Pitch Black in the City of Lights
Pitch Black in the City of Lights
The Killer walked the Pont Neuf, heading north across the Seine. It smelled a bit like a urinal, but more like dead fish. The Pont Neuf was a wide bridge, maybe, at least the tourists were supposed to like it. It was nothing compared to the bridges where he came from, but it was made of stone. That might have been what the hubbub was about, but he was sure there had to be bigger stone bridges.
Even at midnight there were a few drunken assholes walking by, but no french fry stands.
Jack had never talked about much, small talk mostly, but he’d loved fries. They’d once shared a forty-ouncer and Jack had started talking. He’d told him about this bridge, the birthplace of french fries, apparently. They’d been sold alongside saint’s finger bones, snake oil, and slaves.
The Killer hadn’t expected to find the other offerings, even if a saint’s finger bone would have made a good souvenir for someone he knew back home.
He wasn’t so sentimental to think he could taste them in Jack’s place, but he was in town on business and had altered his course to swing by.
Either they no longer sold fries there, or, as made sense in twenty-twenty hindsight, the roadside stands were closed at midnight.
He finally left that bridge, realizing then how much he’d hated it. He didn’t usually hate anything, especially not giant inanimate objects, but he found himself in a strange mood.
Jane was waiting for him back home, he thought, but realized he had no reason to think she’d wait for him. It had only been a few days but enough time for her to have moved on.
They’d spent every minute of every day together for months. He hadn’t had a moment to think about her, because she’d always been right in front of him.
At first he’d thought she needed him, and that maybe she’d wanted his help. Her sister had died, killed by a run-of-the-mill sicko, and he’d killed him for her. He’d figured she’d leave him then, but she hadn’t. Then he’d thought she might have developed a taste for his work, but she could still have left him and started up on her own.
She seemed to like him. He thought of kids on the school yard, holding hands like otters at the zoo.
He’d hated school and spent his recess under a tree next to the chain link. He’d watched boys his age pulling girls’ hair, pretending to stab each other with with twig knives, and painting looks on their faces gleaned from the TV. He’d hated them all. But there were two kids, glowing now in his memory.
He couldn’t remember if they were boys or girls. They looked sad, standing so close their shoulders were touching, holding hands with their fingers woven together. He never met them and never saw them again.
Good people, he thought. He’d never found any other proof, and if he’d gotten closer, learned their names, it would have ruined it.
Jane wasn’t good, even if she felt special to him. She wasn’t black or white, or the gray that seemed a natural middle step. She was translucent like the pages of the Bible. She was slowly becoming everything he’d always wanted to be.
He’d written her a letter before he’d left, telling her he would be back, and that he loved her. He hoped he hadn’t lied, not about the getting back, because he didn’t plan on dying.
People seemed to say, I’d kill for her, like that meant something. It probably did for them. The Killer wasn’t sure by what measure he could fairly judge his feelings.
He left the main street, Rue Something, and down a narrow cobbled alley, following a blood speckled map he’d had a man draw that afternoon.
Jameson, the man he’d crossed an ocean for, was supposed to have been dead.
Frank had killed him, two bullets to the head, a story from Frank’s own lips. But The Killer had seen him, not in person or he definitely would have been dead now.
There was a gallery opening, only news because of a tertiary association to some pop star’s humanitarian cause, but it had made the paper. The Killer had seen Jameson’s face staring up at him from a crowd shot as the international section soaked up a spilled cup of coffee from their trailer’s linoleum floor.
The doors off that alley weren’t numbered, but he stood in front of the second red door on the left. The man that afternoon had been adamant.
He reached into his jacket pocket and felt the veil, scratchy synthetic fibers against his finger tips. He almost felt right again, but it was how he’d felt before he met Jane, empty, but empty like a dry well.
He pulled a Makarov from his other pocket as he draped the veil over his head.
The red door was locked. He kicked it in.
A man stood in the hall in front of him, a sandwich in his hand, cheese and lettuce. The man reached for a pistol tucked into his belt, and The Killer fired, one shot to the heart.
The hall was lit by a single light bulb in a lamp on the wall. It was gold plate and cut glass, like it might have been refabricated from a gas fixture. He hit it with the butt of his pistol and crouched down in the dark.
A door opened at the end of the hall, white light spilling out. The Killer fired twice. First at the man who’d opened the door, and again at the man who’d followed him.
He walked forward slowly, keeping his aim steady as he stepped over corpses.
There was a big table in the center of the room, littered with guns and bags of powder. A man, Jameson, tall, handsome, and alive, was fiddling with the dozen padlocks bolted to what must have been the front door.
Frank sat at the table with a pistol in his hand. He’d had a shaved head the last time The Killer had seen him. He looked older now. The fear in his face turned to confusion as he realized who’d come for them.
“Ca-” he said as The Killer put a bullet in his head.
“That isn’t my name anymore.”
Jameson turned back slowly, maybe recognizing his voice. “…What’s with this?” he asked, sweeping his hand across his face, while subtly edging toward a pistol on a filing cabinet ten feet to his left. “You convert to Islam… and get a sex change?”
“Somethin’ like that.”
“…So, what do they call you now?” Jameson asked, just five feet from his pistol.
“Nothing,” The Killer said, and pulled the trigger.