There’s this thing he likes to do after every big meeting. Or conference. He does both now.
He comes up to us, me and his assistant, and turns away, eyes narrowing as he waits for his assistant to slip his overcoat on for him.
I don’t know what he looks at so intently during this transaction; but it’s definitely not the assistant. Poor thing, she should really look for a job elsewhere.
The first few times it happened, I thought it was just him being the rich entitled prick we all think he is.
All of a sudden he will walk away at a brisk space, and I will need to jog for a moment to catch up with him.
The assistant never hurries up because she’s quite tangibly sick of him, which I think he secretly enjoys.
Once I’m at his side, he’ll look at me finally and that stern exterior will crack open for a moment.
Every time, he’ll smile and roll his eyes.
Like Can you believe we’re actually doing this?
That’s what I think he means when he does it, and yeah. I do believe it; he does too. He just thinks it’s funny to point out.
I guess it is. An inventor turned businessman, throwing up a corporate facade to grow his actual business: an underground network fighting to re-balance the world and nix superpowers. A rich white kid from the South taking down age old systems.
One of the best hit-man (that’s me) in the world under his wing as a body guard.
Yeah, okay. Maybe it is funny. Maybe I’ll raise an eyebrow too next time.
My name is Lydia Irving. I’m a mercenary. One of the best actually. I’d give you my confirmed kill count but I don’t feel like blushing right now. Writing this from a conference on my phone. Hector’s up there right now talking about — economics? Sure.
Two years ago, I gave it all up to work for Hector Morton Welles as his 24/7 bodyguard. First job I ever had where my eyes weren’t always set on the paycheck.
I’ve killed, lied, and stolen for this man. Committed fraud. Organized accidents. You know, all the fun stuff that pepper a good killer’s resume.
Lives have been ruined in his wake. Mine too, undoubtedly. We’ve both accepted that irregardless of the bright future we’re building, we are easily both landing ourselves in atche-ee-double hockey stick land. Eh. We’ve done pretty well for ourselves up here so I’m sure we’ll be fine down there too. What’s the worst thing that’s gonna happen?
I may be a morally reprehensible assassin but I still don’t like most of the people that end up in Hell. But if we went up there, up with the Big Guy in the Sky, we’d probably have to fake it around some of those losers. Like Obama. Drones anybody? Yet we still laugh at that video of him saying “Thanks Obama” as he struggles to fit his Oreo into a glass of milk.
Anyways, hah, I like this writing thing. Never tried it before, it’s not that hard. You just write down shit you think about. Pretty therapeutic honestly.
Hector’s tricked — ah, no. I need a transition. Hm. Eh. Fuck it.
Hector’s tricked — no. That doesn’t feel right. Is this why writers are so tortured? God. Let me think, we were just taking about — Obama. Drones. Oreos. Therapy? Hell…would it be considered sloppy to use Hell even though it’s like a few paragraphs up?
I’m avoiding a discussion, I think. I’m being funny because well — you kind of have to be to do this line of work.
He feeds me lies every day, he still thinks I need that extra push to do the terrible things he needs done. But I’m sold, I already trust him. I trust that he’ll lie to me or others for the right reason. Whatever he’s covering up, I don’t need to know about it.
What matters is that he needs it done, so I do it. No questions asked.
We used to talk more often. On Fridays we would get coffee together at the Welles Corps. cafeteria. He would dress down into a polo shirt and khakis, and lean back with a posture unlike anything else he would allow any one of his associates to witness.
Now we don’t. There’s no point in fooling anyone.
Hector envisions a world where the bad people are gone. People like us. It’s complicated so I try not to think about it. I just know he’s right.
Of course, when you’re working for a guy whose whole thing is he wants to rid the world of all powerful beings — like himself — you can guarantee someone won’t get the memo on it. Enter the Nightmare. Seventeen years old, gay as Hell, likes musical theater, and Christ, she’s a goddamn superhero.
Yeah, you can probably tell I was trying to avoid saying that. But here we are — at the reveal that I fight superheroes. I’m paid to break them. Not kill, mind you. Break. Hector has recognized by this point that we are not the traditional heroes of this story — she is. And he wants her to join us.
He is a dreamer after all.
So basically, I spend half my time at these conferences, and another half duking it out with this kid who thinks she’s better than me. And I’ll admit it, I kinda like her too.
She won’t kill — she won’t break them like we do — she, for whatever reason, believes in people. Yes, she’s one of those violent pacifist superhero types. Makes me look bad on paper, I know.
One time I came into Hector’s office at a bad time. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but well, her eyes. Those emerald eyes of her — just — staring straight down at him, like a mother would to a brat who just broke the cookie jar. I don’t get why she of all people believes in him so much. Or me. She thinks me and Hector can save ourselves.
Anyways, there she is. Standing defiantly, framed by his curtains as she stood on the window ledge, arms crossed. He’s upright in his office chair, fingers tented. Couldn’t see his face — I’m sure it was weak. Embarrassing. I see it within him sometimes when he talks to his son.
Every time we have a particularly rough run-in with her crowd, it happens. She breaks in to talk to him. It’s why we don’t allow camera in his office. If anyone knew, you’d think they were best friends. Co-conspirators in this war for our future. It’d ruin him and probably more so — her.
Anyone with a brain cell can tell who Hector really is. But people still like Katrina — ah. Not supposed to use her real name, which yes, I’ve known for a long time. I just don’t like telling her that.
Sometimes it feels like we are actors staging a performance about this pointless war we plot to save the world. How else can you rationalize it? How else can I go from wrestling with her on top of a skyscraper as thunder rages around us to another instance where I’m sitting across her in a tank top, giving her the facts of life while she sews up a bloody cut on her arm?
The only thing I can come up with is that our lives don’t matter.
Generations from now, they won’t remember us. Our names or our stories. The things we did will be erased by new blood. Cycles will repeat. That’s what she doesn’t understand.
Fighting the mob won’t save the world. Rescuing someone from disasters won’t either. Those things vanish with time. And the people?
They don’t care about you. They just want some entertainment to get them through their boring lives. They like to think about this war on morals waging around us, but if there’s a joke to be made about all of it, you can bet your ass they will retweet it. They’ll laugh and go back to mundanity.
No one really wants the world to be saved because it means change. See, the only way to change things — and make it work — is commit the irreversible. Get your hands dirty and hope someone picks up the slack for you down the line.
Hector and I won’t be remembered. Nor will she. She may be the second kid to put on the Nightmare helm, but people will get over it eventually.
I’m rambling, right? I have doubts sometimes. Like whenever she looks at me with those eyes, eyes that are so determined to tell me I’m wrong. She’s not like Hector; her lets her eyes tell you the whole story.
Just the other day, some creep started bothering Hector — hahahaha. Excuse me. Journalist, upstart, and was asking all the right questions. So I — haha— I talked to Hector later, a-and asked if he — hehehe — alright alright, I’ll focus. It’s just — you’ll see.
I asked if he needed the guy taken care of. Hector shrugged, figuring it would pass, and got back to work. Well, cut to the next day and I’m doing some routine safety inspections while he’s sitting down watching the news when all of a sudden a report comes in.
Turns out someone offed that guy last night.
And Hector, he — he just sits there, blinking dumbly at the screen. Takes him a second to realize what happened. When it hits him, he peeks his head up over the back of the chair, like some shy five year old, and looks to me, a smile beginning to crack his cheeks apart. He opens his mouth to say something, but slumps against the chair in a fit of laughter.
Uncontrollable laughter fading in and out to coughs and wheezes, a calculated and smooth voice sprung into chaos. This energy he always kept contained — just sort of loose and all over the place in this glorious and unrefined laughter.
I laughed too. I think I ended up dropping — whatever it was I was holding — and I grabbed him from behind. His face was beet red — I don’t even want to know what color mine was. His back arching from delirium, bending forward into my arm, our heads side by side, laughing.
That’s why I do it.
Hi! Katrina here, thanks for reading. Just a reminder that I started a weekly newsletter you can join by clicking here and putting in your email.
Additionally, if you liked this story, you might like The Best at What She Does, another POV short story told from the perspective of Lydia.
Have a nice day!