I hope you enjoyed the first two parts of V is for Violet!
Sadly, I will not be posting more of this novel on Prose. The good news is, it is readily available elsewhere!
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Chapter 1- At Least There Was a Bar
Perhaps that was too abrupt. Let’s just rewind that about twelve hours, before I start killing people.
“Violet!” I heard someone call from behind me as I strolled out of my 1800’s Art History class. I turned around to see Dakota jogging towards me and stopped to wait for him to catch up.
“Hey, Dakota,” I greeted when he arrived at my side. We fell in step and I adjusted my bag to draw attention to my chest. Getting information out of people was much easier when they found you attractive.
“How was class?” Dakota asked politely. He was unusually sweet for a minor-league drug dealer, which made him significantly more tolerable to be around.
“Fine, but still class,” I replied with a shrug. College wasn’t my focus in life as it had once been. Nowadays I just went to class to keep up the quiet art student facade and to remain enrolled in the college I was hiding behind. In all actuality, I would probably really enjoy my classes and my artwork if it wasn’t useless to me, but it didn’t help progress my mission, and so it was baggage.
“I feel ya,” Dakota was saying. “But, you know it’s Friday, so I was wondering if you wanted to come with us clubbing?”
Yes, my brain screamed. You know what kind of people run these clubs. And who works for them. Do not pass this up.
“I’m not really fond of dancing,” I told Dakota honestly, “but if there’s a bar, then count me in.” I watched as my friend’s eyes lit up and looked away. It sucked leading him on like this, but he was just a connection. A connection to the criminal underground. A connection to Bill Pfeiffer.
“Sweet!” Dakota gushed. “So, where do you want to meet up?”
“Corner of main and seventeenth work?” I asked. It was close to where the clubs were, and where one of the warehouses was located. I could do some scoping out while I waited.
“Sure! Seven?” Dakota had stopped walking by one of the benches outside of the art building.
“Works for me,” I confirmed. “Where are you headed now?”
“Uhh, gotta meet up with someone to pick some stuff up.” Meaning he was meeting with his drug boss.
“Friend of yours?” I asked innocently. Before he could answer, I interrupted him with, “Mind if I tag along? I’m having kind of a sh*tty day.”
Dakota looked skeptical but when I pouted a little and bat my eyes, he caved.
“Sure, but you’ll just have to hang back when I talk to him,” he agreed. “You know how some stuff goes.”
I smiled happily and gave him a quick hug. I would have felt worse about playing his feelings had I not done it so many times before. The sh*t I’d done to get information…
Dakota and I walked side by side, talking about school and bars and everything that wasn’t important. It should have been carefree, but I was constantly listening for him to slip up. To say something about someone that he shouldn’t so I could soak it up and add it to everything I knew. I was especially on edge now, having come so far, and being so close. I mean, I was right on top of everything. It was just a matter of time now before Bill Pfeiffer was dead…
“Huh?” I asked, realizing I’d missed everything Dakota had just said. “Sorry, lost in my thoughts.”
“You and that artistic mind of yours,” Dakota teased. “It must be colorful up in there.” He pointed to my forehead. If only he knew the only color I saw was red.
“Yeah,” was all I said, laughing lightly. “But what were you saying?” I watched as Dakota glanced over his shoulder at a man under a tree, and then back to me.
“That’s my friend,” Dakota said. “Well, sort of. Anyway, I’m just gonna go talk to him real quick, then I’ll be back.”
I smiled and motioned him on to the man. “I’ll just wait here,” I assured him, pulling out my sketchbook and sitting down under a shady tree. Dakota smiled at me and then hurried off to talk to the man.
Putting on my sunglasses, I pretended to sketch absentmindedly while I watched the man and Dakota.
The man he was talking to was tall, maybe six-three, and had his hair messily styled back. He too, wore sunglasses, and I imagined he was watching me too, if he was anyone of who I thought he was. Men like him were always keeping an eye on strangers, especially those acquainted with their dealers. His stance seemed casual, but I could tell by the way he kept one hand at his side that he was always on guard. I had no doubt in my mind that he was packing heat. A gun would be easy to conceal beneath his hoodie, and I theorized that his belt held more than his forcibly casual jeans up.
After inspecting the man as much as I could from my spot across the lawn, I did my best to hone in on their conversation. I flipped out my phone and plugged in my earbuds, pretending to listen to music. However, when I clicked the button halfway down the cord, their voices became clear and magnified through the sound enhancing technology.
“This will cover sales for the next three weeks,” the man was saying, and I caught a glimpse of his hand very stealthily slipping something into Dakota’s jacket pocket. “If you go over this time, or don’t pay back in full, expect there to be consequences.”
D*mn straight, I thought to myself. Dakota did not want the kind of consequences this man was talking about. Not unless he preferred to be rotting in the ground with my father and sister.
“Okay, thanks man, er, sir,” Dakota said, absentmindedly touching his hoodie pocket to feel for the contraband. “You sure you don’t want to smoke up sometime?”
“You know I’m not a user,” the man snapped, but then shrugged. “Not anymore, that is.” The two were silent for a moment and I could see Dakota getting nervous.
“Who’s the girl?”
I had to keep myself from looking up to see if they were watching me, and kept doodling in my notebook. Why was he asking about me? Security, my subconscious answered for me. He wants to make sure you aren’t a threat. And I wasn’t a threat. Not to him anyway.
“Oh, just this girl,” Dakota said with an awkward laugh. “I kind of have a thing for her, but I don’t know about her. She’s this new art student I met in Calculus. Mega-hot, but kind of closed-off.”
“Ask her out yet?” the man queried.
“I mean she’s going clubbing with my bros and I later, but not really.” And he probably never would. I’d be gone before he got that chance.
“Watch out,” the man warned Dakota. “The mysterious ones are usually the craziest in bed. I might just have to steal her away from you.”
Dakota looked baffled for a moment before the man clapped him on the shoulder and laughed.
“Relax,” he told my poor acquaintance. “She couldn’t handle me anyhow. Too innocent, I’m sure.”
Yeah right, I thought. Bullsh*t. Just wait until I’m through with this city. You won’t be saying that then.
I thought about this as the two parted. What was I going to do when I was done with Bill? I didn’t care about what happened to me after he was dead, but where would I go? Back to school? Or would the mafia Family employing my target kill me first?
These were all questions that didn’t matter. Vengeance mattered, and that was all. After that, my mission was complete, and my sister avenged.
“You ready?” Dakota asked, coming to stand before me. The other man was nowhere in sight.
“Yeah,” I confirmed, standing and placing my sketchbook back in my bag. A thought suddenly crossed my mind, and I turned to Dakota. “Hey, would you want to come chill at my apartment until we go clubbing?”
Dakota looked taken off guard, but quickly answered, “Sure! Uh, what for?”
I smiled wickedly and shrugged as I began walking away.
“We could… loosen up before dancing?”
“Whoa,” Dakota breathed, flopping backwards onto my bed. It was just a twin-sized bed, but when you’re moving from city to city tracking down a notorious hitman, comfort isn’t really number one on the list of important commodities.
“Yeah?” I smiled, pushing my hair back so that it wouldn’t get in the mess on my chest. I stood from my position on the floor and walked into my bathroom to clean up. My face was slightly flushed in the mirror, but otherwise, I looked unfazed by what I’d just done. Corrupted? Yes, but I was successful.
After cleaning my front half off, I threw my long, deep purple hair into a bun and headed back to my room, now wearing a t-shirt with my bra and thong.
“How do you feel?” I asked Dakota, lying down next to him and pretending to cuddle.
"F*cking awesome,” he gushed. “What the hell was that for?”
I laughed and shrugged. “Just felt like it, I guess. We got to kissing, and ya know…” Liar, my mind chanted. You planned this. Poor kid.
“Well I definitely didn’t mind,” Dakota grinned.
We talked for a few minutes, flirting goofily and discussing our clubbing plans later. I made sure he was totally relaxed before I continued.
“So, who was mister Tall and Mysterious earlier?” I asked casually.
“Who, Vitale?” Dakota asked. “He’s just… Someone.”
“Vitale is an interesting name,” I mused, acting as ditzy as possible to put him at ease.
“How do you know him?” I could tell I was pushing Dakota, but I had to.
“Just from around.”
I pouted. “Oh, okay. I get it.” I sighed sadly and rested next to Dakota for a moment longer before rising from the bed.
“Wait,” Dakota said, pulling me back down to hold me against his side. “If you can keep a secret, I don’t mind telling you.” I smiled up at him, and he sighed and continued.
“He’s… like my boss. Like, you know I… Sell drugs and stuff? Well, I get them through him.”
“Oh…” I trailed off as if I was trying to process the information, when in fact, I already knew all of that. Besides the man’s name. “Where’s he get them from?”
“I’m not sure,” Dakota told me honestly. “I’ve seen him around the old warehouse on seventeenth before, but I doubt that’s important.” He shrugged uncomfortably and I knew that was all I was getting out of him for the evening.
“Come on,” I told him, pulling him into an upright position. “Let’s get ready to dance.”
And everything was calm again.
After that, I got dressed in my apartment and Dakota ran back to his dorm to pick everyone else up. I pulled my hair up into a high ponytail so that it wouldn’t stick to my neck if I was dancing, and slid on one of my two dresses. This one happened to be black and skin-tight, the one I used to stake out clubs for information. I followed the dress up with ankle-high boot heels, a dash of mascara, and purple-red lipstick. I looked ready to kill.
My only regret about the getup was that I had nowhere to hide a gun, but that shouldn’t have been a problem. I wasn’t going to kill Bill tonight, anyway. I still had to locate the f*cker somewhere within the whole city of Chicago. I’d narrowed it down to the area, but Chicago was still a busy place, and who knows if Bill was even here right now. All I knew was that he was employed by the Salvaggi Family, and that they were most definitely here.
Despite my lack of weapon, I left early to scope out the warehouse before I was picked up by Dakota. When I arrived at the corner I agreed to meet at, I found a bench outside of some random coffee shop there and took a seat. It was hot, almost eighty degrees out still, but it could have been worse for early September. I flipped my hair behind my shoulder, and even in a high ponytail, it still reached my waist. I realized that I hadn’t cut it in a while, even though I still dyed it to keep it a nice purple.
Violet, you’re turning violet, I chuckled in my head. More like violent.
I kept an eye on the fenced-off entrance to the old warehouse across the street while playing with my phone. My sound-enhancing earbuds were in, but there wasn’t much to hear. Just some folks on their evening strolls walking past me.
Just when I figured nothing was going to happen, a sleek black car pulled to a stop in front of the warehouse and a man got out. I watched him carefully, hoping to see his face, but he kept his head down and concealed by his baseball cap. With growing nerves, I watched as the man pulled out a zippo lighter and lit a cigarette.
You don’t know if that’s the lighter, I reminded myself, but my heart was in my throat. You can’t see it well enough. You can’t prove that it’s him.
I tried to calm my breathing and turned up my earbuds, praying simultaneously that it would and wouldn’t be him. It couldn’t be. Not when I was right here with no weapon.
The man smoked half of his cigarette while I sat holding my breath before he threw it on the ground and turned away without stomping it out. He flipped open a speaker box next to the gate and typed in a pin. I listened closely, and vaguely heard a voice coming from the box.
“Name and business?” the voice in the box questioned. I felt my nails digging into my palms as I awaited the man’s response with clenched fists.
“Bill,” the man snapped into the box’s speaker, “and you know the business. Now let me the f*ck up. It’s hot out here.”
I felt the breath leave my body and I suddenly felt nauseous. That voice… There he was, the man who I had spent three years of my life tracking down, and I wasn’t prepared to do anything.
By God, I’ll try, I thought with a fire burning in my chest. I stood to go after Bill, or whatever I was going to do without a weapon, but just then a rusty mustang pulled up next to me blaring “F*ck the Police” from the speakers. Dakota…
“Get in!” I heard Dakota call. Beyond him, on the other side of the street, Bill Pfeifer was entering the building, with the locked gate closing behind him. I stood in shock, unable to make my feet move in any direction, until Dakota got out of his car and approached me.
“Violet?” he asked, and I snapped my eyes to him. “You okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Yeah,” I answered quickly. “Fine. Sorry. Let’s go.” And I stepped around him and slid into his car. I saw one of his two friends look at him, and Dakota shrugged in response, but he didn’t say anything as he reclaimed his spot in the driver’s seat.
We drove a few blocks from where I met up with the group until we reached the nightclub. It was the closest one to the college, and was fortunately one of the nicer ones that students could get into. Most didn’t know that it was because of the mafia running it that kept it in good shape.
When we arrived, the four of us exited the car and headed inside. I saw Dakota eyeing me, but I didn’t entertain his glances now; I’d found what I needed. Everything else was just collateral at this point. It was a shame that I’d gotten all dressed up for this to happen, but it couldn’t be helped. I just had to keep up the disguise until I could leave and get back to my apartment. Then I’d be doing some serious work.
“Violet,” Dakota said, nudging me to get my attention. I shook my head and refocused on my current situation. “ID?”
“Right,” I said, whipping my license out of its spot in my bra. The bouncer, obviously used to such behavior, took it without hesitation, checked it, and then waved me through. I replaced my ID where it came from and followed the others inside.
The club was alive. The music seemed to make the dancers into one massive, moving, swaying being. It was nearly impossible to escape its noise and pull, and even I was tempted to dance. But I needed to save my energy. Maybe just a few drinks and then leave.
“Wanna dance?” Dakota asked once we were inside. I shook my head.
“I think I’ll just drink, but don’t let me stop you,” I replied, barely looking back as I headed to the bar. As soon as I sat down, I let myself breathe. My hands were still shaking and I was completely keyed up on adrenaline. I needed something to calm my nerves immediately.
“Can I get you anything?” the bartender asked. I looked up to see a finely dressed older man standing before me across the bar with a look of sympathy on his face. Was I really that obviously shaken?
“Yeah,” I replied, leaning forward so he could hear me more clearly. “I’ll have one shot of tequila, and your best scotch, on the rocks.”
The bartender raised an eyebrow, but began making my drinks. He gave me my tequila, and I downed it quickly. The liquid slid down my throat, warming my insides, and I felt my nerves begin to calm. Just as the bartender was about to set my scotch before me, I saw a hand reach out from next to me and stop him. I looked over to see the man Dakota was speaking to earlier, Vitale.
“I believe the lady asked for your best scotch,” he said, giving the bartender a knowing look. The older man behind the counter nodded quickly.
“Yes, sorry sir,” he apologized shakily. “Right away.”
“On me,” Vitale added. I raised an eyebrow but he just winked.
“Do I get to ask why you did that?” I queried, turning to lean my back against the counter and look at him. He seemed taller up close, towering over my five foot six, plus heels, and he was now dressed in a suit. I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes at the constant display of power the Italian mafia felt the need to show when not undercover. I couldn’t deny that the suit looked d*mn good on him, though he could probably get away with wearing nothing but a plastic bag.
“He figured you wouldn’t know the difference between good scotch and bad, so he was going to give you the cheap stuff,” the man before me responded. It was hard to make out if you weren’t listening for it, but there was the ever-so-slight Italian accent to his voice, further confirming my suspicions that he was mafia. This would have given me confidence that the warehouse Dakota said he’d seen him around was the place I was looking for, had I not already confirmed it with my own eyes. The memory of seeing Bill Pfeiffer right there, so d*mn close, made me cringe and I had to look down for a moment to keep my composure.
“But why on you?” I asked, returning my gaze to Vitale. He looked at me curiously, and I knew he’d noticed my momentary falter.
“Because, I saw you at the college, and I know for a fact that you couldn’t have afforded that scotch on your own,” he responded. I frowned.
“Then why did you order the expensive stuff?” I prodded, raising an eyebrow. If he was trying to flirt, I was going to make him at least admit it to a degree. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d been hit on by mafia in my years of skirting about the criminal underground. This may have just been the most attractive member to do so thus far.
“Because you’re lovely, and you asked for the best.” He shrugged and then reached around me to pick up my glass. I’d been too preoccupied talking to him that I hadn’t noticed my drink had arrived. I watched as Vitale took a slow sip of my scotch, never taking his eyes off of me, before handing it to me.
I watched him carefully as I first dipped a finger in my drink and swirled it around a few times. When my drug-detecting nail polish didn’t change colors, I licked my finger to clean it of the liquid and then took a sip.
“D*mn,” I breathed. That scotch was stellar. “This is incredible.” I took another sip, swishing it around before swallowing. “Thank you.”
“I only ask one thing in return,” Vitale proposed. When I motioned him onward, he simply smirked and said, “One dance.”
I pondered this for a moment, swishing my scotch around in the glass and taking small, delectable sips. On one hand, I’d managed not to get noticed on the criminal underground radar for three years while still learning everything about it from indirect sources and subtle stakeouts. On the other, I was killing Bill Pfeiffer the second I could, and while I wasn’t originally anticipating it, that was going to be tonight, before he left town again. So what did one dance hurt? It’d most likely be my last if the Family Bill worked for got pissed at me for killing him.
I took one last drink of my scotch, flipped down a twenty to pay for my tequila and tip, and then turned to Vitale.
“One dance,” I warned, and he smiled darkly. Godd*mn mafia, always have to look so conniving.
Vitale took my hand and led me to the dancefloor, where an upbeat tune was blaring over the speakers. For a moment, I let the music take over as I spun, twisted, and grinded with Vitale. His hands went to my hips and I slid down him and then back up again, enjoying the rush that came from being intimately close to someone. I twirled back around to face him and placed my hands on his shoulders as we finished the dance. He was an excellent dancer-- I had to give him that-- but as soon as the song ended, I winked at my partner and headed back to the bar.
It was quieter there, and I took a moment to calm my breathing and readjust my hearing before I ordered anything else.
“Just an ice water this time,” I told the bartender, who smiled kindly and hurried off. I looked up just as Vitale was returning to my side.
“I never got your name,” he announced when he was at my side.
“I never got yours,” I fired back. Obviously I couldn’t just announce that I’d blown his employee to get information about him, so I had to play along and feign ignorance.
“Vitale,” he replied and offered his hand. I eyed it for a moment and then shrugged. It’d all be over tonight anyway. Nothing could hurt me now.
“Violet.” I placed my hand in his, but instead of shaking it, he flipped it over and kissed my knuckles. I sucked in a small breath in surprise, but turned away before he could see my blush. F*ck Italians and their stupid, suave ways, I cursed to myself. Always know what to say and do.
“You’re new around here.” It wasn’t a question. I took a long drink of my ice water before turning back to him.
“I am,” I admitted. “Last school just wasn’t doing it for me. Chicago seemed like the place to be for an artist.” To be honest, I had planned on going to school overseas, in London or Paris, but that was before the night everything changed.
“Well I’m glad you did,” Vitale grinned. It was obvious he was just trying to get in my skirt. I could see it in the way his eyes kept floating to my lips and then down to my legs, but I wasn’t as opposed to the attention as I usually would have been. Not tonight. It’d be the last time someone would look at me that way, and the last time I could pretend to be wanted.
“Ay! Vitale!” I heard from behind me, and I turned away from Vitale to see Dakota walking up to meet us. “I see you’ve met Violet?”
“I did,” Vitale answered, not shifting his gaze from me as he answered. “She’s a fine dancer.”
I narrowed my eyes at his obvious attempt to get under Dakota’s skin. D*ck move.
“I thought you were sticking to the bar?” Dakota asked, looking just mildly offended. I shrugged and took another drink of my water.
“Something came up, and I can’t get as hammered as I originally planned,” I told Dakota. At least that much was honest. “I actually think I’m going to head out. I have a lot to do tonight.”
I stood from my seat and gave Dakota a quick smile and a friendly squeeze on the arm. “I’ll see you around.” I was about to walk away when something pulled at the back of my mind and I turned back to Vitale, who watched me with a masked expression. “And thanks for the scotch,” I added, giving him a genuine smile. It was a great last drink, I wanted to add, but instead, I turned to the exit.
When I was out the door, I breathed in the cooler air. The temperature had finally begun to drop, and it was a nice contrast to the heat of the club. I stood leaning against the brick outside the building for a minute and cleared my head. My nerves were down thanks to the alcohol, but my head was clear. Now I just had to focus. I dismounted from my place on the wall when I was sure I was ready and began to walk down the sidewalk back towards my apartment.
“You know, it’s dangerous for a lady to walk home alone in the dark,” a voice spoke from behind me. I stopped and turned to face my pursuer, but I didn’t need to look to know who it was.
“Trust me, I know,” I told Vitale, placing a hand on my hip.
“There’s a lot of dangerous people in this part of town,” he needlessly warned me. I almost face-palmed at the irony.
“You’re one to talk,” I said before I could stop myself, and then amended, “I mean the suit and tie just kind of scream trouble.”
Vitale laughed a deep, almost menacing laugh that I felt in my core.
“Maybe,” he agreed, stepping towards me, “but at least I know what to watch out for.” He paused in front of me, his green-gray eyes meeting my blue ones. “Mind if I walk you home?” Yes, I do mind. I’m f*cking busy, don’t you know? I have a hitman to kill, and you’re slowing me down.
“I don’t live far,” I assured him.
“Then it shouldn’t be a problem.” His persistence made me tense up in fear that he might know something. I didn’t expect him to follow me out from the bar, and now he was causing a lot of problems in my plan. I was so d*mn close. I couldn’t afford this now.
“Vitale,” I began, “I really appreciated the drink, and I had a nice time dancing, but I really can’t afford to be distracted tonight. I have a lot of things to do, and I have a sneaking suspicion that if I let you walk me home, I may not get them done. So not tonight. Okay?”
Vitale’s eyes darkened, and I swallowed. Mafia weren’t accustomed to being turned down. Though why he wanted to walk me home was a question all in itself.
“Then we compromise, yes?” Vitale suggested. Oh boy, the Italian “yes” is coming out. Here we go. “I walk you to the end of the block, and then you go on your way, and I go on mine.”
The look in his eyes said this wasn’t a question, and if I learned anything from my father at all, it was that you don’t f*ck with the mafia. Ever. Even on matters like getting walked home.
“The end of the block it is,” I smiled, and Vitale offered his arm triumphantly. This was obviously a man used to getting what he wanted. I’d probably find that sexy under normal circumstances.
We walked in silence, just enjoying the night as much as we could, until we reached the end of the block. Here, we stopped, and I turned to look up at him.
“This is goodbye,” I reminded him, smiling to seem as if I cared.
“Indeed,” Vitale replied. “Next time you go out, have Dakota let me know.”
“That seems kind of a d*ck move, coming from someone who knows he likes me.” Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t. You all but told him you were listening in earlier. Don’t be a dumba$$, Violet.
Vitale didn’t miss my words, and I saw his demeanor change to one of menace. “I don’t care what he wants, or what you think you know,” he told me darkly. “And if you don’t tell him, then I’ll find out myself.” The dangerous man before me watched, expecting me to flinch back or cringe at his tone, but I stood fast, confident, and he shook his head, a smirk coming to his lips. “You’re either stupid, brave, or clueless.”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say to a girl you were just eye-f*cking in the club,” I sassed. What was it with me tonight? Could I not just shut up?
Vitale laughed, this time loudly and amusedly, and I turned to walk away before I said anything else to get me in trouble. I was already walking a tightrope with him following me out of the club, and now I was just making it worse by cutting strands.
“Wait,” Vitale snapped from behind me, and I turned slowly to see me watching him with hooded eyes. “No kiss goodbye?” He must have noticed the slight increase of color in my cheeks because he stepped forward and pulled me close to him.
“I don’t remember this being a date,” I said lowly.
“I don’t remember it having to be,” Vitale responded, leaning close to my ear as he did. I held perfectly still, willing myself not to breathe any faster, and waited to see what the man before me would do. Vitale held his position close to my ear for a long moment, before bending down and gently kissing my neck once. I sucked in a hard breath, but Vitale had already let me go and stepped away, leaving the smell of cologne lingering behind him.
“Goodnight Violet,” he told me, turning and heading back to the club, probably to hook up with some more willing damsel. “Watch out for yourself.”
I watched him for one… two… three seconds, before my breathing returned to normal and I spun on my heel. Vitale was an unexpected distraction, and a dangerous one at that. I was lucky to get away as easily as I did, especially with my smarta$$ comments. Now I just had to forget everything else, everything that could possibly distract my thoughts from the issue at hand, and focus.
Bill Pfeiffer was going to die tonight.
Prologue- But the Cat Goes Free
“You’re not really going to kill me, sweetheart,” Bill Pfeiffer said. He didn’t bother holding his bleeding foot, and instead just leaned back on his elbow in the center of the room. A light above us flickered, but I wasn’t paying much attention to our surroundings. I was here, at my end goal, and finding an escape route was no longer important.
“I am, and you know it,” I told the man on the floor, still holding my gun’s sites steadfast between his eyes. “That’s why you’re not bothering to stop the bleeding from that hole in your foot.”
Bill Pfeiffer laughed a cold, humorless laugh. It was the same laugh I’d heard come from him that night just two years ago.
“I have a family,” he told me, but there was no emotion in his eyes as he pretended to plead for his life. He was just biding time, hoping someone would stop me before I pulled the trigger.
“No you don’t,” I corrected. “You have an estranged brother, and a cat. But I’d kill you regardless.”
“You gonna kill my cat too?” he asked bitterly. “Just to spite me?”
The door on the far wall busted open then, but I didn’t look up to see who it was. It didn’t matter; it’d all be over before anyone had the chance to stop me. But out of curiosity, I focused my peripheral vision on the intruders. Six men, all with guns, but none of them were pointing at me yet. That was good. Bought me some time. Not that I’d need a lot of time. Bullets are fast.
“No,” I told Bill, who now wore a smug expression. How cute; he thought he had a chance of living. “Your cat-- Fiskars, if I’m correct-- didn’t kill my sister. So, he goes free.”
“At least you do your research. What about these men surrounding you?” Bill motioned with his hand, but my eyes didn’t waver. “The men who ordered me to kill your daddy dearest. What about them?”
“Nothing,” I replied, flipping my hair over one shoulder. “My bastard of a father got what he deserved. He shouldn’t have gotten involved with mafia if he wasn’t willing to hold up his end of things. My sister, on the other hand, was not involved.” I took a step closer to Bill. “No one told you to kill her. No one ordered you to kill a four-year-old girl. You did that because you’re a sick son-of-a-b*tch. And you deserve to die like one.”
“Sir,” I heard someone say to the left of me. “Should we intervene?”
“Wait until I say,” was the response. As if they could stop me now.
“So what?” Bill smirked. “You’re gonna kill the Salvaggi Family’s best hitman and just walk away?”
I smiled as sweetly as I could and tilted my head to the side. “Walking away was never in the plan.” I was close enough to my target now that if I looked closely enough, I could see the barrel of my gun reflected in his eyes. “But let’s cut to the chase. I’m going to kill you. So, if you have any last words, now would be the time to say them.”
Bill Pfeiffer opened his mouth to speak, and that’s the precise moment when I decided to pull the trigger.
I’ll Never Tell You
I'll say, "Don't worry, love! I'm here for you!"
I'll never tell you I cry myself to sleep.
I'll say, "Whatever you need, I'll send to you!"
I'll never tell you I'm dying for your touch.
I'll say, "You look great in your army uniform!"
I'll never tell you I'm looking worse than ever.
I'll say, "You make me so proud!"
I'll never tell you I don't get out of bed some days.
I'll say, "I'm doing just fine!"
I'll never tell you that I'm the exact opposite.
I'll say, "I love you forever!"
And I'll never say anything else.
Because that, at least, is the truth.
They say certain people can be poison, that they can bring you pain and suffering the longer you're with them. I always thought the analogy was stupid. You see, I preferred cancer. For poison, there's usually an antidote, something to counteract the toxins quickly and painlessly to save you. With cancer, it's a slow death from the inside, even if you are getting treatment. In fact, the treatment itself can kill you. Sometimes, the only option is to cut it straight out, and that always leaves a scar.
That's how my father was to me. His words hurt me deep inside, causing almost physical pain. They way he never believed in me wore my down in the way cancer will make a shell of a human being. And when I tried to escape to college, he stuck with me, still calling to tell me how worthless I was.
The treatment hurt too. Classes wore me down and made me perpetually stressed and tired. It was better than being stuck back there with my father. At least that's what I always told myself. Two years of this never really made a difference.
That was, until I met him. Paul was kind, strong, experienced... He took care of me and made me feel special. He made me feel like I was enough, and that was something new and amazing. Never mind that he was in the army; I could deal with tough times for happiness with him. Never mind he used to smoke; he changed that for me, vowing to quit forever. He was perfect, amazing, and I was finally happy.
And so, after months of dating Paul, I decided to cut the cancer out. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes, and we moved to a big city never to look back to that little town where my father lived.
Of course it left scars, as cancer always does. I missed my little sister, and my younger brother. But I was happier. Life was better.
When our first child was born, I wanted to name him Louis. When Paul asked why, I smiled up at him from the hospital bed and told him it was because that was the first place we lived together when I became cancer-free.
And so Louis it was. Louis Paul Scott. He was joy in a human flesh-suit. And such was my life. We raised him to the age of three before I found out I was pregnant again. A girl this time, we hoped. Louis and Lianne, we decided.
But Lianne never came. On one cold November morning, I went into labor at three months. Lianne was born a bloody mess of tissue in our bathtub while Louis cried in the bedroom waiting for Paul to get home.
I got sick after that. Paul said it was because of the miscarriage. He said I was depressed and blamed myself for losing the baby. And I believed that. I hated what happened to our little Lianne. How could I not give her the life she deserved?
I lost weight, even as Paul made sure I ate three meals a day. It was a normal sign of depression, the doctor told us. But when I started coughing through the nights, the idea that it might be something else dawned on us.
Diagnosis: Stage 3 Lung Cancer
You'll be fine, Paul told me. The doctors have hope for you.
But after the second round of scans, that hope dropped to only twenty-two percent, and near the end, it was down to twelve.
Paul would read to me every day, and bring Louis to visit after work, but today, he came alone. Only a few words were clear to me when he made his confession, but the ones that stood out clear as day were as follows.
Still a smoker.
Paul made me happy every day I was with him, but he taught me one thing that I will never stray from, even on my death bed.
All people are cancer. You just have to pick the ones worth suffering for.