“You’re late.” Harvey said as he got down onto his knees.
“How the fuck would you know? Now shut up.” Derek said, cocking the hammer of the gun and aiming it at Harvey.
“Don’t I get any last words?” Harvey asked with a strange calm.
“If you’re not careful, those will be them.” Derek said smiling with malice.
They stood like that for some time, Harvey on his knees and Derek standing in front of him, his weight on his forward right foot, his right arm raised aiming the Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum, his eyes on the wall clock just over his left shoulder.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Harvey asked, cocking his head with curiosity.
“Shut up!” Derek spat as he eyed the clock and uncocked the gun aimed at Harvey’s forehead. He wiped his nose on his sleeve and sat down on a nearby stool, pulling it towards him with his foot.
“Anything the matter?” Harvey asked, seemingly concerned.
“Nothin’s wrong, I just gotta wait is all.” Derek said, crossing one leg over the other in an attempt to look nonchalant, but betraying his sense of nervousness by tapping his foot and darting his eyes between Harvey and the clock every few seconds.
“You seem nervous,” Harvey said, “Can offer you something to eat or drink? A cigarette?” Derek glared at him from his seat with heated contempt, “No fucking food, no fucking drink…but I’ll take one of them cigs.”
“Front pocket.” Harvey said. Derek leaned forward and ripped off the front pocket of Harvey’s shirt, taking with it the new pack of cigarettes. Derek tore these open and withdrew a cigarette and put it to his mouth, “Light?” he said gruffly.
“Left pocket.” Harvey said and Derek searched Harvey’s pockets for the lighter, but came up with matches. Derek lit the cigarette and the end glowed red, the smell of the burning phosphorous filling the small room as the swirl of tobacco smoke floated towards the ceiling. They sat there for some time in silence, Derek with his cigarette hanging loosely from his lips, ash falling like snow onto his worn black jeans, right leg crossed over the left and tapping at air; Harvey on his knees, his hands behind his head, not a bead of sweat marking his face.
“So,” Harvey said after some time, “can I ask what it is you’re waiting for? You have ample time to kill me and leave, probably taking most of my valuable with me – I live alone so there’s no chance of someone stopping you from upstairs.”
“Don’t you think I know that? I ain’t waitin’ ‘coz I wanna. I’m waitin’ ‘coz them’s the terms of the deal.” Derek scratched his three day beard absently, his broken nails making a grating sound in the penetrating silence. Harvey eyed Derek. He wasn’t a tall man – five foot ten at most – he had short, greasy, messy hair which looked untamable and his eyes were a deep brown. He was probably handsome at a time, but what seemed like a lifetime of unhappiness had taken all the life out of his face leaving it a mass of wrinkles covered lightly with a harsh beard. Harvey thought he saw a distinct sadness in his eyes, as they looked constantly moist with tears – like Tom Cruise’s – but that could have been because of the cigarette smoke or how nervous he was. Derek noticed Harvey eying him and as he did, Harvey smiled. Derek began sizing up Harvey, a dark skinned, middle aged man who had aged seemingly well but was maybe a kilo or two overweight. His black hair was cropped short and he had dark eyes, hidden behind and magnified by his rimless wire glasses which sat lightly on his face. He had what Derek thought was a kind face, but quickly shook his head of the thought. Derek looked down at the gun in his hand. It was a heavy, steel gun with a six bullet wheel, a .357. The gun he had been given for the job. It was such a big gun which could apparently blow a man’s whole head off. It seemed unnecessary to Derek, but he didn’t think twice about it when he took it, when the man had called over the phone told him to look in his bedroom where he found polaroids of his wife and daughter duct taped and lying on a stone floor.
“What exactly are we waiting for?” Harvey said, waking Derek from his thoughts.
“If you gotta know, three a.m. We gotta wait for three a.m.” Derek said, annoyed.
“Three a.m.? But why? You have me now.”
“That’s just what the guy said is all,” Derek said, now angry with himself for having revealed information about the man on the phone, “and he said to get you and wait until three a.m. to kill you, no earlier and no later, or he’d know.” Derek shrugged, “Make’s no difference to me, either way you end up on the floor pooled in blood and I get paid.” Derek felt his cheeks flush as he was thought too much about things. Talking too much. The man had left a polaroid of Harvey, too.
“Kill him at three a.m. and you get your family back, and ten thousand dollars,” he had said, “no earlier or later than three a.m., I will know. Don’t test me.” And then he hung up.
“If we’re going to be waiting here for another two hours,” Harvey said, once more waking Derek from his thoughts, “May I take my hands down from behind my head? I imagine they’ll get quite cramped and painful and I’d at least like to be mildly comfortable for the last two hours of my life. It shouldn’t make any difference to you.” Derek eyed Harvey for a moment and the things which were near him. He was in the centre of the small room, with nothing of worth within arm’s reach for a weapon, “Sure. Why not?” Derek said finally and Harvey lowered his hands, rubbing his wrists and forearms.
“So, if I may ask, why exactly have you been sent to kill me?” Harvey asked.
“I think the real fuckin’ question,” Derek snapped back, “is why the fuck were you expectin’ me to?”
“A good question. I wasn’t. Not tonight, really. But for some time.” Was Harvey’s cryptic response.
“So why the fuck were you expectin’ this to happen, then?” Derek could feel his palms sweating as he asked this.
“I answered one of your questions, now it’s your turn. Why have you been sent to kill me?”
“I don’t know,” Derek said, his voice flat, “just some fella wants you dead, an’ he’s payin’ me to do it. S’nothin’ personal ‘tween me an’ you.”
“I’d say there’s nothing more personal than this.” This comment made Derek shift uneasily on his stool, “Do you know who sent you?”
“Nope, an’ that suits me fine.” Derek fiddled with the gun, switching the safety on and off.
“You haven’t done this before.” Harvey said, causing Derek to tense.
“’Course I have! Don’t you fuckin’ challenge me! Shut the fuck up!” Derek jumped to his feet, taking aim at the focal point of Harvey’s glasses, his hand shaking.
“No, you haven’t, but that’s okay,” Harvey continued, “no need to feel bad about it. Not many people can do a job like this. There must be something more than just the money pushing you into a job like this.” The sound of his wife trying to push words through duct tape exploded into Derek’s mind.
“I got my reasons. Why was you waitin’ for this to happen?”
“Because I’ve done some things which may have made me some enemies.”
“You in the army or something?”
“No. I’m an accountant.” Derek began to laugh a deep laugh which wheezed from years of smoking, “I guess that’s the new army, isn’t it?” He said and continued to laugh. Harvey just smiled. Derek sighed after his laugh and was hit with a vision of his daughter strapped down and he sobered up quickly.