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from the December 2012 issue


"The Walther's hot, if they catch you with it, we’ll get dragged into it. After you do the job, throw it away, in the ocean or the lake."

"Leave it to me," I said.

The Dispatcher went on. "Remember the Glock and the shit storm it caused?" As if I could forget the black guy who pretended he was living in the rocks with the cockroaches but wasn’t one of us, and smelled of scented soap and wore a fancy watch and when he stuck his hand in his waistband to pull out the piece I shot him in the head and took his weapon, a Glock 18, automatic, a beauty, the best thing to ever come out of Austria. But it was hot and when they caught me with it they worked me over and broke two teeth here in front, maimed my right hand. They wanted me to confess to killing the black guy and said they'd go easy on me if I told them who'd hired me, but I didn’t open my trap and didn’t confess to a goddamn thing.

"You didn’t know who ordered it."

"By the victim you suspect who’s behind it. It's simple. Want me to say his name? Don’t fuck with me, old pal, look at my false teeth, my gimpy hand. I knew, I was tortured, and I didn’t rat anyone out."

"They broke the wrong hand," said the Dispatcher. "If they knew you were a lefty…"

I walked away with the fool still talking to himself. I went to the hotel where the customer was staying. That was the name, customer, we used for the guy who was going to be hit, and I called my girlfriend to be beside me at the doorbell.

I don’t enjoy popping anybody, but it's my job. The Dispatcher told me one day he read in a book that a man just needs two things, fucking and working, but all I needed was fucking; work is for shit. But I use a disguise; to everyone I’m a vendor of computer products, and I always carry around a small leather briefcase full of brochures.

Before we went to the hotel, my girlfriend arrived at my apartment and took off her clothes and her white body filled the darkened room with light and I looked at her ass to see if it had any marks from her bikini or the sun. She knew if she showed the least hint of a tan I’d beat the hell out of her, but her ass was whiter than an ambulance.

Her name was Belinha, she was eighteen, she liked me because I was an outlaw, and because she knew my hard-on was for real. She despised those guys who take pills to get it up, said she couldn’t love a man who faked it like that. And she sucked my cock and I made her get on her knees on the bed and I sucked her pussy, she got off on being sucked like that. I would stick my tongue in there and sometimes she'd ask me to put my nose in. Her pussy was fragrant and I would stick my nose in. I forgot to say that besides a large cock I also have a large nose. Then I’d ram my cock in and she would come, that was the beginning.

She didn’t know the kind of work I did, she thought it was something to do with smuggling or drugs and asked to see my tools and said she liked being an outlaw's girl, but I couldn’t explain my job to her, I myself didn’t really know what was behind it all. The Dispatcher would call me and say he had a job and give me the file on the customer. Sometimes it was some important guy whose name was in the newspapers, I’ve even done foreigners. I was well-paid, trustworthy, proof of which were the false teeth in my mouth, the scar on my face, and my busted right hand with fingers bent like thick pieces of wire.

My girlfriend came from an important family rolling in dough, was educated in the finest schools, and spoke French. She called herself Belinha or Isabel or Isabella or Belle. I preferred Belle because she was the most beautiful girl in the world. We were in my apartment waiting to go to the hotel where I was going to meet the customer. Lying in bed after fucking, she said, "Explain that stuff about pistols and revolvers, the difference." I said that in a revolver the bullets are in a cylinder we call a drum, each cartridge has its own ignition chamber, and after each shot the cylinder rotates, bringing a new cartridge into alignment with the barrel. There are six-cartridge drums, the most common, and nine-cartridge, depending on the size of the revolver. A pistol, like the Walther semi-automatic P99, has a clip with cartridges that slides into the handle, and after each shot the empty cartridge is ejected automatically and a new bullet from the clip is placed in position for firing.

She also wanted to know why I used a pistol and not a revolver, so I explained, while she held the Walther as if it were a dead rat, that pistols were smaller, lighter, and more reliable, and besides, a pistol allowed the use of a silencer. "This fucker screwed into the barrel of the pistol is the silencer. There’s no such thing as silencers for revolvers—I mean, there is, but they're bulky mothers that enclose the drum and make the weapon too heavy. Nobody uses them, they're a museum piece."

She also asked what I felt when I snuffed a guy and I answered I didn’t think about anything, just like a soldier in war. The difference is that I didn’t win a medal when I killed the enemy.

I put on a coat and she dressed in some high-class women's clothes and we went to the customer's hotel and waited in the lobby for the guy to arrive. Belle was an elegant girl when it came to dressing, sitting, speaking. Anyone who looked at her would say, This is a well-born girl from a good family. That’s why I told her I’d beat the hell out of her if she got a tattoo like she'd been talking about doing.

My appearance is nondescript, I’m a thin guy with a big nose, an inoffensive look, hair starting to go gray. Wearing that dark suit I looked like an insurance salesman. The Dispatcher had told me the customer was going to a meeting away from the hotel and should be back around nine that night. I had two pictures of his face in my pocket.

Then the customer showed up. I was a bit surprised to see him, not much, I’m an old whore and don’t really get surprised. But the guy was in a wheelchair, being pushed by a young woman who looked like a nurse. That fucker the Dispatcher hadn’t told me the customer was a cripple.

"Wait here for me," I told Belle, and got into the elevator with the nurse and the crippled guy.

I got out on the same floor. The corridor was empty, I could snuff the two of them right there, but my jobs are always done intelligently. I took a paper from my pocket and pretended I was trying to read something on it, while looking nearsightedly at the numbers on the doors and following the wheelchair. I waited for the nurse to open the door of the apartment and when she went in, pushing the wheelchair, I went in too. Her eyes widened, but before she could make a peep I shot her in the head. I always go for the head.

"Take it easy," said the customer, facing me with both hands palms outward. He was in the business, he looked me in the eye. "We can make a deal, I’ll pay you more," he said.

I fired two shots into his head. Then I unscrewed the silencer, stuck the Walther in my belt, the silencer in my pocket and left, shutting the door. I got in the elevator and went downstairs. If I was lucky, it'd be some time before they found the pair of stiffs.

When I got to the lobby, I took Belle by the arm and we left. No one looked at me, anyone looking in our direction would see only Belle.

I got in the car and said, "Let's go to the lake." But when we arrived at the lake I didn’t have the heart to toss the pistol in the water. Shit, a Walther P99, the best thing to ever come out of Germany.

"Let's go to the movies," Belle said. We went to see a detective film, she was crazy about detective films. If she ever cuckolded me, it'd be with a cop.

We got out of the theater at midnight and Belle said she wanted to go dancing at the discotheque. But first we stopped at my place and I put away the Walther, after patting it like it was a puppy.

At the discotheque Belle led me to the floor right away to dance. Watching her dance was mind-blowing, but I danced shaking like a dead tree branch in a high wind. Then we had a drink and she asked what I thought when I saw I was about to kill a cripple. "Nothing," I answered, "and you, what did you think?" She said she thought it better to kill a cripple than a healthy guy who could dance and work out on a treadmill.

When we got back to the apartment, Belle, in bed, said she wanted to talk to me about something serious. Her father was threatening to cut off her allowance.

"Fuck your father's allowance, I’ll give you the money," I said.

"But that’s not all, he’s so pissed at me that he says he’s going to leave everything to charity, so that when he dies I won't inherit a penny."

"Fuck your father's money, I’ll support you."

"Man, it's a lot of money," she said. "I think it's very cruel, I’m only eighteen, I’m going to last at least another sixty. Can you imagine sixty years in poverty?"

"I’ve already said I’ll take care of you," I insisted.

She looked at me pensively and said, "Sweetheart, I love you, but who can guarantee that you—in the business you’re in, that you’re, you're . . ."

She stopped, and I finished the thought for her: "Who can say if I’m going to be around for long, isn’t that it?"

She answered, "That's it, I’m very sorry, but that is it." Then she gave me lots of little kisses and told me she loved me, and added that she had a proposition for me.

"Leave it till tomorrow," I said. "Let's go to sleep, it's almost dawn, and if day breaks I can’t sleep once the sun comes up." I took off my clothes, stripping down to my undershorts, and got into bed. She remained seated in the armchair.

When I woke up, Belle was still sitting in the chair.

"I couldn’t sleep," she said, "can we talk now?"

"Talk about what?"

"My proposition," she replied.

"Talk," I said.

She got up from the chair and sat down beside me on the bed. "I want you to kill my father."

I remained silent. Shit, I thought, you can kill everybody, except your own father and mother.

"Give it some thought," I said.

And she answered, "I spent all night thinking about it, and all week. There’s nothing left to think about. What’s the problem? Since I’ve known you you've killed five people. Yesterday you killed a cripple, and now you've got scruples about killing my son-of-a-bitch father who wants to leave me without a penny? If you tell me to jump off a bridge I’ll do it, and I ask you for one little thing and you hesitate, is that how much you love me?"

She bent over me, took off my shorts and started sucking my cock. "Is that good?"

Some five hundred women have sucked my cock, but none of them had a mouth as magical as hers. "Is that good?" After repeating that, she stopped, sat down on the bed, and said, "If you don’t kill my father I’m leaving you. You'll have to find some other girl to fuck."

There wasn’t another girl like her in the whole world. But Belle wanting to kill her father made her ugly, and my cock wilted.

"I’ll think about it," I said.

"I’ll give you a week," she said.

I shadowed her father during that week. He was a tall man with white hair, nice- looking, who left the house every day and got into the chauffeured car waiting in front. One day, before he got into the car, I went up to him and said, "Excuse me, I’m not from here. How do I get downtown?"

He answered, "I’m heading there, I’ll give you a lift. Please, get in."

We talked in the car. I told him I was from Minas Gerais and was looking for work. It could be as a servant, anything, I just needed work, and he handed me a card and wrote a name on the back.

"This is Dona Estela, my secretary. I’m going to tell her to look for a position for you. Come to this address tomorrow morning and speak to her."

I thought it was time to leave and said, "I’ll get out here. Thank you very much, I’ll be there tomorrow."

I got out of the car and walked down the street, thinking. When I got to my apartment there was a message from Belle on the answering machine asking me to call her.

"How’s it coming?" she asked.

"I’m setting things up," I said, "it won't be long. I’ll do the job in a few days."

"I’ll come by there later," Belle said, "and I’m giving you my sweet little ass."

Normally that would have aroused me, but that day, I don't know why, it was disagreeable. "I can’t today, I’ve got a meeting with the Dispatcher."

The next day I went to look for Dona Estela. She was very pleasant and said she'd found me a position as a driver and that I should bring my documents to her as soon as possible.

At that moment Belle's father came into the waiting room and clapped me on the back, saying, "Everything all right? Is there anything you need, an advance?"

"No, Sir. Thank you very much."

When I got to the apartment I called Belle and said that doing her father at the office would be hard; it had to be on the street or at his home.

"I’ll arrange a key for you," Belle said. "I’m coming over there so we can fool around a bit, I want to suck you off.."

"It's not possible today either," I said.

"Hey," said Belle, "I miss that big dick."

"There’s been a screw-up," I said. "I’ve got another meeting with the Dispatcher to straighten it out."

She gave me a key.

"What about the servants?" I asked.

"Not to worry, they stay in an apartment over the garage."

I called Belle and asked, "Is tonight OK?"

"Yes," she replied, "he always takes a sleeping pill around eleven. Get here at midnight, but when you arrive, first let's go to my room to fool around a little."

I got there at exactly midnight, the Walther with its silencer in my pocket. When I entered, Belle was standing in the living room waiting for me. We went upstairs. "His room is that one over there, and mine is here. Come on." We went into her room and Belle immediately got naked and asked, "What do you want, my ass? Want me to suck you off? Want to suck me? Whatever you want, that’s what I want."

That talk didn’t appeal to me anymore. It used to get me excited, now it kind of disgusted me. She lay down on her stomach, arching her ass. In the world, the entire world, there wasn’t a prettier ass than hers, and she knew it. I approached Belle, took the Walther out of my pocket and shot her in the head, right in the back of the neck, for her to die instantaneously and painlessly. Then I covered her body with a sheet and left, closing the door to the street. How could anyone want to kill their father or mother?

Now the Walther was really hot. I drove to the lake and sat down, thinking, without the heart to throw that jewel in the water. Day was starting to break, and I could feel something happening to me, I felt like crying, but crying is for fags, and I didn’t cry. I took the Walther and threw it as far as I could. It hit the water without making much noise. The sun was so white it hurt my eyes.

© Rubem Fonseca. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Clifford E. Landers. All rights reserved.

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