“A Night’s Walk”

A short story by Hasmik Tumasyan

Hasmik Tumasyan

Everett was not an interesting man. He wore his hair in a neat side part. He smelt like Old Spice Classic. He liked to play pool. He had a collection of Led Zeppelin CD’s. He lived in an apartment alone. He seemed to always have a briefcase when his friends needed one. His closet had a multitude of black suit jackets and leather gloves buried under t-shirts. He once sold fifteen gun silencers online. He used cases of concealer at once to cover the tally marks tattooed on his forearms. Everett was not an interesting man, at least not anymore.

A knock at the door. He nearly jumped out of his skin. No one ever came to visit him, and especially not at night. Another knock. Whatever, maybe it was the landlord. Everett cautiously headed towards the door, fists balled up at his sides. Once he got to it, he looked with one eye out the peephole, and immediately let out a breath of annoyance. His hands darted up to undo the two chain locks and two regular locks, and then to the knob. 

“Forrest, if I remember correctly, I thought I told you lot not to contact me again.” Everett’s eyes followed his guest as he walked inside, inspecting his home. 

“I like the place,” Forrest remarked. A confident air was about the way he talked, the way he stepped. He’d changed from when Everett last saw him.

“Enough. Why are you here?” 

“Whitlock wants you back in the agency.” He turned to make eye contact, a sigh following his words. Everett met his gaze with poison. “She says you were the best gunman we ever had.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Everett said through gritted teeth, walking towards Forrest until they were a foot apart. Of course, he did know what he was talking about. He knew it very well. But he thought maybe if he said it, he’d start to believe it.

“She’s willing to offer you a higher position if you accept.”

“I couldn’t care less. Get off my property.”

“Everett, let’s be reasonable here. You had the best numbers out of all of us. Best accuracy, too. You were one hell of a hitman, and I’m willing to bet you still are. So come on, man-to-man—”

“Get. Off. My. Property,” Everett spat, and he meant it. Everything about the other man bothered him from the second they first met. Everything from his cockiness to how he insisted on sucking up. Except now all of those traits seemed to be amplified. They were inches apart now. Forrest broke the silence.

“So be it,” He muttered, adjusting his suit jacket before turning to exit the apartment. “But you can’t keep running. Someday it’s going to be your end. Goodnight, Everett.” And with that, he left. He didn’t close the door behind him. 

Everett groaned. He slumped down into his chair, rubbing his temples. Of course they had to come back to torment him. Right when he was starting to forget. Maybe it was the souls of the ones he’d killed playing a cruel joke on him for trying to erase them from his memory. He used to hear their wails in his head, and he could hear them again now. It scared him. They asked him why he traded their lives for money. Why he was so selfish, why they deserved to die, why couldn’t he have waited a day later. Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY? WH-

He stood up abruptly, pressing his palms to his ears with so much force he thought he would crush his skull between his hands. The blood rushed to his head from how suddenly he rose, turning his surroundings into a blurry mess. Fortunately, the headrush managed to ward off his spiraling thoughts. He dropped his arms to his sides, panting.

I should go for a walk. Everett thought to himself, practically sprinting out the door and onto the sidewalk. The night smelt of rain from the night before, and the air was moist when he breathed it in. 

Inhale.

Exhale.

It calmed him. He began to walk. Crickets chirped, the occasional car drove by. This was a good idea, he thought. Soon he would forget again, he thought. Thirty minutes in, he figured he should head back.

“Sir?” A girl’s voice sounded behind him. He whipped around, almost socking whoever it was in the face. It was a teenaged girl, maybe around fifteen years old. She inched back in fear. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry, kid. I didn’t mean to scare you. What is it?” 

“Do you know which way’s Eastwood street? I think I wandered a bit too far.” 

“Yeah, I know where it is. Just around that way.” Everett pointed ahead and to the right. “Do your folks know you’re out?”

“Don’t have them.”

“What do you mean you don’t have them?”

“They went out with their friends one night and didn’t come back. Police found them dead. It was on the news a couple years ago. Can you walk me?”

Everett’s eyebrows furrowed. She seemed awfully trusting and open to him, considering they’d met a minute ago. It made him uneasy, but he quickly shrugged it off. Maybe it was just from trauma or something. Either way, he wasn’t going to let her walk alone at night. “Yeah, I’ll walk you.” They started heading toward the street. “Where do you stay now?”

“The orphanage by Eastwood.”

He didn’t even know they had an orphanage in the city. “Then why are you out so late?”

“I like to take walks sometimes.”

“I do too, but it’s dangerous when it’s dark.”

“Why do you like to take walks?” She looked straight ahead when she talked to him.

“It calms me down. Takes my mind off things.” They were nearing the end of the block.

“Do you always take a lot of walks?” The girl asked the question almost immediately after Everett answered. She was asking too many questions. The uneasy feeling came back again, but he shut it down again. I’m a grown man. I’ve got no business being jittery.

“Do you always ask this many questions?” He joked. She didn’t laugh. They crossed the street.

“Not really, no.”

“Yes, I always take a lot of walks.”

“So you’d say you have a lot of things you want off your mind. Lots of times you need to calm down.”

“I guess.” What’s up with this kid? 

“What kinds of things? Mistakes? Regrets?”

He didn’t feel like being interrogated any longer. “We’ll be at Eastwood in a minute.” Everett’s attempt to redirect the conversation seemed to have worked. He let out a sigh of relief.  She didn’t talk to him any more until they got to the street sign. 

“Thanks, sir.” 

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” Everett was about to turn back before he realized he hadn’t even caught the girl’s name. It would be no use to him anymore, but still. It felt wrong to go about an entire conversation with someone without knowing their name, as weird and awkward that conversation may have been. “You got a name, kid?”

“Alexis Eunuch,” Eunuch. The name was so familiar. The memory was just begging to be let into his mind, but he couldn’t quite grasp it. He paused for a moment to try to recall where he’d heard it before. “Ring any bells?” Alexis’ gaze was cold. It scared him.

“Do I know you?” She stepped closer to him. He felt something pierce through his chest, followed by burning white hot pain. And with the pain, he remembered.

Eunuch. Hunter and Evelyn Eunuch. 1567 Eastwood St. Left agency: 2:04 A.M. Time of death: 2:43 A.M. Status: Successful.

“No, Mr. Solace, but you did know my parents. You won’t need to take any more walks now.”  

Everett was an interesting man. He was interesting to all who observed him, and all the ones he tried to run from.