Written for a prompt on /r/WritingPrompts which describes: Someone wants you dead! For reasons of moral a Luxury Hitman is hired to make your last day as enjoyable as possible.
“… and thus, we have our answer, X is equal to the square root of y plus b,” I finished writing the mathematical expression on the chalkboard, dropped the chalk, and turned to take a look at the classroom, for most of which had sunk into an empty, absent-minded stare.
“That will conclude today’s lesson, see you all Thursday. Remember to bring in your pamphlets on that day.” The class shuffled out, and I readied myself to leave the auditorium. It was a Tuesday, which meant I had the rest of the day to spare after my single morning class. It became a routine of mine to stop by the campus Starbucks after these Tuesday classes to grab a coffee and spend time working on proofs. I proceeded to leave the auditorium towards the coffee shop.
It was a brisk morning and the sky was bare with only wisps of clouds. The sun shone brightly but it was not hot; it was mid-November, so the cold had crept in by now to maintain a steady presence day to day. Crowds of students were out, passing by one another, some in a rush, some not, and light chatter was heard sparingly all around.
I made my way through the sparse crowds until I reached Starbucks where I had gotten in line to wait for my coffee. The line was out the door. I stood there for not more than five minutes when I was approached by a young woman.
“Dr. Guggenheimer?” I took a good look at the woman. She looked to be as old as 25 perhaps; must have been a grad student. I didn’t recognize her. She was plain but attractive.
“Yes… Can I help you?”
“Hi, you probably don’t know me. I’ve read your work in Annals and I am a big fan of yours. I recognized you from your staff photo; I couldn’t help but do a little research myself. I hope you don’t mind.” Charming and polite; she must need something from me. I wonder what. A recommendation letter? A credit in my next proof? I kept my guard up.
“No no, that’s quite alright. What works have you read about exactly?” I wanted to test her intellect.
She astounded me with the brevity yet conciseness of her descriptions when she spoke of my work and her interests in it. We must have held conversation in line for almost 20 minutes, and then another 30 minutes after I got my coffee. The time flew by and all the while my guard slowly came down. And then I did it.
I thought of her, and I wish I didn’t. I thought of her and myself. She was talking to me and I sort of dazed out into my imagination. And then I came to realize how out of depth I was. Maybe I should get up and leave now, I thought. This has gone far enough, I thought even more, I should tell her it was nice to talk with her and that I should get going. I have to grade papers or something, yeah, tell her that. Suddenly I came back into focus to the woman asking me a question.
“So professor, would you care to come by my apartment this evening and help me take a look at some proofs I’ve been working on?” She gave me a sidelong glance.
“Oh, well sure. I’m free this evening,” I said, smiling.
Three flights of stairs, and I was at her door wearing my navy blue cardigan holding a bottle port wine in a brown bag. I knocked three knocks and held my breath. The locks unlocked and the door opened. The first thing I saw were her white teeth.
“There you are! Look at you, you look nice!” She smiled and we hugged and greeted each other. I stepped inside of her apartment. It had wooden floors with long slim boards, and there was warm yellow light illuminating most of the dining room and kitchen. The living room had large windows exposing the black night sky.
She was in the middle of preparing dinner, so I jumped in and helped a bit. We spent an hour or two talking and making dinner, happy in each other’s company. I was enjoying myself in a way that was almost foreign to me. It had been too long since I was in a relationship, and I felt myself beginning to open up, from the inside, like a flower.
We set the table and sat down to eat. It was chicken parmigiana with spaghetti and tomato sauce. I never told her this but it was my favorite meal; just like momma used to make. We sat at the table in our post-dinner languor and engaged in conversation. Soon it became silent, and she took the opportunity to posit a question to me.
“Professor, if you knew that you were going to die… Perhaps now, perhaps tomorrow, but very soon, how would you react? Would you wish you were never told? Or would you prefer to know, so that you could make the best of your last moments?”
I chuckled and joked, “Are you planning to kill me?”
She had a murmur of a laugh and replied, “maybe,” smiling slyly.
“Well,” I sucked in a breath, focused my brow and put my mind to it seriously, “if I were to die, be it now, or tomorrow… I suppose I would want to know. That way I could settle my debts, finish my proofs in time… And say goodbye to my students,” I eyed her conspicuously.
She laughed seductively now and flung her head forward with her hand holding her wineglass on the table, and her finger on the rim. “What if I told you, you were going to die tomorrow morning? What would you do then?” She looked at me in such a way I could feel the heat emanating from my ears. My blood was hot.
“You’d have to kill me in the morning to find out,” I gave her a most cunning glance with a smirk.
“Deal,” she accepted and perked up, ready for what was next.
I arose from the table and made my way over to her. I brushed her hair away from her face, bent down and gently kissed her. She engaged me, and soon we embraced.
The hours passed, and I laid bare at her side. She curled up beside me and twiddled my chest hair. I fell asleep to a most sound sleep. Not a thought had been in my mind since we left the dinner table; my mind had found peace, and my body had found expression. All was calm in the jungle now, and the lion slept tonight.
It must have been 5 or 6 in the morning when the woman saddled on top of me, suddenly awake. From the window blinds a light blue glow was emanating; sunrise was near.
When I saw the gun, I thought to myself, what is she doing with a gun? Then when she pointed it at me like the crazy wife in Goodfellas, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was just a joke. She wasn’t fucking serious, was she?
“You’re not going to fucking kill me are you?”
“I said I’d kill you in the morning.”
“I thought we were fucking joking!”
“Sorry babe.” She cocked the hammer. That’s an old gun, I thought, if she has to cock the hammer.
My brains splattered all over her pillows and headboard.