I was the patsy assassin for a rather cleverly and smoothly operated, Sopranos-esque crime organization, of whom my immediate contact was the ever-devious and unfathomable Damian Harris. He placed in my hands an m4 automatic assault rifle with wooden stock finish (which thus resembled both my least-favorite quake weapon and the euphemistic ‘rifle’ kept in Tony Soprano’s entryway liquor cabinet for the purpose of fending off bears and burglars). He made it clear to me without revealing a single detail of his motive or reasoning that the mark was someone they desperately needed removed, and that I was the only person they could trust to do the deed. It only occurred to me much later, when the manhunt had begun, the specific qualities of mine they required–trust, and a weakness for praise.
It was dusk, and I stalked the general, my unwitting prey, in an uncannily spotless suburban backyard setting, orange-lit by abundant streetlamps and warm indoor lighting issuing from open screen doors and bay windows. The houses were predominantly small, uniform, one-story ranch houses, as in the strange faux-homey suburbs found surrounding military installations. The general sat on his porch, taking in the pleasant spring night with subordinates and friends. I shot him from the street, then fled, pursued by many of the aforementioned subordinates. I knocked one down ruthlessly with the butt of the gun, and put a shot into his head, wincing at the noise of the report, though in fact the echoless snap it produced was more like the sound of a mousetrap than that of a gunshot.
As I weaved through the narrow streets and tiny yards, leaping fences and ducking behind feeble shrubberies, it occurred to me how stupidly I was going about my escape. No one alive had seen my face, yet I persisted inexplicably in toting the murder weapon everywhere I went, waving it about like an idiot. Immediately after that intelligent realization, I saw that Damian had in fact fucked me with the very m4 I was still clinging to. I wiped it clean on my shirt, dropped it under a bush at the first opportunity, put my hands in my pockets, and strode away causally down the street.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the military installation to find a police-state style trial by angry mob of officers already taking place. Imagine my utter and retrospectively almost comical devastation at discovering that their chosen scapegoat was Erin, lovely and tragical in red and black. There followed a painful mockery of a courtroom drama in which I attempted to defend her. They ignored me, and prepared to execute her firing-squad style. I was holding her, steeling myself to shield her with my body and try for a suidical escape, when I started mercifully awake.