(Another short story series I’ve wanted to turn into a comic. This one is much shorter, so maybe a Webtoon in the future. Let’s get JAZZ out first!)
-Los Angelos, California-
I have no idea what or how I got into this profession. More importantly, I don’t know how to kill someone the “right” way.
They tell me to go by my numerical identifier, but I’m not hearing that noise. My name is Brandon Lynch and as of last month, I’ve been specially hired as a hitman for the Jade Syndicate. I didn’t ask for this job nor did I ever want it, but it fell into my lap.
I was walking through an alleyway to take a shortcut to my 2nd shift ramen delivery job at Slurp and Gulp in San Francisco when I appeared to interrupt what looked like a shake-down. There was an older guy named Luke, my apparent mentor and the reason I’m a hitman now, and some other guy who looked like he’d been put through a grinder. Blood painted the brick outside like a Basquiat painting was taking form behind them. Luke was putting the screws to him something decent and all I could do was watch as I stood frozen to the scene before me. It was like a VR display from an M-rated video game.
“This is a message from Grizz,” grunted Luke, the message being tightly wound around his knuckles bouncing off of this man’s face.
“Please…stop.” uttered the punching bag, his neck barely supporting the weight of his swollen head.
“No can do. You know what’s to be done, sport,” commanded Luke, readying a final blow.
“Hey! Stop what you’re doing!” I shouted into the echoing alley, dropping my bag and jacket and taking a fighting stance. I assumed he was going to be intimidated by my vigor and youthfulness and not the fact that I couldn’t fight worth a damn when I took this stance. Luke looked back at me and back towards the guy he was pummeling.
“This your backup? You really don’t know how to keep your mouth shut to save your life,” said Luke, dropping the guy onto the ground and preparing to pull something out of his large trenchcoat.
“This is your last warning! Don’t make me start swinging!” I uttered, trying to mask the fact that I was scared shitless. What good was I going to do if he actually tried me right now? I’m not that tall, I’m too skinny for my work uniform, and my unkempt afro blocks my vision on the windiest days. I’m way out of my element if this old guy wants to box.
However, with all of this knowledge of the unknown, I wasn’t going to let today be like any other day I could’ve run away.
“Kid, do you even know this guy?” said Luke.
“I don’t, but I know you can’t go beating people up like this. Let him go and let’s see you actually fight someone who’ll fight back.”
Just then Luke brandished a pistol with a silencer on the barrel out of his jacket and aimed it at the guy he worked over.
“The man you see before you has become a target of the Jade Syndicate for his crimes of sexually assaulting a client of ours. She’s paid good money to have them eliminated. You’d go one on one with me for this man?”
Just then the man piped up “This was about the GIRL?! Oh fuck, she lied to you! She led me on for hours on that app and wouldn’t tell me why she wasn’t interested in m-”
“So your next move was to geotag her pictures and follow her into her home?” asked Luke, steadying the gun on his victim’s head.
I couldn’t quite understand much of what I was hearing. I was about to defend someone I didn’t know who was deplorable.
But did he deserve to have his life ended?
“Okay okay, wait a minute. What’s this Jade Syndicate again and who paid what now” I asked, puzzled. I must’ve glossed over the fact that he mentioned someone paid for this hit.
“Doesn’t matter, he dies once the contract’s up. That’s how we operate. Speaking on operation, I can’t leave a witness. You’ll have to die next.” warned Luke grimly.
My heart dropped beneath my beat-up sneakers. Why do I have to join this man in the aftermath just for taking a shortcut to work??
“WAIT WAIT! I can’t die, I didn’t do anything! Don’t shoot me! I won’t tell anyone, promise” I begged. Luke kept his eyes on me and his gun on his target the entire conversation.
“Those are the rules of the Syndicate. I’m only allowed to let another Syndicate member or prospect live during missions. You aren’t neither.” commanded Luke, pistol still trained on his target.
I panicked and thoroughly regret this next sentence I’m about to recount.
“I…Can I be an assassin then?”
“Uh. Never thought I’d ever hear that on a mission. You’d trade being a civilian for being a trained killer to…survive?”
I was stuck on this question. I haven’t killed anyone my entire life. Hell, I can barely kill time in between going to my dead-end restaurant job that I’m already late for and going back to my old beaten studio apartment I’m constantly behind rent on. Who could viable kill for money and still function to keep doing it unabashed?
I wanted to know how far this line of questioning took me.
“If it’s better than dying in a dirty alleyway, then fine! Just don’t kill me!”
Luke smiled as if he found something he was searching for.
“I don’t see how a ramen jockey could take a life, but I’m curious. Maybe I’ll take you up for it. However, I need to see you assess a crisis scene before I consider it.” said Luke,
“Assess a crisis scene? What does tha-”
Just then, Luke fired his pistol and gunned down the man he kept at gunpoint. In an instant, the man fell down and began to flood the back street with his blood. As the blood pooled into the nearby sewer, Luke then holstered his gun and turned back to me.
“Still think you have that it takes or should I just let you both parallel park in this alley as blood buddies?
I stood in silence as this recent event began to finally load into my reality. I witnessed a murder for the first time. I couldn’t believe it, a real murder. I slowly backed up until the wall connected with me and I slid down in horror.
“Hey man, what the…..WHAT THE FU-”
And ever since then, I’ve been with the Jade Syndicate. Just me, a novice at killing.
Luke took me to the Jade Syndicate HQ, in secrecy of course so potato bag over my head and in a tinted car. I spent the next year secluded from my family, my friends, and even the only girl who would ever give me the time of day just to save my own ass. When I willfully, and I use that term loosely, completed the training needed I began my new life as a Jade Syndicate assassin for hire.
Let me explain how much of a novice I really am. I’m the worst fucking assassin I’ve ever seen in my life, and according to Luke, this life isn’t mine anymore. I’m forced to move without purpose. Walk without a direction.
Groove without a goal.