It was raining. It was a smooth rain. The kind that feels like tears. Full of sadness and regret. I was in an alley. Not much of an alley. It was a tiny sliver. A dirty finger between buildings. I was waiting for the job. Dawn was approaching. The rain was steady. I was stolid.
There is a moment between night and dawn. It is a time of dreams. Sound infiltrates into dreams. Pain turns dream into nightmare. Eyes wake but the mind sleeps. That moment of struggle between reality and dream; that is the time. The best time for a job.
So I stood biding time; ticking off moments. Lightning forked. Thunder cracked. I sliced seconds from reality. The door I’d been watching opened. It nerved me. It was a back entrance; a way unused. It was supposed to stay closed.
A girl stepped out. Her face delicate. Her features lithe. A flash of lightning lit us. For an instance it was her and I. The image of her burned into my eyes. In her hand was a ragged doll. A bunny or dog. Hard to tell. She was standing there. Looking, listening. She waited. I tensed.
The job began to take hold. It was time. The girl had to go. She was in the way. I needed that door. I needed that girl gone. What was she doing in this time? My time. I began to move. A cat howled. I stopped.
Lightning flashed. The girl titled. Her head cocked. She ran out into the alley. She was gone. No matter it was time. The door was open; the way clear. I moved for the job. I passed into a small place. It was little more than a room with a toilet. A rusty tub sat in one corner. An old scrub brush noosed from a chain swung like a dead man.
In the center of the room was a mattress. No rails or springs to hold it. Clothes lay like patchwork around it. Trash and debris were scattered throughout. On the bed was the job. She was facing away from the door. I closed the door.
She turned. A look of expected recognition banished from her face. Her eyes dulled. She stood and faced me. For the first time in a long time I began to dwell. I looked. Her eyes began to change. Seduction filtered through the dullness. I wanted no part.
“No.” I mouthed.
Fear replaced seduction. The grogginess of sleep that dulled her eyes left. Another look of recognition entered. She knew. She was the job. She looked down at her hands. They had been busy at unbuttoning a blouse. But they had failed to stop during the exchange. She stood now before me half bare. No move was made to cover. Fear strangled her movements. It strengthened mine.
I stepped forward. My hands touched her skin. Heat swam across my fingers. She choked back a sob. My grip became firm. Her neck yielded gently under my growing force. The lightning flashed.
It was the moment, the time for completion. Hesitation entered and I paused. This job, my last job was to be remembered. I had committed to many sins. Sins that had been washed by time and booze. This one I would not forget. This one would remind me. This one I would take.
Her fear ebbed. My strength slackened. Her eyes pleaded but I remained cold. I was drinking in reality. Filling my soul full of the job, her, the moment. My hands fell to her shoulders. She did not move. She was caught between fear and seduction. Not knowing which way the instant would turn.
I continued to wash myself in the time. Sounds, images, and touch all flooded and swirled in my mind. My soul raged. I began to throb from emotion. It was too much. The job was turning. It was turning into something, someone. She sensed it as well. She felt to change the moment. She stepped towards me. I folded my arms in embrace. Her hands began to move again.
Her head leaned into me. Her lips sought mine. The lightning flashed again. The time that could be hers ceased. Behind her I saw another reminder. A simple thing. An expected thing. It was a needle. A junkies friend. My mind reeled. It snapped back into my torment. My hands held her head. A twist and it was over. She slumped against me as if in relief. I gently lowered her. I place her next to the tub. I splashed water. I left.
Dawn followed my exit. The rain had ceased. I had finished. The job was over. I stepped around the corner. Across the street was a bar and diner. My final passage waited. The bar looked dirty. It felt right.
The man behind the counter was thin and grey. He looked at me with eyebrows raised. I ordered.
“Milk”, I said.
“What?” he stammered.
“Milk and toast.”
Today was a new reality.