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The Gradient

I did not want the house to be dark. The posh villa had to be lighted. My target wasn’t much of a brainiac, but it wouldn’t take a genius to sense something is wrong, when his ambient lights did not work.

The villa had its own modern distinctive style, much like the neighborhood it was located in. It had modern furniture, intricately placed pieces of mirror along the walls. But tonight it’s going to have a corpse in it. The corpse of my parents’ killer.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone moving behind me. I spun to find that it was just my reflection in a mirror. Looking at the mirror, I realized how much I had changed from that winter night, when my parents were killed in a clearly planned accident, so this scumbag of a lawyer can be well-off. My parents were killed by their legal adviser, and the legal adviser made a paper trail so confusing that nobody would point fingers at him and my parent’s fortunes were his. I had gone from being an all-star college athlete to a street-smart teenager filled with hate and vengeance. From a varsity student in t-shirt and jeans, to a ruthless killing machine in combat fatigues. The gradient of my life had gone from White to Black in just a matter of seconds.

The wait for my once-family lawyer, John Podolski, was a little frustrating. And the silence was deafening as well. So, I took a tour of the hallway and the intricately designed photo wall. Most of the photos had little Johnny’s family in it. Something made me stop and look at one of the photos. The Podolski family was standing in a beach. The five-something son was in the arms of his dad and Mrs.Podolski was smiling contently. It was obvious that they had a great time. But something was disturbing me. Blood was rushing through my ears and suddenly I had trouble breathing. Podolski Jr. was looking at his dad’s smiling face, like “Dad, this is so much fun!!” That was a quality family time and even my family had this kind of…..

“Click!!”

The silence was broken by the turn of the doorknob. The target was here.

Game-time.

I hid behind the sofa. Podolski was in his business suit and his face looked kind of stressed. The lawyer walked up to the photo I was looking at and smiled at it. He looked relieved instantly. He sat in the plush sofa. And it sure did make some shifty sounds. Podolski was heavy, of course. He took his blackberry out of the pocket and called a number which had a caller ID named ‘Mellie’. The phone rang for a while and a woman picked up.

“Hey, honey pie” told Podolski. “How is the vacation going? Hope Sammy is having a great time.”

Honey pie….. My dad used to call my mom that way.

“Ok, take care.” Podolski hung up.

Alrighty then, I thought. Family time is over, Johnny. Time to meet your maker.

I took the Austrian Glock out of the holster, safety off. The gun metal gleaming in the ambient lighting, I rose behind and kept it at the back of his head.

Then, something weird happened. The 220 lb man started to cry and he tried even miserably to sniffle his tears.

“How does it feel to avenge your parents, Larry?” asked Podolski, choking on his tears.

“Is that your wife on the phone, Podolski?” I asked.

“Yeah, my wife and son are vacationing on the Carribean.”

“Is that your only family?”

“Hmm… They are my only family.” Still choking on his tears.

“Yeah, family…….” I said drifting off into thought.

If I killed Podolski, the family would be broken. Mellie would be devastated. Sammy might very well become another Larry. Hell bent on hate and vengeance. Much worse, Sammy might start hanging out with the neighborhood's spoiled teenagers and I couldn't even imagine what would follow.

Now I fought back my own tears.

“Yeah Podolski, I had a family too.” I slammed the gun on to the back of his head. Podolski slumped onto the sofa.

A few hours later, he would wake up and realize that I will come back for him if he ever came searching for me. Yeah, he will also live to receive his family from vacation. And, they can have some quality family time.

Walking out through the door and blinking out my tears, I realized, maybe my gradient isn’t that bad. The gradient of my life might be black, but the gradient of my mental state isn’t.

-R.Guru Prasad