Sunday, 7 November 2010
COLLECTION By Ethan Winn
There are over 109,035 people on the transplant waiting list. 17 of these people die each day waiting for an organ. Only about 900 people legally receive transplants each year.
Over 7,000 people a year receive transplants illegally.
Autumn got on the same bus as me, the 4:30. She had short-ish dark brown hair, the greatest figure, complimented by a long yellow shirt and tight, skinny pants. Her eyes, the most beautiful eyes. Those sweet chestnut eyes. She sat in the aisle seat, one seat in front of mine. Her perfume smelled like vanilla or cinnamon, I’m not sure which, but it was the most comforting smell in the world. I took a water bottle from my bag and opened it. I didn’t have to wait long for the bus to hit a bump big enough for me to pretend to accidentally spill it on her.
Oh crap, I’m really sorry.
“It’s ok, it’s just water.”
Yeah stuff like this always happens to me, here let me help you. I move my backpack from my lap and help her brush some of the droplets from her arm and shoulder.
“Been on the road a long time huh?”
Uh, yeah, something like that.
“You smell like the road, like the outside. It’s not a bad thing though I promise. So outgoing. So immaculately beautiful. So unconsciously ignorant. You smell good too.
“Really? I just got back from the gym; it must be my body spray.”
I like it.
This is when I knew I had her. Do you like coffee?
“I hate coffee actually. I’m more of a tea person.”
Oh ok, well how about I take you out for some tea, to make up for this?
“How about you take me to a movie?”
That sounds even better.
It sounded terrible. I wasn’t a big fan of movie theatres. The people talking and laughing and putting their feet on the back of your seat, which feels moist from the 5,000 different peoples body oils seeping into it from over the years. The smell of moldy, rotten something or other coming from under your feet. The fat guy behind you chewing loud and breathing heavily. But to go with her, with Autumn and her sweet chestnut eyes and her smell of vanilla or cinnamon, I would eat that body oil soaked seat.
After the movie, and after having to pull my backpack free of a puddle of what I hoped was soda, we did get that tea. She had green tea sweetened with a spoonful of honey, I had black tea sweetened with half a package of artificial sweetener. We talked and laughed. I liked to laugh, I didn’t get many chances to anymore. She told me about her life, her job, her pet fish Goldie Hawn. I told her about my traveling and where I had been before I came here, but I was careful not to hint towards my line of work. When the night was over I walked her up three flights of stairs to her apartment and we hugged. She told me she would like to get to know me better.
This is when I knew I really liked Autumn.
It’s too bad I had to kill her.
As soon as she unlocks and opens her door, I grab Autumn by the hair and pull her through it.
“What the hell are you doing?”
I don’t answer her, I just drag her into the living room and throw her to the floor. Before she can say anything I jump on top of her, pulling the pocket knife from my back pocket and putting the blade to her throat.
Don’t scream, don’t cry, don’t make a god damn noise or I’ll slit your throat. I had been watching Autumn for a while, waiting for her to screw up her routine. She always set her alarm before she left, and when she was home alone. She was careful, just not careful enough.
I pull myself off of her and walk to the alarm keypad, pulling a pair of rubber surgical gloves from my front pocket and stretching them over my hands.
What’s the code? She stays silent, staring at me from the floor.
I’m not going to ask you again.
I type in the code and the light at the top turns from red to green. If she gave me a fake code and the police are notified I will be getting a call shortly to pull out and abort. I walk back to where I left her on the floor.
She starts to quiver and cry as she pulls herself off the floor. A flash of sympathy rushes through me but I suppress it quickly. I have to. In my line of work I have to be detached, I can’t have emotions. I set my backpack at my feet, open it and pull out a silenced 9mm handgun and a roll of duct tape. As I do this Autumn begins to shake and sob heavily.
Those sweet chestnut eyes filled with tears. If it didn’t come down to this, if I had met and gotten to know Autumn on different terms, I could really see myself with her. Settling down with a real job and all that crap.
Pulling in a chair from the kitchen, I tell her to sit down.
“Please God, please”
Sit down. I’m not going to ask you again.
She cries a little louder but lowers herself into the seat. I take the duct tape and wrap it around her wrists, ankles and put a little piece over her mouth. The whole time I’m doing this her scent is taking me to a different place. A more serene, less miserable place. Standing up I pull out my phone and make the call.
“Employee number” the female operators voice is harsh.
Donor in custody. Awaiting permission to proceed with organ collection.
I feel uncomfortable waiting for the answer to come through the phone. I’ve never felt this way on a case before. Anxious, sympathetic, sick to my stomach. With the phone still up to my ear, feeling the weight of the gun in my hand, I wish I could drop it all. Just leave now, not look back and put this all behind me. But I know I can’t. Not only would the police be hunting me, so would my employers. I wouldn’t last a month without being tracked down. Taking my gaze from the floor I look up at Autumn. Her great figure, her delicate hair sticking to her forehead. I look deep into her pleading, sweet chestnut eyes. The operator stops typing and picks up the phone.
“Permission granted.” The words flow so nonchalantly from her mouth but they make my heart sink and my stomach turn hard. I hang up the phone and let out a sigh small enough to hide from Autumn.
I’ll be right back. Don’t move, don’t make a sound, don’t try anything.
She just faces the floor, her hair covering her face. I go down the short hallway behind her and slip into the bathroom. I bend over the sink and splash cold water onto my cheeks, and rub some into my eyes, grabbing the hand towel violently from the rack and pushing it hard into my face. What the hell are you thinking? There is no plausible way you can just let her go. Get in there and do your fucking job.
I step out of the bathroom, walk over to Autumn and kneel in front of her. That soft, comforting smell of cinnamon or vanilla fills my nose and makes me sigh again. I lift her chin to meet my gaze. She lets out a long whimper until her sweet chestnut eyes look into mine. Begging to be let go. Begging for at least an explanation. I gently pull the duct tape from her plump, swollen lips. Don’t scream.
“Please, please let me go.”
Autumn I can’t, I really can’t. The tears start to flow heavily down her cheeks.
“What…why are you doing this? Why me?”
You were chosen. You’re young, healthy, and you’re blood and tissue are an exact match to the Client’s.
“I don’t…I don’t understand.”
The waiting list for an organ transplant is years long. By then half the people on the list will be dead. In normal circumstances, your wealth doesn’t have an influence on the amount of time you wait, you can’t just pay to get a better spot in line. So the wealthy come to us. We give them a list of people with blood and tissue matches, and they choose who they want to receive an organ from
“What…that’s sick, that’s fucking sick!” I stand up and run my gloved fingers through my hair. The more she speaks the more I doubt myself. The more I doubt this whole thing. I’ve never felt so connected to anything or anybody in my life as I felt with her. My mind starts going one hundred thousand miles an hour and it hits me.
I can’t do this. I can’t do this.
“No you can’t. You can’t do this. Please let me go. I promise I won’t tell anyone about anything.”
Kneeling in front of the chair I cut the tape from Autumn’s ankles. We have to go, you have to come with me.
She nods and I help her up. I’m not sure if I can trust her so I keep her hands taped. I put the roll of tape back into the bag and throw it over my shoulder. Pistol in one hand and Autumn’s taped wrists in the other, we start across the living room towards the door. It’s then that the sound of someone climbing the stairs fills the room. We freeze mid-step and I hear Autumn take a deep breath in anticipation to call for help. In a split second I grab her by the mouth and drag her to the side of the door. Just as my back hits the wall I hear a key being shoved into a lock and the knob twisting. A man walks through the doorway and begins to call Autumn’s name, but too quickly I grab him by the collar and throw him to the floor. He lands so hard on his face I can hear his nose break. I quickly shut the door and point the gun at a panicking, screaming Autumn. Shut the hell up. Who is this? Who is he? I press the tip of the silencer hard against her forehead and she falls to her knees shaking and unable to speak. The man groans and turns over, holding his nose. I quickly change my aim from Autumn to him. Who the hell are you?
“Who are you?!”
Who are you?
“I’m her god damn boyfriend!”
I’ve never felt it before but I feel it now. Betrayal. I feel unstable, but I don’t know why. I wasn’t in love with Autumn, why do I care if she has a boyfriend? Why am I in so much pain?
You have a boyfriend? I ask her.
“Yeah she has a boyfriend! Who the hell are you?!”
I take you on a date, we talked for hours…you tell me you want to get to know me better, and the whole time you have a boyfriend? Are you fucking kidding me?
“Wait what?! What is he talking about?” We are now both staring at Autumn, who looks petrified, and says nothing.
I really felt a connection with you. I really liked you, I was going to risk my life to let you go and keep you safe…then come to find out you’re a heartless cheating bitch.
“WHAT THE FU-“
Just as the words leave his mouth I shoot him twice in the head, still keeping my hard, angry gaze on Autumn. She lets out a loud yelp and starts to sob, shuffling over to her lovers lifeless body. She buries her head deep in his chest and cries loudly. Her left knee sinks deep into the puddle of brains and blood pooling around his head and neck.
“You killed him, oh my god you killed him.”
She glares up at me as she says this, her eyes filled with rage. With all that hate in her eyes, they lose their sweet chestnut color. They looked brown. Just ordinary brown.
My head finally clear of its congestion, my mind finally thinking clearly, I smile to myself.
“Employee number” the female operators voice is harsh.
Hearts collected from donors.
I close the phone and shove it into my pocket. Swinging my backpack over my shoulder I walk toward the door looking at Autumn’s open, lifeless body. Her head tilted towards me, her empty eye sockets look like giant black holes sucking the beauty from her face. I move the backpack off my shoulder a little and unzip the little pocket in the front. With my right hand I pack into the opening the little plastic sandwich bag that holds Autumn’s eyes.
Her sweet chestnut eyes.