It was the morning after the job, and Jacob was feeling lost. It was more a feeling of hollow emptiness with a base emotion of guilt and restlessness than anything else. He was feeling as if the universe had overlooked him and he was walking quietly along a huge empty floor in semi-darkness with no horizon in sight and nothing to do. I’m too old for all this shit, he thought. He was supposed to be on leave now, to relax and take it easy. His doctor had repeatedly told him to not take his job too seriously. But could he really? He bet his doctor would shit his doctor pants if he knew what he did to pay the bills. Yes it was glamorous, and yes it had its’ share of excitement and thrills. And yes, it did cause him stress. But it was worth it because the pay was exceptionally good. It was a balance between work and play that had to be looked after, the doctor had told him. And he agreed with the man one hundred percent.

Mr. Billings was not expecting his demise the other night. Jacobs stood in the large patch of deep grey shadow of the living room, and announced his presence by releasing a deep, raspy cough. It was totally unintentional as the phlegm proved too itchy to swallow. “Would you like a moment to reflect?” Jacobs had asked. Billings spun around towards the sound of his voice and gasped in surprise. “Okay, maybe not,” Jacobs said. He leveled the Walter PKK attached with the tubular silencer and pumped five bullets into Billings; three in the face and two in the chest, one for each nipple. Billings crumpled to the floor in a messy heap of twisted arms and legs, blood pumping out through the bullet holes like an overturned jug of red rose syrup. Jacobs stood over the body for a moment and quietly exited the double story bungalow through the kitchen door. The money came into his account two hours later, followed by a smiley face sms’d to him on his smartphone.

Now this; this feeling of dissatisfaction and something else. Guilt? Fear? Horror? He decided it was guilt. He stood up and stretched his sinuous body, his bones popping like mini fireworks. “I’m good,” he said finally, rolling his both his shoulders and punching the air. “I’m good,” he said again. He went on to have a hot shower and a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toasts washed down with hot black coffee. Whilst picking at his food he swiped his iPad to read through the local and international news. None of them mattered to him. Until a small article literally blinked at him from the corner of The Daily Earth Online. It was a last minute news update and it had a blurred snapshot of him leaving Biling’s house. He double tapped the column and waited with bated breath as the information bloomed in front of him. It was a full bodied shot of him in his black shirt and blue jeans stepping halfway out of the kitchen door. He was looking down, so all that appeared was the streaks of white and silver in his thick black hair. The headlines read: Pedophile Murdered. Below the photo was the line: Suspect seen exiting the scene of the crime. Jacob took a sip of his coffee, then started reading the article. For the briefest of moments, he felt the encroaching blackness of mental suffocation. Who took his picture? Why was the job reported so quickly? What’s going to happen next? He gave the screen one last glance then gulped down the remaining coffee. He looked around and assessed the time needed to clear out. It was part of his SOP to be able vacate his residence within 10 minutes. It took him 5. He gripped his overnight duffel bag, took the lift down to the lobby then slipped into the stream of pedestrians hurriedly walking down the broadwalk of the hotel. He had three destinations to choose from: safe-house 1, 2 and 3. He chose safe-house number 2. This meant that he had to take a specific route to get there. A myriad of pathways spread throughout the city along several public transportation. He was tempted to take his black Carmen Ghia, but he decided against it. Losing himself in the mix of strangers was the best.

It took him three hours of roadwork, subway trains and buses before finally arriving at his destination. It was an old, lived-in house in the middle of the suburbs with a footpath that led to the back of a busy train station, a multiple options along the freeways. Jacobs had made it a point to be present at all his safe houses by getting to know the neighbors under different monikers. At this particular location he was a consultant on horse breeding, which meant that he was traveling for most parts of the year. The people living there knew him as a soft spoken gentlemen who was friendly but slightly reserved. As he approached his house, Jacobs tried to recall the person he was supposed to be. He vaguely remembered the outline of the personality.


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