The ride in the Mercedes is smooth, making it hard to pay attention to the pictures in my lap. The driver speaks as if he’s giving directions to the airport. “Her name is Sarah, but she’s always gone by Jane, her middle name. Don’t ask why because she never told me.”
Fair enough. The first picture is of Jane in a wedding dress. Her train fills the background while the driver stands next to her with his arms around her. He has a broad smile on his face, but hers seems forced, like a fake smile, with her teeth exposed. I pull out the next picture from the beige envelope. It’s a man in a suit walking out of a house with Jane.
I hold the picture up so that the driver can turn his head and see it. “That him,” I say.
“That’s the guy; at least one of them,” he says.
We get off of the expressway and onto some dirt road. Trees fill the windows on the left and right. I haven’t been to the country since I was a little boy. I try to remember the plan we went over at the bar. It’ll look like a robbery. But that’s his job. All I do is take care of them. I get my money, and then he does the rest.
The right tire hits a pot hole and a whiskey bottle falls from the dashboard onto the floor and hits my foot, and I’m thankful there’s only a few drops left.
The driver wipes his mouth and then raises his voice a little. “They’ll be busy when we get to the house.”
He never gave me his name. Granted, I’ve only known him now for about five hours, but it’d still be nice to know who this guy really is. Perhaps its better I don’t know. I won’t see the driver anytime after tonight. I hope not, at least. If I do happen to see him I’ll look the other way and act as if he was just a stranger. Better to not be associated with the man if I don’t have to. He’ll be the one the police suspect. I won’t even exist to them.
I’m tired of how quiet the ride is. The trees make me disoriented and I have to pee, so I tap my foot. “When do I get my cut?” I ask.
“I’ll give it to you when you’re done. Don’t worry about that though, you’ll get distracted.”
The driver pulls the car off of the road onto a gravel one hidden in the middle of a thicket. Neither of us speak as we drive up the winding hill. He stops the car about half-a-mile from the house.
“Couldn’t you pull up a little further?” I ask.
“If they hear us it could fuck this whole thing up.” He pulls the emergency break and presses the unlock button. “I’ll be waiting for you.” He hands a pistol and a key towards me, but when I reach for it he pulls them back. “You can’t back out now.”
“Just give me the fucking things.”
He hands them over. I get out of the car and walk away when the he rolls down the window and stretches his head out. I’m already halfway to the house, but it’s crystal clear what he yells out to me. “Make it quick for her.” He doesn’t sound as if he’s fully convinced he means it.
I feel naked in the lonely three story house. The pictures that hang on the polished creamed colored walls look down at me. Even through the evening dimness I can see their oil brushed faces ask me who the hell are you? Their eyes are needles that pierce me, making it more awkward for me to search for the bedroom.
I continue to walk down the long hallway with my arms spread out like a bird, but the walls are too far apart for me to touch them. My feet press down as soft as possible against the thick carpet, but the mud from my shoes leave an outline of my foot stained against it. As a guest I would feel bad for doing such a social crime, but as a stranger, it hardly makes a difference. It must be great to live a life of such luxury.
A woman’s moan slices the silence. There’s a door on the right just a little bit ahead. My heart punches my chest and I feel like I’ve been preparing for a job interview, thinking everything is cool, until the employer asks my name, and I can’t even remember where the hell I am.
The door looms square in front of me and the moaning continues. I imagine the two from the photograph, sweaty and slipping off each other. Their minds are clear until there’s a gun pointed at their faces. The poor guy has stopped right before he blows. Does the pain from it cross his mind, or is the fear of the pistol too overbearing?
Check yourself. The pistol is out of your pocket and in your hand. Make sure there’s bullets in it. Safety is turned off. Your hands are wrung of sweat and you’re hair is out of your eyes. Ten heavy breaths like the doctor tells you to make, and your legs stiffen, prepared to move at any minute. Now you’re ready Kent.
One kick is all it takes.
It happens in slow motion. The splinters from the doorway drift in the air and fall as my raised foot lowers down. The door swings open and left in my view is the man hitting it from behind as Jane rocks with him. They turn their heads at me, and after a minute of confusion, they lower their eyes to the gun held out to my front. They don’t even move. The guy stays in her, and she remains bent over with her hands clinging onto the headboard.
“Get out of her!”
The guy has no obligations. He pulls out and kneels on the bed.
“Up! Now, dammit! Get your hands in the air!”
He reaches towards the ceiling as far as possible. Sweat begins to rain from his armpits; the condom still dangles on him.
“Christ, slip some underwear on,” I say.
The stupid fuck reaches for the black thong next to the bed.
“Your own, dumbass.”
He scrambles to the floor. Clothes fly in the air as he throws them up looking for his own pair. “Sorry. P…Pl…please—don’t shoot. I’ll do anything you want,” he says.
In the corner of my right eye I see Jane move. I swing the gun in her direction. “Where do you think you’re gonna go?”
“I was only sitting down.” Her eyes swell with tears, and one finally bursts out, slowly
dripping down her rosy cheek. She pulls her brown hair away from her body and something odd strikes me. I’ve seen her before, but I can’t place where.
In my left eye the fuck begins to move. He dashes to the window at the far end of the room, his boxers covering half his ass as he opens the wooden frame. Has to be a hero.
I aim the gun above Jane towards his body. My finger throbs as three bullets burst out of their chamber and hail towards him. The first punctures the wall to the right of the window. The wall becomes a spider web of cracks, and pieces of it fall onto the bed. The second hits him in the left shoulder blade and I hear the snap of bones crunch and mix into the wall. He lets out a loud grunt and then gets real quiet.
Third one’s a charm.
His head busts open and blood and teeth paint the drawn curtains. His body falls out of the window and makes a thump as it smacks the dirt after falling three floors. That’ll be a nice little surprise for the employer.
“What do you want from me?” she screams.
Her voice fills my head and I lean over to my right and puke. I can taste the mix of whiskey, beer, and a bowl of pretzels the whole way up. I wipe my eyes from the forced tears and slide my mouth against my sleeve. I take a breath then raise myself up and point the gun at her head. Her wailing could cause a dog’s ears to bleed.
“Shut up, you fucking whore!”
She gets quiet aside from a few whimpers.
I can see why she makes her husband so angry. Any guy would kill over her, what with that tender figure. She’s not skinny, not like a model anyway, just enough meat on her that gives more pleasure to the hands than to the eyes. It’s a shame she’ll be exposed like this when the cops get here. No one should get to see such a beauty without life in her.
I raise my eyes and get a chance to look back up her body. Her arms are folded in front of her breasts, pushing her cleavage out. And then it hits me why she looks so familiar. There’s a mole on her left breast, like Jenna’s. And her face starts to mirror Jenna’s as well. I didn’t notice it when I was looking at the pictures, the resemblance.
I lower the gun to my side. “Do you know why I’m here?”
“Speak to me!”
She wipes her eyes and pulls the blanket over her body. “You’re here to kill me.” Her voice is soft, barely above a whisper.
“I don’t want to.” My voice cracks as I speak.
“Then why do you?” Her hysteric voice pierces me like the pictures did in the hallway. She’s shaking.
I don’t say anything.
Then the flood starts. She forgets about covering her tits and throws her hands to her face. The tears pour down and her breathing stutters. It’s a beautiful thing to see her cry.
I wipe my cheek and realize there’s a tear and not an itch, but only one tear and no more.
I raise the gun and aim for her head. Hopefully one shot will do it, because I’m not sure that once I pull the trigger I’ll be able to pull it again.
Her eyes are buried in her hands.
Slow your breath and steady your hand, and don’t fuck up. Grip the handle a little bit tighter. Not too much though. My index finger brushes the trigger. Her head is in view of my right eye. I breathe a little heavier and my aim drops down to her chest. I try to raise the gun back to her head, but my eye is fixed on the mole.
I lower the gun. “This isn’t easy Jane. You’re going to have to stop whimpering so damn much. It’ll go quicker.”
Her hands drop to her breasts. “He told you my name?” The words bounce off her tongue and are broken up by sobs and heavy breaths.
“It would have made this easier if he hadn’t.”
I take a step towards her. She begins to kick her legs and tries to move backward, but not even air can fit between her back and the headboard.
“Please, don’t…” She opens her mouth to find air. “Please, don’t—hurt…”
I edge closer to her.
“Please…” Her words are drowned out by wailing. If only I could hold her.
I take another careful step forward and sit on the edge of the bed by her feet. She starts to scream.
I crawl my free hand under the blanket and brush her ankle, then slide it up her calf. She hasn’t shaved her legs in a few days.
“Don’t—don’t do that.” Jenna loves it when I brush her skin with my fingertips.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” Her wailing slows a little bit. How long can I hold out until the husband comes knocking? My hand continues up her leg.
I remember the days when foreplay wasn’t mandatory before having sex. Jenna used to be a freak. Now she just lays there, as if it’s a chore.
I spread her legs apart. Wait. This isn’t what you want. She’s a whore.
I draw back my hand. I look at her face and try not to see the mole in my peripheral vision. Just because she looks like Jenna isn’t going to stop this. The driver said it best: I can’t back out now.
“Why do you go by Jane? Why not your first name?”
Her nose is red. She doesn’t look at me but continues to cry. I smack her with my backhand. I’m sorry Jenna.
She takes a deep breath and looks at my eyes, then breathes again. “My dad wanted to name me Jane but my mom insisted on Sarah.”
“Why?” I ask.
She doesn’t answer, so I slap her again.
Her legs slide and fold so that she is sitting with her arms wrapped around them. “I don’t know! He used to call me his little Janey.”
“And your husband never knew of this?”
The crying stops. “He never asked.”
Get through with it. He’s gonna get suspicious if it takes any longer. But Jenna. The resemblance is too great. Maybe a relative? But surely I would have known. Over seven years, I met practically every annoying member of her family.
“You’ve never met me, have you?”
She shakes her head no. Could she even remember if she had when she knows she’s about to die?
“See, I don’t think I’ve seen you before either. And yet I know you.”
Her head looks down at the mattress. There’s blood a couple of inches from her right side on the blanket, near the window. She scoots away from it.
“Please—don’t hurt me. Anything—I’ll do anything.” She shakes her head when she pleads. Her eyes resemble the Dachshund’s I have at home; big, bright, and sad. I always let him lick my plate, even when Jenna bitches about it.
“And then what happens to me? You’re husband wouldn’t be happy.”
“Fuck him.” Her lips stay pressed together as the words squeeze out. “I can give you better.”
“Don’t you learn your lesson?” Jenna, shut up.
She whispers it’s all mine. She’s not dumb. She’s hiding her fear; she’s got more courage than I thought she would. She slides her arms away from her breasts. Her arms tremble as they begin to reveal her nipples.
“Shut up Jenna.” I mean Jane.
Her arms continue to shake. “You can call me whatever you want.”
“Shut up Jenna!” I’ll call you a fucking whore. My hand goes across her face again. You never shut up Jenna.
I can hear her heart beat, broken up by her heavy breaths. Her mouth opens and a tiny voice peeps out. “Quit playing this game with me. Just do it.”
I close my eyes. That’s right. Jenna always gives up the argument, no problem is solved. Every fucking time. I go to the bar, I get drunk. She calls me and I don’t pick up. There’s always a girl at the bar. They come there knowing what they want. I can’t help but give them that.
“I’m sick of this shit, you fucking cunt,” I spit out.
“Do it.” She doesn’t move.
I open my eyes. “You look so much like her.”
She opens to her mouth to speak and then closes it.
I look at my hand. My wedding ring feels heavy for such a cheap jewel. Her rock covers her goddamn knuckle. It must hurt to wear that.
“Her ring is a lot smaller than yours.”
“It yours.” She pulls the ring off and pushes it towards me. “If that’s what you want, take it. It means nothing to me.”
“I can’t. She’d ask where the hell I got it from. And then I’d have to lie. She always knows when I’m lying.” I cover my eyes with my left hand. “It’s not supposed to be this hard. You’re supposed to be no one to me.”
She sits up and slides herself onto her knees. She brushes my knee with her hand and I can only do so much to remain still. She does it again and keeps her hand there, then pulls my head to hers, and lets her lips rest to my ears. “Tell her you did a favor for someone, and this is what they gave you.”
Her breath causes the hairs on my neck to raise up.
“Here. It’s yours.” The ring is heavy in my hand, and she closes my fingers on it, making sure I don’t lose it. “See, she’ll like it.” She slides her hands down my arm and across my crotch, to the other hand. She feels the barrel of the gun. “You don’t need that anymore.”
She pries my pinky finger away.
She begins to wiggle her thumb underneath the two between my pinky and the index finger. They feel awkward with nothing to hold onto.
I close my fingers around the gun.
“Baby. You don’t have to do this.” Jenna used to call me baby when we were dating in high school.
My leg begins to vibrate. She looks down at my right pocket. It’s my phone ringing. I race my hand to my thigh and press the button on the side of the phone that makes it quiet.
Her hand covers my fingers gripped around the gun.
“She must be hot as hell, and she must be proud to have you. You’re a good man. I bet she tells you that all the time.”
She hasn’t told me that in a quite a while. Not since six months ago when she found out. I had been going so long without her knowing, two years to be exact. I’d get home from work a little later, and dinner would be ready. She would cook me steak smothered in mushrooms. I’d tell her how good the mashed potatoes were, and she’d boast she made them from scratch, even though I’d see the box they came from in the garbage. She never knew a damn thing.
“Make her happy. Come home tonight clean. Come home and let her know she loves a good man.”
My grip on the gun loosens.
“You haven’t been the same, Jenna. You don’t trust me.”
She puts her forehead on mine. “I’ll change. I’ll be better.” She rubs her nose against my eyebrows.
Jenna was so mad when she found out. I left my fucking phone at home. I never do that. She didn’t even cry when I got back, she was past that stage. She threw the plate full of steak and the boxed potatoes at me. I was hungry that night. I had been out late.
My pocket vibrates again. It’s her. I know it is. She always calls once. Then she waits a few minutes. She calls again, every goddamn time. It’s a fucking routine. She never trusts me anymore.
“You won’t change. You never do,” I say.
“I swear baby, for you I will. Just hand me the gun,” she says.
“No. Every time I come home, you ask me the same thing. Where you been Kent? How was work? You don’t give a shit about my job.”
The vibrations become faster.
“I’m sick of it. I always tell you I’m sorry. Every fucking night.” But she always goes to bed facing the other way. She doesn’t look at me anymore. “It was a mistake.”
Her nose is against mine. She plays with my finger nails. “I know baby.”
The vibrations stop for a second, then starts up again. I reach in my pocket with my free hand and pull out the phone. The front of it glows blue and shreds the darkness.
“How many times do I tell you love you?” I cry. “Those others, they were nothing. They didn’t mean shit to me.”
She lifts my hand with the gun and tugs at my fingers. “You don’t need it.”
The room becomes dark again. She’ll call again. She won’t stop until I answer it. When I do, she’ll be so loud that I’ll have to pull it away from my ear to understand her. I’ll wait till she’s done. Then I’ll explain my situation, but she’ll hang up as I speak. I’ll call back, but she won’t answer.
Jane kisses my lips and the gun starts to loosen from my hand. I can feel her breasts press against my shirt.
The blue light shines again. My hand tingles from the vibration, but it ends faster than normal. It’s a text message.
“Give me the gun baby. You don’t need it. You’re a good man.” My index finger hangs free from the trigger. There’s four digits left on it.
With my free hand I flip the phone open, but before I can take a look at the message, she pulls my head straight with hers. I can’t look at her. I close my eyes as they wrestle to stay open.
She begins to kiss my neck. She kisses right where it gets me.
I shudder and drop the phone onto the bed and use the free hand to grip her shoulder. I slide it down her arm.
“That’s right baby,” she says.
Take her. Now. Bare. Just take her. My mind can’t think straight. I don’t know where I am. I don’t who she is. Jane? Jenna? Or are they one? Am I dreaming all this? When do I wake up?
“Baby, this is the right thing,” she whispers.
Shut up. Shut the fuck up. I can’t fucking think.
“Come one baby.”
“Just shut the fuck up!” I shout. My mind clears except for one thing: What the fuck does that message say?
I pull my head back from hers. She strains to get her lips back on me, but she can’t stay balanced while holding the gun with one had and having the other one pushed against the mattress. I open my eyes. I let go of her and reach for the phone. She grabs my hand as my fingertips dust the phone and puts it on her breast.
“They’re nice, aren’t they?” she says.
Yes they are. But the fucking message is more important.
I pull my hand away and grab the phone. I flick it open with my thumb and read the message.
That fucking bitch. She never trusts me. She never does.
“Why?” I say, “I told you I wouldn’t do that again. And yet you don’t stop. Fuck!”
“What do you mean?” Her eyeballs bounce around in their sockets. She grabs the phone from my hand and turns it to look at the message. She lifts her eyes off the glow and rests them in my sight.
I look right back at her face. You’ve done wrong. You’re a sinner. I punish the sinner. It’s the only way. I put the gun into her chest. She grips the barrel with her hand and tries to move it, but my grip is too tight.
She whimpers. “Please.” When she lifts her lips to speak, saliva strands form between them and are broken by tears that piss from her eyes.
It’s too bad some sinners get away while some have to go like this.
The Mercedes becomes larger as the husband drives towards the house. As I wait, I look up at the sky and see the stars brighter than I could imagine. You can’t see them this good in the city. He stops the car a few feet away from me and I have to squint to see because the headlights are bright. He steps out of the car and has a plastic bag in his right hand.
He tilts his head towards the gun locked in an iron grip in my hand. “What the hell took you so long?”
“Too much whiskey,” I say. I drop the gun in the bag and he tosses it through the open passenger window. It smacks the seat and falls onto the floor. I wipe the sweat from my hand on my pants.
He looks down at his wedding ring. “She was beautiful, wasn’t she?” he asks.
He doesn’t want to know my response. “The guy’s body is by the back of the house. He fell through the window.”
“You sure he’s dead?”
“No. But if the fall didn’t do him in, I assumed the hole in his head would.” His eyebrows raise as he hears this and his face loses what was left of the color in it. He’s silent for about thirty seconds, and then his eyes move to my sleeve.
“You have a wife at home?”
I feel a cold wind brush along my back. “That’s none of your business.”
He shrugs. “If you do, you might not want her to see that.”
I look at my sleeve and see blood stained up to the elbow.
“My paycheck,” I say
“Did she suffer?”
I grab his collar and push him against the passenger door. “I did my fucking part. Now do yours.” I let go of him. His body slides and squeaks against the door.
He reaches into his pocket. There’s a beep and the trunk pops open. He reaches into the trunk and pulls out a silver suitcase, closes the trunk, and then lays the case on it. He fumbles with a combination on the case and aligns three numbers which pops the case open with a click.
I push him aside and peer into the open case. I know there should be rows of hundred dollar bills stacked neatly. I should pick up a stack and run my finger through it to make sure they feel real. Then I should put the stack back then close the case. Instead, I just stare at it.
There’s an image in the suitcase, and it takes a moment for it to come into focus. I see the bedroom I was just in and notice the hole my missed bullet put in the wall. I follow a crack from it that leads down to the bed and Jane’s foot. I trace up her legs and allow my eyes to see her body as a whole. She’s spread out on blanket of blood. Her breasts fall to her sides and between them is a small hole. The blanket spills onto the thick carpet.
The driver looks over my shoulder. “I wouldn’t spend it all at once. People notice when a man buys a new car.”
I continue to stare into the open case. Poor Jane, or is it Jenna? It’s hard to tell the difference anymore. I peel my eyes away from the image before and remember the text. I try to look away, but Jenna rereads the message in my mind over and over again. “Ur cheatin on me again. Rnt u? Fuck u.”
I told her I was sorry, but she never let things go. The trust never grew back. I came here for her. I came here for redemption, to show Jenna I was going to make up for my sins. I would come out a man with nothing left.
The husband closes the suitcase. Hands it to me. Everything feels numb. I can’t even feel the suitcase in my hands, except for the weight of it that pulls my arm to a slouch. I adjust my shoulder, get in the back seat. The husband gets in next to me. He stares at the house, a soulless look in his eyes. Who knows when he broke and lost himself. She never got the chance to ask. Jenna never gave me the chance to come back. Now I’m watching a driver peel away into the night. I roll the window down, feel the breeze against my face. Fuck women. That’s what I think. Fuck them all.