Held Back

He’s back. I really should consider writing more about the unnamed assassin. Something more than 500 words. I find him disturbingly comforting.

This is, however, is another flash fiction piece for the 500 Club. The prompt is: “Often times we write stories where our main character rushes in to save the day. Write 500 words where your main character can’t stop the inevitable.” I enjoy turning the prompts on themselves, interpreting them with liberty, and this is no exception. After all, what’s inevitable for you and what’s inevitable for a gay killer are likely two different things.

held back

“I held back. That is the simple truth of the matter.”

My handler said nothing, short breaths whispering across the phone line.

“Held back?” she asked. “You were supposed to use a gun. It was supposed to be a shooting. What you did, that was you holding back?”


An few hours earlier I had been crouched outside the mark’s hotel room, hiding behind a large planter. Assassination can’t always be sexy. I had contorted myself into a foot and a half of space, wedged into a darkened corner, the leaves of a ficus masking my presence. I prefer elegance in my craft, the kind that makes it looks as if I was never there. I like to leave no evident, save the corpse, of course.

However, the client made it quite clear that he wanted a message sent. Not typically my bag, a mob-style hit. It’s considerably more likely to get you caught, for one, but it also deviates significantly from what has become my calling card within the professional community.

Three times my usual fee persuaded me to make an exception. That, and the idea of seeing the mayor dead.

Johnny Whitman laughed from around a near-by corner, his voice loud, obnoxious and overly confident. He was in a hotel without his normal security, here in secret to meet and mingle (in a particularly intimate fashion) with one of our fine city’s voters. Despite the clandestine nature of his errand, he was chattering excitedly with his lover loud enough for me to make out his voice a good 40 feet away.

It’s bad enough that he insisted on always meeting in the same room, a ridiculously sentimental gesture. He didn’t need to advertise his whereabouts further by subjecting everyone on the floor to his guffaw, as well.

But then again, he wasn’t a subtle man.

He came into view, his companion hidden from my sight by the greenery, and I tensed. A keycard was inserted and extracted. The lock whirled and clicked open. The door swung and I made my move, pushing against his back and then closing the door behind me in a single maneuver.

That’s when I saw him. Mayor Whitman’s lover.

My eyes narrowed. He choked on his words, his hands up before him in a gestured plea for me to stop. He looked from my masked face, to my gloves, to the gun in my hand, and then back to my eyes.

“Whatever you want,” he Mayor Whitman said. “Whatever! I can get it for you.”

“You seem quite outspoken on the gay marriage issue,” I said. “Very against it, as I recall.”

He looked to his lover and swallowed. I pocketed my gun and reached for the pewter vase on the entry table to my right. I took two steps forward and calmly beat them both to death with it, crushing their skulls until the bone crunched like gravel. The vase held up nicely.

“Held back?” my handler asked again.

“Yes,” I said. “You have no idea how much more I wanted to do.”