I watched as he nervously approached the front door like a man on the verge of discovering the meaning of life. He seemed so damned happy and full of hope that I almost felt bad for him, guilt quivered like a hamster in the corner of my mind that such a nasty deed should have to happen to this random bloke and to whoever lived inside that house, but nevertheless, it had to be done.
I waited until he had stepped over the threshold to leave my stakeout position, closing the door of the seemingly innocent taxi cab quietly so as not to attract attention. Slinking unseen to the front door, I pushed it a little to find its lock engaged, but this didn’t matter, for I’d been given a key. They had almost made it too easy for me… I was privy to names, addresses, alarm codes, times of expected visitations… the plans had been laid out in detail with the omission of the actual reason for it all, but I didn’t care. At a price of €20,000 per head for these people, I didn’t ask questions for fear the job would be given to another taxi driver because hey, I have a wedding to pay for.
I pressed my ear to the door and waited as voices receded before inserting the key into the lock. I opened the door slowly and a warm smell leaked out; pine and perfume mingled with a feint suggestion of home cooking and guilt twinged again, but was quickly squished underfoot as I inched into the first available empty room and waited behind the door-jamb. Dusk was approaching, my timing was perfect. I waited.
As night fell, I heard laughter, sometimes nervous but mostly warm and interested; the cadence of conversation rose and fell and I was getting bored. The time had come… I had to separate them, only to have them re-join in un-imaginably unpleasant circumstances, the details of which only my boss had knowledge of. He was probably welcome to them given his reputation as a twisted gang-lord who seemed to have his filthy hands dipped into more pots than I care to imagine and I knew I was just as bad, but nobody needed to know except for a random few other taxi drivers who had the ability to slink through the night in such obvious disguise… the chosen ones… such a strange honour. I tapped on the radiator with an unnatural urgency.
“What was that?” I heard the question, deliciously predictable.
Footsteps approached as I fished in my pocket for the first syringe with my gloved hand. A shadow darkened the doorway and I sucked in my breath. A man entered the room and I instinctively knew he was reaching for the light-switch by my head, so quickly grabbed his mouth from behind and emptied the contents of the syringe into his jugular - he collapsed like a popped balloon and I dragged his limp form silently to the couch with little effort. Far too easy.
She however proved to be a tougher target, for I sensed immediately that her natural instinct had whispered to her that something was amiss – I heard the silvery sound of a kitchen knife as it was slyly removed from its housing block and suddenly the house was far too quiet for my liking. I edged toward the fireplace and stole the poker from its hook and primed it for reckless damage… the suspense was fun.
I heard her. A creak, a tell-tale sound of nervous intent. We stood for a second, back-to-back, separated by the section of wall adjacent to the doorway, each aware of the other’s position by sheer logic alone. The blade suddenly flashed as an arm appeared, the knife flailing in a random fashion as I almost realized too late what was happening. I ducked as the knife caught my arm; the sharp pain awakened my instinct as fresh warm blood began to ooze into the fibres of my work shirt. Shit. I ducked and crouched, swinging the poker a full 360 degrees around the door jamb. I connected with soft tissue and heard a shriek as I rounded the corner to face my victim, then heard a sickening whistle as the blade passed too close to my ear. I grabbed the opportunity while her balance was off. The syringe sank into her neck and she fell, the knife clattering to the hard-wood floor with alarming volume.
Careful not to contaminate the scene, I removed my sock and tied it tightly around my wound, then checked the floor for spilled blood to find nothing… lucky. Satisfied that my work was almost done, I began to prepare the limp bodies for transit. He fitted nicely into the boot and she, well she did an excellent impression of a drunken innocent.
The journey to the drop-off point was uneventful. I played Beethoven’s 9th symphony over and over to inspire the madness… sometimes I fear the truth that A Clockwork Orange may have had more of an effect on my soul than I’d first realized… good old Ludwig Van. I was empowered by the fact that the deed had run smoothly, laughed my way through a police-check along the way as I gushed through the tired old phrases… ‘Yeah, a little worse for wear I’m afraid’ and ‘I bet she’ll feel that in the morning!’ They didn’t give me a second glance.
I spotted the white van at the address I’d been given… a quiet by-road near an unsuspecting village. I fished for the second key I’d been given and checked for passers-by as I opened the rear doors of the van and transferred the unsuspecting couple with speedy stealth, right on time. I approached the driver’s door of the van and waited. The man inside rolled down his window and nodded subtly.
“Not bad for your first job… good timing. He’ll be happy with that.” He noticed the bloody patch on my arm and the ridiculous looking bandage. “Small price to pay, hey. I’ve seen worse. Here’s your consolation prize…” He fished a small briefcase from the passenger seat and handed it over with a wink.
Neat bundles of notes lay inside to the tune of €40,000 and I smiled. A small white envelope lay on top of the piles which I opened as I sat back into my taxi cab, but I paused before reading the name. Do I really want to do this all over again? I have a reputation for being a soft-head, a do-gooder… if they only knew. Is it worth throwing all that away for dirty cash?
I opened the envelope and read the name of my next target, then frowned, placing the paper on the seat beside me. What does it mean? Who cares? I fired the engine up for its second job of the night and glanced once again at the mystery name of my next victim.
I’m coming for you, English Mum.