A Widow’s Tale
“This is fantastic, Princesa?”
“Yes, papa. I saved the best for last.”
“I see that.” Carlos much admired his daughter’s painting of their old house in Trelew, Argentina. In front of the house stood Bella, Karina’s dog. A Maltese who passed a year prior. Bella was an old dog, fifteen years old when she passed away. She was part of the Navarre family and played a major role in Karina’s upbringing. She took the death harder than anyone.
“This is your late Christmas and New Year’s present.” Karina explained to her father.
“It was worth the wait.” Carlos carried his ten-year old in his arms and kissed her temple. Gloria Navarre strolled into the living room with two champagne flutes and offered one to her husband.
“You know what we need to do before the clock strikes midnight?”
“What?” Karina looked up at her mom expectantly.
“Share our New Year’s resolutions.”
“What is a New Year’s resolution?” Asked a puzzled Karina, still seated on her father’s lap.
“It’s a promise you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad in the New Year.”
Karina thought to herself for a moment, “I promise to share more.”
“That sounds wonderful.” Gloria grinned.
“…and eat all the veggies you sneak into my meals.” Karina quickly added.
Both Gloria and Carlos laughed.
“Let’s set realistic goals.” Teased Carlos.
“What about you, mama?”
A sudden thud behind the door seized Carlos’s attention. He would have ignored it as nothing more than his paranoia playing tricks on him if a second and much louder thud did not follow the first. He quickly stood, forcing Karina off his lap. He edged toward the windows and the first clue he discovered was the foot of one of his guards sticking out in the hallway.
He instantly paled. Gloria noticing her husband’s predicament, placed her finger to her lips, a sign of silence to Karina. She grabbed her daughter’s shoulders and forced her underneath the sofa.
Bang! The door suddenly swung open. Five men garbed in black and carrying weapons marched in with steady steps. They each had blades tucked inside their belts, except for one. The leader! He stepped away from the group, distancing himself from the masses and demonstrating his authority with self-importance. He wore a tailored dark suit and dark dress shirt. His shoes were polished to a gloss. All five men were dressed sharply, but the leader stood out. Gloria Navarre stood terrified, shuddering with terror behind her husband. Karina sensing danger remained unmoving. The ten-year old knew exactly what to do as she had been rehearsing for years with her mother. Gloria always cautioned her, there are many monsters in the world that’d want to hurt us because of who we are and what we represent and she must be ready when and if that occurred. Though Karina never believed or understood her, she went along with the exercise anyway to pacify her mother’s fears. Be as silent as the grave, her mom had told her. Under no circumstance should you reveal yourself or let the enemy know where you are hiding and tonight she did just that. She couldn’t see the faces of the beasts that invaded their home, but she saw their shoes. Her eyes were fixated on the glossier pair. It stood right in front of her father’s bare feet.
“Carlos Navarre,” a deep voice said, probably from the man with the shiny feet, “this was easier than I thought it’d be.” his cold chortle filled the noiseless room.
“Mrs. Navarre.” his voice was deeply aggrieved.
“Tomas?” her father’s voice responded, “You’ve some nerves storming into my home as if you own me. What is the meaning of this?”
“Ah, be careful now.” The deep voice warned, “It’s a new day. You lost before the battle began. I am taking over your empire and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop me. Your men, at least those in the building are all gone. You are done, Navarre. If you’re as wise as you have in the past portrayed yourself to be, you’ll be reciting your final prayers, pleading for clemency for your soul before I squeeze this trigger.”
“You traitorous bastard. Tell me, what coerced you to act against the hand that has fed you all these years? You were nothing. I made you and this is how you repay me?”
“You are a weak man, Navarre. You call yourself the boss. The Don.” he said with a slight chuckle, “You are a joke, a phony. We did all your dirty work while you sat on your high horse and collected. I don’t answer to weak men, not anymore.”
“You’ll never survive in our world with this kind of betrayal under your belt. No one will trust you. Think very hard about what you are doing.”
“Oh, I have. See, while you were seated on your throne, filling your belly from our blood and sweat, I was preparing for this defining moment. I’ve looked forward to this day for a very long time.” he crowed with insolence.
“You were always in my home, seated at my table with my family, breaking bread and today you kiss me on my cheek?” Carlos said incredulously.
“You give me too much credit. I am no Judas. You sealed your fate, Carlos. I am just here to ensure your crossover goes smoothly.” he released the safety on the gun and aimed it at Carlos’s head. That was the moment little Karina realized she knew the monster. She thought the voice sounded familiar but her feeble nerves had compromised her brain. It was her father’s good friend, Uncle Tomas, but why’d he do this? She mused.
“This is absurd, Tomas. This is between us. Let my wife go, and we can handle this as men.”
“As you wish.” Tomas said right before a loud ear-piercing sound filled the room. Within seconds, her mother’s eyes were gazing directly at her. Blood streaming down her temple. Her eyes were wide open but appeared lifeless and Karina knew right away that her mother was gone.
A deep agonizing scream from her father erupted through the room.
“There it is. I let her go. Now we handle this as men.” Tomas motioned with his weapon between him and Carlos.
Still staring into her mother’s cold eyes, Karina whimpered in absolute silence. Unceasing tears poured down her face, spilling over her hands. “Mummy?” she mouthed.
“I’ll destroy you, Tomas.” her father said, right before another dreadful sound emitted and just as she feared, his body slumped on top of her mother’s. She shut her eyes for a moment and sharply inhaled.
The monster’s feet hovered over the corpses for a long moment before he spoke again, “Let’s get out of this rubbish dump.”
“How about the kid?” One of his followers said.
Silence filled the room like an invisible cloud as the men pondered over the question. Heavy footsteps suddenly hurried through the room, then ascended the staircase. Slamming of doors and screams erupted from every corner of the building. With both her hands covering her own mouth to suppress a harrowing scream from sliding out, Karina closed her eyes tightly and prayed. Her little heart raced frenziedly. It was so loud, she feared the men left in the room could hear it too. Be as quiet as the grave. Her mother’s voice echoed in her ears.
“She’s just a stupid girl. What can she do?” Tomas finally said. To some degree, he sounded hesitant, even to himself.
“Tomas?” One of his men protested.
“Do you want to put a bullet into a little girl’s heart?” Anger spewed out of him.
There was no response.
“Or perhaps you want to adopt her?”
Still, no response.
“Leave that dirty little thing. She’ll just turn into a whore like the rest of them if she’s not dead within two years.”
“Did you find the sleazeball?” he snarled, referring to Carlos’s best friend and second in command, Savio Cardozo.
“Find him. The takeover is not successful until he is put down.”
The frightening sound of additional bullets filled the room as he shot extra holes into her father to certify his demise.
After some time, the footsteps receded, and she cautiously dragged her body forward to gain a full length view of the monster who destroyed her entire life in one night before he exited the room. Disheartened, she broke down into hysterical tears when she established, it was indeed, Uncle Tomas.
A serene night. The stars shone brightly like diamonds. The full moon hung low, illuminating the path, and casting a glow along her vision as she peered through the night vision scope of Ruby, her sniper rifle. Designed to travel as far as 1.25 miles (2.01 km) to her intended target with no hitches. Tonight, her position from the fat bastard she was contracted forty-eight hours earlier to put down like a sick dog was close to two thousand yards. She sighed, savoring the tranquil moment of the gentle winds blowing through her hair and calming the adrenaline rushing through her veins.
She lived for moments like these. The moment the bullet from her rifle travels undetected through the quiet night and lodges itself at home in the heart or brain. Her reputation to date was unimpeachable. She was considered a Grade A sniper, and listed amongst the top ten of the world’s best snipers. She had no knowledge the true identities of her superiors, or acquainted with their location, nor did she care to know. Her job was to eliminate. Plain and simple. An app was installed on a distinctive phone given to her by the agency, where she received notifications when awarded with a contract. The app was designed to disappear from the phone once a contract has been fulfilled. The details provided were typically the name of the target, location and contract amount, no negotiations. Not that she ever had the need to negotiate. She got paid more than she cared to admit, besides, she hardly needed the money. She hadn’t received a notification in six months. Ruby, her rifle grew restless and so did she. Twice a week during those excruciating six months, she’d dismantle her then put her back together. She repeated the practice daily without breaking a sweat.
Tonight’s kill was greatly required to quench her thirsty dark soul.
In a prone position, lying flat on her stomach with both legs spread apart, her left hand rested casually on the biceps of the right, while her right finger hovered over the trigger. Soft winds whistled in her ears and she heeded attentively. Ruby’s trajectory data was set to its precise setting, and she was anxious to squeeze the trigger her index finger was keenly massaging.
Three black Alfa Romeo SUVs pulled up seconds later. Three men in suits simultaneously jumped down from each vehicle before the target exited the vehicle in the middle. He slickly buttoned his suit jacket, scarcely turning his head to the left. She squeezed the trigger and listened as the bullet traveled in the silence of the night through the calming winds at 1,700 miles (2,735.88 km) per hour. It sliced through the center of his forehead within 2.12 seconds. Bullseye!
In just under three minutes, she’d detached the scope and packed Ruby carefully into its case. Just as she jumped into the backseat of the waiting car that was to transport her to an airstrip to board a private jet, her cellphone vibrated inside the pocket of her jacket. She discarded the red leather gloves shielding her hands from the bitter cold and fetched it. Caller unknown, it read.
“Yes?” she answered with a bit of irritation in her voice.
“It’s Savio.” he said, his tone was grimmer than courteous.
“Why are you calling from an unknown number?” she questioned.
“Are you on your way back home?” he countered her question with another.
“What’s going on?” she repeated the pattern.
He remained silent but his heavy breathing could be heard at the end of the line.
“Savio?” she called, growing impatient. After every kill, she performed a ritual. And that was to sit in silence, meditating for a few seconds and patting herself on the back for a job well done. This ill-timed call hindered with her sacramental process.
“Hurry back. We have a problem.” he cautioned.
“Just spit it out?” she had nothing but ultimate respect for Savio, her father-in-law and late father’s best friend but at this moment, his interruption irritated the energized heartbeat she earned from the excitement she just encountered.
“What about him?”
“He’s dead!” he whimpered, “Do you hear me? They took my boy.” his voice came in a broken growl.
Her hands fell in her lap. The sudden motion caused the phone to fall and disappear under the front seat. Her stare remained at the back of the headrest in sheer dismay. Her mind bizarrely rid of any thoughts.
“We are here, Ms. Navarre.” Karina heard the indistinct voice of her chauffeur.
She looked up and offered him a blank stare. No idea how long she had been stuck in that stupor state. She assumed a lengthy amount of time as the mileage between her last position and the hangar was just about 40.2 kilometers. Adding up to twenty minutes of oblivion. She gathered her bearings and stepped out of the car, grabbing Ruby from the seat beside her.
The pilot bobbed his head at her as she ascended the airstair toward him but received nothing in return. Once settled in her seat, she stared out the window in silence until the plane was safely in the air. She heaved a silent sigh and stiffened her stance. The nerves in her neck coiled, pulling every vein connecting her inner organs. Her skin inflamed with rage as her body temperature climbed at a reckless rate. She waved away the hostess who approached her with a glass of champagne. BBC news blared through the television hanging from the overhead.
BREAKING NEWS ― Petrak Novak, former Czech Prime Minister was assassinated at 21:48 at the front entrance of the Park Inn Hotel where he had been staying for the past two days. No report on whether he was on official duty or a private visit. The Belgian Federal Police team are actively engaged in the hunt for the assassin who might still be in the district. Road blocks have been placed all over the city as the manhunt continues. We will keep you informed as we receive more information on this cowardly act.