Updated: Mar 8, 2020
He walked down the moonlit alley, footsteps echoing against the cobblestone. The streets were empty and his figure was masked by midnight as he crept low along the walls. He could smell garbage and something metallic, like paint. Only later did he realize that his black coat had brushed against it, leaving a streak of red on the garment.
Mercifully, the alleyway ended and he took a breath, scanning the street for signs of life. Nothing. Approaching the first house on the block, he pulled out his phone to confirm the address: 4532 Hart Avenue. The boy grabbed onto one of the loose bricks and hoisted himself up, his dexterity from years of work in the gym finally paying off. Perched upon the first-floor window sill, he pushed wavy blonde hair out of his face, looking at the silent, almost dead neighborhood below him.
He continued climbing, using loose bricks as footholds, to the third-floor window. Undoing the latch with a creak, he waited a few minutes, as instructed, before ducking inside. The boy wasn’t shocked by the lack of modesty within the target’s home, despite it being a “secret” location. The floors were carpeted, working to his silent advantage, as he looked around. It was just the way they described it; a flat-screen on the east wall and the bed on the left. In the center of the room, the target appeared to be asleep at his desk, his head resting on a pile of paperwork.
Standing over the victim, he felt his first flicker of emotion. He couldn't help thinking about what this would do to Zach. He’d have to face Zach tomorrow at school, knowing what had been done, the blood on his hands. But even more frightening was the knowledge of what would happen if he didn’t follow through. He unsheathed his knife and stepped forward, grabbing the man by his hair. He yanked the victim up, closed his eyes, wrapped his hands around his throat and squeezed. He sighed, staring at the still body of Aidan Salaman - it stared back with the same empty expression.
I always hated our last name. Salman. Every time I wrote it on paper, I thought about salmon and that vacation where the hotel manager printed it as salmon on our keycards. I thought about that fishing trip with dad where he fell in the lake. Now, all that memory does is bring fresh waves of anger and despair. I bury my head in my hands, doing what the therapist said - taking a deep breath every two seconds. It doesn’t help. Instead, I let the sadness wrap its wretched arms around me.
I wish our name wasn’t Salman, not because it’s a silly name but because then it wouldn’t have been my dad, Aidan Salman, who had been murdered last night.