I position myself to shoot. The target bobbles into vision in the scope and I’m ready. I suck air in deeply and slowly, then squeeze on the last out breath. That’s how I always did it back in the old days.
Never failed me. Gently does it.
I once heard that lunacy was defined as ‘a population of one, believing themselves right’. I don’t know where I heard that – or even if I did. Maybe I made it up. My thinking around this little situation is perfectly sound – to me – and that’s all that matters. Maybe it’s a little selfish, but I am doing a service to so many. The fallen. The innocent. The unprotected.
And looking after myself as well, of course. In this case, everyone’s a winner, in the biggest sense, except him, of course. Even his family and friends loathe him behind the scenes, so I’ve heard. So they can be on my side and, in their quiet moments, raise thanks to their God above, too, now that it’s done.
As he falls, his ceremonial hat flies away in a puff of red. He hits the ground and the chaos begins. The woman behind him will wish she hadn’t worn the white dress today as she scrapes the lumps off in horror. I set the gun down and turn to pick up the book, open at the last entry. I have no need to write any words, they were all laid out months ago. After the first flush of enthusiasm, I never needed to change them once. The choices were perfect.
When I woke this morning, in this hot little garret, my pillow was sticky again. The bright red contrasting naturally with the white. A sort of real-life Rorschach Test. Third time this week? Eighth or ninth time this month? When they see it, I wonder if they’ll see the irony. In my situation, I think I’m very lucid and focused indeed. But who am I to say? What would the blot tell them about me?
At this stage, it’s to be expected. Over the months I’ve come to understand that there will be changes, and some pain. I’ve got used to it, most of the time anyway. My writings stirred me on. And, of course, I’m clear on what’s to come. They offered me things that would help for a while at least, with encouragement and their enthusiasm of the ‘wonderful things they can do these days’. Miracles, compared with only a few years ago. But for me, young though I am, I didn’t want to go through all that hassle. Only unpleasantness; frustration, and ultimately the lack of dignity that my situation would give me. I’ve always kept myself to myself and having to depend on others was never inside my comfort zone, even back in the service. Maybe that’s why I did what I did. They say us loners are a strange tribe and I can see that.
On the day they told me, I sat and wrote it all down. I knew what I had to do. One by one, I got through them all. Until today, the last. Finally. Well, not the last, actually. The last one was my personal commitment to complete all the others, so I get to sign off two. Right now. Now I know that it’s done, what with the wailing of the sirens and the rushing of the crowd. The screaming and the shouting. I can hear it all. I don’t need to watch it all, for there’s still an ending to write.
I have my own things to do.
Some of my activities have been fun. They weren’t all like this, a moral and ethical act to end all acts. I left the last one to the very best. Everyone knew who he was, and what he’s done. Yet no one dare take the final step to resolve the situation once and for all.
Early on, whilst I was still fit enough, I backpacked across India and revelled in the squalours of Mumbai and the joys of the Pink City; swam with the whale sharks just off Ningaloo. I flew down to Rio and tandem glided off the Tijuca Forest down to Ipanema; saw the Cherry blossom spring in Tokyo. I dropped old Bo off at the kennels with sealed instructions of who I know will have him, just two days ago. I said sorry to Nicola one last time; kissed our babies and smiled at them. I ate Wagyu steak and washed it down with Krug Yesterday evening, as my last supper. Those ticks were the late 40’s, of course, by then.
Done, dusted and ticked off.
From the storage unit, I got my kit from the old days, cleaned, polished and taken out for practice, just to make sure that my qualities weren’t diminished over the years. I feared I may have lost some of it with my health, but the accuracy was still as good as got me the medals. The competitions I won some for and, well, the others in that hot and dusty foreign land, doing the carefree dirty work for pen-pushers and career-jerks back in Langley. It was always justified back then by others.
But this time it was my decision alone. Today was my choice for my last definitive act on this earth. The first time that I got to choose. How apposite for me. How clear my mind had been when I chose you so long ago. Even before I got sick you were noted; identified and flagged in my mind. At that time, I didn’t know how, but the change in my status to a marked card gave my focus a new imperative.
Of course, you took planning, not least to get my gear out to where I could use it to best effect. Knowing where you would be at any specific time was never easy to find out. But with my old contacts; a few friends in the right places, with their own vested interests in you, as well as the wonderful power of Mr Google, I worked it out.
And our paths crossed eventually. Just now. Finally.
When I looked you up, I wondered what made you like you are. What was your history, apart from that published in the wider press, much controlled by you. I wondered what was your life experience in the very earliest days of a world that shaped the monster in you, with no respect for human life. Who made you who you became? Did they know what they were doing? Had they any idea of how their behaviours made you who you became?
I can hear more sirens now. Soon the sounds of men running and shouting will get nearer. I can wait, of course. The time is all theirs from now on in. I knew that I’d get the job done before they came to me. I look down the entries and sole line of littles boxes I drew, with just two spaces. I take my father’s famous Montblanc for this final task.
The list is now complete.
I take one last peek through the shutter and see that everything is now in control. The ambulances are there of course, with the paramedics rushing around. I think they’ll have a job on to save you though. Big chunks of your brain ended up in your mistresses’ lap, so it will be more of a scoop-it-up job than a putting-it-back-together but, let them try. They’ll whisk you off and eventually pronounce you dead, with a time of death in a few hours, after ‘everything was done’ to save you. But we know, you and I, that it’s something of an act they’re going to put on.
The cough gurgles in my throat and I go to spit out another sign that my time is getting closer.
There are muffled steps on the stairs. Other sounds too. Hushed and questioning orders and then finally silence once more. I move my pen to the square and smoothly watch myself each the fluid onto the page and tick the box just in time, for I know they’re preparing to storm the room.
But I was organized and it’s all done. The job has been a good one, perfectly executed.
The door opens with a roar and though they are quick, I see it as slow motion. I’m not here to fight, but I hold a gun out towards them to draw the fire. I don’t want to survive this, for where would be the point in that?
I know that I will suffer no longer. There’ll be like no long and drawn-out final days, with tearful relatives and flowers. No ignominious dealing with bodily fluids. Fast, quick and painless. And one less monster wearing the Emperor’s new clothes that no one questions, with a whole world watching on in horror at him, doing nothing.
My end is nigh, and I’ve done well.