This story is by Louis Chin and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
James Cohen was profoundly passionate about his profession as an Economic Hit Man. His age is catching up, and is slowing down physically. He embarked on a mission for a successor and desperately scurried through his list for anyone suitable. To him, it’s a nightmare if he does not find that someone. This nightmare will become even worse than death itself. To be meaningful, his chosen-one must be able to continue with his legacy. Able to satisfy his ultimate dreams for him. The wants and aspirations for his whole life’s dedications must be fulfilled and never compromised.
Throughout his adventurous and satisfying career, he had familiarized himself with countless characters of different personalities, irrespective of race or nationalities, but never trusted a single one; not even the woman he thought he once loved. His love for those one-night-stands was overwhelming everywhere he went. Family-love was irrelevant to him as he never met or knew his parents. True love had evaded him, or did he evade the thing called love?
A strong disciplinarian, and a natural achiever, acquiring and mastering eleven languages was a positive trait to be proud of. Failure didn’t exist in his vocabulary. Only success did, and he’s unstoppable. He accomplished all his assignments dependably. His superior recognized and trusted him and his loyalty in return was immense. He sees no evil, speaks no evil, hears no evil, but knew one existed when he saw one.
James enjoyed the comfort and privacy of ‘Q suite’, a Business Class direct flight to Singapore by Qatar Airways from Seattle. It landed on time at the Singapore Changi Airport. He chauffeured ride the rest of the journey in Malaysia en-route to the east coast of Mersing, Johor in a Grab-car. Finally, he checked into a single-story lodge, a secluded beach resort of Pulau Bengkok that he booked a few days earlier while in Manhattan, New York City borough.
After considering his short list of two potential candidates from the massive organization, he marvelled at the unmistakably wise decision for his choice. James settled down, deep in thoughts over his preferred-one.
I’m quite comfortable on this wing-back chair in this corner, behind a closed door. I’m waiting — waiting anxiously, yet I’m calm in this serene darkness. I’m looking forward to meeting you, Thomas, or Tommy Roundel. You followed me in New York. You followed me to Brisbane. You followed me to Africa, Hong Kong and into the heart of Asia. I know you’ve tracked my every-movement, and I’d followed your career long enough to determine you’re the one I’m looking for. I love my life and the excitement. My passion means everything to me. I’m the best there is, the best there was. Unfortunately, my age is slowing me down, a little, I guess. I’m glad to have found you. You’ve so much energy and determination in what you do. You’re sharp and decisive, like me. You’re a dynamic young man, Tom. We can read each other’s minds as if we’re twins with special telepathy, and I’m ready to impart my knowledge and experience to you wholeheartedly.
I was immune to your cold-steel look when we had a glimpse of each other from afar in Singapore Changi Airport yesterday. We could’ve gotten an engagement for us there, but didn’t. The place and time was not right yet. I led you across the causeway into Malaysia this evening. I was thrilled and impressed that you’re always right on track. The journey across some parts of the village roads was a little bumpy and uncomfortable, but it’s alright. Getting through the little towns was uneventful, but we still have to be on our toes, regardless. This remote, off-seasoned, and unimpressive wooden cabin in Crooked Island is perfect for a rendezvous; an ideal get-away environment for us two powerful International Economic Hit Man to meet.
Ah! I’m thankful, I shall be able to sit back, but continue watching the world goes around. We have so much in common, Tom. You’ve tracked me for many years. I guess you were trying to learn from me. I allowed that. We know everything about each other but strangely, we have not gotten to sit down together and enjoy each other’s company. Tonight, we shall do just that. We shall celebrate with our favorite Old Parr whiskey, sip it nice and slow. Just you and me, reminiscing our challenges, our journey all over the continents and the world. Furthermore, let’s congratulate ourselves for doing well for our country and for us. I can’t wait to officially meet you for the first time in the most anticipated, natural and gentlemanly of ways.
END OF WAYS
The night was still, at the resort. He heard careful footsteps approaching from the outside of the wooden corridor. The cabin door slowly creaked open. When the lights flash in his mirror, he knew it was over. Tonight had not gone the way he’d expected. Tommy sneaked deviously into the room with a gun in hand. James pulled the trigger.