[Goupil is on the run - from everybody. Having given up his gun, he's defenseless and friendless and hunted (at the very least) by the government. Moving from cheap motel to cheap motel in a zigzag fashion he feels his world closing in on him. Every direction seems equally wrong, equally harmful. He'd hoped giving up his gun would show him the way out. Instead, confusion wreaks havoc on his mind and chaos in his heart.]
"Of course! Vargas does not drink. Does not smoke.
"Does not make love.
"What do you do, Vargas?"
Am I Vargas? Have I succumbed at last? ...am I Vargas?
Vargas had always been Goupil's bogeyman. The James Bond Thunderballkiller had horrified him as a child. If nothing else he knew that to be Vargas was to be lost without redemption, the Ultimate Loser, a loathsome unlovable creature. Lying on his motel bed, attempting to drink because that's what one does to escape reality (Goupil's strength had always been not to escape reality), demons in the night and demons in the day plotted his demise. What unadmitted rock under his mattress robbed him of any possible comfort?
Goupil learned early on there is no God, no justice on earth. Nobody, but yourself. The oldest child of an immigrant family living in the Jersey projects, he was routinely assaulted by both his mother and father. His mother beat him with a broom handle, with pots and pans, with anything she could find, determined to beat the sin out of him. His father, having failed to find the streets of America paved with the promised gold made his son pay for his own misery.
Desperately poor, Goupil's clothes as a newly aware teenager were two sizes too large to make them last as he grew. He was mocked and bullied at school. Tall but thin, Goupil stood no chance against one vicious gang in particular who gave him savage beatings for his loserdom. Each night Goupil prayed to God for help, to set right such obvious wrongs. To whom else did he have to turn? Even his parents wanted him dead.
God never came - or even showed the slightest interest. Slowly an icy resolve formed in the boy, anger his new god for redemption. "It's all on me. Everything. I can turn to no one, no god, no hope." Taking the instrument of hurt he knew best, Goupil grabbed a broomstick and waited in the darkness for the gang leader who tormented him so severely. Jumping out from behind a tree, he panicked and hit the thug on the head. After Goupil saw him drop, fear took over and he beat the thug determined never to be hurt again. He was successful: Goupil's prey was dead cold.
Hiding in his bedroom for a week, Goupil waited for God again. Only this time he feared the Lord's vengeance. The dead body had been thrown into the east river but surely somehow the voices of karma would point their fingers in his direction. But no policeman's knock ever came. No avenging angels descended from the sky. It really was true: there is no God. At 13, Goupil already had his first kill.
What is left for me? How can a monster like me ever be a father? How could I answer for my past to a child? What mother would want me raising her child? I am Vargas, the creep!
I'm in so much trouble!...life is only trouble...he Goupil undeserving of hope...was there never meant to be anything more?...who am I...
In a fate worse than death, even in what looked to be his final days on earth, Goupil prayed to the eyeless and earless god who never helped. Life just could not be so hopeless! But the usual painful cycle inevitably and agonizingly ensued: fear, frustration, raging anger. No way out...
Thus spoke the demons in the night.
It was in fact his dedication to hard work and honesty after killing the gang leader that drove Goupil into facing another truth of his world: he could never conform. Jobs suffocated him as much as his home and school lives had. "A ring of death!" surmised Goupil of this lost world. He saw the globe as nothing but one large criminal enterprise, he never falling for the veneer of life it so vainly presented. Sneering at the man thinking he was "doing good", Goupil already knew good deeds don't get you into heaven.
With his excellent hand-to-eye coordination, he hustled pool for money until he came across a scam at a film processing lab where he could illicitly copy porno films to sell on the side. To do it right he needed a large infusion of cash. For Goupil, that meant going to the "hard guys", the mob. This turned out to change his life forever.
Goupil's customers were slow to pay - which made him slow to pay the mob back. Three enforcers paid him a visit, brutally beating him. But Goupil was an old hand at taking a beating and knew better than to take on the entire syndicate. Within a week he collected the money owed him and paid back the loan. This so impressed the mob they offered him a job in collections.
The motel room lay as wasted as its occupant. Goupil fell back into his favorite fantasy: that of killing his father. He'd make his paternal persecutor confess his crimes, begging for mercy he never gave. Maybe that's what Goupil wanted most: just to hear his father speak, to say one fucking honest word - one more than the monster ever spoke in life. Just to hear that one word would break the spell of an uncaring God.
Feeling vulnerable without his gun, Goupil reflected on how he could protect himself. But I don't want to return to the old ways. Cyanide had been a favorite "no mess" method of his, perfecting a spray he could blast on a victim's face to cause a seeming heart attack. Traces of the poison leave the body in hours. He especially loved using remote controlled cars with plastique attached. Sweep the car beforehand all you want, sucker!
But those were guns by any other name. There's no future in that. The Russian woman's intoxicating face reflected in his half filled bottle of vodka. Would there ever be a way he could spend the night with her? Her bite had infected him for life.
You're going to spend the rest of your life in these motel rooms running out of time. I can't get a job and just slip back into society. Maybe I was stupid to quit. What is the right answer if all roads lead to death! I wish I could make God feel lonely, let that fucker see how it feels. Make Him get a job and see how that fucking feels too.God - just another monster.
Goupil was too enthusiastic in his collection methods and dead men don't pay back debts. So the mob made him an outright assassin and just as when he was a thirteen year old boy, killing seemed to be Goupil's salvation in a world gone mad. He loved the thrill of the hunt, of devising the logistics and engineering a solution. The final act merely proof he'd been correct in his calculations. Then on to the next project.
He also loved living the lie. Goupil bought the most respectable suits, claimed the most respectable occupations as his source of income and made the rounds as an intelligent man of means. Ah, what frauds they must be to believe my fraudulence! The killings, the polite public adulation, the beautiful free fall feeling that made him feel alive provided for the most glorious time of his life. One special killing stood out among the rest.
In a hotel room, Goupil had cornered his mark, standing over him with a pointed gun. The man dropped to his knees, begging for mercy, literally praying to God for help. At last, to see someone else pray for God's help! Maybe it could work for him as opposed to a rejected killer. Goupil told the groveling man he'd allow him thirty minutes of prayer. If God came to spare him in any way he'd let the man go.
On the thirty first minute Goupil put two bullets in the praying man's head.
In a Federal building safely embedded in the mind of a willfully ignorant populace, men who'd rather die than be suitless rejoiced at the good news of having discovered a lost prey.
"We've got him! The bastard finally came up for air. A thousand dollars is being wired to him in a small city outside of Cincinnati. He must be running out of cash and thinks he can slip this under the radar."
"Excellent news. Call the local FBI office and have them sit on that Western Union store right away. I want no slip ups! Tell them it's a matter of national security and that's all they need to know."
"What should I tell them to do if they come across Goupil?"
"Shoot to kill."
"I can't tell them that!"
"OK, OK. Tell them the truth. He's an assassin, heavily armed, and not to take any chances. Maybe we'll get lucky. I obviously will have an operative on the way on the off chance we can finish this ourselves."
Thus spoke the demons in the day.
Goupil had given up his gun, given up his "life" and just plain given up. He knew there was no way he could outrun the government forever and while he had a good amount of money it too was on a countdown. What drove him the most insane was the not knowing. Who exactly was after him and why?
I hope that young Mexican maid comes again. I'll pretend to be naked and asleep when she comes in the door. I'll stick my head under the pillow. I wonder what she'll do? Will she take advantage of me? Oh please, take advantage of me!
Setting it up like a job, Goupil arranged his nude body face down, his face hidden so she need not have fear of getting caught looking. When the knock and "Housekeeping" signal arrived at his door, his heart pounded as much as during any hit. He heard the door open. She came into the room. She started walking around. She couldn't miss seeing him! Goupil peeked to see if it was the maid he hoped for. Yes! Under the pretense of needing to do her duty, she emptied the trash and wordlessly touched up a few other items before leaving.
Success! Goupil grabbed hold of the most meager crumbs of acceptance. Hopefully she was giggling to her co-workers of the sleeping naked guy in room 189. He became aroused at the thought of them all coming to take a peek. It would be so fun - and so harmless, for once. Why did it feel so forbidden just doing what they wanted? Goupil worshipped that maid and thanked the heavens above she was without pretense or preaching.
Bad news at the Cincinnati FBI office. "He never showed...No sir, we got there as quick as we could. There's no record of him picking up the money. Something must have happened...No, I can assure you we were not spotted. I made this a long range surveillance job only, using nothing but personal cars...Thank you. I'll send a full report." The agent flipped down the phone in disgust.
"Agent Johnson - no the other one - bring me the full report." It didn't take long to see the fatal flaw. "Goddamit, is this correct? The originating wire was from a Western Union in Cincinnati?"
"Yeah, so? He must have been laundering it or something."
"You idiots! He set us up! He had no intention of showing up."
A sweep was ordered of the cars used to stake out the Western Union. Two of them had GPS trackers attached under the bumper. Unfortunately for one agent, he'd stopped at his house on the way back in to the office.
"Sweet Jesus! That son-of-a-bitch knows where I live! What the fuck you going to do about that? I've got a family to protect!"
The cars passing below the seventeenth floor of the building housing the FBI never knew of the heated arguments raging above. Nothing riled the agency more than having its own tactics used on them or to have made a careless, irreversible mistake - the kind of mistake they counted on criminals to make. But to Goupil sitting on a bench a half a block away, the FBI were nothing more just another criminal organization, stopping thugs so they could be the thugs. Men who take orders are never better than their masters.
Nor did the self-recriminating agents on the seventeenth floor ever suspect their quarry sat half a block away drowning in suicidal thoughts. Although students of human behavior, these busy-busy men never stopped to think of the humans they pursued. They welcomed confessions without offering any in return. How could they? They too knew the world to be a criminal enterprise. For who trusts a world without love? To live in one is to sleep with a boulder under your mattress.