He could not help but smile. Eight years of marriage had not worn out her body even a bit. She was as beautiful and heavenly as she was on the day he saw her. Lying on the bed in her favorite fetal position, sleeping peacefully, she looked like the angel who could deliver him from the depths of hell. He stared at her as he always did. Everything in the world could be put on hold for the moments during which he looked at her. He was grateful for this mesmerizing quality of her visage that gave him some respite from harsh realities. He always thought he kept his secrets from her to protect her, and to an extent it was right, but the truth was that it was ultimately to protect his sanity. He wanted a part of his life sequestered from the horror that captured most of his life. Just so he could have this fleeting moments of peace, of innocence when he stared at her, sleeping away a tired day with a contented smile on her lips.
It had been years since he slept like that. Now, insomnia gripped him tightly every night, and the only sleep he got was collapse due to complete exhaustion. The very few moments of unconscious relaxation that were bequeathed to him were also plagued with nightmares of his deeds. The double-entry system, he recalled his accounting professor mentioning. The system where every event had checks and balances, and that nothing could go without cross-checking. Every phenomenon had an effect which in turn became a cause for another effect. Nothing went without being recorded and re-recorded.
He had thought it was going to be fine. After all, he had graduated from the Academy with honors in both academic and physical tests. He was trained in eighteen languages where he could be fluent along with some accents which he could apply or not based on his proclivities. He was proficient with almost any vehicle, and could handle any weapon as though he was born to. The one thing that most people struggled with the most, was looking into a person’s eyes and killing him without provocation. Not for self-defense, not to protect others, but simply because it was needed, either to maintain the smooth flow of an operation, or to prevent his cover from being blown.
Somehow, he could isolate the graphic horror of what he was doing from the gentle person he was. When he looked at his wife, whether across the candles on a dinner table at an expensive restaurant, or at her peaceful best lying on the bed, he could feel nothing but love and tenderness. She would never know what he was capable of. He was an electronics salesman as far as she knew.
He could remember shades of his fifteen year service as large blurs. Panama city, Marseilles, Unter den Linden, Trivandrum, St. Petersburg, Bogota…so many people, so much trouble. They were all the same no matter what nationality or race they were. They all screamed when he was about to pull the trigger albeit in different languages. They all bled the same way. He was supposedly a soldier for his country, a spy, a covert operative who was given orders and knew better than to question them.
He thought of himself as a patriot, but he knew the short term implications of what he was doing. It was all being recorded somewhere waiting to be balanced. The double entry system never fails. It had come back to hurt him now. Agents were being dispatched at the behest of someone high up. He had deployed agents like these many times. He knew that this was standard procedure when an agent turned rogue. All he had done was refuse to murder a four year old child out of a sympathy that he no longer thought himself capable of. That child had lived to identify him out of a set of pictures, and now he was not only expendable, but expediently so. They were coming for him.
He looked at his wife one more time, whispered his ‘I love you’ in her ear, and then stepped back. He turned away from her as he pulled the trigger. By the time she woke up she would find him on the floor. He hoped she would not scream too loudly.