“Today I Will Kill Someone” by Joshua Meander


The birds are chirping outside like springtime wake up calls. My wife and kids are sound asleep as I shave. I put on my Oklahoma Railroad uniform. The coffee is ready. I pour a cup and put two slices of bread in the toaster. The vaguest glimmer of light emerges as I close the door behind me and proceed to walk twelve blocks to the Carson Avenue stop, where I will board and take my place at the control panel of the 6 AM commuter train. Today will be like any other day. I will drive the train.

The birds are chirping outside like springtime wake up calls. My wife and kids are sound asleep as I shave. I put on my "uniform": black pants, shirt, shoes. I amuse myself from time to time with my ties, but nothing too outlandish. In my line of work, I don't need to be calling attention to myself. The coffee is ready. I pour a cup. I'll stop for breakfast later. No, rush. My job will be completed long before the breakfast specials are off the menu at the diner. I attach a silencer to my revolver, put it into the shoulder holster, grab my blind-man glasses, throw on my trench coat and take a walking cane out of the closet. Today will be like any other day. I will kill someone.

Emerging from the tunnel I drive onward. Glancing down, I notice the dawn light glimmering off the still dewy metal of the tracks. I love that sight. We all have our sense of beauty. That's mine. Like a smoking engine against a backdrop of virgin snow. I like the concept of warm and cold juxtaposed.

As we approach the station I see a huge crowd of commuters, bigger than usual. Some are reading newspapers, while others appear impatient as if I personally were punishing them for the drudgery of the nine-to-five lifestyle they so pined for when they went job-hunting after they graduated college. They begin moving chaotically as the train comes into view of the platform. All the sense of manners is temporarily suspended as men push into women and young women aggressively shove elderly businessmen. I see this every day, yet it always stuns me how little regard people have for their fellow man.

The conductor is about to announce the station when I receive a message from central command stating that I am to bypass the next station and operate on the express schedule. I accelerate as the horn blares out its announcement to the mob on the platform to step back, that this train will not stop. I hear the crowd shouting obscenities and see them slapping their thighs in anger with the morning papers.

Maneuvering down the steep staircase at the train station while swiping my cane to and fro, it occurs to me that mimicking a blind man is not one of the more enjoyable aspects of my job. I am always stunned that people bump and shove with no regard for a pregnant woman, a child, a disabled person as they scurry off to their mindless, nondescript jobs in some ominous corporation that has even less regard for them than they have for their fellow man. I try not to get too philosophical about this. That sort of thinking throws me off track, out of character so to speak because I am, no doubt about it, tempted to remove my piece and shoot blindly. It never surprises me to read about those guys that just go nuts and walk into some place killing a bunch of strangers. Why not? We're all strangers to each other, aliens on an unfeeling planet... I can't go there. I collect myself. See, if I took things personally I would definitely botch my assignments, ending my career, and most likely my own life in the process. No, better to be detached. I am thankful that I am not really blind.

The station is packed. Something must have happened. I've been at this station every day for the last two weeks and feel like I know everybody here, as much as I care to know anyone. Today, there are new faces, looking more harried than usual. I hear the train approaching, the rumbling on the tracks. I can picture the dawn light glimmering off the still dewy metal of the tracks. I love that sight. We all have our sense of beauty. That's mine. Like a smoking gun laying on a blanket of virgin snow. I like the concept of warm and cold juxtaposed.

At 7:45, my target will board that train, like he has done every day for the last two weeks. I know him better than he knows himself. It's interesting. As an objective observer, I know that he shoves blind men. I have no pity for him. For me, it's a job.

"Come on, move it."

"Hey, let's go. I'm going to be late."

"Don't they have special services for you people? What the hell is the government doing with my god damned tax money?"

"Can't you hear the train? Get with it, pal. Don't tell me you're deaf, too."

I'm really getting the business today. I'm trying, through this crowd and all the ruckus, to keep my eye on my target. It's hard to see with these damn dark glasses. But I like the additional anonymity of this crowd, the fact that something's different today makes it all the less unusual if there is an incident. And there will be an incident. The crowd pushing and shoving in the dim light reminds me of those horror movies I watched as kid, when swarms of crazed, starving rats would be loosed onto an unsuspecting citizenry. Shit! I've lost sight of my guy!

It's absolute pandemonium. You'd think the train schedule had never changed before. I have no pity for these people. They behave like beasts. For me, it's a job.

I hear the blaring of the train. It's not stopping. My mind races. Okay, that gives me time to find him again while we wait for the next train. I wish these idiots would stop pushing. You'd think the train schedule had never changed before.

Someone trips on my cane, catalyzing a domino effect as a whole segment of the crowd falls one into the other. I'm caught in a human undercurrent, being shoved to the outward limits. One great shove comes, unexpected.

(I've lost my balance! I'm off the platform!)

(A man has slipped off the platform! I can't stop!)

I put my head down. The train hurtles on. I am crying. Today I killed someone.







AUTHOR'S NOTE: The idea for this story was suggested by Halina Sznabel.