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He was flustered, hair wild and palms sweaty, briskly walking through the day to day crowds on New York city, headed nowhere, anywhere away from it all. All he could think about was the anger, the raging fire of wrath within him; all he could think about was his enemy. And that’s where he was headed. He suddenly knew, it all pulled together perfectly in his mind, like the tightening of a loose knot.
With a sudden gust of energy he sped up, feeling his leg muscles tighten with every stride. He wanted it so bad, to hurt, to irk, to kill. He felt a power arise within him, a power he had never experienced ever before. An inner strength- the ability to do anything-invincibility. He wrung his hands together with anxious expectancy as the whole ordeal played through his head like a movie.
So many weeks ago he had figured it out; the unexplained telephone calls, the frequent business trips, the quiet secluded attitude. But this morning, all hell had broken loose. He played it over and over in his brain, pressed rewind, and watched it again. She seemed so innocent, so nonchalant, but I knew something was up. All these strange behaviors and events, all the unanswered questions. Yes, it would explain everything. The moment the question left my mouth, I knew the answer. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so rough, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her like that. Maybe I should have played it calm. NO! What the hell are you thinking man? She deserved it. And he- my former colleague- oh, he will be so sorry!
He thought of Kate, back at the apartment. What is she doing right now? Did she call him? Warn him? Does she….love him? The thought was painful, and as he stood looking up at the office high-rise where he worked, he held his head in his hands and realized this was the right thing to do. Feeling for the 9 mm he had pulled from the bedside table drawer, he realized something in his subconscious new he’d be needing the gun. He marched straight up to the main doors and entered.
Jen Reed sat silently, focused solely on the tasks set before her, very simple tasks, but nonetheless important to her. She was a hard worker, very willing and a quite competent secretary. She did not, however, have the slightest idea of what to do if someone appears out of nowhere with a pistol and points it at your chest. She did remember the first rule for such situations, and that was panic. Her heart stopped in her chest and her breath got stuck somewhere in between as she tried to scream, but failed.
“Listen, lady, everything will be alright- if you do exactly what I say. Am I clear?” his rough voice cracked in the effort to speak, and her voice too failed her as she squeaked a reply. The man grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet in one swift motion.
“Where’s Phil Kridwell’s office?” he demanded. She sputtered, trying to answer him. All of a sudden his face was up in hers, so close she could smell a mixture of toast and toothpaste on his breath. “I SAID, WHERE IS PHIL’S OFFICE!!!!!!!!!”
Jen’s breath sounded like a locomotive chugging past as she managed an answer. “I-I-I-tttttt’s rrightttt… overrrr ttthhherrre….. tttthhhhrough ttthhhatttt…. ddddoooorrrr tttthhherrrre.” She managed to speak this with great effort, the man’s grip on her arm tightening with every syllable. Finally he released her, and she sank to her knees, holding on to her desk above for support, her every muscle shaking with fear. The man looked at her for a moment; then rummaged through the desk drawers until his fist closed over a roll of duct tape which he began to plaster over her mouth.
Just that instant the door to the right was swung open and a tall handsome man entered, his eyes on the stack of papers he was carrying.
“Jennifer, these papers need to be…” he stopped in his tracks, dropping his papers where he stood so that they floated slowly to the floor below. His face turned white and his jaw dropped as he saw his secretary, her mouth taped shut with silver tape, on the floor with a gun pointed at her head. His hands automatically shot above his head in surrender.
“H-hello, Jeff. Listen, I-I can explain. It’s not what you think. P-please, let me t-t-t-talk to you,” the man said nervously.
“Oh, no need my dear friend. You won’t be able to talk at all when this is over.” His voice was cool and calm, like water flowing from a faucet, his eyes menacing and cold.
Jen let out a small squeak as Jeff inched towards her boss, the gun cocked and trembling ever so slightly. Jeff stopped for a moment in thought, letting his anger bubble over on the burner of his heart. Slowly, he turned towards the secretary’s desk and lifted a letter opener from atop an envelope.
He wanted to stab his victim, cause more pain. His victim, however, mistook his action as an indication that the gun was not actually loaded. In a second he was at Jen’s side, pulling her up with him as he ran for the door. Jeff proved him wrong with a simple shot at his foot which hit with perfect accuracy. He sank to the floor, yelling and grimacing with pain. Jen knelt next to him, her eyes begging with Jeff. Jeff proceeded to swear at Phil, all his anger rushing forth in a spew of words. Then he raised the gun to point at the man he so hated.
“PLEASE, I’LL DO ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ANYTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN HAVE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’VE GOT MONEY JEFF!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!” he screamed in terror as he realized it was the end.
The first shot was fired at his heart. He shrieked on the impact, then fell back in pain, blood gushing from the wound and his mouth. More shots came, two….three….four. Four shots and the deed was done. He lay there, in a pile of his own blood, in cold still silence.
Jeff caught his breath, then turned to his next victim.
“I’m so sorry, but you know what I have to do,” he told her quietly. Tears spilled forth from her watery eyes, and a sob escaped. He almost wavered, then decided, “It’ll spare your husband the pain you’ll bring him when you have an affair one day.” He raised the gun. He counted down in his head to the firing time, one, two, th-
“I’m not married.” Jeff was startled at her voice.
“I’m not married,” she repeated slowly.
“What?” he asked, confused.
“I’m engaged, and now I’ll never get to be married,” she said bluntly, so angrily that he was taken aback.
“I don’t understand-“
“You, you little angry man, you don’t even know my name, or who I am, or what I can be. You have no right to just kill me. I think you should have the decency enough to know who I am. So, I’ll tell you,” her eyes flashed with anger and hatred at this man she didn’t even know. He lowered the gun.
“Okay, let’s hear what you have to say.”
She went on to relive her life, telling him, this stranger, all the blurry memories of her childhood, of a sweet little girl who used to play tea party on the green summer lawn, of the sweet smelling flowers she’d pick for her mother. She told of Christmases, birthdays, Thanksgivings, and the like. She told of her friends who played hopscotch and Monopoly with her through the long afternoon hours.
She told of a confused teenager, of friends and boyfriends past, of the time she was grounded for months because she’d had a beer. She told of high-school days, long boring days, with cliques and clubs and teenage dreams.
She told of a crazy college student who pierced more body parts then she could remember, and got three tattoos. She told of long nights studying and partying, of the time she skipped a class. Of the time she almost snorted crack, but backed down at the last second.
She told of a young woman, excited about life and applying for a job, of receiving the job and reaching her goals. She told of a handsome young man who understood her, of warm summer nights out and falling in love. And lastly she told him about her ring, and how she felt her life had just begun. And now it was to end so brutally, so abruptly.
She had talked for almost three hours, and he had listened, holding on to every word. At the end she was no longer crying, but instead looked strong, remembering the good times and the bad that had woven the story of her life. A smile shone faintly on her face, her eyes having a far away look. As Jeff looked at her, he said, “I can’t go through with this!” He picked up the phone and dialed 911 to report his own crime. With tears in his eyes he sat down to wait, knowing his life was over- jail time and hardship. Her life though, was just beginning.
As they were cuffing him, a young man strode in. He ran over to Jen, who was talking to some policemen, and held her close to him. Jeff watched them, seeing them both break into tears, and felt his own cheeks dampen.
Love can change everything. It can make you laugh, it can make you cry, or it can make you kill someone. Or it can change your mind about anything, if you only listen.