The Foolish Assassins
It was not difficult to break into the grounds or the mansion. They did not expect any trouble. El President was away, at his other mansion. The estate was patrolled by rudimentary cameras and three massive black hounds from hell. They figured out how to set the cameras so it looked like the grounds were being watched over, but it was merely a loop of the past. (Any fool could figure out the archaic system.) They threw poison arrows into the beasts, felling them one by one, like a carnival game.
El President had not lived in this castle, as he called it, for six months. He was due to return. He owned four palaces. When he was bored with one, he moved to another. Before he came, he would, inevitably, send scouts to secure its safety. They were prepared.
They were two brothers, who landed the job of killing the despised despot, by lying. They talked a big game, but they were phonies. They had never killed anyone. But they looked the part. The elder brother was bald with a scar from his forehead to the back of his neck, as if a surgeon had opened up his skull to look at his brain, of which there might not have been much. He called himself Trigger and he was 22 years old. The younger brother, blond-haired, beefy, and mean called himself Mounty, which meant nothing to him, except it seemed like a big name, like a Mountain, was 19 years old.
Trigger and Mounty were born with silver spoons in their mouths, which tarnished when they were 10 and 13 years old. Due to no fault of their own, they were stripped of their wealth, the family’s reputation was ruined, they were orphaned and they were angry. And bitter. They spent their days, living in the hills in abandoned sheds, plotting revenge on the world. When they were approached by a man in black, wearing a black fedora, they were at first suspicious. A fag, they thought. Only a fag wears a fedora. But the man offered them a lot of money for one simple task: kill El President. He gave them money, which they spent on drink, knives, poisoned darts, and promised them five times as much when the job was complete.
They walked the five miles to the empty palace, castle, mansion, whatever you want to call it, talking of the plunges they planned to make into El President’s fat belly, hard heart, and ugly face. They had no fear and knew they would kill the man. Trigger imagined they would become heroes. Mounty only imagined the plunging of the knife.
They roamed the grounds and house. It was theirs, while they waited. They slept in a different room each night, but always together. Strength in numbers, they agreed. When they discovered the basement wine cellar, they thought they were in paradise. They rambled around inside like kings. There was plenty of food, wine, lounging couches. One day they played hide and seek, feeling like boys again.
Upon waking, hung-over, Trigger heard the car approach. He nudged his brother. They stood on either side of the massive front door that opened inward. They would be hidden when the door opened.
The man whistled for the dogs. He looked up at the in-place cameras and could hear them clicking. He walked the perimeter of the house, not seeing any signs of a break-in. He unlocked the three bolts on the front door and stepped in, cautiously.
Mounty stepped out from his hiding place, his knife in front of him.
“Are you El President?” he shouted.
“No! Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Trigger slammed his knife into the man’s back side.
“I know he wasn’t El President,” said Trigger. “But he would have told El President we were here!” It was the first man Trigger had killed. He liked the powerful feeling.
They dragged the man down into the cellar and put him in a small empty closet.
The second man arrived within a week.
“Are you El President?” Mounty shouted at him when he entered the building.
“No! Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Trigger stabbed the man in the back and the two of them dragged him down into the cellar closet.
The third visitor arrived a week later. Before he arrived at the grounds, he stripped himself of his trousers and put a skirt around his waist. He placed pine cones in his chest, with the pointed end forward. He grabbed clumps of meadow grass and draped it around his head and then he knocked on the door.
“Are you El President?” Mounty shouted through the door.
“No. I am his daughter.”
Mounty opened the door a crack a looked out. He saw the most beautiful woman, standing there, poised and elegant. He was a bit drunk. His eyes widened to let Trigger know that yes, it was a woman.
“What are you doing here?” Trigger asked.
“I have come to make certain El President returns to his house. That is who you want, yes. El President. If you let me in, I will explain.”
They very much wanted to let her in and opened both sides of the large door expansively, as if they were her foot soldiers.
The first thing the imposter noticed was the blood stains on the floor. What he had suspected had happened to the previous visitor scouts was confirmed.
“If I don’t return to El President,” the imposter said in a sweet, innocent, charming voice, “he will never return to this house and you will not be able to complete your task. If I return and tell him all is well, the estate is secure, then he will arrive and you can assassinate him.”
“How can we trust you? You are his daughter. Why would you give him to us?”
“He does not act like a father toward me. That is all I can tell you. Can’t you see? He sent me here, knowing that the others never returned. He does not love me like a father loves a daughter.”
“I could love you,” Mounty blurted out.
“Yes, maybe we should just keep her,” said Trigger.
“You could. But what about the money?”
“How do you know about the money?”
The imposter didn’t say anything.
“What if you tell him about us? What if you betray us? And he comes with an army.”
“He has no army. He has no money. The government is bankrupt. He has stolen all the money for himself. He doesn’t even know where it is. He doesn’t care. If he had an army, he would have sent it. Trust me. If he doesn’t come in a week, I will come in his place. And you can keep me. It is a win-win situation for you. Either you get the money when you kill El President or you get me.”
The brothers thought through the logic and decided that there was no way they could lose. They agreed to the bargain and celebrated the week with toasts of triumph.
El President arrived. He stepped into the front hallway and saw Mounty. Trigger, from behind the door, stabbed him in the back.
The third visitor, no longer looking like a beautiful woman (which he never did anyway), stepped up behind Trigger and stabbed him in the back. Mounty was so upset he fell onto his brother and onto his own knife. There were three dead men in the hallway.
One by one, the third visitor dragged the bodies down to the basement and stuffed them in the closet. He returned to the car that brought El President and opened up the back door. El President’s daughter looked a bit like she could be in disguise; she wore a black fedora over her long brown hair that was messy like meadow grass stamped down by storms and changing seasons.
“El President is dead,” he said. “Long live El President.”
The daughter nodded.
“Take the automobile and leave,” she said. “I never want to see you again.”
“But the plan? What about the plan?”
“There is no plan. Go.”
The daughter walked into the mansion and locked the door behind her. She lived there until she died, ignoring the smell of decaying men. It was a smell she was used to.