And in his eyes I could see that though he was there in body, he was living elsewhere in his mind.
He continued his story as I scribbled, attempting to keep pace. I ensured him I would do my best to tell his story, using words to paint a vibrant picture of everything. It is a tale worth telling.
From the reports, there were two boxes in the corners of his rented room.
One, filled with his calendars and personal planners. The other, filled with plane, train, and bus tickets. He kept them like a physical checklist.
He’d been to many places: the likes of Bali, Belize, Morocco, and Japan. No matter where he went, he never planned. It was implied that these were only a sample of his excursions. I assumed these were his favorites.
In his prime, he punched no clock, had no 40-hour work week, and—as long as his job was done—he needn’t answer to any boss.
From his one window, he told me of a constant neon flickering: a sign from the liquor store across the street. The light flooded through the room every 7 seconds, which made it impossible to sleep soundly. For most, the disruption would have been cause for complaint, or at least enough to install opaque blinds. But for him, he used the neon glow as a stimulant so he could spend his nights planning to travel.
A calendar hung on the wall beside his desk, where the neon light hit. And while he sat and smoked, he kept thinking about his next job.
CFO Ryan Loggains.
He had dates, places, people, and one contact number.
Every seven seconds, that flashing light reminded him of unfinished business.
The week of the job, he had packed his bag and headed to the destination. He traveled light, hoping to be untraceable. When he arrived, he recorded the inner workings of the city with the care and attention of a nervous babysitter.
He studied the crowds, the traffic, and the schedule of his target.
A habitual happy hour hit, indicating this target would be another easy mark.
On the eve of the hit, he slept soundly. Here in this new city, with no blinking lights to keep him awake.
He studied the bar like he had all week, this time from the inside out. He sat and waited for the throng of executives. He lit up a cigarette and opened his planner killing time.
Skimming the pages, he became immersed in the memories of the foreign lands that he visited. He slipped away from reality and cannon balled into the past, reflecting on the jobs that took him to such extraordinary places.Exploring the jungles of Bali, admiring the beautiful stonework as he walked amongst the wildlife. Pure inspiration from the Johnson brothers. 11/28
Smoking cigars on the beaches of Belize, watching the ships sail in the clear serene distance. Pure relaxation, thanks to Mr. Rodriquez. 12/18
Kitesurfing in a seaside town of Morocco. Thank you, Mr. Smith. 3/12
He cracked a small smile.
Sipping sake, listening to the busy sounds of the Tokyo to his back. He couldn’t stand to watch it because the lights were too reminiscent of “home.” Mr. Kashiwa. 7/24
His depictions were concise but descriptive, and I could tell that he wanted to relive these sights on his own. He gave me only a shimmering glimpse into his past and into his sacred place of refuge.
He had always traveled alone and enjoyed it. This would not change in his retellings.
I asked him what his purpose was on these trips. An inquisitive prod to the caged beast.
He was still far away, his eyes focused on the pages of his planner, fixating on his alternate reality. A reality he would never share with me.
An eternity of moments passed in silence. Suddenly, he snapped back with a trinity of blinks and adjusted his gaze to me.
This is exactly what happened in the bar on that day. He lost focus. That had always been the catalyst to his downfall.
That day, when he finally snapped back to reality, it was too late. A fury of sounds and lights and people rushed back into his immediate consciousness and he became flustered, trying to grasp his surroundings. He found the clock and saw that it had been hours since he sat. His pint—still only half-drunk—now sat warm. He searched, scouring the place with his eyes for his target. He moved to the bar where he saw a bar tab, paid and signed for with his mark’s name. He knew he had missed his window.
“I should have known then, when the memories became more important than the mission, that I was seasoned beyond my prime. Nothing is more useless than an obsolete hitman.”
I asked again what was his purpose, what made him choose to live out the plans of his victims?
“Have you ever tried to look at the world from an angle you KNOW would never see it from? Working in the realm of the dead you become numb. Some sooner than others, but it was in the pleasures of my contracts where I attempted to reconnect with the living,” he said, folding his hands on the table.
“The places I discovered, I experienced, from the best-laid plans that went awry by the hands of fate. From my first hit, I realized that somebody needed to live those final plans out.”
In the newspaper they told of a gruesome butchering of a group of executives. One man was found alive, drenched in blood. Clenched in the man’s hands was the planner of a unidentified CFO. This “massive gangland-style massacre” was the scene of panic. A last-minute attempt at a rush job that needed to be completed.
In his rented room, police found countless personal planners belonging to bigwigs across the country. In each one a vacation that was planned was circled. Those who made the plans, never even got to experience those vacations. Instead, only one man survived with his own calendar of memories.
He sat there, opening his planner to only one name left.
One date left.
One place left.
And no contact number.
He circled the date on the calendar that hung from his wall, now untouched by outside light.
These days, he spends his time flipping back through the pages, reminiscing and reliving all the world he saw. Until the day comes when his own name is called, and he is done killing time on death row.