“Wow,” she began. Her best efforts at shaving as much sarcasm off of her statement as possible were less than stellar as she added, “Eight words. That makes seven more than any statement you have made to me in the last three months. In fact, you haven’t really made any statements since Lake Geneva that weren’t monosyllabic responses to questions.”
Alyssa chuckled and shook her head before responding, “Well, I guess I’ve been having a little trouble accepting the reality of my fucked up life, Mom.”
“Hey, watch your mouth,” Shelia scolded as she turned toward the passenger seat.
This time Alyssa laughed as her gaze met Shelia’s, “Seriously, you’re going to correct my language? I killed a man, Mom. I don’t even know how many times that I stabbed him. And, here’s a revelation, I come by it honestly. My mom’s a killer.” She shook her head, looked back out the van’s dusty, passenger window, and added in little more than a whisper, “On top of all that, I watched you and – I believe you called him Uncle – Rufus, bury my brother in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night like he was some kind of animal,” tears freely poured down her face by the time she turned her head back around and finished with, “and don’t forget that my dad was killed too. Oh, I’m sorry. Both of my dads were killed because of you; the one that was never really my dad in the first place and the one that I never met. I guess I just don’t think fuck is that big of a deal.”
Shelia’s expression softened as she quietly replied, “You’re right. I deserve everything you’re feeling about me right now.”
Alyssa sniffled and laughed again, “Is that supposed to be an apology.”
“No it isn’t. I have apologized to you over and over again. I am sorry for everything you went through, and I miss Matt and your dad just as much as you do.”
“Which dad?” Alyssa cut her off.
“Don’t,” Shelia snapped. “Mark was your dad. He adopted you. He raised you. And he loved you more than anything else in the world. We planned to tell you, wanted to, but…”
“I don’t know,” Shelia shook her head and sighed. “The timing just never seemed right. We had a good life. We were so happy. It just never seemed to matter. And I know you’re not going to like the way this sounds, but I was afraid you’d want to meet him.”
“And I would have found out that you had him killed before I was born,” Alyssa’s tone dropped from anger to something more akin to defeat.
“I didn’t have him killed,” Shelia defended herself. “I didn’t even find out that he had been killed until around the same time you did. Honestly, I was more worried about your dad finding out the truth about my past.”
“Awesome,” Alyssa replied coolly. “You never answered my question.”
“You’re right. I didn’t. I satisfied my first contract at the age of twelve.”
“You satisfied your first contract?” Alyssa’s tone was incredulous, “You killed someone for money at the age of twelve and all you can say is you satisfied a contract? I can’t even believe how little I know about my own mother. You’re a monster. How does a twelve-year-old girl get hired as a killer anyway?”
“If I could change everything about my past I would, but I can’t. My history is what it is, and it isn’t pretty. The way you say it makes it sound even worse. This will probably make it sound worse still, but I learned at a very young age to forget the things that hurt. I had to. Otherwise I never would have survived. I am a monster. I have to be. I didn’t ask for the life I lived. It just was what it was, and it was all that I knew.
“Miles set up my first contract. Rufus was pretty pissed about it. He promised my dad that he would never let anything happen to me. It’s too bad that he was out on his own contract when Miles put the deal together. My life probably would have turned out completely different had he been around. Probably not, though. I didn’t know it then, but Miles had his hands in everything. He’s the one who got my dad and Rufus together in the first place. I don’t think my dad ever knew that he was his real father. Anyway, I wouldn’t change any of it if I could. That life is what brought me together with Danny Rosatti. If I had never met Danny, you would never have been born,” Shelia finished with a shrug.
Alyssa stared out the windshield as she asked, “What was it like when you killed him?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes I do.”
Shelia brushed her hair back from her face and said, “Okay, I’ll tell you. By the time I killed him, I wanted to. I didn’t know much about him except that he was a bad guy who liked young girls. Miles flew me to New York, dressed me up like a school girl, and sent me to his room. I was scared at first. His robe was open when he answered the door, and his gigantic gut was hanging over his dirty boxers. He was hairy too, kind of looked like a gorilla. He led me inside the room, crawled onto the bed, and told me to crawl on top of him. Straddling his gigantic belly, I wasn’t scared anymore. Angry and disgusted but not scared. The pervert deserved to die. I don’t know who hired the hit, but I’m sure it was justified. Anyway, he was running his hands from my knees up toward my waist. His chubby fingers made it just to the bottom of my skirt when I slipped out the razor blade I had hidden in the pink bow in my ponytail and slit his throat. I can still see his face. He looked so confused. I walked back down the hallway to the room that Miles had booked for us, took a shower, and that was the end of it. I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t have any nightmares or anything. It was a job. Miles gave me ten-thousand dollars and told me that I could do whatever I wanted with it.”
“Ten-thousand dollars?” Alyssa nearly shouted.
“Yep,” Shelia nodded, “and he told me that he was dropping another ninety-thousand in my savings account. Based on contracts that I secured myself a few years later, I’m guessing I took about twenty percent of the payout on that one.”
“That’s a lot of money,” the words marched out of Alyssa’s mouth, completely matter of fact.
“It is,” Shelia agreed. “It was even more back then.” She paused, tilted her head to the side, and asked, “How about you? How do you feel now that you’ve had some time to digest killing Mario?”
“I don’t know,” Alyssa shrugged. “At first I felt really bad about it. I mean, I remember everything. It plays back in my head over and over again like a scene out of a movie, but it was like I blacked out when it happened. I was so angry. I just couldn’t control myself.”
“What about now?”
“I don’t feel bad anymore. He took everything that meant anything away from me. I’m glad he’s dead.”
“But you’re a killer.”
“And you’re okay with that?”
“I guess I have to be, don’t I? Apparently, I come from a long line of killers.”
Shelia considered that for a moment and then nodded in agreement, “I guess you do.”
Alyssa looked thoughtful for a moment and then asked, “Do you want to know how I really feel right now?”
“Of course I do.”
“I feel numb, like I have lost so much that there is just nothing left to take. I’m a shell. It’s like my soul has already left for wherever it is going to go and my body is just going to walk around aimlessly doing what it does until it finally dies. I have one more thing that I have to do, and then I don’t care what happens next.”
Shelia’s brow dipped toward her nose as she asked, “What do you mean? What one thing do you have to do?”
Alyssa’s eyes slowly scanned the inside of the car before finally settling back on the road ahead of her, “I have to kill Aunt Sophie.”
“You call her Aunt Sophie now?”
Alyssa chuckled, “It’s funny that you’re more worried about me calling my blood relative, ‘aunt’ than you are about me saying I’m going to kill someone.”
“Good point,” Shelia agreed. “So, why do you feel you need to kill her? What did she do to you?”
“Nothing,” Alyssa smiled. “She was actually very nice to me. I never told you this, but she’s the one who gave me the knife I used to kill Mario.”
“Okay. So, why do you need to kill her?”
“I saw her face as we were leaving. None of the rest of you knew she was there. You didn’t see the way she looked at me. She did give me the knife. Maybe she didn’t think I would use it, or maybe she didn’t think about how it would feel if I did. Whatever it was, she had hate in her eyes. If I don’t kill her, I’ll always have to be worried about whether or not she’s coming for me,” she glanced out the passenger window and added, “It’s the only way I can be sure.”
“That sounds like a legitimate concern,” Shelia nodded, “but then what? Do you think that you can live with yourself after taking another life?”