I sat in the airport terminal, and looked at my resume. It was embarrassingly thin. It mentioned my time in the Army Rangers, and the accommodations I had received there, which was good, but that was all fifteen years ago.

It’s not that I haven’t done anything in the last fifteen years. I’ve just done very little that I can admit to doing. Even if it wouldn’t get me arrested, I didn’t think running guns in South America would appeal to most employers. Overthrowing… I’ve forgotten his name, but the fancied himself a dictator until he pissed off someone with enough clout to hire me. Anyway, overthrowing him might have been a little more palatable. Nobody liked him.

But I couldn’t just say “2007 – Killed African Dictator”. Especially if I couldn’t remember his name.

If Jeanne had told me about Karin sooner. No… that wasn’t fair. It’s not like it was only the last six years that were causing me trouble. Nine years as a “trouble-shooter” was more than enough to make getting a nine-to-five job difficult.

The real problem was that she had died, and now suddenly I have a little girl to take care of. I had promised myself long ago that I would be a better father than my dad was, but I had mostly planned to accomplish that by not being a father at all.

But with a daughter in the picture, everything changed. There’d be soccer practice and dance recitals and PTA meetings. I couldn’t go to all those things if I was running around the world shooting people.

Jeanne had managed this… somehow. I wish she could have told me how in the letter she sent me. It was hard to imagine she was dead. She’d been shot, stabbed, poisoned, left in the middle of the desert with no water. None of that had stopped her. Hell, she’d even survived having me hired to take her out. The only contract I couldn’t complete.

Then again, you can’t trick lung cancer into a tiger pit (with a rather angry tiger in it, too).

She’d always laughed when people told her those cigarettes would kill her. “Not likely,” she’d say. It’s hard to see yourself living to thirty-five when you spend most of your time looking through a sniper scope.

My resume taunted me. A lifetime of life and death struggles, and it barely took up half a page.

I minimized that, and brought up the browser. I had several websites with potential jobs opened up. I had been looking into security work, although I wasn’t sure that was the right move. It’d be dreadfully boring, but probably just enough of a reminder of the life I was leaving behind.

But what else could I do? I didn’t have a lot of skills that didn’t include violence. I couldn’t re-enlist. Retail didn’t really require anything, except I didn’t think I’d last a day before it violence was included.

I had to do something, though. I had enough money to last as long as I could want, but a man showing up out of nowhere with that kind of cash draws too much attention. Plus, I had the sneaking suspicion I’d go crazy from boredom if I didn’t have something to do with myself.

What had Jeanne told her daughter – our daughter, I corrected myself – about me? What had she told her neighbors? If I could line up with whatever story she had spread about me, it would make hiding easier. And dragging Karin away from everyone who knew her wasn’t likely to win me daddy points, either.

I didn’t know what to do. How did people solve problems they couldn’t just shoot?

The burner phone Jeanne had sent started to buzz in my pocket, and Secret Agent Man played. I picked up the phone, and a ghost spoke to me.

“’Ello,” Jeanne’s said, “I’ve figured you’ve spent just enough time trying to figure out what to do. It was always fun to watch you struggle with ‘normal’ issues. You’ve got a lot of those ahead of you, and I’d give anything to get to see you try to figure them out.

“But I’ll take care of this one for you. It’s my apology. I don’t know if it’s for dumping all of this on you, or not telling you sooner, but either way, I’m sure I owe you one.

“Karin’s father, as far as everyone knows, is Louis. I thought I’d use your real name, so she’d at least know something about you. Your real name is Louis, isn’t it? I was never entirely certain.”

She paused, and I could hear her take a deep breath.

“I wish I could have asked you. I wish I could have… Heh, all the things I’ve done, and it’s the things I didn’t do that I regret. Funny, no? Anyway, Louis was a brilliant author, or he would be, if he could figure out what to write. It was my little joke. I told it to everyone. He had enough money to fly around the world, searching for inspiration. We met several times, when I was a young and beautiful art collector. We last met a little over six years ago, and I had to settle down, and I never saw him again. It is romantic and sad, and the people here just eat it up.

“Who knows?” she said, laughing. “Maybe you might be a brilliant author after all.”

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