Mr. Figaro named me Missy. He sometimes called me Australian cat. Why? I had no idea. It didn’t matter as I had no recollection of my real name.
I had started working for him when I was thirteen. I didn’t have to prove my loyalty to him. He just knew that I was loyal to him. To solve my mystery of working for him is simple. I ran away from home when I was nine.
From the very little memory that I have of home, I remember my grandmother saying, “Your ma shot your pa ‘cause he cheated on her. Deserved what he got.” After that she ran away with her bf Billy. No one knew where to….
Granny was gentle and kind to me. Too bad, she died and my good days turned in horrifying memories – memories that I don’t want to remember now. I was left upon the mercy of my uncle and his wife. It turned out, that I was a slave to their commands. Inspite of working for an entire day I got only two loaves of bread to eat. One night there was a fire in the barn and I ran while everyone was sleeping. I ran as fast and as far as I could. I just remember jumping on a ferry.
I had no understanding of geographical locations and obviously I could not read and write. There I met Mr. Figaro and he seemed a gentlemen to me. His experienced eyes could read my story at a glance. He said, “Would you come with me.” What options did I have… so I said, “yes”. He educated me and also taught me some kind of kung fu. Seems like all that was not for free; I had to work for him.
Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain
I was a smart kid and quickly understood that except for his white suit everything related to him was black. My job was to maintain and keep away the black from white. Easy huh!
Today, I’m suppose to collect something from someone. The dark stillness of the night sky seems… too perfect. It reminded me of the night… when I ran away. Things had changed since then and I was no longer afraid of consequences.
It is routine for me to be at such local diners at odd hours of night and today was no different. I had never paid for the sandwich that Jim offered me but today I’ll have to pay…for something bigger than a sandwich.
“Did you get the message?” I asked Ron, who was sitting next to me as I chewed the sandwich.
Ron cleared his throat and flicked the ash off the burning cigarette over the ashtray.
The next thing I see is a small piece of paper under my coffee mug.
I covered the paper piece with my palm and reached for my wallet. I quickly opened the wallet and put the paper inside. I took out a lipstick and a mirror.
I looked at the mirror as I applied the red lipstick. Also my way of checking if I had been followed or not. I relied on my institution most of the times which suggested that someone was hiding in the opposite building across the street. I was not very sure and it was now that I noticed another man sitting in the bar on the stool.
At the first sight he didn’t seem strange. He behaved normally. He was drinking coffee. His body…relaxed on the stool, his face…calm. Except for looking at his watch every 10 seconds there was nothing unusual about him. But why was he looking at his watch. Was he expecting someone but no one had turned up till now. He had finished his first cup of coffee and now was sipping the second one.
My senses all alert, wallet by my side. Inside was a revolver…hidden, a gift – on my first kill – from Mr Figaro.
Jim asked Ron, “Should I fix you a drink.”
Ron just nodded.
Jim had never been that quick. His hands under the table as he asked Ron, “ Do you want today’s paper.” Mmm! Ron mumbled.
Now in exactly one minute things would change.
Jim in some frenzy had a revolver rolled in the newspaper. He threw away the paper and shot the man on the stool. The man reached for his gun but too late for him. His gun goes off and the bullet hits Ron. Ron dropped like a domino by my side. My gun triggers and the bullet hits Jim.
I was just trying to anticipate the occurrence that had just past by, when I hear another shot – loud and clear. Seconds after, I could feel a burning sensation in my chest. My red blouse was all wet. Thick red liquid oozing out of my body.
All kinds of thought were hovering above my head. My dying wish, “an encounter with my killer”. My heart beat…pumping slow, my body…losing sensation, my eyes…flicking like a fused bulb. Everything soon became chilly cold.
“The 3 o’clock Massacre at Phillies” became the next days headline of each and every national newspaper.