Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jean, Where Are You?

Savannah, Georgia, the Free States of America
July, 1986

Rosa said, "Jean? Jean, where are you?"

Jean heard her close the door behind her and put down her bag of groceries on the kitchen counter. Her keys jangled.

"Jean? Are you home?"

Jean shifted position, slowly, silently, made sure her grip was light but controlled. She heard Rosa's heels clicking on the kitchen tile as she put the groceries away. She heard Rosa begin to sing softly to herself, something by Michael Jackson.

It was essential not to think right now. Focus on the job. She had already worked everything out, considered and weighed all of her reasons, all of her options, all of her decisions. Everything was decided. Thinking about all that again would just distract her. Now was the time to do the job, just as father had said. Do the job. Everything will be over soon, and then you can think and feel all you want. Focus on the job. The job.

"Jean, are you there? I got you that book you were asking about, the one by George Orwell, the British ex-pat..."

She wouldn't still be talking if she thought I really wasn't here, thought Jean. She's sure I'm here. Why?

She had a brief rise of panic, like bile in her throat, but forced herself to relax, and readjusted her grip. Light, controlled. It's ok if she knows I'm here. She can even know where I am. As long as she doesn't know... And then Jean forced that thought down, too.

Orwell. An anti-US propagandist. Jean had read all his books, though they'd been banned in the US for the duration of the war. Her father had connections. The writing had been good enough, but the caricatures of US society were laughable. How could they have been realistic? He'd been living in Germany since the 1940's.

"Jean?" Rosa's heels clicked across the floor and then were silenced as she stepped onto the carpet of the living room.

My purse, thought Jean. I left it on the kitchen counter. That's how she knows I'm home. She forced down the panic again.

And then the bathroom door opened, and Rosa stepped in, and Jean sighted along the barrel, and Rosa screamed, and Jean fired, and that job was done, that job was done, it was over, that job was done, on to the next job, the next job. Just another job on the list. A mess to clean up here.

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