Not A Thing

Ezra Azra


© Copyright 2024 by Ezra Azra
Photo by Галина Ласаева:
Photo by Галина Ласаева on Pexels.

Two civilians, man and a woman, met on a pedestrian bridge over a river in the early afternoon on a sunny day. They showed each other document identification, before they stood and leaned over the metal rails to pretend to be casually chatting. From time to time they paused and politely moved out of the way when a stranger pedestrian passed.

Your identification card is proper, but I was expecting someone else.

Yes. It is all right. I am the replacement. The other had an accident. At work.

I was not told.

They said there was not time. I was to expect distrust. A normal expectation in our line of work; would you not say?

I do not like this.

Me, too. But we are mere workers working for the same cut-throats. Right?

Donít make a sudden move. I wonít hesitate to kill you.

Me, too. I will not hesitate to kill you.

Good. We understand each other.

You are in charge. Totally.

Tell me what they told you.

Who you are, and where I was to meet you. Here. They said all else is up to you. You are in charge.

Identity of the target?

Near-Royalty. Or Royalty. It does not matter to you and me.

Near-Royalty or Royalty will be using a pedestrian bridge?

I wondered about that. But, then, probably trying to blend in. Embarrassed he was dumped by a woman Commoner.

A Commoner dumped Royalty?

She wanted to improve her social status. Cheers for her.

What could he want from her, that he could have easily gotten from royal-born women?

A Commoner would have been far more compliant.

The rumour is she wanted marriage; rumour is he was ambivalent.

Ambivalent? Big word.

It means he wanted what she was peddling, but he didn't want to pay her price.

You sound more informed about them than I am. Or are you just guessing?

I am just an ordinary nosey citizen, nosey especially about our Nation's royalty. It must really hurt royalty to be dumped by a Nobody. It would hurt me. But, then, I am just a nobody commoner.

It cannot be hurting as much as the pittance we are being paid to do to him.

I was told it must hurt as little as we can manage. It will not hurt a bit because we finish it quickly.

He has no reason to suspect we want to harm him. We can finish it in seconds.

They said they want his head.

When they hired me, it was because they knew that is my specialty. They need not have spelled it out to you.

Twice, they spelled it out to me.
It did not seem to me they doubted your efficiency. In this business, best plans can suddenly go sideways. Itís just that they know heads are not my thing.

I do his head. You go for whatever is your specialty.

Good enough for me. His head is yours. No help from me. Did they tell you he wears some kind of soldier thing around his neck?

No, they did not. They did not need to mention it to me. They know I've done many, many kinds of heads. Perhaps they felt a need to tell you because they know heads are not your special thing? By the way, do you have a special thing?

My knife, when Iím twisting it in someone.

They want his head; only his head. I asked them for one helper who would distract him. He is a seasoned warrior soldier. His head will be the least accessible part of him.

His head is all yours. For the good of the cause.

Did they say 'for the good of the causeí?

I do not remember. It gives me inner strength to tell myself 'for the cause' because I have accepted pay to kill a countryman. Doesn't that bother you? Just a little bit?

This soldier is a good, winning soldier on the battle field, so far. But for years and years before this war he showed no respect for the women of our country; his country. Now, during the war, he continues to treat our women as toys he can play with, and then throw away when he gets bored. I tell you this, only because you should know in killing him, we are not killing a noble countryman. I am doing it for the money. If there can be another reason, it is to let our Generals know that this is an immoral war; and in killing him for them, I am killing them for our country. I think I see him approaching.

Don't draw your knife until he's close. He is a soldier; he will smell metal.

Is that he?

Yes. And alone. Perfect. Greetings, sir.

Greetings, sir!

I'm armed! Stay!

A wise precaution in these times, sir. The two of us bring a message from your Lady, sir. Sealed.

Two to bring one message; and from a Lady?

Your Lady's preference, good sir. We are just hired workers, sir.

She herself said we could meet you here, good sir.

She could not know I would be here.

You acknowledge there's a Lady, sir.

Then, let her message speak to you, good sir.

I do not wish to know the message.

Your choice, sir. We accept; but the Lady must be given proof we tried, good sir.

Without the proof we tried, we don't get paid, good sir, for our faithful service.

Please, sir, break the seal and write an indication we did try.

We cannot read or write, good sir.

May we approach, good sir?

Only one of you. Your arms stretched out.

Yes, sir.

Approach. Slowly. You see my sword.

We see it, sir. Looks like it has many kills, sir. We commend your practical wisdom, sir. Dangerous times.

The Lady said you would be armed, good sir.

The one murderer, holding a piece of paper in an outstretched hand, walked slowly to the soldier. The soldier lowered his sword with one hand while reaching out the other hand for the piece of paper. The murderer rushed the soldier. The other murderer ran up from behind the first. The three figures scuffled violently. The soldier is killed, stabbed multiple times.

Cut off his head!

You have to do it. I cannot. He cut off my hand.

I said heads are not my thing.

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