No. 7

Fiction by | February 1, 2015

Eating kwek-kwek and blending in with the crowd to be as inconspicuous as possible, Marco had been waiting for almost an hour. His target, this time, was Isagani Sarmiento—a paralegal at a small law office in San Pedro. It was almost 5 o’clock but the sweltering heat did not give way to the usual pre-dusk chill. He gave small talks to the tindera but he always made sure not to make himself too memorable. He had on a faux leather jacket with a plain shirt underneath, a Yankees cap, and his usual ragged jeans.

He first met with his client at some low-key bar at Torres.

It was a perfect place for such meet-ups—it was full of unscrupulous businessmen and sleazy police officers, but there was never any crowd large enough to fill even one-third of the room. The music was kept to a perfect volume and only ranged from classic to jazz.

When Marco entered the bar, his client was already on a booth by the window, wearing a bonnet and a high-collar coat—just like Oliver, their intermediary, said. The light was dim so Marco never caught a glimpse of his face. He made his way to the counter, directly adjacent his client’s booth and ordered a cold glass of beer. Actually, he asked for ice water but he was too awkward to complain so he stuck with beer instead.

“It has to be done exactly a week from now,” the man in the coat said. His voice was muffled by the collar of his coat. It was obvious that he deliberately made his voice sound raspy. He sounded like a sick Darth Vader. Marco did not respond.

“I don’t really know how exactly any of this works but if you could stage it like a robbery and random street murder, it would be best, I guess. Also, uh, don’t use a gun or anything with a long range. A knife or something will do.”

Marco never had many clients in the past. In fact, this was only his seventh; and so far, the client’s request was the most common one. However, he found it odd that he had to do it with a knife.

When the man in the coat left the bar, he handed Marco a small envelope that contained money and some information about his target. The money amounted to P20,000—which, to Marco, was an unusually large sum. He only got half of it, at most, from his previous clients; which sounded perfectly reasonable, considering the kinds of people his targets were.

“I’ll give you the other half after the job’s done,” the man in the coat said and left.

After receiving instructions, Marco stalked his target for a few days and learned all kinds of things about him. Isagani Sarmiento had a wife—whom he had been married to for almost five years—and a three-year-old son. They lived in a house in a low-cost subdivision in Mintal. Isagani had been drowning in endless debts to pay and his lousy job did not help at all. He had been jumping from one insurance company to another. Frankly, it was odd that there was someone that wanted for him to be killed.

Marco’s planning did not take much time. Isagani had such a monotonous and painful life that it was surprising that he had survived this long. After a few more minutes of waiting, Marco spotted Isagani walking out of his office. The other side of the world already started swallowing the sun, prompting streetlights to illuminate the surroundings.

Marco followed his target as they traipsed into some alleyway that he had never seen before. He knew it was the perfect opportunity. He could feel the cold throbbing of the knife he hid in the chest of his jacket. The coldness made his nipple erect; but only the left one. Stray cats looked at him as if they knew, and it made him uncomfortable. When he felt that they were secluded enough, he took out the knife and lunged it toward Isagani. Images of his target’s family muddled his mind and hit Isagani’s left deltoid—a little bit far from where he intended to. His grip on the kitchen knife was loosening due to sweat. He had been in this business for a while. Six targets, he already put down six targets. There was no way he couldn’t do this. Intoxicated by adrenaline and bloodlust, he held the knife with both hands. Concentrate, Marco. Concentrate. His target collapsed and screamed in pain but Marco needed to take another shot. He tried to swing but Isagani got ahold of his wrist.

“Wait,” Isagani said, with a raspy, sick Darth Vader-y voice that was reminiscent to Marco. Glowing eyes of cats were directed at them as if CCTV cameras. The orange, full moon suspended in the sky seemed closer than usual. And the howls of mongrel dogs sounded louder. Bloody Isagani reached into his pocket, trembling beyond control, and continued, “H-Here’s the other—half,” handing Marco a small envelope with P20,000 in it.

Marco took the envelope and said, “Oh. Hey, thanks.” And stabbed Isagani again, now striking his chest.

Ivan is a BS Architecture student in the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

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