He is a man trying to live his life on his terms.
|I am Shadow
The sun beats down on the Spanish square. Beams of light filter through the lazy trees and canopies over the verandas. He looks at his watch waiting, again, wanting to see the end of the day. He looks down the length of his rifle. It is a customized 300 Winchester. Others used different makes but, he had gotten used to this one from his days in the military. It had always served him well. His trips to Nicaragua, Panama and most recently Iraq had always been successful. He was the best of the best.
When he was done with his military service they had asked him to teach. “I can teach someone to shoot a gun. But, I can never teach someone to live with the repercussions of having taken a life” was his excuse at the time. Truth is that he is a loyalist. He believes that his government needs an overhaul and, although he was the agent of his government for many years, that government had changed. He no longer believed in what they were asking him to do. They no longer gave him the dossier on his target just a picture and a map. He had rid the world of horrible men back in his days with the armed forces. Later he felt like a butler. He was just there to clean up the mess of the politicians. His resignation told the men in charge that he would no longer be their cleaner. He was to be his own man.
After leaving the services he was recruited by all the usual agencies. He had his pick of jobs that could fulfill everything he ever wanted. He could name his price, location, schedule and benefit package. “Benefit Package” that thought was always funny to him. His job was dangerous. He wasn't expected to come back from his missions in the military, now they not only expected him to come back, they would pay his family if he didn't.
Family was another foreign word. The old movie line “If the army wanted you to have a wife they would have issued you one” was real to him. He never had time for a relationship or the want of one. He had met, seduced and left many women over the course of his career but, never thought about having one waiting at home for him. It was a luxury he would not and could not afford. If he did not make it home the money would go to a charity. He would have his name left in memorandum to a life lived in service to another.
So sitting there on that hotel balcony looking through a high powered scope across a city of millions who's lives have consisted of nothing but pursuits of the heart and body he was careful to look for the one man that did not deserve to exist. Today he had the entire document on the man that he was hired to terminate. He still held old prejudices from his days with the military and any man who could do what this man had done did not deserve to live. Irony of the situation being that he was positive someone out there believed the same about him. The man he used to be died when he left military life but, some people held grudges. He had a few scores to settle himself.
The man finally came into the courtyard several blocks away from his balcony. He had scouted the site thoroughly before he got the room. His nest was about half a mile away from the courtyard and had a beautiful view. He was lucky it was the off season and he could pick his room. The company he worked for was picking up the bill anyway. The room cost more than he made a month in the military. Today he never worried about the money he spent because it was all an expense covered by the company.
He looked through the scope at the various flags around the courtyard judging wind and trajectories on the fly. A glimmer caught his eye just above the general's head and he focused on it. Another gun looking for him. Counter sniper, He had taught the school. However, with the scope the military man was using he would never see far enough to catch him. He reacquired his target and slowed his breathing, steadied his aim, paced his breathing, gripped his rifle snugly to his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The recoil of his rifle made him loose his target temporarily. He looked through the scope long enough to see the general's head explode in a spray of blood and bits. Before he rested he flipped the cover down on the end of his scope so the sun would not shine off the polished glass and give away his position.
He lay on the sunlit balcony until he heard the wailing of police sirens screaming toward the villa. He slowly crawled into the cover of the hotel room keeping his rifle less than an inch above the beige colored concrete that was the floor of the balcony. His weapon was his life and livelihood, he would never let anything happen to it. The silencer on the end weighed almost as much as the rifle itself and was the reason he could do this inside the city. The only sound he heard was the click of the firing pin. No one else heard anything. He was safe.
Inside the cool breeze of the day swept past him from the open balcony door. He slowly cleaned his rifle and put it in it's hard transport case. He then ordered room service and slid into the shower. Having spent the last two days laying on the balcony floor waiting for his mark had been draining. But, it was better than his days spent laying on forest floors or suspended in trees for a week or more. Yes, his intel now was grades better than government work. He let the cool water run over his body and caress the stiffness out of his joints. The bad man is dead. The avenging angel has taken another to Hell. He is sure he will join them some day. However, that day will have to wait, there is a reason they call him Shadow.
After the shower his food was waiting in the living area of the suite. He did not have expensive taste. He was after all just a small town boy from the mid-west. However, he did have to order something that would have fit his cover. His steak Fajita's were perfectly done just right, all the ingredients were laid out on the platter and his extra sour cream and guacamole on the side. Even the chips were fresh, something he wasn't used to in most of the dives he frequented. He drank his Tres Equis enjoying the taste he could not get in the states. He punched the company's website on his Alienware laptop to tell them the job was done and he would be a few days getting back to the office. He planned to taste the local flavor for a while, something he could never do in his former position.
The night life of the beach city was one of the liveliest he had seen in a while. He walked into a local bar to continue his taste of local beers. The bartender was a well made woman in her late 30s early 40s. She had long black hair deep dark eyes and a smile that showed it was the off season for tourists. It was early for the evening crowd so he sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender and waitresses. Even though it was the off season they were all dressed in very tight jeans and short cropped t-shirts. He enjoyed the logo of the bar across their ample chests. He talks to the girls until the bar begins to fill and they are forced to wait on other customers mostly locals. He doesn't like to spend much time in crowded places. Too many people to keep an eye on too many places danger can come from. He leaves the crowded bar for the tranquility of the night.
As he steps out of the bar he follows a scent on the air. It is a scent from his past one that he always follows even if he is not sure why. He follows it around a few corners and finds himself in a cemetery. The wild jasmine growing over the ancient stones filling the air with the scent of a woman past. He never will forget the scent or the woman that made him long for freedom.
The night was clear and warm. She looked like an angel in flowing white cotton, the kind that caught the wind and clung just enough to be suggestive. They started the evening at a small restaurant in the village. He had ordered the wine from a private reserve and the meal was on par with the five stars the restaurant was given in all the travel magazines. The rings they wore on their left hands were new and glinting in the candlelight. Her perfume was new and local because she had not been able to pack before he told her they were going. Her eyes were like the deepest blue skies where the water of the ocean met. They had spent most of their time on his sailboat and came into town for dinner and dancing this evening.
After the restaurant they went for a walk through the small town making their way towards the beach. They held hands and talked about everything and nothing. They lost themselves in each others eyes. Their hearts were connected like no others. They were soul mates. When they heard the music coming from a small bar they couldn't help themselves. So they stopped in the street and danced for what seemed like hours.
It was at this point the young man with the handgun slipped out of the shadows behind them and took aim. When he saw the young man his instincts took over. He had tried to push her out of the way but, he was too late. The gunshot ripped through her chest spraying blood over his face. In that moment his life was gone. He laid her on the ground and shouted for someone to help or call for help. He watched the life flow out of her body. He felt his heart go with it. He knew when all feeling had left him. He was the hunter yet again.
He didn't even realize what he was doing as he went to his boat and retrieved his weapons. It took him only a few hours to track down the young man. He found him at a roadside bar. It was the kind of dive that only the lowest members of the society frequented so when he walked in and the man in the clean white pressed suit was talking to the young man he knew why he was there. He went in to kill the young man and the man who paid him for his life. But, when he came out no one was alive and the blood poured out of the bar's door. As he made his way back to his boat the bar erupted in an explosion. The police would later claim it was a terrible accident. The gas oven must have been left on and unlit, it filled the bar with gas that a cigarette must have ignited. He had become the hunter and the shadow again.
He shook off the memory and went back to the bar to look for the bartender. As he arrived at the bar she was leaving for the night. They struck up a conversation and again he was walking through the streets with a beautiful woman on his arm. He took her back to the hotel for a drink and showed her the view from the balcony.
She pointed to a point in the distance and asked him, “Did you know there was a man killed just down the street here?”
“No” he said “do tell?”
“Yes he was a bad man. The storied they told about what he would do to the people of his country and to his soldiers is horrible.”
“So,” he said looking into her deep black eyes, “looks to me like he got what was coming to him?”
“Yes” she said, “I suppose he did at that. But, enough of that tell me what you are doing here in our little village.”
“I am here on business” He said
“Well isn't everyone.” She said looking into his eyes. “In that case what do you do for a living?”
“I am in acquisitions, there was a man here we wanted to add to our roster.”
“And?” she asked playfully.
“Dead issue, I'm afraid. But then again you don't wanna know about my business dealings do you?” He asked with a wink in his eye as he leaned in to kiss her wine flavored lips.
As he awoke in the morning the brunette beauty lay silently in his bed. He showered, shaved and prepared for his day. As he slipped out the door he looked at her one last time. He knew he would never see her again.
She roused and looked around the empty room. A card was on the pillow next to her. It read 'You looked too beautiful to awaken. I was called back to the states my job here was a total loss. However, my trip was wonderful. Please accept my apologies and enjoy the room service. I will see you again.' A knock at the door and room service brought in her breakfast. He had thought of everything.
His personal jet touched down in a remote airfield outside of a small town. He kept a car at the airfield fueled and waiting in the hanger. After he parked the Lear and started the car. The engine roared to life like a lion ready to pounce on its prey. Looking at the warm summer sky he stopped just inside the gates to the airfield and put the top down. He put on a baseball cap backwards to ward off the wind and put the car in drive. As he accelerated out of the dirt road onto the highway he was reminded about the power hidden by his favorite mechanic. The curves and bends in this stretch of roadway made him feel young again and the car released his soul. He decided on an unfamiliar road this time. He had gotten to know most of the road around here and decided to take the trail less traveled. It was a nice ride.
He stopped at a local coffee shop and wifi hot spot to email his job analysis packet back to the office. The encryption they had on their computers and VPNs meant he could do this from the road and it would be safe from prying eyes. The software he had on his laptop meant that he could do it from anywhere in the world and no one would be able to find where it came from. He also put in a note that said he was spending the last few days of the mission out of pocket.