Chapter 3

Written by: Hemali Ajmera
'He is handsome,' thought Miss Day. 
Powell’s presence in the café was unsettling for Miss Day who knew most of her customers on a first-name basis. The new visitor seemed unusually interested in everything and everybody in his vicinity, taking in every minute detail. Instinctively she sensed something sinister behind his calm and friendly exterior. She needed to keep a discreet watch. 
The mediocrity of the place was beginning to bore Powell. Reaching for his inside coat pocket, he felt the cold metal of his .500 Smith and Wesson Magnum. 'How easy was it to take someone’s life. A few seconds was all it took.'
A wicked smile crossed his lips. How naïve his victims were to believe that they would live another day. The foolish optimism of ordinary humans amused him greatly. 
Sipping on his coffee, his thoughts lingered on his last respectable job – that of a Peacekeeper in Africa. He had killed a civilian during an ambush with the rebels. After an enquiry, he was ordered to quit the army. 
Jobs had been hard to come by after that. His wife left him, taking their only son with her. “Not enough steak in the fridge,” she had said.
He was angry, very angry. After endangering his life for years, he was left with a broken home, an empty bank account and food coupons. He hated the army for compelling its soldiers to travel halfway around the world and put their lives on the line in some god-forsaken country. Some of his closest friends had perished in this mindless war game. Even the locals seemed to have little regard for soldiers like him who risked their lives to help them. 'Ungrateful wretches,' he thought. Over the years mercy and empathy completely deserted his soul, leaving behind only contempt.     
Sheer desperation had led him to accept this job. The money was good and killing had come naturally to him. Not much preparation was needed either, except changing his appearance after each assignment. The Boss took care of everything – identity papers, clothes, make-overs, transportation and a suitable alibi. The only condition – no questions asked.
Glancing at his watch, he decided it was time to finish the job and disappear. 
Just as he was about to pull out the gun, the café resounded with animated chatter and pattering of little feet. A group of toddlers, wearing blue vests and clutching a colourful ‘walk-in-line’ rope, were being led into the café by two harried care-givers. On an excursion to a nearby park, the group had stopped by for milkshakes and cupcakes.
“F*****g s**t!!” Powell swore under his breath. 
Quickly regaining his composure, Powell decided to wait until the retinue had departed. 
Suddenly his cell phone rang. It was The Boss. 
“What the f**k are you doing? Finish the job and get out!” he yelled.
He was being watched. 
‘I can’t. There are children here,” he whispered. 
“I don’t care. Just do it, NOW!” 


Oh my goodness, what a turn this has taken. You gave great back story to Powell so we knew why he was on the assignment. And then the arrival of the kids. What a stark contrast of light and dark. Beautifully done. Now what? You've left it wide open Hemali. Very good!
Yes, I too look forward to see what the next author will do with the story line. Will Powell kill the children or find another way to carry out his assignment and please his boss?