Story 2: KILLING
I reach up and touch my cheek--hot. I reach down and touch his--cold. He's already cooling. Makes sense 'cause it's wet 'n colder'n hell out here.
I sit back and look at his face. It's not distorted like I expected. He looks like he's asleep, but when I look at the blood drying on his jacket where my bullet entered his heart--I know he's dead.
I reach out and touch him again--colder. Getting stiff now too. His eyes remind me of a dead cat I once saw when I was a kid. It was looking at me but I could tell it wasn't seeing anything. The boy is looking at me now, just like that cat, but he isn't seeing me either. Or is he? What does anyone alive know about death? Nothing! You have to die to understand--I guess. As I sit here and look into his eyes I wonder if there is some part of him that sees me and asks, "Why did you kill me?"
I look around at the unfamiliar terrain. I recall a Steve McQueen movie--Sand Pebbles. A line of Steve's that has stuck with me all of these years comes to my mind--What the hell am I doing here?
I look at the trees that he came walking out of--they're not like the trees back home. I'm in a foreign land. I didn't really want to come here. Should I have told my uncle, "No I don't want to be a killer in your outfit?" No chance of that. When uncle decides he wants something, he won't listen to reason or anyone else's opinion. His word is final law, and you obey it.
I look back at the boy's eyes. They're starting to get a milky look to them now, but I still have the feeling he's somehow seeing me--asking--"Why did you kill me?"
"Why did you come here and kill me? I could have been a farmer--carpenter--schoolteacher--doctor. There were many things I could have been if you hadn't killed me. Who are you? I don't even know who you are. You came all the way to my home to kill me. Why?"
His skin is turning pale now. He looks like the dead aunt I was lifted up as a child to see before she was put in the ground. I remember thinking about the nice smile she had the last time I'd seen her, and how strange and pasty she looked lying there. I try to remember the young boy's face in my scope before I lowered it to his heart. Nothing! Blocked from my memory. This pale, pasty, cold face is the only one that this young boy will ever have in my memory.
I don't want to look into his eyes again. I check my weapon to be certain it's ready, and I slither back into the jungle. I took my uncle's money and I'll do my job. I was hired to kill the boy and his brothers and I will.
I scan the terrain just as I did when I first spotted the boy walking toward me. One of his brothers is nearby. I can sense it. All emotions are shoved aside. Time to go to work. The pasty-faced boy with the milky eyes isn't even a memory now. Gone--But not forever--His eyes will come back to haunt me in my dreams. Nightmares! Not dreams. I will never have another dream as long as I live. They'll all be nightmares. My uncle has cast me into a dark, bottomless chasm and I shall never return to the normal world.
But that's in my future. I have a job to do now. I search the dense jungle for one of the boy's brothers. There! Off to my right--I think I see movement--Yes!
I silently bring my scope to his face but don't linger. I don't want to see his face long enough to remember what he looks like. He turns toward me as I position the crosshairs over his heart--just as I did his brother's.
~ Killing is the sport of generals ~