I was down on the waterfront, looking out at the waves, watching the boats and jet-skis, looking over at the private beaches, where the sun shone more brightly, and the illusion of a better life beckoned like a whore in a neon lit window.

One last time, I wanted that illusion.

One last time, to try to make it real for me.

That’s why I was down here, burning up in the high humidity of a day in July, waiting for the contact to give me the latest information on my final assignment:

Who do I kill next?

I’m called Nomad. My real name was erased years ago; I didn’t like it anyway.

No family to speak of, no wife, and no candidates for that position on the horizon, I was free to travel and murder at will.

It was a dangerous life, and so far, I’d come out on top; that wouldn’t always be the case, I knew, and there were times it got close, but not close enough.

I lived with it; death was the dance partner who every now and then stepped on your toes and kneed you in the balls just to let you know she was not enjoying your company.

The contact waddled up, all sweaty and wheezing, trying to light a cigarette with the lighter in his right hand while he fished around in his pocket for the chip with his left.

“Here.” He held it out in his sweaty palm.

I took a napkin out of my pocket and took it from him; he narrowed his eyes at me, and I smiled, and he looked away.

I put the chip into the port they inserted behind my ear, and heard the locking click.

The file took shape: holograms, maps, pictures, names, dates, locations, and finally the target.

“Who is he?”

“Your counterpart in that country.”

“And we want him, why?”

“You don’t get paid to ask questions; with him removed, you actually make more money.”

“He looks like he’s twelve.”

“It’s not like you wouldn’t do it if he was.”

That was probably truer than I cared to think about at the moment. I let it pass.

“You gonna confirm, Nomad? It’s bitchin hot out here.”

I confirmed.

“You leave in two hours.”

I nodded.

He walked away, gave a lazy wave, and the bullet burst his skull like an overripe melon.

Gonna be late for my flight…

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

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