not in this world
A shudder ran through me as I instantly recognised the voice.
I steeled myself to stay calm, knowing that he would be ready for any move I made.
Stepping down from the stool, I turned slowy, my face hiding the revulsion I felt.
He was very close, and his right hand was already inside my jacket.
Martin .... we thought you were dead.
Yes, and would have been if you’d been more professional ... what’s it say in the manual? .... never walk away until you’re sure you’ve finished the job?
As he talked I could see his body jerking in the dust, blood seeping out of his wounds, the three of us walking away silently, grim faced.
I looked around the pub, watching people talking and drinking, but not hearing any of the voices ... he would be oblivious to them too, but he wouldn’t risk anything in here, not unless we’d been wrong about him wanting to do it his way.
Gripping my wrist and pushing harder into my ribs, he moved us both towards the door.
As we walked I thought back to why we’d done it ... seeing the child’s body was only the final straw.
Too many times he’d told us to go on whilst he cleared up, and we’d done that, until that day when we returned on our own to see what he’d been doing, and our worst fears had been confirmed.
The agony was still etched on the face of the man .... his wounds gaping, pieces of flesh scattered, evidence of a knife being twisted ... and twisted ... the woman was dead but still silently screaming ... he’d made her watch before moving on to her.
This wasn’t doing our job ... this was an evil man getting pleasure from killing slowly and painfully.
We watched from then on, making sure we left together, but that last night he'd gone alone, saying it was simply a talking job.
The elder met us the next day and showed us the child ... a warning he’d told them.
Hakim had made the mistake of telling him we knew. It took us a day to find him, hanging on the edge of the camp, staring without eyes into the black night.
We found Daniel drinking alone, and before he could respond we shot him ... four times in the back and then, kicking him over, four times in the chest.
We had thought he was dead.
Stepping into the street, he looked around and pressed me towards a doorway, grinning .... pleased that he’d surprised me.
In the second it took him to realise who had spoken, Abed pushed him to the side, away from me, and together we had thrust our knives into him ... and twisted.
For the second time we watched him jerk in the dust, only this time we would stay until we made sure the job was done.
Blood flowed out of his mouth as he tried to talk ... it was a whisper by then but we heard it ..... I’ll find you.
We waited until he stopped breathing.
As we walked away, grim-faced, Abed said, quietly .. Not in this world you won’t.
Three weeks later Abed and I sat quietly in the kitchen, listening to the murmour of the mourners and the priest moving determinedly from group to group, loudly offering solace ... even when it wasn't wanted.
Caroline came in and sat down with us, silent for a moment, before saying ... thank you for coming ... he spoke fondly of you both, and of Malik.
I reached over and took her hand ... he was a good man, Caroline ... just unlucky ... it's a dangerous job ... and he always missed you terribly when he was away.
She smiled soflty .... thank you ... he's left you both something in his will ... mementoes from the times you worked together ... I'll arrange for them to be sent to you.
How about you, Caroline ... will you be alright ... financially ... the house?
Yes ... in any case, I never had to rely on Martin for money ... my family is quite wealthy, and my business is making good profits now.
When he updated his will last year I asked him to leave me the house but to do what he thought best with his savings ... and he did ... he's left all of it ... just over £300,000 ... to a charity that runs orphanages in some of the countries you all worked in ... said it was a way to help the kids there have a chance of a better life.
Later, as we walked away, grim-faced, Abed turned to me ... were we wrong about him?
No ... we did the right thing, Abed ... Martin wasn't totally evil, but the killing wasn't enough for him any more ... he wanted more ... much more ... it would have destroyed what we're trying to achieve.
Maybe the will thing was his way of making him feel less guilty ... maybe he thought that made it alright ... we'll never know.
Abed was silent for a moment, then said, almost in a whisper ...
Not in this world we won't.