By CJ Kral
Eleven years ago
Target twenty feet down field. Safety off, loaded, and coked. All she needs to do is to pull the trigger and make daddy proud.
“Remember Celia, arms straight, firm grip with both hands, stare down barrel, and slowly exhale as you squeeze the trigger.”
With her tiny hand Celia pulled one end of the earmuffs off her ear. “Yes, I remember Papai.”
“Keep your earmuffs on and both hands on the pistol,” he reminded her.
“But they are squeezing my head and the glasses are slipping,” she whined.
“Stay focused, they are necessary. You’ll get used to them.”
She pushed the orange glasses up her nose, but they were slightly too big for her head and slid back down her nose a little. Placing her left hand back on the bottom of the Springfield pistol she lined her aim back up. She tried hard to focus, but part of her didn’t want to do this. There was a nagging voice in her head that reminded her that she would rather be drawing with her crayons. Her head hurt and this all felt weird. The earmuffs, glasses, and having her hair up all felt stupid to her. Also the gun range in the basement smelled awful to her. She was nervous and didn’t want to be there, but her dad told her to and she want to make him proud. Remembering that her father did this sort of thing all the time, she thought that it must be fun or an ordinary thing that all adults did. He wants me to grow up and be an adult, she thought.
Returning her focus to the target she lined up the sights on her pistol with the featureless silhouette on the paper target with five circles in the middle. She began to squeeze the trigger as she closed her eyes. The gun jerked in her hands as the bullet was fired. The loud bang from the gun made her ears ring. Suddenly realizing the earmuffs and the stance was important she fell backwards and Papai caught her in his arms.
“Ouch!” she whined, keeping her eyes closed.
“It’s okay, you did good sweetie. You clipped him in his shoulder,” his calm voice reassured her. Slowly opened her eyes she saw a small hole in the upper corner of the target. It actually did feel fun to her, although she feared the gun recoil even more now.
“He’s probably crying for his mommy, come on try again,” he encouraged her. “But this time keep your eyes open.”
“Yes, Papai,” she lined up her shot again and widened her stance this time, but before she could pull the trigger she was interrupted.
“Sir Donato, Ms. Fanelli is waiting for you in the den,” the butler had entered the basement and bowed his head.
“Pour her a glass of wine and tell her I’ll be up in a minute,” Papai replied to him. The butler left and closed the door behind him.
“I don’t like her,” said Celia.
“Don’t worry she will not be here long and tomorrow I’ll take you on a trip.”
“Where are we going?” She said suddenly feeling excited.
“I’ll tell you later when I tuck you into bed. Now finish the job.” He bent over her and kissed the top of her head.
“Yes Papai,” She raised the gun back up and fired again.
- – –
Nine years ago
A bad day had gone from terrible to even worse. Nothing went as planned. Celia was angry with tears in her eyes. She had her pouting face on as she waited on her father’s doorstep with Sister Elisabete standing next to her.
She never cared much for Sister Elisabete and did her best to always avoid her, but today there was no way for her to get away from her. It started with here catching her getting in fight with one of the girls at the boarding school. Then being brought home. She didn’t mind being sent home, it just meant to her that this day would be over sooner, but Sister Elisa had insisted on meeting her father. She yelled at their butler over gate’s intercom for over thirty minutes before finally being allowed in, but only because she threaten to hold Celia at the school until she was picked up by a parent. The Butler finally said fine just bring the girl in.
Standing at the door Celia was hoping that her father will end this quickly by either canceling the schooling or shooting Sister Elisabete. She just wanted to be rid of her. Looking up at her grimacing old face, she was sweating under her habit from the scorching hot Brazilian sun. After what was an uncomfortably long time the butler finally opened the door. Celia tried to sprint inside, but was stop by the strong grip on her shoulder from the nun.
“I was informed to only let Ms. Celia in and politely tell you to leave,” said the butler. A stare down commenced between the two. Neither would budge and both met each other’s gaze with same amount of intensity.
“I will not leave until I speak to Mr. Morto,” Sister Elisabete tightened her grip on Celia. She tried to wiggle away and run off again, but nails dug in keeping her in place.
“He’s busy right now and doesn’t wish to speak to you.”
“I can wait, until then let him know his daughter is waiting for him here.”
Over their sharp retorts Celia could hear another argument coming from within the house. It was rare for to hear her father raise his voice. He most commonly spoke quietly like a whisper, but she knew when he raises his voice it meant trouble. The other voice was her mother’s that had gone from a sweet ting to a harsh yell. They never fought at least that she had seen. This made her both frightened and curious. She had to know what was going on. Determined to get way. She twisted around and slapped at the hand of the nun. Sister Elisabete did her best to keep her out, but the butler grabbed the other arm of Celia and pulled her away.
Once he knew that she was safely inside he glared back at the nun and stated two words.
As she ran into the den where the arguing was happening it all quickly stopped. Tears filled both of their eye’s. Something had gone completely wrong. They were quiet for a minute, but always being quick to respond father was the first to speak, “Honey, please go to your room. Your mother and I have to finish discussing something.”
“No wait,” Mother walked over and knelt down in front of Celia. She placed her hands on her shoulders and choked back the tears before she spoke again, “Listen mommy loves you. That will never change, but I have to leave. I wish I could be with you as you grow up, but I can’t. Don’t worry I know that you are going to be a strong confident woman. Just know that I will always love you. I just need to leave. Be strong for me, okay.”
She hugged her tight. It took Celia a minute to understand what was going on, before the tears poured forth, she couldn’t believe that this was really happening. Before leaving her Mother kissed her on her forehead and stood back up then said, “I love you good bye.”
“Wait no! Don’t Go!” Celia protested and grabbed on to her mother’s dress, trying her best to copy the grip that Sister Elisabete had on her earlier. “I’ll be good! Don’t leave!”
Her father pulled her back and turned her to face him, “This is not your fault. We both love you very much. Your mother just has to leave. I can’t explain why, maybe when you’re older you’ll understand. It’s just… I have done everything I could to keep you and your mother safe. I will do whatever it takes to make it possible for you to grow up safe and happy. Everything will be fine.”
- – –
Four years ago
“Fuck these key cards,” Celia yelled out drunker than ever before. “fifth time’s the charm, right.”
Everyone replied with a “Woo!” in unison.
Celia stumbled into the hotel room with a drunk pretty boy on each shoulder, named Karl and Franco. Close behind her was Noami and her trophy girl Klara. As soon as she entered Celia threw the boys off her on to the bed. They both laughed and giggled. Franco quickly got off the bed and went for the mini bar.
“Looks like your dad hasn’t come back yet,” Naomi looked around a bit concerned.
“Don’t worry, this hit will take him all night,” Celia’s voice was slurred. “He’ll be here in the morning to pick us up. That’ll give us plenty of time to have fun.”
Franco jumped back on the bed with an arm full of tiny bottles. He passed one to Karl. Naomi snatched a bottle of vodka from him.
“I can’t believe you got away with that shit,” Naomi cracked open the bottle and took a swig. “The look on that designer’s face when you came out was priceless. He couldn’t tell if he counted fifty models or fifty-one.”
“That last girl almost killed you when you walked out,” laughed Klara.
“Killed me? The bitch didn’t even stand a chance,” Celia joined them on the bed. “Did you see me yank off her weave?”
“Never mind that, the dress you tore off her cost at least five thousand dollars,” said Karl.
“Show us that walk again,” said Franco.
“Alright you ready for this?” Celia stood up from the bed and looked over at them giving her most seductive model stare. She then proceeded to walk down the length of room putting one foot in front of the other swinging her hips as she went to make the dress wave and show off its pattern. She made it six steps before she stumbled and almost fell over only to catch herself on the dresser.
“That’s why you’re not a professional model,” Naomi teased. “You can’t even make to the end of the runway.”
“Shut up, before I shove a five inch heel up your ass,” said Celia as she took off the as mentioned shoes and fell at the end of the bed.
“Yeah, I would like to see you try,” Naomi bit her lip.
“What the hell I’m right here,” Klara pouted.
“Relaxed girl, you have no competition.”
They all turned their attention to the door as they heard a loud thunk coming from the other side.
“What was that?” said Franco.
He was quickly answered as the door opened and Celia’s father stumbled in. He wasn’t drunk, but instead had a bullet hole in his gut.
“Boys out!” Celia yelled. They froze not knowing what to do.
“Out!” She repeated. They ran out keeping their eyes glued on Donato the whole time.
“You too Klara,” Naomi maintained her claim.
Once the guests had left the girls turned their attention to Donato. He lied down on the bed and pushed the liquor bottles aside. Celia knelt over him to look at the wound, but he kept his hand on it to keep pressure.
“Is it bad?” Celia asked.
“No, the bullet went right through, it just needs to be sewn up,” He did his best not to show the pain.
Celia ran to her suitcase to get a needle and thread.
“And where were you?” He asked Naomi. “You were supposed to be my back up.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’ll need it,” she apologized. “It was supposed to be a simple job.”
“Well the asshole got the drop on me.”
- – –
Two years ago
Celia never did like Mexico City, especially in the middle of summer. She knew that she’ll get a sun burn on her shoulders and probably her neck as she laid on her belly on a roof top. The city was usually crowded and noisy, but while looking through a sniper scope everything became blocked out. Luckily this scope wasn’t attached to a rifle, Celia never did like training with one. It took too much time and patience, two things that she didn’t like to spend. However, this was not training, but work. It was her job to be on the lookout for bodyguards as her father approached the target in the bar at the end of the street.
Drinking Tequila and texting on his smart phone, the target had been waiting in the bar for about half an hour. Looking at his watch the target, Diego Martinez grew impatient. He was a sharply dressed a freshly ironed suit, but his hygiene left for much to be desired with his long straggly hair and beard stubble on his chin and neck. Fifteen minutes ago, he was supposed to meet with a couple of drug mules, but Donato saw to it that they would never showed up. Next, he was going to see to Diego’s death.
However, his identity was revealed and the bar was well guarded and that is where Celia came in. It was her job to keep an eye out and spot any threats the may prevent her father from reaching his target. Which was easier said than done. Celia didn’t often assist her father on jobs, but due to unforeseen circumstances she had to do what was necessary.
“Are you ready?” from her earpiece Celia could hear her father talking to her.
“It’s about time you showed up. The sooner we get this done the better.” She replied.
“Okay, tell me what do you see?”
Looking at the buildings on the other side of the road. She searched for anything that could be suspicious. They staked out the street earlier and determined that one side of the street was far too public for guards to use for vantage points. The roof tops were the only place to hide without being spotted, which was where Celia was now. The other side however provided a lot of space for guards to protect their employer.
At first the row of store fronts looked inconspicuous, but it was hard to tell with the over grown trees in the way. Looking between all the branches at the windows, terraces, and doorways she searched for any threats. It took a while, but someone did catch her eye.
“It’s seems calm, but… um.” She spoke into a small microphone pinned to shirt collar.
“What is it? Remember anything can be something. If you see anyone that catches your eye let me know,” Donato instructed.
“Okay, there is a guy in a large coat standing in the middle window on the second floor of the third building. He could work there, but every few minutes he scans streets and holds his chest with his right hand.”
“Good work, keep your eyes peeled. I’m going to move in.”
As he walked past the first two store fronts nothing happened, but then Celia saw the man on the second floor watching him and take out his cell phone.
“Something is happening, our friend in the window just made a phone call.”
Donato slowed his pace and started looking around. He kept his hands down at his sides, but he was ready to pull out the gun that he had holstered under his jacket. A man walked out of the store behind him and reached behind him into the waistband of his pants.
“Shit, you’ve got someone coming up behind you. I think he’s one of them.”
With his gun in hand Donato spun around and fired two shots at the man. Their instincts were confirmed as the man dropped a pistol as he fell dead on the ground. Celia lost focus of what was going on, as panic filled the streets. Feeling confused and scared, dozens of people ran out of the stores away from Donato. Two men came out of the bar and charged towards Donato.
“Dad, they are coming for you!” Celia was also feeling panicky.
He took out both of the men before they could come within three yards of him. “I can see that, honey. Take a few deep breaths and keep watching my back.”
Looking back up at the window, she saw that the room was empty. “Shit, we lost our friend!”
The store window next him burst apart as two bullets broke from it causing glass to shatter all around. Donato ducked down and ran out into the street to hind behind a parked car.
“Damn, I’m sorry I fucking missed him!”
“It’s fine, you’re doing good. Check on the target.” He popped up from behind the car and shot back at the store a few times before having to take cover again and reload.
Looking back at the bar, she saw that it was empty. “He’s on the move.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s… um” She moved the scope around frantically searching around. It took several seconds, but she finally spotted him. “He’s down the street hiding behind a newspaper vender.”
Running down the street Donato abandoned the car and left the gunman in the store entrance. As he ran he fired at the newspaper vender trying to prevent Diego from escaping. He fired back at Donato causing him to take cover behind another car. He tried to return fire, but there was a large tree in the way.
“I’m in a tight spot. Can you see any other way to get to the target?” he called to her.
“He has a lot of cover, but wait there is a fire hydrant nearby, can you see it?”
With two shots, the hydrant exploded with a spray of high powered water knocking down Diego. With this distraction, he could run up on him and take him out. “The job is complete, thank you honey!”
An engine reeved up loud enough to be heard from blocks away. Celia turned around to see a large SUV coming around the corner at break neck speeds. “Shit, reinforcements are on the way!”
“Get me out of here now!”
She didn’t need to be told twice as she hastily scrambled down the fire escape and climbed into the driver seat of a sedan that they had hidden the alley way.
“Come on, they are closing in on us!” said Donato as he climbed into the passage seat with his gun still ready.
Celia started the engine and slammed on the gas. As soon as they left the alley way a hundred bullets shattered their windows and covered the car in holes. Ducking her head down to avoid the bullets whizzing by, she tried to maneuver through the cars, but she couldn’t remain focus with all the chaos. The car lurched forward and the airbags deployed as the SUV slammed into them. Her ears rang, vision became blurry, and her head felt like a bowl of jelly on a washing machine. Everything was hazy for her as she tried to figure out what was happening. She felt the car lurch again. This time more it was more violent and from behind. Several gunshots rang out and next thing she knew her father was holding her yelling.
“Celia, are you okay? I have to move you.”
Squeezing her eyes closed she couldn’t stop her body from shaking so much. “Okay, Okay, dad I…”
“The thugs’ SUV didn’t take much damage. We’re going to have to use it escape.” He said as he pulled her out of the car.
With one arm wrapped around her he led her to the passage side. After opening the door, he pulled out a dead body and helped her into the seat. It didn’t register in her mind that she almost died as she buried her head in her hands and began crying.
“It’s okay, we are going to get out of here.” She didn’t even notice that her father had already pulled out the other dead thug and was sitting in the driver’s seat.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I failed you.” She said between sobs.
“It’s okay, I’ll get us to some place safe.” Donato was driving the SUV at its top speed through the city.
“No, I can’t do this. I don’t want to disappoint you, but I’m such a failure.”
Without saying a word, he brought the vehicle to a stop and grabbed her by her shoulders to turn her to face him so that he could look her in her eye.
With a calm even voice he said “You could never disappoint me.”
“No, you’re just saying that.” She turned her head away to avoid looking at him.
“Look at my eyes.” He shook her and she turned back. “I am very proud of you, Celia. If you don’t want to be an assassin, you don’t have to.”
Whipping tears from her eyes, he leaned in and kissed her for head, before asking, “What do you want to do instead?”
Calling upon her strength she held back her tears. “I… I don’t know.”
“Well, I’ll let you figure that out and in a few years I will retire. When that happens we will do whatever you want.”
Present April 28th, 2017
“Bears, painted wings
Things I almost remember
And a song someone sings
Once upon a December.”
“Right foot back, Left foot back, curving it to the right,” Donato directed his daughter through the dance. “Good, now close the left foot to the right.”
Beautiful music filled the ballroom of the large mansion playing on an old fashion Victrola record player. After a hectic long week, the small family was unwinding with some dancing. The night was quiet and peaceful. The house was almost empty. The servants had all retired to their quarters above the garage. There may have been one or two still awake tending to chores, but they gave them no mind. This was moment just for Celia and Donato.
They had been through a lot together. Even since she was a little child he taught her everything he knew. From how to fire a gun, Cantonese, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to hundreds of other things to make her the woman that she is today. Mostly he was training her to be an assassin like he is, but sometimes he liked to show her the finer things in life like the Viennese Waltz.
“Slow down, let me lead you.” Donato instructed. “Listen to the music and move to the tempo.”
“Sorry, I’m used to dancing in clubs.” Looking into his eyes, she reminded herself why he was the only man that she ever respected. She knew that everything he said has been in her best intentions and she would never question his advice.
After a while of peacefully dancing the record began to skip, “Things my heart used to know… Used to know… used to know”
“Dang, I’ll have one of the servants look at it tomorrow,” they stopped dancing and Donato looked at his watch realizing what time it is. “Must have lost track of time. We’ve been at this for two hours.”
“That’s okay I’m enjoying it.” Celia waited on the dance floor as her father took the needle off the record. “We can look up the song on the internet and keep going.”
“No that is enough for today. We should turn in for the night.” He led her out of the ballroom into the den. “Go to bed and get some rest. I’ll be up there in a minute to take a shower.”
“What are we going to do tomorrow? I wanted to go shopping.”
“I have a meeting with Teresa in the morning, but you can go ahead and hang out with Naomi if you want.”
“You’re not being called in for another job, are you?” she asked feeling a bit suspicious.
“We’ll see… I’ll talk to after the meeting tomorrow. Go on off to bed. I love you.”
“I love you too.” She said as she left the den and walked up the stairs.
- – –
Despite it being peaceful and quite Celia had trouble falling asleep. Call it a nervous tick or intuition, but some nagging feeling refused to let her fall to sleep. Through the silence, she could hear her father turn on his shower from down the hall. She knew that everything was fine as she snugged into her pillows and closed her eyes.
At first all she heard was some rustling in the bushes and thought that it was a small animal or the wind. Then there was a tapping sound coming the roof top and suddenly she knew something was up. For a moment, she wished it was just an animal outside, but what her father had taught her to think otherwise. She waited five minutes and the noises stopped. It was silent except for the shower from her father’s bathroom. She told herself that it was nothing and her mind was playing tricks on her.
However as soon as she had reassured herself that she was safe she suddenly heard several gun shots coming from her father’s room. The gun shots were rapid and loud, they sounded like AK-47s. Her father had two of them, but they were kept in the basement. She heard more gun shots, these where not as loud and more rapid. They were most likely from her father’s MP5 which he had stashed throughout the house. Followed by shouting in Japanse. She got up and quickly moved to her door as she heard an explosion and a shot gun being fired from which she could gather that this was planned attacked by several men. They were highly trained and not just some street thugs.
Looking back at window over her bed she saw a dark shadow block the moonlight. She didn’t waste any time as she smashed a lamp on her dresser to retrieve a pistol inside and use to shoot the attacker. The glass shattered and the man feel from the window seal. The men must have been only hired to kill father and had no intention in harming her, to only make sure that she doesn’t get in the way. Which why they were so focused on the east side of the house where her father was.
Even though she wasn’t the target she still wasn’t safe. She ran out of her room into the hallway. She didn’t bother to look down the hall at her father’s room, but heard gun shots and smelt smoke coming from that direction. Instead she moved to the guest bedroom across from hers. They had been through theses drills several times before and she knew just what to do. His directions were easy to follow: number one don’t worry about him or anyone else in the house. Two, go to the guest room. Lock the deadbolt lock on blast proof reinforced door. Three, turn on the metal shutters on the windows using security control pad hidden behind the wall light switch. However, as she pressed the button the shutters didn’t drop. She tired the button for flood lights, those didn’t work either. The intruders had disarmed their security system.
From the other side of the door she heard someone speaking Japanese and the pounding of one of the men throwing themselves on the door trying to break it open. She still heard many gun shots and then her father yell in pain. She knew that there was nothing that she could do to help, making it more painful to hear a father groan and cough. She wanted to help, but she couldn’t. She heard his gun fire back fire back a few shots then stop. He was out bullets and needed to reload. Despite the reinforced door and bulletproof glass windows she still didn’t feel safe. She had an irrational urge to leave. Even though she knew it was bad decision she opened the window and climbed outside.
She stood on top of the roof over the back patio. Looking back down the side of the house she saw a man also out there near the window to her father’s room, but he didn’t notice her. Thinking about shooting him she realized that it would be a bad choice, since it would reveal her position and he might kill her. Instead she crept over to window to the second guest room’s bathroom. Even there was not safe enough for her. The whole second floor wasn’t safe. She needed to go to the basement, but that meant going back into the hallway where all of the gunfire was coming from.
As soon as she opened the door there was a man on the other side with gun. A chill shot up her spine and she reacted automatically. With both hands on the gun she raised, aimed it and shot the man through his chest. With a pull of the trigger she felt relieved as all of fears left her.
As the man fell the ground she saw behind him down the hallway was father bleeding. Looking haggard, he slumped up against the wall. He hadn’t noticed her, he looked like he didn’t even hear the gunshot. A man wearing all black held a gun to him and fired three shots into his gut.
There was no time to react, not to even scream. She spun around and ran away down the hallway. Turned left to go down the stairs past the first floor down to the basement. Gasping for air with her heart pounding a thousand beats second. She ran into the basement past the storage area and the home theater into the wine cellar.
In the back corner, she sat with her gun pointed at the door and waited. They killed her father and she was certain that they would come for her so she waited. Sitting there amongst the walls of wine bottles she cried, cried, and cried.
(To Be Continued)