Here Lies a Man

A hitman must decide whether or not to kill a child who has witnessed a murder.

Samuel saw the man lying in the dirt, a bullet in his back. The blood was spilling out across the dry land, coloring it a darker shade of brown. The man on the ground had owed somebody powerful money, been unable to come up with it, and therefore had been disposed of.

Samuel lowered his pistol. The dusty wind swept through his hardened face, cut with experience and age. He had watched many men die, killed a substantial amount as well, but he felt himself growing tired of the things he did. But there was no way to exit the business, no way to give a notice of departure.

The sound of rustling caught his attention. Samuel turned quickly, his gun raised. It was a child. A young child, not more than nine years old, who had no business being in the desert at night. Samuel holstered his gun, deducing that the boy was an orphan, homeless, perhaps even a runaway. Whatever the reason for the child’s appearance, the problem was that the child had appeared. It presented an issue. How much had the child seen? Had he witnessed Samuel murdering the man? Or had he simply seen him standing over the corpse. If the latter, the man could play it off like he had found the body. Just an innocent bystander to a thoughtless crime.

The child approached him, and Samuel's hand went instantly to his hip, to his gun, which lay in his holster. The child stopped when he saw Samuel’s motions. There was a moment of silence where neither the man nor the child spoke, where only the wind gently blew by, whistling sounds through Samuel’s ears.

“Why did you kill him?”

An immediate answer to his question. He couldn’t pretend he had just found the man’s corpse. The child had witnessed the murder.

“Why did you kill him?”

Samuel did not respond. He would have to kill the child. 

He ran forward, without warning. The child attempted to flee, but Samuel easily caught up to him, knocking him in the back of the head with his gun. The child fell to the ground limply, unconscious.

Samuel stood over the child’s body. Why had he not just shot him? It would have been the simple way to deal with things. Perhaps he didn’t want the gunshot to be heard. But he hadn’t worried about that when he had plugged the man in the dirt. Perhaps it came down to morals. Samuel had a way to somehow justify the man’s murder; he owed money. But the child was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Certainly not a crime. But he couldn’t afford any loose ends. He had reasons to kill the child, but he was just a child.


The child awoke in the desert, his hands and legs bound. Samuel turned and noticed this, a shovel in his hand. Samuel had been digging a grave for the man. Had to hide the evidence. His eyes settled on the kid’s face. It was filthy; dirt and grime seemed to be embedded in the child’s pores. Samuel felt sorry for the child, on a deeper level. A level where he had once been a good person. The child was bound, unable to move, nor did he seem to want to go anywhere. So Samuel turned back to his chore of digging the grave. But then he stopped. He would need the grave if he decided to kill the child. It was deep enough for the two of them.

Samuel turned back towards the child, whose dark face surveyed the scene. Samuel dropped the shovel, walking slowly over to the child. He didn’t seem frightened of Samuel. He didn’t move or struggle. He was completely calm in fact. And those eyes. The child’s eyes seemed too dark, too full of thought, as though he had seen far worse than someone digging a man’s grave in the middle of the desert.

Samuel sat next to the child, who struggled to sit up. Samuel helped the child balance himself. Every bone in his body was screaming for him to distance himself from the child. It would make it easier to kill him. That was what he would have to do. He couldn’t afford any loose ends, not even a child. For the child brought possibility. The possibility of the law. The possibility of death. And, though Samuel dealt death all of the time, he was afraid of it. Afraid of the unknown perhaps.

“Are you going to kill me?” The child asked. Mature for his age. Samuel looked at the child and nodded.

“What’s your name?” Samuel asked. The child did not respond. Samuel did not push. With the knowledge of his death looming, the child probably did not want to communicate with him.

“What were you doing out here?” Samuel asked. The child looked at him, his eyes portraying an emotion Samuel did not recognize.

“That man you're burying is my father.”

Samuel understood. He felt instantly sorry for the child, but his hand had strayed to his pistol.

“I killed your father.” More of a statement than a question. He had always been told never ask questions he knew the answer to. The child nodded. Samuel hung his head, wishing he had simply shot the child when he had first seen him instead of capturing him. Samuel pulled out his gun.

“I’m sorry.”

The child nodded again, almost as if he was forgiving Samuel.

A gunshot rang out through the darkness, the muzzle flash illuminating the small area of desert they were inhabiting. The child’s body hit the ground forcefully. Blood pooled around his head, spilling into the dirt, coloring it a darker shade of brown.

The End

2 comments about this story Feed