Sandra spent the next four hours fretting. She could only eat two bites of the perfectly good hotdog she had bought from a street side vendor. How on earth was she going to help Garith find friends? How did normal people go about making friends, let alone un-normal people? You met them at your place of work, or at some activity, or something. You didn’t just wander around trying to talk to people. Not in the city anyways.
She dumped her half eaten hot dog in a green city garbage can. But what would Garith like doing that normal people liked doing? And would he agree to committing himself to something? And was anything he said really true? How could she have been so naive as to think she would never see him again? There were far too many questions and far too few promising answers.
At last it was 2:45 and she was standing in the square waiting. After a few minutes she felt awkward just standing there, so she made her way across the smooth cobblestones to the circular fountain that gave the square its name. It was the oldest continuously running fountain in the country and was surprisingly plain and uncomely for its ancientness. But it was very practical with its low rim around the circumference that was at perfect sitting level. After dipping down into a smooth rounded basin, the stone fountain rose again to a higher circle above which the water sprayed up and then poured off and down into the lower rim as it might flow over a waterfall.
She sat. And waited. Fifteen minutes felt like a long time because a thousand thoughts are pouring through her head as fast as the water behind her. Then fifteen minutes became twenty and twenty became twenty five. He had not come. Had she really expected him to keep this appointment? Had she even believed that what he said was true? That he wanted to change? That he had quit?
Then she saw a familiar figure moving her way through the streets. But it was not the figure she was expecting. This man was short and squat and walked with a limp. But despite his short stature people shied away from him as he walked. Perhaps it was because of his distinctive and unpleasant smell, or perhaps it was the permanent unfriendly expression in his tiny glinting eyes.
“What are you doing here, Scounger?” she asked when he had arrived before her. She didn’t stand to meet him. You didn’t give people like him that kind of courtesy. “Where’s Garith?”
“He was, called away. Had some pressing business.”
“He told me he had fired himself,” her voice was angry, but inside she mostly just felt disappointed.
“Well he did.” She remembered now how annoying his winy voice was. Why did Garith put up with him?
“Then why are you still working for him?”
“Well I’m not. Officially I’m fired.”
“Were you ever official?”
“Oh, you know how it is.”
People were staring at them. So she got up and began to walk across the square, Scounger beside her.
"Haven't you ever known any workaholics?" Scounger was saying when a gunshot exploded in the square.
The reality is, when someone is hired to kill you, they do. They are not hired to miss. They are hired to kill on the first shot. And you do die, unless you are uncannily adept at avoiding death, such as Queen Elizabeth I was, or Franz Ferdinand was (for a while anyway), or in this case, such as Scounger was.
He had chosen just a split second before the shot to bend over and pick up a small coin laying between two cobblestones. He never could resist shiny coins. The bullet whizzed over his bent back. The second shot hit his bad leg from behind.