Mr. M-'s second confession came five years after I married Jill. After dinner one night, in the same room he had offered me a place in his family, he told me how he was the one that sent Jill into the shop, the day that I met her. She was a friend of his wife, who had been through some rough times. He had wanted to make sure I was taken care of, and her as well, so he had suggested to her, one night over dinner, that she meet me. Tightening my eyes, I contemplated his words.
"If you want, we can get rid of her."
"No sir," I exhale as if punched in the stomach, "She is one of the best things that have ever happened to me. I should be thanking you, I just wonder why you felt the need to tell me."
"You have done well for me, and I don't want there to be anything between us unsaid."
"Yes, sir," I answered, taken aback by the brief intimacy he displayed.
Taking my hand in a firm grip, he smiled. There was a quiet intensity in his eyes as we held that moment, then releasing, he led me back to the ladies. He never mentioned it again and I have never told Jill that I know. We all have our secrets and mine were beginning to pile up.
Circling the hospital, to ensure no concerned motorist has found me, I glide the van into a space behind a shipping container in the back of the parking lot, nose to nose with a large black SUV. I leave everything on the seats, exiting the van. As I walk toward the SUV two men exit from the back seat and pass me, vigorously shaking cans of spray paint. As I stand in the shadow of the open door, I hear the hiss of paint escaping onto the van.
On the seat I find a small pile of freshly pressed clothes, a package of Twinkies and a disposable cell phone. Removing everything I am wearing, the hairs on my body stand erect in the cool of the night. I stuff the soiled garments and shoes into a bag, dressing in the new attire. One of the painters returns, taking the bag. They will dispose of them, along with the van.
Sliding into the back seat, I close the door and feel the vehicle begin to move. I open the cellophane wrapping the Twinkies. Pushing my teeth through the cake into the sweet center sends waves of refreshment rippling outward from my mouth. This is a ritual after each assignment for me, each bite cleansing me of the taste of what I just completed. I relish each moment and as I swallow the last bite, the phone rings.
"Thank you sir."
"My family would be pleased to join you for a cruise to celebrate the success of the shop. I will make arrangements and we will be ready to go tomorrow evening."
Thumbing the phone closed, I look out at the lights of the city as we retreat from her. The police will have found the body in the parking garage by now, my car will have to stay overnight. I tell the driver just to drop me at my house and though he never answers, I know he understands.
I have no remorse for the things that I have done, not that I take perverse pleasure in it either. I calculate the angles, work out all the details, then execute. It is just business. It always has been.
Jill will be ecstatic when I tell her about the cruise. I will tell her that Mr. M- is pleased with the profitability of the shop and wanted to reward the good performance. She will be proud of me and I imagine our evening will be one of sensual gratitude. Mr. M- is happy. Jill is happy. I am happy.
Jill's skin smells like lavender when she meets me at the door. I bury my face in the crook of her neck as we embrace. She asks why the driver brought me home and I tell her briefly about some accident at the parking garage. I did not get close enough to see it. I feel her stiffen in concern, so I deftly change subjects letting her know about the cruise. I was right, she is ecstatic, fawning over me as we enter the house.
"Are the boys in bed?" I ask, separating myself from her to find something to drink in the refrigerator.
The weight punches me just below the right shoulder blade, spinning me into the island in the center of the kitchen. Pain lances my body as I crumple to the floor, struggling to breathe. A red dot forms on my shirt, spreading like a virus, and I realise I have been shot.
My thoughts swim, confusion. The tile floor is cool on my skin and I want to melt into it. She crouches in front of me, placing a hand on my arm, keeping me here.
"The kids are at Uncle M-'s house, so you need not worry. You were sloppy tonight, dear. In the garage. You don't even know who you killed do you? When Uncle M- got the call from my brother, he was not happy."
"Whu..." I can't muster words, just a weak moan.
The details that are usually my strength have become my undoing. Wet copper fills my mouth and I see the long black tunnel at the end of the gun coming toward me. Her last kiss as the world goes white.
Shadows break the white, becoming people. No they are angels, come to take me. I am heavy and nothing. As they draw closer I realise they are not angels, but dogs. Dogs come to take my last confession or to beat it out of me. They smell like piss. I am back in the trailer park, and Stumpy is smiling at me with a crooked tooth grin.
"Hiya Runt. Did you think you could get away from me?" ichor spills from his mouth with the hiss of the words.
Behind them, their new master stands silent, except the muffled ring of a cell phone from inside of her grotesquely large body. She points and they are on me.
When I feel their hands tear at my body, I scream.