The sofa was soft and easy, the room quite dark and creepy. But nothing creeps me out, absolutely nothing.
Not even the fixated stare of the man seated directly in front of me; a short, stout and greying old man with a large cigar upturned at the right corner of his mouth. We just sat staring at each other intently, him smoking his vintage quality cigar, while I sat back watching him (I can maintain a pretty nasty eye contact).
He had a job for me, from the look of things he appeared to be very rich, I had been chauffeured here in one of his luxurious cars; a rather sleek Royce which seemed as expensive as a stallion, by the time we had arrived at this mansion located in the very outskirts of Lippy Estate, Houston I became even more convinced of it.
The house in which we now sat was definitely the largest house I had ever been to, with all the rancid definitions of a huge mansion told only in fairy-tales, needless to say; this was however a more modern house, an underground garage, a heliport, a tennis court, a golf course, large endless woodlands stretching towards infinity and not to mention the automated lifts, voice control entries and whatever makes a modern sophisticated house.
I was quite petrified beyond my own imagination.
The man sitting in front of me shifted on his armchair; his cigar was half-consumed, I looked on patiently.
Most times my clients love to take their time before presenting me with the details of a job I was to undertake, killing or having someone killed can sometimes be a difficult decision. I have killed many people, well this is quite true (considering that this is my job) but the one thing I know is; most clients always take their time before finally making the irreversible stance to take the life of perhaps a cheating wife, a greedy business partner, a blackmailer, or even a hostile prodigal son.
But in all of my career as an hired assassin, this man’s continuous silence was starting to unnerve me, He coughed hard and longingly into the right hand of his cupped palm, then he stubbed out the half-consumed cigar in the ash tray and stared at me with those dark beady eyes which seemed to spark like fire touches.
I averted my gaze from him and directed it at the fireplace which was quite active and burning, well it was necessary; winter had come, it was after all Christmas time.
I tugged at my gloves, clasped and unclasped my hands still waiting for the old man, we had spent close to three hours seated silently with not a word being exchanged, I was starting to get impatient.
“So you are the famous Harold Hastings?” The old man’s voice came suddenly and sharply, it was a thick, fine and refined voice with a nobleman’s accent.
I was taken aback, I hadn’t even expected him to talk so suddenly, I wanted to reply; and of course regain my composure but it was quite hard.
“You bet that I am” I replied my voice however didn’t come out too well, it quivered and sounded slunk up, certainly not like the voice of a supposed professional assassin.
“Indeed, I have a job for you Mr. Harold, one that is in desperate need of your expertise” the old man continued his voice now grave, he mouthed each word out carefully.
“Certainly, what are the details of the job?” I asked, “Relax, Mr. Harold” the old man replied standing up from the armchair and putting his hands into his deep suit pockets.
“How does it feel to be dead Mr Harold? For a man who has been acclaimed to kill many, what does death feel like for your victims?” The old man furthered.
“That’s a rather awkward question sir, Death is a permanent state of oblivion in contrast to sleep, a dead man is as lifeless as an empty tin can” I replied wondering why on earth he would ask such a stupid question, everyone knows what Death is (that’s why they fucking don’t cross the roads with their eyes closed!).
The old man chuckled silently, I could clearly hear the ripples of laughter escaping as he threw his head backwards guffawing loudly.
“You are quite right Mr. Harold, quite right indeed” the old man said deliberately, he moved slowly to the large window which was shrouded by fine linen curtains directly opposite the fireplace and peered out with those beady eyes.
I had relapsed back into utmost silence, I didn’t like having to rush my clients; I fully understood the intricate complications of taking that grim decision to terminate a life, so I kept silent.
“Your answer has sparked up something in me Mr. Harold, something that has driven me to go ahead with my decision even though it’s very hard” the old man said.
“Who’s she?” I asked nonchalantly, I was quite sure the victim to be eliminated might be a concubine or wife of the old man who was taking money from him and probably sleeping around with younger men (I have treated such cases in the past).
“She?” The old man asked rather abashed and surprised, “there’s no she Mr. Harold, I know what you are thinking but that’s not the case here”.
“Then what is the case?”
The old man gaped at me for a while, perhaps five minutes, perhaps less and went over to the table and opened a drawer. He proceeded to pull out a manilla envelope which he placed on the table directly in front of me.
He motioned to me to go ahead, I grabbed the manilla envelope and pulled out a large documented paper which looked more like a will or testament alongside with a lone photograph, I studied the picture closely; the face looked vaguely familiar.
“Whiskey?” The old man’s voice cut through my thoughts, he was pouring himself a glass from his exquisite collection which lined the shelves of the mini-bar in the study.
“No thanks, this person in the picture…” I gestured pointing at young man wearing a zoot suit in the photograph, “is that who I need to kill?”
The old man nodded slowly.
I studied the face on the picture again, and something rather off and odd struck me.
The face of the old man and the guy in the zoot suit resembled so much I thought that this must most definitely be the son of the old man.
(Another hostile prodigal son) I thought balefully to myself.
“But this person bears a very similar resemblance to you, is this your son?” I asked confused.
The old man shook his head in the negative and sat heavily on the chair heaving a rather loud sigh of relief.
“I have no children Mr. Harold” he voiced out at last, “the picture that you hold in your hands right now is a picture of me about twenty -five years ago” .
I gaped at him in utter shock.
“I don’t understand, why would you give me the picture of yourself at a much younger age, as the target of an assassination?” I asked still confounded. It all seemed so jumbled up to make any sense.
“Because, I’m paying you to assassinate me Mr. Harold” the old man replied.
The picture dropped off, sliding slowly onto the floor from my wanton grip.