The Assassin and the Target

The Assassin and the Target – 1988



John E. Leahy

I really hate it when you stab somebody and your knife gets covered with goo.  It makes me want to puke all over the dead body.  I don’t know if you’ve guessed by now but I kill people a lot.  I have to.  It’s my job.  I’m a paid assassin.  Besides, somebody’s got to do it.

I know, you’re saying to yourself, “This guy’s a beast.”  But if you just think about it for a moment, if it wasn’t for this, I would probably have to go out and rob people for a living.  So really it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.

I remember when I was hired to rub out this guy that worked for the Environmental Monitoring Board, some government agency.  A real nice guy.  I really liked the dude.

But he was raising a big stink about all the chemicals that this company was dumping, and it became a clean matter of  economics.  It was a lot easier to pay me than to pay a whopping federal fine.  I felt kind of bad but what can you do.  I really liked the guy.

In order to rub him out I had to learn his habits so that I could find a good time and place to do him without getting  snagged.  By accident I ended up getting to know him.  He turned out to be a hell of a guy.  I was expecting him to be one of those snobbish intellectual jerks that don’t give you the time of day if you don’t speak fluent Latin, but he was all right.

I tailed him into this bar one night.  Speaking of dumping a load of chemicals.  Man, did this guy put down a lot of liquor.  Finally he went into the men’s room and just disappeared.  I had already ordered a second gingerale ‑ I never drink on the job.   That shit just ain’t right‑ when I got suspicious.  What the hell was going on?  I went to the men’s room.  I never refer to this as the John because some guys are named John and might get offended by the reference of their name to a toilet.  You’ve got to have some consideration and respect.

Anyway I went to the men’s room to see what the hell was going on with this dude.  As I entered I saw him standing at a urinal, leaning with one hand against the wall.  I moved over to a neighboring urinal and pretended that I had to pee.  He looked like he was unconscious.  His eyes were just slits.  I turned and looked at him more closely.

“You ever notice how many guys like to look at other guys’  dicks in the men’s room?” he suddenly asked me without turning or opening his eyes.  Man was I embarrassed.  I wasn’t trying to look at his dick.  I was just doing my job.  We both continued to stand there at our respective urinals.

“You ever notice how long it takes to piss sometimes?” he  addressed me again.  Man he really had me off guard.  We were both standing there at urinals but neither one of us was peeing. “I’ve been here 10 minutes already how about you?” he asked.  I was really starting to feel uncomfortable.

“If someone comes in now he’s going to think we’re a couple of fags.” he went on, his eyes still slits.

No way man.  That shit don’t flush.  “If anybody calls me a fag, I’ll blow his fucking brains out!” I blurted out and opened my jacket to reveal my revolver.  It was a hot tempered moment of rash stupidity.

“What the hell are you doing with that thing? You could kill somebody with that.”  He finally opened his eyes and turned to me.

I was off guard again.  “You never know when you’ve got to dust somebody.” I joked.  Perhaps not one of my better efforts.  He didn’t seem to mind.  Maybe he told dumb jokes himself sometimes.  A lot of people do that when they’re feeling loose and relaxed.

“If you want to kill somebody, just have them drink the  water here.  It’s a long and painful death.  I know because I just inspected the place.”

“What’s the matter with the water here?” I asked.  He really had me interested.  Maybe I could save myself some dirty work by bringing my future targets here for a drink.

“Contaminated rain water has drained out of a poorly sealed toxic chemical dump and seeped into the local groundwater.”  He  half yawned and shook his dick a little.  However nothing came out and he closed his eyes back to slits again.

I started getting nervous again.  I didn’t want anybody coming in and thinking I was some kind of weird jerk.  I pushed my stomach out trying to squeeze out at least a respectable couple of drops.  I should have been drinking beer.

The guy shook his head.  “You know, maybe I pissed already and then forgot.”

“Yeah, sometimes people do that.  Maybe we should get out of here.” I replied.  I started to put my dick back in my pants, but he suddenly woke up and looked at me with clear eyes.

“What about you” he smiled coldly.  “Or did you just come in here to show off your gun?”  Then he started laughing like hell. I didn’t know if he was calling me a queer or not, but I sure as hell felt uncomfortable.

“Come on.” he said, putting his dick back in his pants and  zipping up.  “Let’s go out and have a drink so we can piss again.”  Then he slapped me on the shoulder and held the door open as an invitation.

I passed through the door but he just stood there staring into the men’s room.  He had a funny expression on his face like he was watching his kid play baseball.  I don’t have any kids personally.  I’m concentrating on my career.  I’m just another yuppie.

Without shifting his eyes, he spoke.  “A civilization is only as deep as it can flush.”  I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.  With this guy it seemed like you never knew what would happen next.  He must be damn smart.  Either that or crazy.  He started talking again.

“The concept of using running water to remove excrement from the place of residence, has to be rated as one of the premier  technological advances of society.  Perfume on the other hand,  multi billion dollar industry that it is, is the idiot’s answer to body toxins.  It was very popular in the Dark Ages, between the glorious days of lead plumbing during the Roman Empire and the construction of the Paris sewers under Napoleon III.  Instead of washing, Europeans covered their bodies with high priced perfumes from the Orient.”

I remembered doing the same thing, just spraying myself with deodorant, when I didn’t have time to take a shower.  It usually made me smell even worse.  “What are you drinking?” he asked me as he put his arm around my shoulder and steered me to the bar.

He was a big guy and I could feel the muscles of his arms  squeezing my shoulders.  He was about 35 years old and had a  bushy, blond moustache and a playful twinkle in his eyes when they were open.  You sort of had the impression that he was looking through you and was kind of amused by what he saw.

“Gingerale.” I said to the bartender.  I waited for the  sarcastic comment about my choice of beverage, but he just lit a cigarette and ordered a Leahy’s brown ale.

“If you’re driving home sober, maybe you could give me a ride.” he said, again taking me by surprise.  “That is as long as you drive better than you piss.” He winked at me and started laughing again.  He always had me a little off guard.  I could feel my heart beating against my gun holster.

“Sure I’ll give you a ride.” I said.  I hadn’t been planning to do him that night, but maybe this would offer the perfect  opportunity.  To tell the truth though, I wasn’t in the mood.  I was feeling a little jumpy.  Very unprofessional.  I hate sloppy jobs.  It’s always better to go in cold and get it done quick and clean.

“Hey Freddie,” he suddenly called out to the bartender, “This guy’s going to give me a ride home, so let him drink as much gingerale as he wants.”

The bartender grinned at me.  “Yeah, he looks sober.” he said.

My target laughed again.  “Freddie’s an expert.  “He looks into your eyes and reads your alcohol meter.”

Shit!  I was marked now.  There was no way I could do him tonight after this.  Man was this job starting to get messy.

“You’d better go easy on the soft drinks.” the bartender said to me.  “They’re murder on your teeth.”  His comment went through me with a shudder.

“Interesting concept.” my target mused.  “It’s easier to  recuperate from a hangover than to go to the dentist.” He leaned back and laughed.  I didn’t think it was funny at all.  He always seemed to know something I didn’t know.  Maybe he was full of shit, but I had respect for him.  A lot more than I had for the guy that hired me that’s for sure.

The guy that paid me was a real jerk.  The people I work for are always jerks.  What kind of person would hire somebody to kill somebody else anyway?  I’d rather work for somebody like this guy here.  But that type of guy never seems to have enough money.  If business gets really good, maybe someday I’ll start offering discounts to concerned citizens groups.

Anyway, like I said, I didn’t like the guy that hired me.   He was a real sleazeball.  He left me real cold.  I didn’t like his attitude at all.  He was boiling mad because this guy had done his job better than he had.  No appreciation or respect for quality.  Then later he threw his candy wrapper in the street.   It didn’t weigh that much, he could have put it in his pocket.  I don’t work hard and pay all my bills to look at some slob’s candy wrapper.  If I wanted to look at a candy wrapper, I’d have one framed and hung on my wall.

My target tapped my elbow.  “Do you know what I’m celebrating today?”

I nodded my head.  Anniversary of the invention of toilet paper perhaps?  With this guy you didn’t know.  He stared at me with his clear eyes and I started feeling nervous again.  He grinned and then started laughing.  Then he slapped me on the shoulder so hard that I fell half off my stool.  Some of my gingerale spilled onto my slacks.  Right in my lap!  Now people are going to think I peed in my pants.  He stopped laughing and fixed me with his clear eyes again.

“Today, little buddy, I fixed their asses for good.  I caught them in their own lies.  The lab results of my field work proved what I had been saying all along.  The high levels of toxic dethalene could only have seeped out of Hiccup Chemicals storage dump.  Now I’ve got the proof that I’ve been looking for for 9 months.  And with 7 people already hospitalized with over 45 parts per million of dethalene in their blood, there’s going to be hell to pay.”

He raised his glass to me and drank.  I don’t know a damn thing about chemicals.  That’s why I don’t eat organic health foods.  If the whole world is just a jumble of chemicals, how am I, a simple assassin, supposed to figure out which ones are good for you and which ones aren’t?  What happened to the good old days when a loaf of bread was a loaf of bread?

I looked over at my target.  His eyes were glazed again and he was staring at the row of bottles behind the bar.  “You remember when you were a kid and your mother would yell at you to clean up your room after you had played in it?” he asked dreamily without looking up.  “This whole damn society needs a mother.” He just sat there staring at the bottles.

The door opened behind us and two girls in mini skirts and make up came in and sat at the bar next to us.  They ordered drinks and sat there looking kind of bored.  Finally my target looked up and noticed them.  He turned to me with that twinkle in his eyes and said, “Do you like women?”

I was flustered.  “Sure of course.” How could he doubt it?

“Watch this.” he said and turned again to the girls.  Oh Christ!  Now what the hell was he up to?  The last thing I wanted that night was to get involved with a couple of dizzy chicks.

“Hi.”  He smiled at the girls with that big mischievous grin of his.  They sort of nodded like they weren’t too impressed with his style.

“Allow me to introduce myself.” he said.  “I’m sort of a scruffy looking guy with a penis dangling between my legs.  It’s kind of short, but sometimes it comes in handy.”  He raised up his right hand.  “You know what I mean?”  Then he started laughing so hard he nearly fell off his stool.

“How dumb can you get?” said one of the chicks as they turned their backs on him.

“Man are you nuts?” I asked him.  I couldn’t believe it.   “How are you going to pick up any chicks like that?”

He put his hand on my shoulder.  “What’s the matter?  Do you think I made a tactical error?”  His voice was quivering with  laughter.  I stared at him as he laughed into his glass.  He might have gotten something going with those chicks if he had just said something normal.  He started staring at the bottles behind the bar again.  The girls smoked their cigarettes and looked kind of bored.

Suddenly he turned to me and leaned his face in real close to mine.  His eyes were clear again.  “What’s your favorite month?”


“I want you to list all the months of the year in the order of your preference, starting with your favorite.”  He was jabbing me in the chest with his big finger.

“You mean what my favorite months are?”

“Bingo Socrates!”

Months!  What do I know about months?  Sometimes it’s raining, sometimes the goddamn sun is shining.  One thing for sure.  They all have some kind of weather.  I thought about it for a minute then I listed them all, 1 through 12.  I didn’t miss any of them.  Maybe he was giving me some kind of intelligence test.  After that I had to list my favorite days of the week and hours of the day.  He started to tell me to list my favorite odd numbers when I interrupted him.

“Wait a minute.” I said.  “What are your favorite months?”

He leaned back and lit a cigarette.  Then he looked at me dead in the eye and coolly answered.  “I don’t think that’s any of your damn business.”  Then he laughed like a maniac.  I felt like a jerk.  He didn’t give a damn what my favorite month was.

He stood up and drained the poison in his glass.  God, could he put it away.  He turned to the girls and bowed.  “Good night  ladies.”  Then he lurched around and turned to me.  “How about it Socrates, are you going to give me a ride home?” Why was he  calling me that?

He held the door open and I was about to pass through when a really gorgeous woman stepped in on the arm of some well dressed heel.  When she saw my target, she stopped short for just a moment.  If I hadn’t been staring at her I wouldn’t have noticed. Then she smiled at him and said hello while she waved one of those Chinese paper fans.  My target took her delicate, little hand in his giant paw and kissed it softly.  From where I was standing I could see her bosom rise underneath her black, silk shawl.  The man behind her looked like he had just stepped in dogshit.

“Is this how you derive your hallucinations about chemical  pollution?” he asked sourly.  My target lurched quickly towards him and he pulled back with fright.  However my target merely grabbed his hand and gave him the power handshake.

“Right on!” he said and started laughing again.  Then he went out through the door without even looking back again at the woman.  I hurried after him.

He was laughing in the parking lot.  Everything was always so goddamn funny to him.  He put his arm around my shoulder and  started squeezing me till my back was practically folded in half. “You know who he was?” he asked me.

“No.” I said.  Who the hell cares who that poofball was.  Who was that woman?

“He’s the president of Hiccup Chemicals Inc.  He told me over the phone he was going to kick my little environmental ass. Then he met me and changed his mind and threatened to hire someone else for the job.”  Then he started laughing again.  I didn’t think it was funny.  This guy must be the boss of that other creep I didn’t like, the one that contracted me.  But why did that woman look at him like that, I wondered.

“Who was that woman?” I asked.  He had stopped in front of a Lincoln Continental.  What the hell was he doing now?  He had taken out his dick and was pissing on the car.  After he finished he just stood there shaking off the last drops and looking like he was in a trance again.  I had to get him out of there quick.  I didn’t want him to get into any trouble.

“Come on.  Let’s go home.” I said and pushed him away.

“Goddamn gas guzzler.” he growled as he stumbled and zipped up his pants.

“Who was that woman?” I asked him again after I got him away from the Lincoln.

His eyes cleared up again and he looked at me with that sly grin.  “That’s his wife.”  He paused for a moment as if remembering something pleasant.  “We’ve developed sort of an understanding.”  He paused again and started laughing.  “I’ve had more orgasms just thinking about her than actually being with her.”

I shook my head.  What was I going to do with this guy.  He was just standing there laughing his ass off.  I had to get him home quick before he got arrested.  How would it look for his  investigation if he got thrown in jail?

I started pushing him towards my car.  He had one arm around my shoulder and I was sort of half propping him up.  All of a sudden he stumbled and spun around in front of me.  He almost fell over but at the last second he grabbed onto my holster with his free hand.  He steadied himself and then, before I could stop him, he took my pistol out from the holster and started playing around with it.

“How would you like a few holes in your radiator, gas guzzler?” he growled, menacing the Lincoln.  “Hey Socrates!” he shouted merrily.  He was pointing the gun at my heart.  My blood froze.  “What the hell do you carry this damn gun around for?”  He went on like it was a big joke and he was having a great time. Suddenly he stopped and his face lit up.  He waved the gun at the bar, which was a great relief, but his words struck me like a bullet.  “Hey Socrates.  I’ll give you 5 bucks if you go in there and polish off that sleazy son of a bitch.  You’d be doing me, his wife and the whole world a big favor.”

He had his arm around my shoulder again and was laughing.  I couldn’t move.  Five bucks! He put my gun back in my holster and I helped him into the car.

I followed his instructions and we drove in silence.  He looked like he had passed out.  Suddenly he sat up and turned towards me.  “Hey Socrates, what do you carry that gun for?”   Christ! I wished he’d just fall asleep.  I didn’t say anything.  I just kept on driving.

“Why don’t you throw it out the window?  You don’t need that thing.  You might hurt yourself with it.”  Jesus, he was worried about me getting hurt.  “You know a lot of people have accidents with handguns, or they use them rashly in a moment of passion.   They’re not safe to keep around.  More husbands kill wives than  burglars.  That’s a fact.  You can check the FBI statistics.  I’d hate to see you get into some kind of foolish trouble.  You’re all right Socrates.”  He slapped me on the back and I veered into the other lane.  Lucky thing it was the middle of the night and there was no traffic.

I was starting to feel really bad.  The guy actually liked me.  I was his friend.  This gig was turning into a disaster.  Maybe I should just give the money back and forget the whole damn thing.  I could even write him a note and warn him to watch his ass and disappear for a while.

I was driving along trying to figure out what to do when a cat jumped out of a bush and ran across the road in front me.  I slammed on the brakes just in time, but my target shot forward and banged his head on the dashboard.  I pulled over and started patting his bloody head with some Burger King napkins I had left over from lunch.  You should never throw away something useful.  He just had a little cut on his forehead, but you know how those things bleed.

He was cursing me out like crazy.  “Jesus Christ, Socrates, what the hell are you trying to do, kill me?  I thought you were sober.”

“I am sober.  I’m sorry.  There was this cat.  I’m sorry.”  I wished the damn thing would stop bleeding.  Finally I ran out of napkins.  It was still oozing.  The Burger King bag was still in the back seat so I ripped it up and stuck a piece of it on his forehead.  It hung down and gave him sort of an eye patch that said “Burger King.”

“You OK?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’ll live.”

“I hope so.” I thought to myself.  “Hey maybe you should put on your seat belt.”

“Yeah, good idea.  Especially if your going to drive like an assassin.”  He laughed and the Burger King patch started shaking on his forehead.

I was feeling sick to my stomach, but I had to get him home, so I started driving again.  He was quiet for a couple of minutes.  Suddenly he turned around and looked at me with one clear eye and the Burger King patch.

“Come on Socrates, throw that gun out the window.  You know it’s only going to bring trouble.”

Just throw it out the window.  Just like that.  It sounded so easy.  Then I wouldn’t have to think about it again.  I could sleep peacefully for a change.  Without slowing down, I reached into my holster and pulled out my gun.  I was kind of half looking at the gun and half watching the road, trying to make up my mind.

“Do it.  Don’t be scared.” said my target.

“OK!  I’ll do it!” I almost yelled.

“All right!”  My target grinned and put his hand on my shoulder.  I squeezed my eyes shut and started to throw the gun out the window.  However, I suddenly hit a tremendous pot hole and the car shook with a bang.  The gun went flying out of my hand and hit the dashboard.  Then it bounced up and hit the Jesus statue on the dashboard.  The trigger bumped into the upraised hand of Jesus giving his blessing and the gun went off with a crack.  I flung my arm up to protect myself and drove into a bush.

I looked over at my target.  Christ! He looked like he was dead.  I grabbed his face.  There was blood on my hands and his head rolled lifelessly from side to side.  I started choking.  I couldn’t breathe.  He couldn’t be dead.  His head rolled toward the window and banged against the glass.

Suddenly a light flashed through the windshield.  I jumped up and sucked in some air.  Some sweat rolled down my forehead.  The headlights of a car were coming toward me.  I froze.  The headlights came closer.  I ducked down and pulled my target down on top of me.  His head fell down and lay across my back.  The car whizzed by.  My heart was pounding in my throat.  I had to get out of there.

I tried to lift my head up.  His body was slumped over mine and was so heavy I couldn’t push him off.  A shock of panic hit me and I started shaking and jerking, trying to get free.  I banged my head against the glove compartment and stopped.  I caught my breath for a second and then got an idea.  I reached out for the door handle and opened the door.  His body slumped against the door and slowly slid out.  I pushed his legs and feet out and then sat up.

A gun was pointing at my face.  I started to put my hands up when I realized it was my own gun, hanging on the upraised arm of Jesus on the dashboard.  I moved to one side and put the gun back in my holster.  Then I backed the car out of the bush and took off.

I decided to lay low for a while, so I went out west and stayed in a motel.  It wasn’t real nice, but I just needed a room where I could be by myself and drink.  After a couple of weeks I couldn’t drink anymore so I just sat in the room.  I almost decided to change my profession, but that would be wasting all my years of experience and training.  Nowadays however, I’m more choosy about my customers.  I even offer discounts and package deals to concerned citizens groups.  It feels good to be able to contribute in my own little way.