“I’m not a gun-slinger”, he hissed at me, “I’m an assassin. It’s not a predilection, it’s a service.”
“Either way, you kill for money”, I said. “If they had money, you’d kill me.”
He stared through the grill where the window had once been, and out into the dark. His hangdog face gave away nothing. “Oh, they got money. This is different.”
“So you’ll help?” I asked.
“Help?” he replied, “You think this is help? Kid, this isn’t help, this is preservation. They’re coming for me just as much as they’re coming for you.” Then he turned to me and grinned, the first I’d ever seen from him. His face didn’t look like it did it often – or even liked it, “They just want you a little more.” He nodded to the corner, then turned back to the dark, waiting, “Don’t you have something to do?”
I had thought we would be safe out here, quietly existing among the dusty mix of trees and rocks, minding our own business. But I was wrong, and we weren’t safe. They were coming for us now, and I realised that despite all my efforts, there was simply no escape – the past was about to catch up with me very quickly and very violently.
I moved across to the small bench in the corner, took a breath, paused, and let it out slowly. Then I set to work on the pipe bombs. Just as I’d learned all those years ago.