Dirty Tears

Carter caressed every bullet in the palm of his hand before sliding it into the clip. He had done this many times before but tonight, in the dark, it felt poetic. Each of the cold lead tips seemed to punctuate his sadness and for the first time that he could remember, Carter cried.

He sat at the kitchen table balancing the pistol in his right hand. A neon sign from across the street blazed on, then off, making the gun metal change color. Red on, blue off. He watched it for a few minutes, lost in its chameleon-like state of reflection. Then Carter took the large silencer from his pocket and screwed it on to the end of the cleaned and loaded gun. It made it twice as heavy to handle but this time the target wouldn’t be moving— she was sleeping in the bedroom down the hall.


In the five years Carter had been a professional, he almost never made any kind of contact with a mark. And he had killed more than a few women, that had never bothered him. Whoever, wherever, whenever— that was why they had picked him. And they never told him why that person had to die. Why wasn’t for him, it made his job dirty. But something about her file photographs had caught him and tugged at his curiosity. She had seemed beautiful and innocent beyond the borders of his impartiality; Judith had looked… interesting.

Carter found Judith easily enough and started watching her, following her around. Days became a week and, enraptured by her vivaciousness, he felt an uncontrollable urge to find a way to talk to her. Throwing his professionalism and caution out the window, he decided he would, and that it could best be done at the bookstore she frequented.

Judith went to this bookstore after work every day. She would look around the poetry section and invariably sit in the same chair reading until her dinner time. It had been the same that day and he had easily bumped into her chair and started the conversation about Yeats, without any trouble. She had found him attractive and well-read, this he could tell. And, after a two-hour talk had established they were both single, Carter asked Judith out for coffee. That had been three nights ago.


He looked into another flash of red light and started to get up. “Carter…” he heard softly behind him and he turned raising the gun. The silencer coughed and cordite filled his nostrils. He slumped to the floor with wide, shocked eyes.

Judith unscrewed the silencer from her pistol and put them both in the pocket of her trench coat. She bent over him and closed the lids of his eyes. Then she went out into the neon night and wiped her dirty tears.

About troysherdahl

A blue-collar bohemian with a penchant for fine words and dirty jeans.
This entry was posted in short stories. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s