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Not Like a Caravaggio Painting

Guy was out to a business lunch, which was going quite well. He was going to be significantly richer after this deal. Richer. By normal people’s standards Guy was already rich. By the standards of the well-to-do, even. Still, if you were to ride in an elevator with Guy, you wouldn’t think he was that rich, a successful lawyer, maybe. Only if you knew what to look for would you get a sense of how rich Guy was. But, if you weren’t the sort of person who knew what to look for, you wouldn’t be riding in an elevator with Guy.

Guy had had a couple Kobe sliders and a couple whiskeys at lunch, and now he needed to pee. The restaurant was the necessary upscale affair required for such a business meeting, but it was dressed up like a dive, an exquisite hole in the wall, a greasy spoon, but one as painted by Caravaggio. The restroom was just the same, looking like a little shithole— except: cloth towels to dry your hands instead of paper ones, toilets that had never seen shit, wet wipes on offer in the stalls….

Guy did his business at the urinal and washed up at the sink, a standard cheap white porcelain sink like you’d find in any gas station bathroom— except the water came on when you turned it on, and went off when you turned it off, and you could actually get hot water out of it, too. He was drying off his hands and daydreaming of all the money he was about to make when a toilet flushed in a stall behind him. He had thought he was alone and wondered: He wasn’t talking to himself, was he, when he thought no one was there?

Guy tossed his towel in the hamper and made for the door, ready to get back out to the table and seal the deal, but the door stopped shut with a dense metal clack, and then the room spun around, and where he once stood on the floor facing the door, now he faced the floor and stood on nothing, the toes of his shoes frantically scraping across the clean, glossy bathroom tile. He reached out to catch himself with his hands, but only the tips of his middle fingers could just brush against the floor. He tried to kick off the door but couldn’t reach. He tried to crawl forward but the man’s legs straddling his either side blocked him. He had no leverage and no traction. He dangled helplessly, almost in a state of repose. He clawed at the rope, but if you don’t get your fingers in between the rope and your neck right at first, then you never will. He tried everything he could, but none of it helped… but it didn’t stop him from trying… but trying didn’t help. The man, his killer, had been waiting, had had the advantage of picking the moment to strike. His killer had the upper hand. Guy was used to being the one with the upper hand. He was so used to it that he mistook himself for something special— especially smart, especially cunning. But no, he had just always had the upper hand, and the one with the upper hand wins.

It didn’t take long for Guy to pass out. His life didn’t flash before his eyes, he didn’t think of his wife or his three children, he didn’t think of that ex-lover from years ago that he had been secretly still carrying a flame for up even until now. Those things only happen to survivors, memories spliced in after the danger has passed. For Guy there was just struggle, then struggle’s end.

The killer held Guy like that to a count of 300 Mississippi. Quite a workout. If you’ve been looking for a good body weight exercise for your lower back, this is it. At 255 Mississippi, Guy shit his pants. The killer was tempted to drop him then, but he persisted. When he finally made it to 300, he dragged Guy to the stall he’d been waiting in and put him on the toilet. He checked his pulse, and but god damn it if Guy wasn’t still ticking, if only weakly. The killer gripped Guy by the jaw—his index finger running across Guy’s lips—and pierced the arteries on either side of the throat in one thrust of his knife. He tipped Guy’s head to one side to keep himself from getting all bloddy as Guy drained from the neck. He then put his hand down the front of Guy’s $500 white linen button-up shirt— indistinguishable from a $5 white button-up shirt, unless you’re the right sort of person. He tested Guy’s pulse on his chest— he was terrible at finding a pulse on the wrist. A minute went by without a discernable heartbeat.

Guy had been his first hit. It was nothing like the movies. There was no drama. It was ugly and boring and gross. Shit, piss, blood, saliva, mucus. It was like taking apart a chicken, except heavier. It was uncomfortable, intimate. He had hoped he wouldn’t have to touch anyone, had taken greate pains to not touch anyone, but on the other side of this thing he felt he might as well have blown Guy. In fact, if he could’ve done that instead for the same money, it would’ve been hands down a more pleasant experience for all conscerned. But he couldn’t. And as gross and cumbersome and awkward and risky as the work was, the money was better.

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