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Only When The Gun's Pointed Do We Reveal Ourselves

By , Pinckney, MI
"You love her."
"I do not."

"Then why wont you kill her?"

"There's no reason to. You know the public will get suspicious if a teenage girl drops dead."

"And you know we have the highest ranking men on our team who can cover up any mistake, any death, with a flick of a button."

"But she didn't do anything! That goes against our policy, General Sparks. And you know the policy damn well. We do not kill innocent people."

"I advise you to watch your tone with me Colonel Jacobson. I could have your ass off this squad before you can cry uncle. And Miss Davis witnessed a murder on our part. She could be used as evidence against us. You were given a direct order from Major General Smith to expose of her immediately."

"I'm getting to it."

"You're...getting to it?"

"Well I can't just drop in on her at school and blow her up."

"That's what your talent is for. Use it."

"With all due respect General Sparks, you let me do my job, and I'll let you do yours."

General Sparks flushed, his face ripening like a tomato. Had he been a cartoon, I swear I would have been able to see smoke coming out his ears. He stood abruptly and brought his forefingers up in a two finger salute. "Good day, Colonel Jacobson," He growled from inside his clenched teeth.

I took the hint and pushed back my chair. "Good day, General Sparks." I said with my own salute and left the chamber.








***


She can feel my eyes on the back of her head. I know it. I can see it in the way she keeps twitching her head, as if she wants to turn around and see who's there but is too afraid to. Like I might have a gun. Like I might shoot her. Like I might murder her as she has already seen my men do. Her pupils are dilated, I don't need to see her face to see the symptoms. She's afraid. Whether it's a general fear of her nightmares, or a directed fear at me, I am unclear of. Either way, she's scared. And the bags under her eyes tell more truth than words would. She's sleep deprived. She's paranoid. At every sound, every glance, every movement, she jumps. Her hands are that of a skeleton, her bones showing through the translucent skin. And they shake. No, they tremble. Her neat, bubbly hand writing has turned sour with every flick of her wrist, almost unreadable. And I wouldn't be surprised if under those black knitted sleeves, scars ran up and down her arms. Because I can already see the bruises. They are tucked away, deeply hidden under her clothing, but every now and then she slips, forgets what she's hiding and I can see the thin outlines of the black and blue skin, out of place amongst her pale white body. But she's not being abused. There is no sign of that within her features. It comes with the rapid loss of weight. Even the smallest of bumps can make her yelp now. She has become pathetic. And all this I could tell just by studying her for the first school hour of the day. Where I blended in like all the other kids, just another face in the crowd.

She jumps as the bell rings. Echoing through the halls which will swarm with kids in just a matter of minutes. But she's not like everyone else who rushes to get out of the poisonous classroom. She takes her time. Collecting each and every book. Allowing her fingers to brush past the covers, as if to test their reality.

I walk up to her, sure to have her see me before hear me. I have no intentions of seeing her jump again. My pseudo name falls from my lips, Kyle Darkangelo. The new kid. The kid that's not supposed to be there, but I have a feeling my name was lost in the open space between us because she doesn't respond. Doesn't acknowledge my existence. Or maybe I'm not acknowledging hers. Because to me, she is dead. I have yet to do my job and already her eyes show no hint of life. I know they're supposed to be hazel. I know everything about her. I have read all the reports. But they look grey. Like the smoke of a burning village. And her eyes cry too. They scream the bloody murder of death. She has aged beyond her years, the fright of murder has knocked on her door, and she can't get him to leave. On parts of her head, her milk chocolate hair has fallen out in clumps, leaving her bare scalp exposed. My orders were to kill her. Anna Marie Davis. But she was already long dead before I arrived.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, fondling the air for a hint of warmth to bring back to my body. But the chill has already coursed through my veins, freezing my blood. My heart cracks against my rib cage, begging to be released, but I cannot move. I cannot do anything. I am frozen solid by this girl. She had me trapped in my own game.

















***

“Why did we do it?”

“You'll have to be more specific, Colonel Jacobson, if you wish to receive an answer.”

“You know what I mean. We all know what I mean. And we all ask ourselves this same thing every night before we go to bed. For some of us it even haunts us then. Others let it roll off us like water over a rock. But we go on each day never knowing. Why. Why did we have to kill him?”

“If you're referring to suspect Matthew Davis, you'll have to ask Major General Smith, Colonel Jacobson.”

“Why?”

“Because he's the one in charge. He gives out the orders and we follow them.”

“Blindly? I'll have you know, General Sparks, I have been working for this team since I was twelve. That's six years. And in my six years here not once have I ever declined an order, direct or not, and not once, have I questioned my orders.”

“As you should.”

“Ah, but not once have I been given a reason for the things I do.”

“You shouldn't need one. It should be enough for you, Colonel Jacobson, to just be able to trust our team and trust we will do the best for the people.”

“But who's to decide what's best for the people?”

“Colonel Jacobson, who took you in at that age of twelve?”

“Major General Smith.”

“Right, and where do your loyalties lie?”

“With Major General Smith.”

“Correct. And that should be all you need.”

“But I don't see why we must harm this family any more than we have. We have already killed, murdered!, the Davis' only son. And now their daughter is as good as dead and you want me to finish off the last of their family? Trust me, I have seen the girl, she is in no situation to be able to snitch on us.”

“It is not your job to be getting emotionally attached to your “clients.” You're here to kill as we say and if you cannot do that, Colonel Jacobson, then we have no more need for you.”

“No, accept my apologies General Sparks, I did not mean for my mouth to get out of hand.”

“Apology accepted. Now, Major General Smith wants this case closed by tomorrow.”

“Yes'sir.”








***

I caught her before school, as she was walking on the hidden trail inside the woods that surrounded the school. Out of reach, out of sight. The night's shadow did well to hide my dark clothed body. Tucked into my belt was my .22 semi-automatic pistol, six rounds locked inside of it. I found my hand often brushing against it, the cool metal piercing my skin. Each time, the knot in my stomach tightened. Never before had it been so hard to kill one person. Murderer's, illegal drug traders, and all sorts of “evil” people had been at the wrath of my hand pistol, their eyes flickering with a glimpse of fear that disappeared when the bullet reached their heart. And every time I told myself I had rid the world of one more villain, one more person that could potentially crush the foundation on which our country stood. And each night I had slept peacefully.

But there was no fear in Anna's eyes. She stood, allowing the wind to push past her in haste. She didn't drop to her knees, she didn't beg, she understood. She had witnessed murder, the murder of her own flesh and blood, and she was ready for anything life could throw at her. But it wasn't her fault. The wrong place, the wrong time, but she didn't deserve to die for that. She hadn't passed on illegal substances, or threatened to blow the world up or kill anyone...

But...I had. That's all I had done for six years of my life. Kill. One person after another. Blood had become my poison of choice, the ground on which I lay. I was just as bad as all the others that had died by my hand. I was worse. I had left their families with a dead child to mourn for the rest of their life. But I didn't have a family. No one would care if I disappeared. I was just another face in the crowd. A face that had a talent for sharp-shooting. Who killed with no questions. I was the real bad guy.

I gripped the gun in my hand and pointed it to where Anna stood. Not even a sliver of fear. Nothing. Her face was stone, expressionless. She had been through so much. She had seen death. Now it was her turn. Her turn to live. Live with one more death on her conscience, but I prayed maybe, years from now after years of therapy, she would go on with her life. And I would be able to know I had saved one person. Just one.

I positioned the gun, the slickness of the barrel parting my hair, whispering its good-byes to me. I closed my eyes, opening them again. And I swear I saw the tiniest speck of hope in her eyes. I smiled weakly. I wasn't afraid. It wasn't about fear. It was about hope. Because that's all we have, really. Is hope. And I was replenishing Anna's.

Bam.





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