This story is by Cathy Smades and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Dammit-hic! He missed his shot as the spasm caused him to jerk his barrel away from his intended target. Missing the white haired, despotic President Tosa unbelievably he had hit the other white haired subject. Monty grimaced and rolled back from the nest he had established earlier that day. He had been watching for the last few hours accompanied by hundreds of these wrenching spasms.
What kind of sniper misses his target because of a hiccough? Apparently this one, lamented Monty. This was not going to reflect well on his new promotion into the cushy side of sniping now that he was employed with the CIA. It wasn’t that in house attempts hadn’t failed before; Cuba comes to mind.
This was his first assignment and it seemed like an easy job. Take out
megalomaniacal Tosa whose erratic behavior caused him to frequently leave his protection behind and wander out to do God knows what-and that’s where Monty intended to discharge a lasting impression. He had been scouting the area for about a week and had seen him several times. This mornings sighting had been anticipated and he should have been congratulating himself by now. Instead, he was peppering himself with self loathing accusations.
He had done dozens of these hits before when he was independent and now that he wasn’t he could see how humiliating this was going to be. It didn’t take a prophet to visualize the taunting he would be required to endure. There’s a reason we practice on cantaloupes not watermelons he continued to moan silently to himself. He was clearly aiming at the smaller melon not the giant one he pierced with his only round.
He never brought more than one round because that’s all it had ever taken. He was like the Canadian Mountie, “who always got his man”. That phrase aptly described Monty, who always did it with one shot.
Quickly disassembling his gun and putting it in the laptop bag designed for this purpose he crabbed sideways away from the debacle. Knowing he had to leave the scene but unusually conflicted and aware of the fiasco he was leaving behind. Desperately trying to figure out what to do next he balled up physically while hiccuping several more times. Would he need to officially apologize for missing? This was new territory for him and he was totally confounded on his next official move.
He was already contemplating the next range practice and the pranking he was guaranteed to suffer. Instead of the typical silhouettes rolled out with the red center he imagined the gleefully rolled out silhouette of his unintended target. Of course he hit it –who would have missed that giant head? Everyone would joke and he was feeling the impending flush on his skin.
Hearing shouts Monty realized efficiency had eluded him and he was leaving himself open for discovery. Anxious from predicted mocking, it had muddled him to the point of forgetting he was exposed. Seeing a group of trees he fled for cover and took another moment to sweat and consider his failure.
Practical ribbing was his kryptonite. It never felt like anything but ridicule. He could quit and disappear but quitting repulsed him. Excuses were worse and no one would believe ‘that’ had been his intended target.
Thinking over imagined humiliations Monty kept walking until he reached the outlying town and its city center. He was contemplating other drastic solutions including putting himself down. Scornfully thinking his head was entirely too small and imagining he’d miss that too. Realizing how macabre his own belittling thoughts were he decided to sit at a sidewalk cafe. Ordering some coffee he continued to troubleshoot his negligence.
Thinking back over the event there was not much to the mistake that couldn’t be explained by the beleaguering hiccups he had experienced since awakening that day. Trying to rid himself by every remedy he and Google found, he had bravely accepted the affliction not knowing they would totally disrupt his plan. He considered stopping into church again, but his last confession and request for prayer had obviously scared the minister.
Suddenly a crowd rushed into the square and many villagers were shouting and moving over to where a news truck had arrived. A camera crew piled out setting up an improvised spot to televise. A petite blond started speaking and Monty approached assuming to hear second hand about his attempted assassination. Abruptly someone with lavender hair grabbed the microphone and started ranting about the obvious hate crime that had just taken place. The crowd started responding immediately with shouts and tears.
Monty got close enough to hear that President Tosas beloved white steed had been shot, although not news to him. The white horse was iconic and the people loved him with a baffling passion. Various uttered threats and imagined revenge for the perpetrator of this terrible crime were mentioned amongst the crowd which all ended with Monty’s slow and painful death.
He began to wonder what would President Tosa’s response be to the death of Monty’s unintended target. After several more objections and hurried eulogies the microphone was wrested away from the impassioned animal activist. The lovely newscaster smoothly resumed her report.
“Along with the terrible news about Whiteford we also have an alert concerning the welfare of President Tosa. When his horse was shot he apparently rolled off the horse and was found dead from a broken neck.” This announcement caused a slight gasp from the audience but instantly they resumed mourning about the shamefully dispatched horse.
Monty continued to observe the bizarre scene that he had started overhearing someone say, “Politicians come and go, but we are never going to be able to replace that horse!”
Sniffling someone else said, “I named my boat after that horse”.
Monty’s mood shifted when realizing he really had done it with one shot. Turning from the ranting mob a slight smile came over his face- right before another hiccup.