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October 27, 2016

Despite the obvious political differences, the two actually seemed to enjoy each other’ company. There was some unspoken common ground even though they had very little else in common.

Brett had been Special Forces and seen at least half a dozen or more battlefields on four continents around the planet that he could talk about and an unspecified number of others he couldn’t. He was straight, loved ‘chippies’ and ‘honeys,’ as he referred to brunettes and blondes respectively, and indulged those impulses when he wasn’t fixing up old cars, having one and only one beer in a bar once in a while, or doing private contract work for whomever had the money and a problem needing elimination. He honestly believed what he had done for Uncle Sam was preserving the country’s way of life.

Carl, on the other hand, had never even been in the military, was very, very gay, and was mostly a pacifist. However, he, too, had led an unusual life that included travel for work and vacations as well as his share of odd occurrences while doing so. He had gone to college and incorrectly assumed his life was his until what he really was was so apparent that even he, likely under an unknown number of post-hypnotic suggestions of content he could only consciously guess at, was unable to ignore it any longer. He was someone else’s puppet.

The fact that Carl had finally recognized this was the reason he expected he was having a drink with Brett. Brett was there to kill him, Carl imagined. Carl wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but he wasn’t blaming Brett, who–if Carl was correct–was simply doing his job.

Finally earned a Stage Four…like Hastings. Took them long enough.

Brett downed the last of his beer, which he managed to do while keeping his right eye on Carl.

“Dude, it’s been great. But I gotta get going.”

“No problem. I appreciate the talk. I don’t much get the opportunity to laugh. It’s a good release. A good ending…to a long…week.”

Brett nodded. Unlike many of the other ‘cowboys’ Carl had run into from time to time in his travels–a strange life indeed–Brett seemed sane apart from his sense of humor. Carl didn’t get the impression Brett suffered from mental illness or was constantly hearing voices, for example.

Had Carl noted a little bit of sadness in Brett’s expression when he nodded?

When Brett slapped his hand on the table, Carl’s drink splashed a little and the ashtray slid a few inches. Carl thought it was just Brett allowing him to know it was coming. A final gesture among gentlemen, such as they were, before Oblivion.

Then Brett hit the floor with a surprised look on his face. Carl jumped up, and checked his breathing and pulse, but it was too late. Whatever had been in Brett’s beer had turned his entire face a bluish-purple. Carl supposed that meant some kind of nerve agent that prevented oxygen getting the brain…or had stopped the heart or something.


How the hell was Carl going to explain this to the cops? And why had they whacked the wrong guy?

Someone somewhere was bound to think Carl had done it, as they had with so many other events he had nothing to do with but had witnessed, he assumed just for that purpose; as a patsy for someone else, the person or people who had actually executed the ops.

Was that it? Was the day of the gun-wielding, wild-eyed cowboy coming to an end? Was it all about giving the planet the appearance of peace while it was secretly about arranging things via deniability just the way some multinational boardroom wanted things?

Was this the evolution of Death? Tracelessly, quietly, leaving a hapless idiot holding the bag, and leaving the unacceptable options of either trying to tell the truth and sounding like a madman, or quietly accepting one’s fate as a patsy for someone else’s handiwork.

Carl finished his drink and dialed 9-1-1.


From → NKINTRA, Short Story

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