"You don't look up [an assassin like] Joubert in the Yellow Pages."
- Three Days Of The Condor
People ask me how I became this assassin monster and I tell them it happens in inches - like for everyone. It was not my dream or my intent or even ever cross my mind. It's just that doors keep closing to you until finally - without choice - the one you find open determines your fate. I could not hide my killing. I could not do it as a revered CEO in a boardroom, or put on a uniform and think that makes it OK, or be part of the crowd voting for murder of Jesus. We live in a world of unadmitted killers. But that doesn't make it any easier to live with.
School would not last much longer and I'd be thrust into the world to fend for myself. This was on my mind as I worked nightly as a busboy clearing the tables and breaking down the salad bar. Naturally, tests were conducted in school of my intelligence and aptitude. I was even taken aside and scolded by a teacher for not doing better in class according to my high IQ. How to explain my lack of interest in their jobs? I had to hide, to obfuscate, to prevaricate for my behavior. Little did I realize that would become a lifetime pattern.
Derrick was very exotic to me. He was about ten years older and his tales of America regaled me as he described a land of ultimate freedom. He too was a loner and was into doing his own thing regardless of the world around him. Looking back it's hard to say if he was in actuality recruiting me but more likely he recognized my kindred spirit and lack of need for conventionality. Derrick himself was not a smuggler but his boss was. He didn't punch a time clock as I was forced to, he merely completed tasks as ordered and the rest of his time was up to him. Awesome!
The rest of the events I have not thought of since that time. Now that I'm forcing myself to recount this I see why. It has only become more painful as I age. My anger took me down the wrong path. This is where my trail of tears began. Maybe writing this memoir isn't such a good idea. I should leave my woes buried in past. No one can save me now so why open this old wound. I do not plan on forgiving myself whatsoever. Do I tell this only to entertain the bloodthirsty mob?
For now I shut down the recorder. I don't know when I can pick this up again. If I had the hand of a friend to hold onto I could maybe see myself going forward. All those girls I worshiped and dreamed of from afar at school...I had to redeem myself in their eyes, like a tech boy does now by writing an app to compensate for inadequacies. What a blind fool! My life swirling around me, lost on my own.
I am back. I had to write of my present before I could go back to my past. The love I let slip through my fingers; running away from doom ensured my doom. Long repressed details are returning. I'd forgotten my connection to Catherine Dorléac, calling her up but then backing out of asking her for a date. Maybe I shut some of those doors myself. Every boy in school wanted her but I still should have given myself a chance. Instead of knowing her bliss I put myself in the arms of gangsters. Merde!
I lived like a hermit while others partied and I religiously stashed away my busboy salary. I felt a special destiny in store for me as a man who could not walk society's ordained path. Soon, I had several thousand francs and I would parlay that into something more, I knew not what, all I needed was an opportunity. That opportunity came with the American Derrick. Some opportunity. Looking back the obviousness of what was to happen is glaring.
I had the chance to buy a small Egyptian amulet. Smugglers don't like to sell directly to fences because it's too easy to be traced back. I would be the middleman wholesaler, the go-between, who takes his cut and vanishes into the night. I'd increase my personal fortune by 50%. Do that a few more times and I'd have some real money. I was all primed and ready to go when I got the bad news the amulet was seized at the airport in a stroke of incredibly bad luck. But Derrick consoles me saying I can make ten times my money with a packet of cocaine.
Having practically tasted the apple of illicit money, I was primed to take a bigger bite. I agreed even though this had to be a one time deal and I hadn't even considered how I'd distribute it, I just assumed Derrick had contacts for that. He showed me the bottle of Procaine we'd cut it with then Derrick took me to Boyer, his boss. The office was small and dank, squeezed inside an industrial area. It was unkempt and treated with a measure of disdain. I remember thinking I'd never do legitimate business with a man who kept an office like that.
But I was a stupid boy thinking, Gee, this is how real-life gangsters are! They don't give a shit about anything, just business. Time to grow up and not worry about traditional mores. Truth is, he was just scum, and that's why everything around him looked like shit because he was shit. Derrick introduces me and I hand over the cash for the packet. But then his square, balding face starts yelling, asking how a boy like me gets that kind of money. Of course, no answer I gave was satisfactory.
"This is a set up! You think I'm stupid? I'll take your police 'buy money' and that is that." I remember Derrick arguing with him vehemently but my head was spinning in a surreal daze like I was in a stage play. I flashed back to beautiful Catherine and what an impossible dream it was to be on a date with her instead of in this dingy room with people I hate. Been thirty years since I thought of that painful flashback.
In the end I couldn't tell who was hustling me and who wasn't. My life's plans were ruined. I could never save up that kind of cash after moving out on my own. I'd be bussing tables for life. Derrick made a big show of saying he'd get my money back. Weeks passed. Nothing. I'd even made an 'Unwanted' poster of Boyer. Then finally Derrick said he'd had enough.
"Here, that one's yours." It was a gun he pulled out and slid across the dining table where I sat. "We'll just go take it but I can't do it alone." I stared at the gun and knew it was a turning point. Money is life and death, not a game. Boyer killed my dreams. I had no choice but to get back on track no matter how distasteful the task because the alternative was unthinkable. I was more excited than scared as we made our clandestine journey back to that dank office.
p2022, same as cops used
I will admit I wondered if Derrick had been in on my swindling. But after the shouting and the shooting and his dead body on the floor that pretty much absolved him. Boyer glared at me. "Let that be a lesson, kid. That's the second one I've taught you." My gun was pointing straight at him but he paid it no mind. To him, I was just a boy without nerve, to be laughed at later as he recounted the story to his hoodlum buddies. Problem was, I wasn't scared at all.
"Here's the third," I dryly replied.
I pulled the trigger and he dropped like a rock. I remember the profound regret I had that I had to kill the fucker for him to know exactly whom he was dealing with. But then again, I didn't know who I was until that moment, either. Call me a quick learner. I was calmness itself, using a Kleenex to open desk drawers to amazingly find my cash still on the premises. I had entered a new world, never to return, cut off from Catherine for life.