, clearly puzzled. It was a full minute before I responded:

“I think I’m in love.”

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