I’m delighted to have guest author, Emily Organ sharing an extract from her book The Last Day, for Friday Fiction this week. The link is open as usual, for you to share your own work, comment on others’ and hopefully gain some feedback and ideas.
George walked towards his son’s grave and knelt down before the headstone, there was a hollow in the damp grass from where he’d done this over the years. It was a small, simple black marble headstone with gold lettering:
In loving memory of
Matthew Falcon Macmillan
18th – 21st February 1964
There were fresh flowers in front of the headstone. White carnations. Patricia would have brought them here. George knew she knelt in the same spot he did every week. And yet they never came together. They didn’t talk about Matthew any more. What was there to say?
George took his handkerchief from his pocket and polished the little gravestone. It still looked as shiny as the day it was put there. The grass needed a cut though. George pulled up some of the longer blades of grass so there was a clear space around the headstone and flowers. He didn’t know what to do with the grass in his hand, it seemed disrespectful to drop it on the neighbouring graves so he distractedly rolled it into a ball and put it in his jacket pocket.
This was the last time he would visit his son. His last goodbye. He’d said goodbye to Matthew so many times before. And yet it still felt as painful as it had twenty one years ago.
A tear rolled down George’s cheek as he rubbed the green grass stains off his hand with his handkerchief. He stood up and dusted off his knees and looked at the small grave for one last time.
The hit man watched George from behind the cemetery chapel. He was leaning against the wall under a dusty stained glass window and carefully peering around the corner at his target. The shoulder of his jacket scraped at some loose mortar between the Victorian bricks and the hit man winced as it scattered lightly to the floor. Any sound could be heard here. The target was standing in front of a small headstone about fifteen metres away. A shot from this point would be quite straightforward. The hit man edged away from the corner of the wall and reached inside his jacket for the gun. Once he’d taken it out he pulled the silencer out from his other pocket. He attached the silencer to the barrel of the pistol and pulled back the slide. The hit man then edged back to the corner of the chapel and took another look at his target.
When he got the call that morning, the hit man had been eating chocolate porridge and trying to relax after his tricky mission in Burkina Faso. Although The Boss was one of his most loyal customers, he told him he didn’t want to do the job. He was tired, his cats had missed him and the notice was too short. A professional hit man such as himself needed several weeks’ notice for a job so he could carry out careful research and fully understand the mindset of his mark. He needed to understand their environment and how they operated within it. He needed to know their every move and every motive. He needed to know what they ate, drank, watched on TV and who they slept with. The hit man needed to be able to anticipate and predict what his target was going to do, even before they knew themselves. This was his key aim. The hit man was a master interpreter of minds and emotions and he needed time to do his job.
Once a satisfactory amount of money had been offered, the hit man started to have second thoughts about his refusal. After all, his Russian rat snake did need a new cage. And heat lamp. The money would come in handy. The Boss didn’t go so far as to plead, but the hit man could sense when a powerful man was desperate. He hung on the line until the amount of money reached an almost embarrassing level and then quietly acquiesced. He hung up, cancelled his plans for watching his new Only Fools and Horses video, got dressed, fed his spiders and collected the small case from the cupboard under the stairs.
Since setting out that morning the hit man had learnt that George’s car was still on its driveway and that he’d walked to work. The hit man’s first destination had been George’s office where he’d arrived just in time to see George speeding out of a side street in a yellow Renault 5 and almost knocking a tramp off his bike. On a piece of paper the hit man had written down the information he had on George so far: where he lived, where he worked, the make and colour of his car, names of his family and friends, general appearance, names of places he liked to visit, clubs he was a member of and so on. He’d also cut out a picture of George from a Macmillans promotional brochure. Looking at George now, he realised it was a flattering photo. In a short space of time he’d gleaned quite a lot of information about his target.
George was still standing in front of the gravestone. The hit man was a cold hearted man who lacked empathy most of the time. However at this moment even he could see that the grave meant something to his target. In his long career of contract killing he’d never actually shot anyone in a graveyard before. And he had never shot someone who was clearly mourning. He’d shot plenty of people at funerals, as those were always occasions where targets were guaranteed to emerge from their hiding places. But after the wake was usually a good opportunity as the target left a pub or hotel. And occasionally after they left the church or cemetery gates. But not actually in front of a gravestone. Was the ground in a cemetery holy? Was it sinful to kill someone in such a place?
The hit man suddenly became aware of the weak thoughts entering his mind, so he dispelled them with calming meditative thoughts followed by positive affirmations. He was the most accurate hit man he’d ever known. And the most successful. He was also one of the best paid and that was because he never failed.
He made a last few checks around him and saw no one. The target was still standing still and could move away at any moment. Now was the hit man’s moment. He raised his gun, aimed it at George’s chest and fired two shots.
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