On my way to work, I took a turn into a dark alley and changed my clothes, but I had no choice but to leave the makeup on, since I had no way to take it off without smearing it everywhere. I just hoped that no one would notice.
Unfortunately, this detour made me even later for work; I was already almost an hour late. When I arrived at the warehouse, I entered to see Jeremy pacing about worriedly, Spenser attempting to calm him down, Cai talking rapidly on his phone, James running his fingers through his hair anxiously, and Arlais was reading a book. As soon as I came through the door, I was mauled by Jeremy, who hugged me and yelled at me at the same time.
His jubilation was short lived, however, because James came over and demanded to know where I had been. My answer was already prepared, and I did my best to look confused and slightly worried.
“My parents didn’t go to bed until late and I couldn’t sneak out.”
“Oh. We were worried because Zarry is missing, and you were missing...and we thought...well, we assumed the worst.”
“What do you mean? He’s probably just at the bar. He practically lives there.”
“That’s what we thought, but when I called down there, they said he left there two hours ago, with a blonde that no one had seen before.”
I was silent at this. There was really no response to this that wouldn’t sound suspicious anyways. Seeing that the conversation had ended, I went and took my seat, then I noticed that no one was out working. I whispered to Jeremy, “Why is everyone in?” and hoped that James didn’t notice.
“James isn’t letting any of us leave until Zarry is found. He’s afraid that it was a rival sector that’s trying to intimidate us by showing that they can take on Zarry.”
I looked across the table at Spenser, and saw him grinning from ear to ear. From this behavior, I’m assuming that he had guessed long ago why both Zarry and I were missing, and also why I was the only one to return. I don’t think Cai had figured it out yet, but he wasn’t stupid, and would put two and two together eventually. While I was trying to think up a way to keep both of them quiet, James’ cell phone rang.
He answered it, said “Okay,” a few times and hung up. He sounded almost panicked when he said, “They found Zarry. We need to go now, before things get out of hand. I really hope our rivals don’t get any ideas.”
He grabbed his gun out of the desk drawer, and practically ran for the door. The rest of us, seeing that we had no choice, hurried after him. We followed James down the dark streets. If Flagg had followed my directions, any minute we would come across the body.
Flagg was an artist when it came to displaying a body, he would make a wonderful undertaker. He had hung it upside down from a buiding, about four feet off the ground. The thing was cut up and missing all of its fingers, but the face had been left alone, with the exception of my mark, which Flagg had known to leave alone, even though I hadn’t told him to. On top of all that, the throat had been cut, and all the blood drained while it was hanging upside down. This was done in almost the same way that an animal destined for someone’s dinner would be killed. On the brick wall behind the body, the words, “He was slaughtered like the pig he is.” were written in blood. Flagg had done even better than I had originally expected.
This gruesome sight actually relieved James because he was no longer worried that Zarry had been killed by a rival sector, for the scene showed it for what it was: a killing done by an enemy.
I thought everything was going fine until Spenser clapped me on the back and said, “Em did pretty well for herself this time. Didn’t think she’d have the guts, but my god she’s done well for herself.” James rounded on me and began to rant, “You did this? This is a joke. Spenser tell me this is a very sick joke. She can’t have...she’s a coward, we all know it. But if this is true, I’m wondering if maybe we should have offered that job to her instead of Jeremy.”
Now I was the confused one. “What job?” I asked.
Jeremy must have thought I was angry, because he quickly tried to explain, “Amelia, I swear I was going to tell you, honestly. I mean, I hardly found out myself. I guess I’m babbling, but I really don’t know how you’re going to react. I-they offered me the job of hitman.”
“Th-that’s great. I know how much you respect Spenser, and I think you would do well.” I was shocked. I didn’t mind Spenser being a professional killer, but Jeremy was my best friend and lover. I had done my best to be courteous, but my words didn’t come out the way I had meant for them to sound. Maybe, in my attempt at politeness, I sounded cold and unfeeling, in fact, I’m positive I did, because Jeremy immediately looked hurt. He took a step back and looked at the ground as he quietly said “oh,” and ran off.
I watched him jog down the sidewalk and turn a corner. It hurt to watch him turn his back on me, but after a moment, I realized that I had done the same thing to him. He hadn’t wanted to tell me because he knew that I would see him as a monster.
While this scene had been going on, Cai and Arlais had already climbed up the fire escape of the building that Zarry was hung from, and begun to cut him down. As I thought of a way to make myself useful, I felt a twinge of regret in letting Jeremy go. I was still debating whether or not to go after him, when Spenser said “Go. I’ll cover for you.”
That was the only prompting I needed. I took off in a sprint in the direction that Jeremy had gone. He couldn’t have gone that far. As I rounded the corner, I saw him ahead of me. He had only run as far as the corner, then he had slowed to a walk.
He didn’t turn around, he just kept walking.
There was no response, only the sound of his footsteps on the cold concrete. It was cold, cold the way I had been. It felt no pain, no sorry, no joy; it only had it’s purpose, but I guess, in that way too, it and I were alike.
Maybe I didn’t want to be that way anymore.
“I still love you. Nothing has changed, but I just don’t know how to respond.”
He still didn’t say anything, but he had stopped walking now.
“I know that I have done something unforgivable, but I realize now, that to make you deny that side of you would only be hypocritical. You’ve seen the things that I did tonight.”
“You were the one that killed him then.”
“I am responsible for his death.”
Finally, he turned.
I had always kept myself relatively contained with him because of his past experiences, but this time I could no longer hold myself in. I ran up to him, hugged him tight, and kissed him hard on the mouth.
Whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t for him to pull me even closer to him, and run his fingers through my hair. It wasn’t for him to kiss me back and then put his lips on my neck. He was soft in my arms, and so fragile, but I knew that I wasn’t hurting him. He trusted me.
When our embrace had reached it’s end, (and we could go no further due to the fact that we were in public) he took my hand and began to walk down the street.
“I’m sorry about that, I know how you don’t really like physical affection.”
“You didn’t do that for a thrill. You did that because you actually cared. You’re the first person that gave a damn about me, and I almost walked away.”
“Jeremy, you had every right to. I practically slapped you in the face back there.”
“But you valued me over your pride, which is something I’m grateful for.”
"There's something else too," I pulled the tape from the camera out of my pocket and handed it to Jeremy. "Watch it."
We were silent for a bit, the way we usually were, but the topic of his new employment kept nagging at the back of my mind. When I could bear it no longer, I finally said, “Do you plan on taking the job?”
“I don’t really know. I want to, but if you don’t like it, then I’ll refuse.”
“Why do you find it so appealing?”
“I’ve killed before, and when I do, I feel so heartless that it’s like nothing will ever be able to hurt me again. I want that feeling. I know it’s wrong, but I hurt so much. I want to be able to shut all of that out.”
“That’s not unreasonable. But I want you to think about something: The penalty is death. For what we do now, we can only be locked up till we’re eighteen because we’re still minors, but if you kill someone, or in this case, many someones, they’ll fry you. It won’t matter if you’re a minor or not. You’ll be tried as an adult and sentenced to death. I’ll support you no matter what you choose, but I want you to know that watching your trial, and watching you being sentenced to death would kill me. If you die, I’m going to hell with you.”
“That’s a very foolish thing to say.”
“I don’t think you understand. I’m a heroin addict. I’ve got no hope for the future. This stuff will rot my brain, and I’d much rather be dead than a vegetable.”
“Then I guess we’ll both be dead, ‘cuz there’s no way out. Whichever way you turn, the penalty will always be death.”