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RIA: Romance in Action
“You copy that, Oakley?” His voice sounded through the Bluetooth device as I crawled into position, perching myself against the cement railing on the roof of a vacant building. The sun caked an extra layer of sweat onto my brow, beating against the speckled landscape and reflecting back to my poised body.
“Got it,” I responded. I then dragged my black duffle to the spot I had designated days before, a location where the minimal shade protected me from the curious eyes of those below. Strutting low across the plaza, I spoke yet again, business in my demeanor, “Tancred: how are things looking on your end?”
“Anderson’s still at the corner store, checking out now,” He was cool and gruff, the speech reflecting a darker tone due to the quarter-mile distance.
“CJ, Vader: things still going smooth?” I probed while taking out the long and slender instrument from my bag and aligning the other various pieces on the ground beside me. My hair stuck to my forehead as the mid-noon sun dwelled longer; braid was clingy as it looped halfway down my back.
“Yeah, yeah. We’ve got everything under control,” CJ slurred. Her partner could be heard from the background, typing away at his array of computers and machineries. “No notice from the cops or Anderson. Looks like we’re in the clear.“
Tancred was the next to reply, “Good to hear. Anderson just left and is walking home now. Expect him in t-minus five minutes, Oakley. You going to be ready?” I chuckled to myself while clicking the last joint into place. I then proceeded to double-check each segment of the apparatus propped upon the side railing, and finally, adjusted the scope accordingly.
“Ready to fire anytime,” I assured my team as the seconds began to tick by and my mind was transformed from an analytical process-deriver to a philosophical thought-provoker. I was set up and ready; the entire process was running smoothly. There was no kink in our plan, nor a witness to testify. In essence, we had created the perfect crime, one that was sanctioned by the government as justified.
Still no sign of the target, so my mind began to explore further: It was my third year on the job. At the age of twenty-three, they had recruited me right out of college. I had been training in the ROTC program and had been testing exponentially in all subjects, nominating me for the Special Operations Program, or SOP, for the United States, a covert organization that only the top members of the pentagon were aware of.
T-minus three minutes and still no sign of the target. I took surveillance of the scene again, and finding no inconsistencies, continued with my pondering. My childhood had not been what one considers ideal. My father was a SEAL that was overseas more than he was at home, dying in action when I had been at the tender age of fifteen. With no father figure, my younger brother, despite my older brother’s cautioning, involved himself with drugs. He was knifed two years later, by then slowly indebting the entire household to a point where my older sibling was forced to work for the welfare of our so-called family rather than attending college, where he had been offered a scholarship for his skills in track. The only way I had managed to advance farther than him was the fact that he and my mother wanted to make sure I did something with my life. And by that, I don’t think they had being a professional assassin waiting for their target on a humid, Key West day, in their mind.
“He’s coming your way,” Tancred ordered into the earpiece as I lifted my eyes to the sidewalk and found Anderson strolling towards his apartment complex and me. “Let’s finish this up clean and easy, Oakley: we’ve got another job lined up for us in Andover next week.”
“No problemo, amigo.” I gritted my teeth and leaned down, focusing my vision to the crosshairs in the tiny scope. Slowly, Anderson walked around the corner, and I followed him, waiting for the perfect shot. He was twenty-seven, an entrepreneur businessman, who had started his own company down in the central office of the quaint suburb. His clothes were fine, ironed, but relaxed. His step reflected no worry of death, nor a faltered sense of security. He was not the type of man to be assassinated.
My time before Anderson entered the house was counting down, but I couldn’t shoot him yet; something was off. Had our superiors messed up? Could Anderson be innocent of all the allegations they proposed when assigning this mission? We had monitored his movements for six days now, and not once had any of us turn up potentially illegal information. In fact, he had the perfect, normal life. I envied his career, home, family. I was jealous of his valedictorian high school title, his four-year degree at University of Miami, his mother, who brought by a home-cooked meal every Tuesday, his father, who lent Anderson the car when we toyed with the engine, his sister and nephews, who visited last Saturday for his birthday, and perhaps over everything, the vacation to Nova Scotia his entire family had been planning since last year. He wasn’t like me. I wanted to be like him.
“Oakley: everything okay? We’re losing time.” I didn’t hear the words as they were directed; nothing was audible to my incoherent mind. My eyes, now relaxed off of the scope, merely followed sluggishly as Anderson picked up the Sunday paper and checked his mailbox. Six-three, was his height. One-eighty five was his weight. His skin was flushed, smooth, and olive. His hair, a chestnut brown, waved just above his deep-figured eyebrows, which streaked above his foggy, hazel eyes. He was buff, as he worked out five out of seven days a week at four-thirty sharp. As for personality, he was trustworthy, personable, and caring – everything that I could never be.
T-minus ten…nine…eight…seven…I ticked off, silently, as Anderson strolled up the front path to his house, gazing up at the clear sky with awe and glee. Tancred yelled at me through the Bluetooth. I finally yanked the device out. What was going on here wasn’t anything anyone in my team could understand: it was alien to the SOP’s. And all I knew, was that I couldn’t finish this mission; I couldn’t kill Matt Anderson.
I had fallen in love with the target.