The Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead
The fading sunlight imbued the upper reaches of the bland gray stone with a gold tincture. The shadows stretched away from my window, as if running away from me.
I felt like shooting the sun. But I knew even I couldn’t make that shot.
Besides, it was behind me. I was peering across the crowded street to the rooftop garden where a young man lounged in his undergarments, reading a book. I hoped, for his sake, it was a good one, worthy of his final moments.
As I took out my gear and began setting up, I asked myself the question. If I was about to die, what book would I want to read? To Kill a Mockingbird? I laughed at the thought. There was irony in that.
Maybe a murder mystery. An Appointment with Death. One thing was certain, if I died, it would be with the grin of my last joke forever immortalized across my inert face.
Until it rotted. But that was life. And this was death.
I peered through the sight and lined up the cross-hairs. I had a perfect shot from here. Maybe I didn’t know my employer, but he sure knew what he was about. And all I needed to know was my job, the fact that my boss had money, and a few good jokes.
I waited. Through my binoculars I could tell he was nearly through with the novel. I wasn’t busy that night; I would give him time. I’d let him finish reading, then I’d kill him.
The sun disappeared and the shadows deepened. He moved only once, to turn on a light. Then he returned to his reading.
I wondered what book it was. I couldn’t make out the title. But I guess that didn’t matter. I was less curious why I was hired to kill him, but that didn’t matter either. Even if I was just a toy, the instrument in a stronger arm, I didn’t care.
I enjoyed what I did. That was all that mattered to me.
Oh, and the money. Yeah, the money. That, too.
Finally he turned the last page. His eyes roved down the page, though I couldn’t see them. Then he closed the book, closed his eyes, and leaned back, sated and smiling.
One of those books that left you feeling there was nothing more to life than that brief escape to fiction, I hoped. Because, for this fellow, there was nothing more to life.
I aimed. I pulled the trigger. And I packed up.
Time to pick up a check and then head to the bookstore.
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith