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“Thanks for calling me in time. Your other boys could have handled this. Why me?”
“You are the only person I can trust. Furthermore I do not need to raise her eyebrows. She needs to believe this was a random home invasion, and she is not to be blamed for what she did.”
“Whatever it is, it was self-defense. She will be fine, how much does she know about you…? I mean your other life?”
“Nothing at all. And I would love it to remain so.”
“She is your wife for heaven sake, Martin. How do you expect her to protect you?”
“I do not need a woman’s protection. I have people for that. This is work. You know my policy about work”
“The same old crap of not taking work home. Where has that gotten you so far?”
“It’s not your place to be concerned about her wellbeing. Just do your goddamn job.”
“Somebody got to be concerned at some point. How are the kids anyway? Are they okay?”
“Yes. I had them sent to my mother’s place for a while.”
Silence reigned for a moment when Wallace, your lawyer and a longtime friend you studied with, checked on his watch. He was growing impatient. He had somewhere else to be, but regardless of his plans he had to drop everything to be here. Not for you, but because of Leila, her campus sweet heart, whom you stole from him.
Well, stole wouldn’t be the exact words, she loved you. And at some point he loved her, maybe he still does. And through that he still has an undying loyalty for Leila. Always looking out for her wellbeing, even if it means trusting you blindly. You have always know how to milk such a trust to your advantage.
“Do you have some place you’d rather be?”
“It can wait. I rather solve this mess first. Did you take a look at the body? You know him?”
“I did. And the body doesn’t look familiar. The boys have run a search on him, only to find out he was a lowlife criminal.”
“You can’t rule anything out. You told me something about your girl, she is still missing?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Are you going to at least call it in, let her family know that she is missing or dead in some dumpsite?”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You owe her that. You can’t let her go like that, martin, her family needs to know.”
Irritated, you grab his collar and push him into the bunker of the car, removing your pistol and placing it an inch from his breath.
“Mention any word about that girl again, and I’ll be sure to put this gun inside your mouth.”
“Okay…okay… we don’t need to get worked up. I take my sentiments back.”
You release your grip on him. He takes heavy breaths as he straightens his suit. You open the car and place the pistol in the bunker.
Jules. He was asking about Jules. The girl whom you were not sure whether to grieve or send a search party for her body. You have been waiting for a call from her cell, but you know better. A call won’t come through, except if it’s a confirmation that something or someone from your operation has been killed again.
“When can I see Leila?”
“In a few. She is getting cleaned up. Whatever happened got to her. She might need to talk to someone about it.”
“She can always talk to me.”
“Martin, I mean a professional person. She just shot someone thrice. You don’t think that will affect her in any way?”
“I am not God to know what will happen in the future. I have bigger fish to fry, and right now I neither have a fish nor a frying pan... If you can’t deliver either. Shut the hell up”
“What can be so much bigger than your own family?”
“Wallace. I appreciate your help with Leila. I will give you a call when I need you.”
The washroom door opens as Leila walks out looking fragile and pale. You rush towards her to hug her, she falls in your embrace. She whispers that she wants to go home. You motion to Wallace to open the door, as you help her in the car.
“Are you okay love?”
You carefully place her in the passenger’s seat and pull the seat belt around her. She hasn’t said a word again. She stares blankly through the windscreen. Tears streaming on her face.
“Leila. Are you okay?”
No response. Her eyes are puffy and exhausted from lack of enough sleep. Her loose and messy hair from last night tussles floats gently on her face, covering her eyes. Her neck bruised. You lift her sleeves, only to find more bruises on her arms.
“Did he hurt you?”
She began shaking. Wallace had sat on the back seat watching in dismay,
“Martin” Wallace spoke as he loosened the noose of his tie, “she needs to talk to someone before it’s too late.”
You began thinking about the possibility of letting Leila see a shrink. Seeing a shrink is like one of those evaluation test that you have always hated. The one that you have always skipped deliberately during filing quarter reports. The idea of laying your mind in the open is like dissecting a rat in the lab and studying it with a microscope. Revealing your darkest and innermost fears, secrets and nudity. The thought of it alone is so provocative and causes turmoil in your nerves. It is garbage! Never!
“The kids. They saw.” Leila speaks hazily. “They were right there, when I shot him.”
You grasp her fingers, holding them firmly, telling her that it will all go away. That everything will be okay. But you know that that will not be the case. You have been here couple of times, and you know how it all goes down. When you kill someone, by accident or by whichever means, a part of you dies with them.
“Martin I killed someone. He was going to kill me. I didn’t know what to do”
Leila bursts into a cry, you pull her close to your chest.
“He would have killed you, and God knows what he could have done to our kids. Our beautiful kids. You did fine.”
“I am sorry Martin... I have ruined your name.”
“Listen to me.” You tilt her head from your head to stare into her eyes. “It is not your fault. You did the right thing. Okay? You did what any mother could have done. You protected your family. You are a hero. Do you understand me?”
Leila, drapes her lashes, nodding to anything that you say, hoping that she understands everything that you have just told her.
“Now we will get home, and see the kids okay?”
She agrees with you. She sinks back to her seat. You put the engine on. As soon as you hit the accelerator, then you hear a gunshot, followed by tingling of the windscreen.
“Everyone get down!” Wallace shouts from his back seat.
You get down as you remove your pistol from the dashboard. Leila is seated unmoved on her seat.
“Leila, get down” Wallace shouts. She is unmoved.
You grab Leila and pull her down. As you stare to see where the shot came from. You listen as you wait. Nothing happens.
“Drive now. Martin, get us out of here.”
Leila head is hidden between your laps shuddering. “Is everyone alright?” you ask.
“What about this makes someone alright?” Wallace retorts as he comes from his hiding.
“Leila, are you okay?”
You ask her as you lift her head up. Only to be met by blood oozing from her chest.
“Shit! She has been hit,”
“Baby hang on,”
You hit the accelerator. There is screeching of tires. Left hand on the steering, the other putting pressure on the wound. One second, your eyes darts on the road, the next they shift to Leila, as you try to escape traffic.
“Stay with me, baby.”
Her eyes drifts.
“I am sorry” she whispers.
“Quit saying that. Be still, it’s all going to be okay… Wallace, damn it! Can’t you make yourself useful and put the pressure on the wound?”
Leila lifts her hands, to touch yours, but she has no strength.
This was a warning. But from who? And why? Was Jules not enough to scare you? Maybe you never cared about Jules. Maybe that never got your attention. And last night? An attack in your own home? And this? Only showed to what length the enemy was prepared to go. But who was it? Who was that silly to hunt you down? Don’t they know they don’t need you to get spooked? Your wife? Really? An attempt at your family, how low and desperate can someone be?
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