Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

 

White Petal

“You're sure about this, right?”
“After seven years of planning, suffering and carefully moving around that b*st*rd like a Chess piece how could you ask me such an idiotic question. If it's a joke, it's not even funny.”

“Of course, I apologise. I don't think killers are supposed to have a sense of humour.” Diane smirked.
The man only nodded. His sunken eyes scanned the decrepit building across the road and his jaw went taut.

“And now for the checkmate”, he slowly whispered, enunciating each word with suppressed emotion. His brow furrowed as if indicating doubt; his astute partner must have noticed it.

“Something on your mind? Your level of focus seems to have dropped.” she said sharply.

“It's nothing. It's…” he trailed off and began again. “I went to her grave today at the crack of dawn. I was talking to her… well, to her soul, wherever it be. I promised her that her death would be avenged. When I was about to leave, I was startled by the statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooked her tombstone. There seemed to be a pearly white tear on her cheek. I reached out for it it was only the petal of a white rose…”, he finished awkwardly.

The man's associate eyed him with apprehension. “It is said that the white rose is symbolic of innocence” she told him.

“Is that so… well, then it is very fitting indeed. That teardrop… I believe the Virgin Mary was mourning the death of an innocent one. She was innocent, but why did she have to die? Well, events come full circle now. Speaking of symbolism, you probably figured out why I will kill him there and now?” He pointed at the building they were eyeing some time back.

“Your love of theatrics is quaint. That's the very apartment you lived in with your wife… in fact, that's where she was killed when that man broke in. In fact… today is her death anniversary…” she slowly stopped speaking when she noticed her partner unconsciously tapping rhythmically on his chest around the heart area she had come to learn that it was an involuntary action of his whenever he began reminiscing the past.

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and stood up straight.
“No more delays. I aim to finish this tonight. Thank you for all your help.” He opened the lead box in front of him and carefully took out a revolver. He flipped open the barrel and checked for the single, blood-stained bullet he had taken from the corpse of his wife all those years back. His eyes were burning with fierce hatred. He put on his mercury-tinted sunglasses but even then, they failed to cover the emotion that was plastered all over his face.

“Que sera sera…” he mumbled as he left the room.
In the dilapidated apartment, Jarvis Earl shivered briefly.

About five years ago he had been contacted by a man who apparently recruited, no, collected petty criminals like him and trained them to be assassins. The pay was superb definitely worth far more than the contents of the cash register at any 7-11 store. While he wasn't proficient in other skills like hand-to-hand or silent assassinations, Jarvis was fashioned as the most cliché of assassins: the solitary sniper. He had actually never met the other 'candidates' but he assumed that they were trained differently, according to their natural talents. Once again, given the money he had amassed, complaints were unthinkable.

His target was to be some low-level Government official who was going to be present at a meeting a week from this day. His 'benefactor' had made arrangements for him to lodge at the abandoned apartment he was in now. Somehow something about it brought back memories from the darker, hidden recesses of his mind but he couldn't quite place them.

As he let his thoughts wander, the candle on the dusty floor flickered and went out. Grumbling, Jarvis got off the mattress he was lying on, took out his rusty cigarette lighter and relit the wick. He gulped as he did so. He was the last one to believe in ill omens, but given the atmosphere and his state of mind, he could be forgiven for that instance.

Suddenly, there were footsteps creaking up the stairs. At first Jarvis thought someone was sneaking up on him, but given the loud, clear steps he was hearing, whoever it was had come with unrelenting purpose. He quickly unsheathed the knife he carried with him and waited patiently.

Someone knocked on the door thrice rapidly and then four times slowly. A muffled voice was heard, “Only the ravages of Hell await the…”

“…damned.” Jarvis finished, just barely suppressing a sigh of utter relief. It was his 'benefactor'. Such an unnecessarily flamboyant and utterly idiotic password, he thought for the millionth time.

He slowly opened the door and bowed his head.
The suited man smiled and strode in. He glanced at the knife in Jarvis' hand and while his eyes were hid by sunglasses, his brows were furrowed in annoyance.

“Oh… that. Sorry 'bout it.” Jarvis weakly smiled. He sheathed the knife and tossed it on the mattress. “So, what brings you here… sir?” he asked gingerly.

The man tilted his head up and took a deep breath. He slowly hissed out the air. His right hand flicked towards the inside of his unbuttoned suit jacket.

“Reminiscence…” he leaned forward.
A muffled shot echoed throughout the building.
“…and revenge.” The man whispered as he stared at the growing red spot on Jarvis' abdomen.

Jarvis coughed up dark-red, metallic-tasting blood. He licked his numbing lips, as if savouring the taste; his mind was a blur of emotion and rapid thoughts. Before he could react, he found himself on the wooden floor having his life squeezed out of him. His 'benefactor', his employer… was choking him to death.

With his face slowly turning blue and mortal fear gripping him, he coughed out, “Why?”

“Why… I'll show you why…” With both hands occupied, the man was unable to take off his sunglasses. He jerked his head violently and the shades went flying off. Jarvis found himself staring into brown eyes that were smouldering with brutal, feral rage.

Jarvis' eyes widened in recognition. “The apartment… here… se… seven years ago… your… your… wife? Your name… Ronan…?” he somehow managed to wheeze out as life slowly left his body.

Ronan smiled a vicious smile, baring teeth in a way that clearly indicated that he was fervently enjoying and thoroughly relishing each and every moment.

He watched as Jarvis' eyes narrowed again… it was back to a look of utter fear…? No it wasn't. There was some other emotion gripping the dying murderer. It was pain. Not physical pain, but pain of the heart, of genuine sorrow. Then it changed again. It was a piercing glare of accusation that ripped open the gates to memories that Ronan had long ago willed himself to forget.

He saw the moments of his wife's murder yet again, as if he had gone back in time. Her screams. Jarvis' yelling. He remembered grappling Jarvis and slamming him against the wall. Then came the shot. He heard his wife scream again and then was aware of her slumping to the floor…

Aware of himself once again, Ronan's grip on Jarvis' neck tightened; he could hear the spinal cord in the neck grinding. He looked at Jarvis' eyes again they were frozen with that same chilling accusatory look. Ronan's fingers trembled as he re-witnessed the scene, however this time it was different. Now, he saw everything he had been suppressing all this time. This time, he was witnessing the same events that occurred seven years back.

Jarvis had broken in and pointed a gun at Ronan's wife demanding food. Shocked, she stood there without moving. Jarvis yelled, snapping her back to her senses. His wife picked up the packet of bread they had just bought and hurled it at the man, screaming at him to leave. Just when Jarvis was about to dash out, he… Ronan… had jumped at him. He remembered threatening him with death for pointing a gun at his wife. He could remember his wife screaming for him to let the armed man go he was no longer threatening them. Ignoring this plea, Ronan slammed the man into the wall and tried to pry the gun out of his hand. Somehow, his thumb slid into the trigger guard and his muscles suddenly underwent a spasm during the heat of the moment. The trigger was depressed and a shot rang out. He heard his wife scream in pain and drop to the floor. As he whipped around to go to her aid, the petty burglar Jarvis rushed out.

Suddenly Ronan let go of Jarvis' throat. He hurled himself backward and crashed into the wall behind. His breathing became heavy and laboured; his fingers began to spasm uncontrollably. He looked up and saw that Jarvis' body… no, his corpse lay motionless. Fingers still shaking, Ronan somehow managed to take out a cigarette and light it. His puffed in deeply. All the jubilation… the joy he was feeling was rapidly effervescing to nothingness like the smoke from his cigarette. He tried to close his mind, suppress the memories but it was futile. He could see Jarvis' look of accusation they looked just like… just like his wife's eyes. When he had gone back to her dying body, she had looked at him with utter grief. That look had turned into accusation with tears streaming out, what she couldn't express in words was carried across though her eyes alone. Why did you do it? Why? He wasn't a threat to us anymore. Why?

All this time, for seven years, Ronan had buried his memories within a façade of revenge, of 'righteous' vengeance. He had been planning the death of a demon he had himself created all those years ago. All this time, he failed… no, refused to acknowledge the true demon that the cause of everything: himself.

His vision slowly blurred as Ronan drifted into unconsciousness. He remembered the events at the graveyard. The pearly white tear on the cheek of the Virgin Mary. His own words echoed in his ears, “…that tear, I believe, was for the death of an innocent one...” Rapidly losing awareness Ronan glanced at the limp body of Jarvis Earl. “The petal… how… fitting…” he murmured as everything became black.

By Le Chupacabra


 

home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2006 The Daily Star