May 23, 2005
Nothing Personal, Kid.
[The story begins here.]
I came to in a bed, gently rocking, my head squeezed in a vise at every motion. They'd put me on a train. My skull felt like a rotten melon, my face was numb. I crawled out of bed and fell on my face. My face was too big and my feet felt wrong. My toes weren't where they belonged. I knew the feeling: Somebody'd slipped me a needle while I was out. No way of knowing how long I'd been in dreamland. I looked around. Pullman berth. Pitch dark outside the window, but... too dark. It was painted black. I'd scrape it off, if they gave me time. Meanwhile I needed water.
I scaled the sink like it was Everest, and it took about as long. Finally I got a look at myself in the mirror.
And screamed. And screamed and fell to the shifting floor of that Hell-chamber and screamed again.
My face was stark pure white. And my nose: A sphere the size of a golf ball, bright red, matching my hair. And on my feet... CLOWN SHOES!
"So that's how it happened, kid. That's how I got into this line of work. You asked, I gave. Mighty white of me, eh? Heh heh heh. No pun intended."
I could tell my personal history had touched his heart, but in my business you can't be too sentimental. The worn old GI .45 still felt good in my hand, whatever shoe size I may happen to wear now. I worked the slide and let him have it.
The shot echoed around the old warehouse. I checked my watch: 1:07 am. The kid's eyes went dull and flat and he'd never see anything ever again. Outside, it was raining.
"Nothing personal, kid. Nothing personal."
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