You have to ask yourself, what’s the point of killing? What’s at stake?
They sat behind mirrored glass, watching pedestrians scuttle by through faded brush-stroke letters. They sat, legs crossed, drinking a strong blend.
Ask yourself, how will your life change?
Or death. Consider how your death will change.
He flipped a cigarette onto his lip and struck his lighter. It was tarnished brass, descended from a grandfather killed in war. He refilled it every month. Wiped it clean, but never polished. He touched the end of the cigarette to the bouncing flame.
Aren’t you planning your death yet?
Sure you are. Think. Smoke curled around his swollen, dimpled nose. Everything you’re about is gearing up for the end. You wanna lay peaceful and warm when you die. Maybe nibble at a little soup. You know that. There’s nothing romantic about getting shot down.
Nobody is going to shoot me down. I don’t even own a gun.
You don’t need a gun to be shot down. Think for a minute.
Well, the other said, leaning into his coffee. He slurped. Nobody is going to shoot me. And I’m not planning my death yet.
There’s no glory in dying bloody. You know that. It’s best to die in a warm bed. Somewhere familiar. Somewhere private. You don’t want strangers watching.
They sat a moment and peered out at the street. People rushed along, their faces blurred by rain. The storm had been rolling in for days, in off the ocean.
He was hungry, but it wasn’t time. He would wait until dark, and then he would gorge himself. Cantonese noodles, pepperoni calzones, fish and chips, steaming meats from sidewalk vendors, meatball subs, corned beef and sour kraut on rye, mixed plates from the international buffet, olives and cheese and wine, hotdogs and hamburgers, lamb skewers, spinach pie, curried chicken, California rolls, jerked pork, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, Korean barbecue, double fudge brownies and ice cream. Maybe even a couple of Romeo y Julieta’s and a bottle of Colt 45.
But now, with the storm draped across the afternoon, it was unfiltered cigarettes and strong coffee.
He nudged the other and grinned. I know what you’re thinking. When I was young, before things were so good, I used to ride the rails with a man who killed.
I’m not going to kill. I don’t even own a gun.
You don’t need a gun. You know that. He beat them. He choked them dead.
The other crossed his arms and stared out at the rain.
He would sneak up on them and beat them so they couldn’t get up. I remember it so well. And then he’d choke them.
I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve got nothing to do with that.
Yes you do. Because like you, he wasn’t planning either.
Nobody plans for death. It just gets you.
Not so. We’re all planning. It’s just that people like you don’t know what they’re planning for.
He took a final drag on his cigarette and dropped it into his coffee. Ain’t that something? He’d choke them dead.