They told me it’d be easy, damn their eyes. They paid me cash up front, nonsequential serial numbers, twenties and fifties and hundreds in a brown paper sack like maybe someone’s lunch belonged in it. They gave me her name and her address, told me where she worked.
Two weeks I haunted her, unseen. Fourteen days, and by the third day I knew I’d fallen in love with her. She had dark hair, grey eyes, a mind sharper than mine.
Damn it, I thought, down at the beach. The day had come, and I assembled my rifle, smooth oiled cylinders snapping into each other. Click click, and the bullet goes here, sight in…
I couldn’t do it. I took it apart, snugged its pieces into their red velvet hollows, snapped the case shut.
On the beach, I told her, “I was hired to kill you.” She looked at me like maybe I was joking. “I’m not going to,” I said, “but you have to come with me. Right now. We are in grave danger.”
She stood up, and a gunshot set the gulls to panicked flight. They’d hired someone else.
“Run,” I said.