Arnold the Assassin (short story)
Earl had finally driven away from the isolated home in the middle of nowhere. The home was obviously rundown and in need of repair, but the obese middle-aged man couldn’t be bothered to fix anything. He didn’t care about the condition of his home so long as the fridge had cold beer.
A lone black car pulled up to the residence, and a tall, thin man in an overcoat and fedora stepped out. He began to walk towards the house but suddenly stopped.
“Wait a minute,” he muttered to himself, “…is this a good idea?” He stood there contemplating for several moments before getting back into his car and parking around the backside of the house. “Ha,” he said, “That would’ve been bad!” He resumed his walk towards the home and began to put on leather gloves. “Oh,” he said, stopping again, “Almost forgot.” He removed the gloves and put them on inside-out. “Heheh, now the cops can’t tell where I’ve been.” The man started to unbutton his overcoat, revealing a sticker nametag labeled “Arnold the Assassin,” clearly drawn on with a crayon.
The house was made up of two levels. Arnold approached the second level via stairs and a back deck, bending his knees and trying to move quietly, despite having been alone.
Despite his need to move quietly, he was in fact, singing his own self-issued theme song. “Stab to thrill…way to stab. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, with too many pills, yeah”. Arnold wasn’t very creative. He approached the sliding glass door, one of three entrances to the home, and opened it. He was quite relieved that Earl had forgotten to lock the door, not because he enabled easy entry, but because Arnold knew that this opponent was on his own intellectual level. Arnold wasn’t very bright.
Upon stepping into the home, Arnold had already spotted several vantage points; the pitch-black corner seemed most appealing.
“Right then,” Arnold said, placing his hand in his pocket to draw his weapon.
A slender dagger fell through the coat pocket and onto his foot.
Arnold yelped and hobbled around for a few moments, trying not to shout. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” he repeated, carefully removing the dagger from his boot. Upon examining the weapon, he realized there was no blood. He looked down at his boot, only to find the steel in the toe had barely been punctured. “Oh,” he said.
The sound of a truck pulling up to the house reached Arnold’s ears. “Shit,” he muttered, his eyes darting back and forth, “Gotta leave me an exit. The way I came in? No, too suspicious to leave that open. Window? Yes! Window.” Arnold moved into the kitchen in the next room and quickly opened a window just large enough for him to climb through.
Keys began to jingle just outside the front door.
“Come on, you son of a bitch,” Early slurred.
Arnold smiled. “Show time,” he said, retreating back to the dark corner he originally spotted. He giggled quietly to himself as Earl walked through the front door.
“Goddamn truck,” the dirty man grumbled, “No money for fucking booze…no gas money.” He walked up the stairs from the foyer that the front entrance led to; the kitchen was directly in front of him. “I don’t remember leaving you open,” he said. He walked towards the open window and closed it.
Earl opened the fridge and grabbed a single can of cheap beer and walked out of sight.
Arnold tiptoed back into the kitchen, watching out for his target, opened the window again, and crept back to his corner.
“No, goddammit,” Earl moaned, “This one’s stale.” He walked back into the kitchen and once again spotted the open window. “What?” he exclaimed, "But I…you…” He closed the window again.
Arnold’s eye began to twitch. He waited for the man to grab yet another beer and moved into the kitchen once more, opened the window a third time and retreated back into his corner. “Oh, I’m gonna make it slow for you, big boy,” he whispered, “You are not making this easy.”
However, as even Arnold could have predicted, Earl yet again saw the open window and closed it, but not without noticing the black car parked behind his home. “What the fuck?!” he yelled, running out of the room.
“Goddammit,” Arnold cursed, “I knew I should have parked out front!”
Earl returned moments later with a shotgun in hand. “Alright, you son of a bitch,” he yelled, “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
Arnold remained absolutely still.
Earl’s eyes scanned the kitchen, and he slowly walked into the room where Arnold was hiding. He looked back and forth, finally stopped and stared at the dark corner. “You,” he said.
Arnold didn’t move or reply.
“I can see you,” Earl smiled and cocked his weapon. “Your clothes are darker than the rest of the corner!”
Arnold’s eyes grew wide. “Um…” he said, “…I’m a shadow person?”
“Try again,” Earl said, taking aim.
“I’m your new neighbor,” Arnold quickly replied, “I came to say ‘hi.' Hi.”
“Do you take me for an idiot! There ain’t no other houses around here for miles!” Earl shouted.
“I’m your really new neighbor,” Arnold said.
Earl put his finger on the trigger. “No,” he said grimly, “I don’t think so.”
Arnold’s training took over, and he leapt from the shadows and threw the dagger. The dagger was off by several feet. Arnold didn’t finish training.
Luckily for the unskilled killer, Earl was distracted by the dagger just long enough for Arnold to grab the shotgun and turn it on its owner.
“Well, well, well,” Arnold said, nodding up and down“…I don’t have anything clever to say for this kind of situation.” Arnold lined the shotgun up to the man’s face and pulled the trigger.
There was a loud shot, followed by a total lack of gore. Earl was unharmed.
Arnold threw the shotgun aside. “THIS IS EMPTY,” he yelled, “WHAT WERE YOU GONNA DO? KILL ME WITH A HEART ATTACK?!”
Earl lunged at Arnold and tackled him to the ground. “That bitch Arlene hired ya, didn’t she,” Earl shouted, “Wants me dead for screwing her over with child support!”
Arnold stood up and pushed the drunk aside, rushing to the kitchen. With one hand, he opened a drawer, with the other, he opened the window. Arnold really wasn’t very bright.
Earl struggled to stand, giving Arnold just enough time to reach into the drawer and feel for a knife. His hand touched a wooden handle he could only assume belonged to a steak knife. He waited for Earl to stand upright, threw his improvised weapon, and watched as a wooden spoon thwacked Earl in the eye. “Seriously, dude,” Arnold said, “How poor are you?”
Earl stumbled backward, tripped on Arnold’s dagger, and fell. His neck landed on the kitchen counter with a crunch.
Arnold stopped and stared at the fat man for several moments. “Huh…” he finally exclaimed. “Job well done, Arnold…job well done.” He retrieved his dagger, sat on Earl’s stomach, and grabbed his hand. Arnold was required to bring back a finger to his organization to verify his kill. He lined his dagger up and began to move it back and forth.
Earl opened his eyes and began to scream.
“Oh my god, shit, shit, shit, shit,” Arnold panicked, holding the man down as he sawed away at the finger, “I am so, so, so sorry. Darn blade is just so dull and, oh geez.”
Earl struggled to stand, but Arnold’s weight was too much, and the man’s chubby arms could do little more than grabbing at Arnold’s coat.
“Oh, wait, don’t do that,” Arnold said.
There was a loud bang, and a bullet shot through Arnold’s other coat pocket and hit Earl in the neck.
Earl began to choke on his own blood and died.
“…” Arnold stared at the man, “Are you gonna stay dead this time?”
There was no answer.
Still no answer.
“Good,” Arnold said cheerfully. He resumed cutting off the finger. When he finally removed the finger, he stuffed it in his pocket and stood upright. He looked at the window, then the sliding glass door, then the window again. “You know what,” he said to himself, “I put too much effort into opening that window not to leave that way…”
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