Two Extra Bullets
Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Word Count: 1211
"Hello," she said entering my office reluctantly. Another interview-hopefully the last one for today. "Hello," said I. "Please make yourself comfortable." I ran through her C.V. again.
"Would you like anything to drink?" I asked her.
"One black coffee with no sugar please," she said now with more confidence. It must have been the look of approval that she could easily read on my face. She had quite a strong perfume for a young lady like her.
"Can I smoke?" she asked. I nodded. She lit a cigarette. Then another one as we chatted. Then I had this weird feeling. This mixture of cigarette smell mixed with her strong perfume took control of my head. I even opened the window though it was cold enough, but it didn't help. I got lost in this smoke; somewhere twenty years ago. It took me back to that autumn.
During that autumn, my parents had to leave for a couple of weeks and I had no choice but to stay at my aunts’ house. She lived in a neighborhood where streets were so clean and people so perfect that it was even boring to look at them. My aunt was a middle-aged, skinny, cold woman with thin lips and a high forehead. Her hair was always pulled back tightly into a bun with no single hair astray. She was a school teacher at one of the most prestigious schools, and it was funny how her occupation somehow left an apparent trace on everything she said and did. She was one of those people who worshiped discipline and one of those who had ready answers for any questions related to life or morals. It even seemed to me as a child that somewhere in her closet she was hiding a very lengthy list of people who would end up burning in hell. But there was one thing I admired about her; it was her incredible patience. It was unthinkable that something or someone could make her lose her temper, except when she saw that woman or talked about her. I would see her face growing rigid and her body almost paralyzed. I remember once she spotted that woman from some distance. She then addressed me, but in a weird way without even seeing me; her eyes narrowing and her breath becoming heavy. She then said, "Had she lost all the feeling of self-respect at all? Oh just look at her wearing that outfit! Could she possibly be more vulgar than that? And her poor kid! Oh I can only imagine how torturing it must be to have a mother like that! No wonder she is not allowed to see her only daughter!"
I looked carefully at that woman who could drive my aunt crazy just by passing near her, or just breathing the same air that filled my aunts’ lungs. When she passed by, it seemed to me that all the air around absorbed that smell of cigarette smoke mixed with strong perfume. She was a tall, full-bodied, middle-aged woman with long, wavy black hair that mysteriously covered part of her face. She was wearing tiger leather boots nearly up to her hips, a black sweater and enormous earrings. She had some wrinkles on her face but time was rather merciful to her, especially when compared to my aunt. I wouldn’t say that she was beautiful, rather she had that magical ability to steal and captivate all the attention and it was impossible to take her for someone else or not to notice her in the crowd. Not one single woman in my aunts’ neighborhood would dare to show up in public wearing similar outfit. She always wore fewer clothes than other women did and much more- make up. After seeing her for a couple of times I noticed that she frequently changed her company of relatively young men ,most of them riding in exceptionally luxurious cars, but there was one thing she would never change- the color of her long, red, carefully polished nails .But no! Once I actually saw her without her red nail polish. It was early in the morning, when I had that habit of waking up a little bit earlier than the rest of the family and going for a short walk. Usually, I would go straight to my friend`s house but we had a fight the day before, so I've decided to change my course of direction, and after a few minutes of walking I was amused by that picture appearing in front of me. I saw that woman feeding that dog which almost scared me to death. He was thin, ugly, blind, helpless creature. So thin- that I could almost count his ribs, his eyes were sunk deep inside and his left ear bitten by other dogs. He was so exhausted that he could barely walk. I never saw anybody feeding that dog, and when people passed him by, there wouldn’t be any reflection of sympathy in their eyes; it was replaced by collective hatred and complete rejection to his ugly existence. I stood there mesmerized looking at both of them. There was something indescribable about that picture. The two of them were looking each other in the eye as if there was a kind of muted mutual language no one else could hear. She was wearing no make- up and her red nail polish was removed, and the dog was waving his tail in excitement. Then I saw her wrapping him in her expensive pink shawl and taking him to her place saying with pure sarcasm "Those nice bastards wouldn’t feed you, would they"
Before my parents' arrival in few days, I accidentally heard that she had poisoned herself. They found her dead in the kitchen, with a picture of her daughter in her hands and bottles of empty vodka all around her. Next day in the morning they held a meeting at my aunt`s school. The children were banned from entering, but I was too curious to miss it. Anyway, I managed to find a good place to hide in, but I didn’t benefit a lot from it. They were saying things I couldn`t understand; they spoke of religion, the importance of life, the severity of punishment and they used weird words like suicide. Suicide. That was the first time when I heard this word. Also I heard distinctly my aunt`` firm voice and her insistence upon killing the dog. On the same day one of the most respectable men in the neighborhood killed the dog. He missed the first time and shot him in his back, and despite having two extra bullets he decided that it was enough for a creature like that. It took poor dog a few hours to die. Then all of them…….
A breeze of cold air took me back to reality. "So Mrs. Zainab you mentioned in your C.V. that you have 3 years of experience in the field?" She stared at me without answering for a few seconds, and then she replied:
"Yes, actually it was three years and three months, but I haven’t mentioned the training period."
"Well, what can I say? You’re the kind of person we’ve been searching for. By the way do you like dogs?"