I couldn’t face her. Hell, I was scared of facing Montserrat.
Transferring the shopping bag in my right hand to my left, I unlocked the door and stepped inside my flat.
She was sitting in the living room in front of the TV, but from the look in her eyes, whatever was being shown was lost on her.
She looked at me as I entered.
I walked over to her, setting the shopping bag in front of her and the polythene with takeout from a restaurant on the glass centrepiece. She looked up at me enquiringly.
“I bought you some dresses and underwears from the boutique.” I explained.
“You bought me underwears?” Her eyes widened in disbelief. I nodded, and she turned away from me, cheeks turning pink, then muttered, “Pervert.”
“The shopkeeper selected everything, I swear. She had your figure.” I clarified.
She nodded, returning her gaze to the TV and instantly going quiet. Hating her silence, I asked, “Are you okay?”
She shifted her eyes to me.
“Do you mean to ask whether I’m still scared? Then yes, I am. Believe me, it’s not an easy thing to find out that someone is suddenly after your neck.” She answered wryly.
Biting my lips, I took the takeout bag from the table and brought out the take out bowl. I opened the lid, and delicious aromas sizzled through the air. I set it on the centrepiece.
“I also got you some food.”
“Chicken burritos?” She looked at me in awe. “You remembered?”
For her sake, I managed a small smile even though I didn’t feel the lightness of the spirit to do so, and nodded.
Back in high school when we’d been history partners, she’d once gone on and on about how chicken burritos was her favourite, why it was the best food in the world and what made it so delicious.
She’d asked me what my favourite food was, and of course I hadn’t answered. I didn’t have a favourite food anyway.
Just as quickly as it appeared, the enthusiasm disappeared from Montserrat’s eyes.
Picking up a piece of chicken, she bit into it and chewed it like it was rubber. I clenched my fist on my laps.
I couldn’t believe that someone with so much optimism could be put so down. She was so strong and yet so vulnerable, so innocent. To think I’d been on the verge of killing her.
What if she hadn’t sang that song which my mother used to sing to me when I was a child which had made me stall on pulling the trigger? I would’ve killed her for sure.
For the first time ever since I’d become an assassin, my gut twisted with guilt. I felt sick to the stomach. How many innocent lives have I taken?
“You know I was. . . thinking about the movie we saw at the cinema today.” She paused, as if contemplating whether to continue. “I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but… Sure, those six men did rape and kill his wife, but I don’t think it was up to him to exact justice, kill them the way he did. For me, it stooped him down to their level. It made him as bad as the people he was taking revenge on.”
Her words hit me like bricks because she’d hit so close to home without even knowing it.
I’d become an assassin because I wanted to get rid of every cold-hearted murderer I came across.
I’d killed the three people who’d personally killed my parents as revenge and due to hate, but they’d been bad people.
Now Montse was telling me without even knowing that I was wrong for getting vengeance for my parents death.
I suddenly felt upset. With her, with myself. I stood up.
“There are two additional rooms here. You can take the one on the right side of the hallway.”
Without even meeting her eyes, I weny to my bedroom. I punched the wall three times and let out a low growl.
Why was Montserrat’s words affecting me so much when I’d never cared about what others thought of me and my job?
Why did I feel such an intense need to be close to her, such an intense need to protect her, even with my life?
Why did I care for her so much?
“Good morning. Finally awake!” Montserrat squealed when I came out of my room the next morning. “I was gonna come call you for breakfast. You’re such a sleepy head!”
I scoffed but didn’t say anything. If only she knew that the things she’d told me last night had lost me hours of sleep, plus I’d been researching on some unscrupulous man I’d added to my list of targets.
She led the way to the dining area, and I followed. On the table was a large pan filled with a thick circle of Fritata cut into five slices. A delicious aroma roamed through the air. I looked at it in surprise.
“How did you prepare this?”
“You mean where I got the ingredients? Jeez, you have nothing in your house. I had to go out and buy some food commodities to last us a day. Do you even cook in the house? Why would you even have an oven and stove at all? In fact, why would you even have a ki…”
“What?” I demanded.
Montse stopped her rambling and looked at me in alarm. “I said why would you even…”
“You went out?”
Her smile dropped from her face. “Yes I did. Why? I just wanted to prepare us breakfast.”
“Why the fuck didn’t you come and wake me up?” I snapped. “Montse, don’t be foolish. There may be a man after your neck and we don’t even know who he is. You don’t go shopping for vegetables and eggs like everything is normal.”
She finally seemed to get my point, lowering her head. “I’m sorry.”
She sounded so put down by my outburst, and I sighed.
“It’s okay.” I said and sat in the master chair.
Montse was still sulking when she sat and she was still sulking even after sliding a slice of the fritatta onto her plate and taking a bite.
Serving myself a slice of the food, I cut a slice and chewed. I had to look up in surprise.
Damn this was good. Probably the best fritatta I’ve ever had.
Montse looked up too and our eyes met. She looked away shyly. “Do you like it?”
“It’s very good.” I answered without hesitation.
“Yes!” She squealed childishly. I rolled my eyes.
I would have been more happy that she’d returned to her normal self if I had slept a wink. But no, my thoughts had been invaded like a host to a parasite.
I couldn’t stop thinking about her; her strength, her vulnerability.
I was falling for her and I felt helpless against it.
As expected, Montse couldn’t keep her mouth shut for the rest of the meal. She didn’t mind that I barely spoke. Her chatter kept us company through out the meal.
Even though this felt foreign because I’d never eaten with anyone before, her talking gave me the chance to know her more.
She’d lived in the cabin in the woods all her life with her mother until the woman had been killed in an accident. She’d fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a teacher.
She now taught at St. Patricio and was liked by everyone there. Due to her brilliance and interaction with the kids, she’d won the award for best teacher in her very first year. A record holder.
It saddened her that now she couldn’t go be with her ‘kids’ because of the threat on her life. She talked about them as if they were in kindergarten instead of High School.
“Do. Not. Go. Out.” I told her before l left the house.
I was lying on my stomach sniper style on a church tower. My rifle was poised and ready. I watched him standing in front of the town folks, five of his goons distributing items among the people.
He was the Godfather, the town’s mafia lord. The man who ordered my parents’ murder. He was smoking a cigarette, looking very pleased as the people showered praises on him.
He was rarely seen in public, maybe just five times a year. When he finally showed himself, it was to give charity.
His charity was the main reason why the people loved and prayed for him, even though they knew he was a dangerous fellow.
My rifle was pointed right at his head. One pull of the trigger and he would be dead. I would be able to slip away unharmed by his men.
Foolish bastards, they thought they had this area monitored enough.
But no, I wasn’t going to pull the trigger. Killing this man from afar with a bullet could never be the ultimate revenge for my parents’ death.
The day I would kill him, it would be just him and me in a room where I could do all the things I wanted to him. I would make sure that he went through the kind of pain my parents had gone through when they were being killed.
But he was just too powerful. So damn powerful with hundreds of puppets. Not to mention the support he had from other mafia gangs. His men protected him with their very lives.
Getting to him was dangerous and I hadn’t been able to come up with any fruitful plan all these years.
Gritting my teeth, I finally lowered my rifle before putting it in the guitar bag I used as disguise.
One day, Godfather. Just you wait. One day.
Do you agree with Montserrat? Did that man whose wife was raped and murdered not have the right to take revenge?