Flash Fiction | Fantasy
What a privilege it is to be the president’s assassin, but when the gun goes off I may wet my pants. In a hurry to soak up the nooks and contours of the presidential body, I seem to have ignored the needs of mine. Sure: my preparations have no choice but to be meticulous. Ask me anything of today’s prospective targets — his head, his neck, his heart that won way too many hearts — and I will shock you with my precision. Marksmanship isn’t about hitting your prey but knowing it so well it can’t escape you.
From up here in this far room’s savage darkness, the president as he glides down in his convertible limo seems quite a mutant beast. He isn’t half as young and handsome to peer at through the gun-sight. His head is just a bloated blur of pink slapped on by a dab of black and the rest of him was screened off by his wife seated next like an urban witch.
I love the emerging clarity though, the diminishing distance between him and me. All the sun is on the president now, and so are the wind and an eye of mine.
I sweep the rifle down along the car’s lazy course. The gunstock smells of an overused meat hook. I can sense the barrel tip chasing his chest far down there, as if on its own. I like getting to the heart of things at once, and the president is no exception. Why bother with the fringes if you could blast right off the pounding life itself.
And here — here is the finest angle I can contrive: the shortest and the choicest. The best.
My gun barks, ceasing time.
I turn, ripping myself from the window with a volcanic gasp, and fling myself back round to the floor. My right ear rings on and the tongue is out, lolling and cooling. I’ve glimpsed the president falling, head thrown back and the body erect: a giant tick mark in acknowledgement. But through my scattered breaths I can still hear myself curse, can gauge the depth of my disappointment — I missed his heart! For sure the bullet has gone in through the side of his head. Neither the distance nor the briefness of the glimpse failed to catch the stark streak of red on his cheek.
Missing the heart is as good as missing the target. I have failed.
I lurch up and settle with my back down beneath the window, the gun chucked to a side, my arms stretched out on knees and head buried in. Now the nation will moan the loss of its leader and I, my failure. In time the people will get over him and be charmed by someone else, by some other man and the promises he makes, will swoon over other shades of charisma. And me? Until the day I die I’ll grieve this chance I lost. Nightmare after nightmare I’ll be haunted by the heart I missed to pierce.
Amazing, the ways the life proves itself unworthy of living.
And then I see it. Right in front of me, between my boots. A splash of blood, coin-sized and warm. There comes down another now, merging with the first. And then a third. I lift my face at the fifth drop of blood falling out of nowhere. I look upward and back, as far back as the neck tendons permit. It is the president, floating out in the window, his face roofing mine. Infinitely kind, he is smiling through the gurgling blood, the hole in the head in tact. He clasps the lapels and pulls open his coat to reveal an unbuttoned shirt, a naked chest. I scramble to seize the rifle off the floor.
His smile flames up for a wink as I take aim, point-blank, at his heart.