CROSSOVER HIT by Jay D. Homnick (Fessay #2)
It probably never is a good idea, much less an ethical one, to get involved with a married woman. But that Valerie was a real knockout, she lived just down the hall, and her husband was some kind of salesman on the road two weeks of every month. To top it off, she was always flashing me smiles in the hallway that were dripping with invitation.
The old I'm-out-of-coffee rap worked a little too easily. Clearly it wasn't the adroitness of my advances that overcame her inhibitions.
That became our routine. Two weeks a month I got to borrow coffee every day, and the rest of the month I still had to buy my own.
Well, one day old Rudy got back a little early and paid a surprise visit to our coffee klatsch. Suddenly he was standing in the doorway waving a gun. I carry some Mace in my pocket, which wasn't handy at that moment.
"I won't kill you now," he said. "That would be too easy. Instead, I will kill you sometime in the next thirty days, when you least expect it."
I ran out, not terribly afraid, but feeling like a fool. A few hours later there was a knock at my door. Through the peephole I saw Valerie, alone. I opened the door.
"You don't understand," she told me. "He's not a salesman. He's a hitman. He does this for a living, filling contracts all over the country. You must run and change your identity or something." It looked like discretion should have been the better part of Valerie, and now I was on the run.
I made sure not to use my credit cards. I sold my car. I traveled only by Greyhound bus and taxi, anything that did not require ID. I called friends only briefly, from pay phones, using phone cards.
Despite my advanced computer training, I took odd jobs, claiming to be an illegal alien from Canada, taking payment only in cash and being awfully underpaid in the process.
This went on for some months. I had moved cities a few times and finally settled in Oklahoma City. Clearly I had shaken his pursuit, but it had come at the price of any hope for sanity and normalcy.
Then I met Myra, my sweet savior. Neither of us had ever been so totally in love before and we were close to marriage. Finally, I broke down and shared with her the secret of my forced exile.
"You're living in fear and you're responding to fear," she chided. "And it's rooted in your guilt, because a part of you feels that you deserve this."
"How do I break this cycle?" I asked.
"Turn it around," she said. "Sure you had no right to hurt him, but your penance for that is done. Now look at him and forget about yourself for a moment. He's out there. He's a killer. You know that but you can't prove it. You can escape him but he will go on killing."
"You're right," I said.
"Now you need to decide on a course of action," she prompted.
She was right. I was better than him. I don't go around killing people, but I can make an exception, just this once. The hunted became the hunter.
I went back to his place, picked the lock and entered the bedroom. Ironically, he was in the act of conducting his own coffee klatsch; well, he had a right to, I thought, she is his wife. I shot him, knowing that Valerie could not identify me under the ski mask I was wearing.
A perfect shot. He fell off her, dead. She lay there screaming, and I turned to leave feeling better than I had thought that I would.
"Goodbye, honey," I said on the way out, almost with a chuckle. She was not Valerie.