Colin's getting a taste for it...
It was always like this for Mickey O’Slane after a hit. He never knew quite what to do with himself afterwards. It was as if the whole day, week, month even, was stretched out in front of him like a desert, one which made him maddeningly thirsty for the sound of bullet leaving barrel and sight of brains blasted all over the wall.
Strangely, it was thirst that always overcame Mickey after he’d wiped someone out, which was why he would always sit at the bar in his favourite watering hole guzzling down a beer that tasted like the brew of angels. It wasn’t the adrenalin, fear or drama associated with the occasion that made his mouth dry. He was way beyond all that at this juncture, having been in the job for 20 years or so; each time a body hit the floor he’d sigh and shake his head and then start thinking of Joey’s Bar.
It was because he felt barren, bereft of usefulness, beside himself with boredom that Mickey needed a drink. Some who knew what profession he was in, or had at least guessed – such as the other regulars in Joey’s Bar - assumed it was some kind of post-traumatic thing he had after killing someone. They were wrong, though no one ever discovered as much because it wasn’t the sort of subject you brought up with Mickey in casual conversation. In fact, after he’d clipped a guy – or every now and then a girl – the hired assassin wasn’t one much for idle talk.
If only they’d told him way back at the age of 20 that patience was the key in being a contract killer. He probably would have turned his hand to something else. Growing up, he’d always fancied himself as a bit of a singer and when they had the odd Karaoke night at Joey’s he would step up to an affectionate round of applause. Mickey wouldn’t have it any other way. But that was the problem. He could never really become a professional singer, because in his heart of hearts he knew that when people clapped, they clapped out of fear that he was Mickey the killer, not Mickey the crooner. On the odd occasion he reflected on his life and had regrets, he invariably felt a tang of remorse for the times he’d placed a pistol to the head of a musician, or any other artist for that matter. In another life they would have been his soul mates, but it wasn’t to be. Their aspiring careers were cut short too.
At the time he started shooting people Mickey thought that the jobs would come thick and fast and for a while they did, mainly because he had novelty value. The police hadn’t a clue who he was and as he was fleet of foot and cute as a fox that stayed the case for a long time. But then after a while his paymasters got wary and employed his services more sparingly, using him only for the really big jobs, at premium pay, naturally. This left Mickey wealthy but at a loose end, something he didn’t at all like.
Anxiety wasn’t something Mickey was big on, as it would have been a bit of a handicap, what with the way he earned his living and all, but he did sometimes worry that he shared some characteristics with serial killers, and this disturbed him profoundly. This notion was borne of the fact that he needed to murder on a regular basis, just to keep himself fulfilled. He even did some research on the most famous names in the history of repeat butchery and squirmed with discomfort as the computer screen lit up his face. “Half of them are fucking faggots,” he said under his breath in the internet cafe, disassociating himself from the breed in one fell swoop.
But that made him even more depressed, another term he struggled to imagine next to his name. However, when he googled “depressed’ it didn’t do any good at all. No one else seemed to have his type of experience. Mickey was emotionally marooned and was beginning to realize it.
He’d started checking out the internet when he realized that the stories related to his hits made it onto to 24 hour breaking news sites and he didn’t have to wait a whole fucking day for the story to come out in print, which had always rankled.
But then the web stories only extended to a paragraph or two and missed out all the important details. On numerous occasions, Mickey almost reached into his holster to shoot the computer to pieces so that it would learn a lesson, but was becalmed ultimately by the studious quiet of the internet cafe. He didn’t want to make a scene.
He was happier, a few hours later, sitting on his stool at Joey’s pouring over a fresh copy of the newspaper that had recounted his crime. When the report called the deceased “the victim” he always laughed out loud, and invariably got a drink on the house.
But then that newspaper story would become yesterday’s news and again Mickey would have nothing to do. So after reading it fifty or sixty times and downing several beers, he decided to go back to his swish apartment.
Then he did something he never done in the past, because Mickey was no alcoholic, let alone a serial killer. How would he have done all those hits otherwise? He bought a bottle of whiskey on his way home and there he drank it, to the very last drop. Losing all feeling that he was here on earth, Mickey had just enough sense in his body to grapple with his ankle holster, lift his revolver and pull the trigger next to his head.
Mickey, the killer, had whacked himself.
Colin Graham is a Birmingham-born freelance journalist currently based in Belgrade, Serbia. Struggling along with hack work (in the main) he invariably finds himself uplifted by an unforeseen boost when all seems lost. He has previously lived in Russia and Poland, meaning he has been in Eastern Europe for over a decade, a fact that always amazes even himself.