Carey Kight | Michael Ilkiw
Nigel was daydreaming. He watched mother and child quietly from his car parked outside of the dingy motel.
The first light of dawn met the frost on the window and created an otherworldly glow. The woman seemed so content, so in love with her child.
Nigel took a bite from his breakfast sandwich. It didn’t taste particularly good and it wasn’t even warm. Frankly, it was terrible. But it was the first food he’d eaten in days.
While he ate, Nigel wondered if his own mother had ever looked upon him with such tenderness. He hoped so.
“Why you doing this to yourself?” he asked aloud.
“The world’s always gonna be a cold and dark place for us, mate. This won’t change it.”
The vibration of his mobile phone against the dashboard startled him. Nigel dropped the sandwich into his lap.
“Fuckin’ hell,” he said.
He’d hoped to at least finish breakfast before she called.
Ignoring the mess, Nigel placed an earphone in each ear and slid a greasy finger across the screen to answer. She was speaking before he had the chance to say hello.
She never let him say hello.
She didn’t exactly need to be a ray of fuckin’ sunshine but every time this happened there was a slight breach of etiquette that chipped away at what little patience he had left.
“Yes, mum. I’m alone. The packages are secure. No, mum. Everything went according to plan. The American never showed. Absolutely not. If he does show, I’ll take care of him. Of course, mum. Five minutes.”
Nigel had five minutes until the exfiltration team arrived at his location. He’d have to be quick about this. Nigel took one last sip of coffee, winced in disgust and dropped the phone into it.
Moments like this were quite ordinary for Nigel. He often found himself destroying evidence and covering his tracks before a kill. Most of the time though, for him, ordinary moments like this would come and go. They would pass without consequence and he would operate without hesitation. While there was certainly no hesitation on this particular morning, this moment was far from inconsequential.
Right on time, The American rumbled into the parking lot and skidded an oversized pickup truck into the spot next to Nigel’s.
If this were one of those ordinary moments, Nigel would’ve gotten out of his car and put a bullet between The American’s eyes. Instead he simply watched as the man ushered mother and child safely into the warm truck.
Nigel smiled. That hadn’t happened in a while. He had better make this count.
Once everyone was securely in the other vehicle, Nigel drove his car directly at the window, shattering it.
Inside the room, he exited the vehicle. The rubble crunched underfoot. Nigel efficiently made his way to the rear of the vehicle, opened the trunk and removed a can of gasoline. He doused the car and the room and ambled back out through what used to be the window, letting the last trickle of gasoline flow from the can that hung tightly from his hand.
Nigel stood over the debris and surveyed the damage. Behind him, the American honked the horn a couple times and yelled.
“We gotta go now if we’re gonna make it!”
Nigel turned, nodded and tossed the empty can back into the room, flicked a lighter and dropped it. The trail of gasoline ignited while Nigel swiftly made his way to the passenger side of the truck. He hopped up slamming the door behind him. Once inside, Nigel looked back at the young mother.
“You alright, love?” he asked.
The woman was comfortable but shaken.
“I thought you were going to kill us, ” she said.
“Don’t thank me yet,” Nigel said.
The American peeled out of the parking lot. Nigel held tightly to the dashboard, bracing himself. The truck sped away from the burning building just in time. Behind them, it blew upward like a volcano.
“Isn’t that a bit dramatic?” the American asked.
“No more dramatic than this fucking rig, eh. Give it a rest, will ya? You drive like a fuckin’ maniac.”
Nigel looked back at the mother and sleeping child.
“Sorry, love. Sometimes my mouth gets the better of me. My mum would ring my neck for cursing in front of the kid.”
The woman smiled warmly at him, amused and relieved. This little curmudgeon’s foul mouth was the least of her concerns.
Nigel turned back to The American.
“And no, it’s not dramatic — it’s called tactics, mate. They expected me to torch the place after it was done. It should hold the exfil team off for a few extra minutes and it might just give us a chance to work this miracle, so don’t be ungrateful. It’s unbecoming.”
The child hiccupped. Nigel glanced in the rearview mirror and watched the mother coo the little one.
“Hush, child. We’ll be safe soon enough.”
Nigel shifted awkwardly in the passenger seat and shared a knowing look with The American.
“Why did you agree to this?” The American asked. “You have no idea what our plans are with the child.”
“I told ‘em when I signed up, mate: no women and no children. They called my bluff. Whatever your company has planned for the kid is better than what mine offered her. At least now she’ll have a chance to make something of herself instead of being burnt to a crisp in some forgotten corner of, where the bloody hell are we? Nebraska?”“
The American chuckled.
“Bloody hell, it’s cold in here. Turn the heat on, will ya?”
The American reached forward to adjust the heater.
“You better get used to it. It’s a long way to DC.”
“Yeah, mate, it sure is. If we even make it there what with you driving like a fuckin’ asshole and all.”