Flash Friday 31/01/2014: Dead and Alive
Anyone that can call themselves a man can knock another man to the ground. The reason anyone hires me is because I keep them there.
You always got a good bargain with me. Someone spreading rumours behind your back? I can make them see the truth. Gang member destroying your business? The only business he’ll be dealing with next is how to get out of his concrete shoes. I was renowned for never turning down a job. It meant that I got hits that ranged from drug cartel bosses to presidents, but I didn’t mind. You gotta have some excitement in your job.
So there I was, sitting in the smoke-filled office, opening the file for the next hit that was being given to me. The moment I saw the photo of the target, I realised that I knew the guy. Real close to me. Saw him every day on my way to work. Knew everything about him. There was something that confused me, though, and I just had to say it.
“This target,” I began, playing with the photo in my fingers.
“What about it?” the client said. He was an awfully frail and thin guy, probably why he ran a business instead of a gang. He was as corrupt as they came, though.
“It’s uh…” I felt dumb. Surely there was something I was missing. “This photo. It’s me. The target is me. You’re asking me to assassinate myself.”
The boss nodded. “That’s right. The last job we gave you, you managed to unearth some company secrets we’ve wanted to keep quiet, and need you removed. Everyone knows that no hitman could ever assassinate you, so we figured we’d hire you to do the job of hitting yourself. Don’t worry, the pay is very good.”
“Glad to hear it,” I said. I wanted to decline such a stupid request, but then again, something about having a rejectless streak kept me stubborn from declining. The pay was very good — four times what I usually got — but the stupidity of rewarding someone for committing suicide seemed to have bounced right off of the idiot’s skull. I didn’t want to decline, and I wanted that pay, but I wasn’t keen to bite any bullet, let alone my own. There had to be a way where I could make it out with the cash and my life.
That’s when I had a wicked thought.
“Sure,” I said, pocketing the photo as if it meant something. “I’ll take the hit out on myself.”
“Oh, you will?” the boss said, looking as surprised as I imagined anyone would be over such a weird acceptance. “Thank goodness. I thought you’d say ‘no’ or something. I know it’s a tough job, but…someone’s gotta do it. And you’re the best man to.”
“I agree. So, now, you have a hit for me, against me.”
“Which means you’re trying to assassinate me.”
“Which, basically, means that you’ve just told me that you want me dead, and just made me your enemy.”
“Right. No, wait–“
Any future argument was stopped short by my silenced pistol pressing against his forehead.
“You can try to call the guards,” I said, “but I’ve fought twice your force with half the ammo before. I’d like to propose, instead, a more non-violent procedure of sorting this problem out.”
“Non-violent is good,” the man said, nodding.
“Good. Call up a doctor. I need him so we can settle this in a more diplomatic way.”
The doctor kept looking at me with those confused eyes of his, his fingers on my outstretched wrist. To be honest, if I was him, I would be equally screwed in the head with the current situation.
“I don’t know what you mean,” the doc said to the boss. “He’s alive. I can feel his pulse.”
My client — and enemy — shook his head. “No, he’s dead. He’s definitely dead.”
“He’s breathing, he’s moving, and most of all, he’s glaring at me with those eyes of his. He’s the exact opposite of dead.”
“Well…look closer. I’m sure you’ll see, in time, that he looks very, very much alive, but is, in fact, deceased.”
“But he’s not. How is he dead?”
“C-Can’t you see? He’s as dead as a dormouse. Why, if I knew better, I’d have a coffin in this office post-haste.”
“So…why haven’t you got a coffin?”
“Because, uh, I need you to say he’s dead, of course.”
“And why is my opinion needed?”
“Because if you declare him legally dead, then, well…the hit contract on him will be completed, and everyone will go back to having their happy, not-pointing-a-gun-at-me lives.”
“But I can’t say he’s dead. That’ll go against my entire practice.”
“Just this once,” the boss said, his head tilting as I pressed the gun further. “I can repay you.”
The doctor gave a heavy sigh, turning to me. “Do you feel dead, sir?”
“Dead as a doornail, doc,” I said. “Never felt deader.”
The doctor stared at me for a little while, then gave a shrug. “Then I guess there’s only one thing to do,” he said, noting the fact down on a clipboard. “I declare this man clinically dead.”
“Excellent,” I said, withdrawing the gun. “And now that I’m dead, I can say I’ve completed my contract.”
“That’s right,” my ex-client said, his head moving up and down like a nodding dog in an earthquake. “And now you’re no longer my enemy.”
“That’s right. And now, you have to pay me for my services.”
“Your services? Oh, right.” The man sighed, opening his wallet. “The reward for the hit. I almost forgot.”
“Good thing I was here to remind you,” I said, kicking my feet onto the desk. I always did like the easy, clean jobs the most.