Mme Jacques Cartier-Bertrand sat in a daze, her glassy eyes, red and swollen, staring at no one in particular. The salty stream of clear liquid pouring down her face was completely ignored, causing a wet patch on her black Yves Saint Laurent top that she wore. Her manicured fingers, splayed on her knees, tapped beats without rhythm as her thoughts tried to find some sense in all the chaos around her. She couldn’t hear a word of what the good Père was saying, and she lacked the willpower to concentrate on the words coming from his lips. Those lips that had brought her uncountable delights and pleasure. Those lips that had worked wonders on her bare flesh as she tremulously attained peak after peak of pure erotic pleasure. Her drifting thoughts brought a cynic smile to her ashen face, which disappeared as quickly as it had come. Her gaze dropped back to the coffin.
M. François DeChantal sat back among the congregation, observing the proceedings. He sat at the end of one pew, along the aisle, at the back. Due to the elevation at the back-end of the church, he had a good view of the people gathered in the church. His interest was piqued by the number of people gathered to pay their last respects. But more importantly, the presence of the two men standing at the back unsettled him. They were dressed in black suits and black shoes. Their shades were even darker. Ordinarily, one would have thought they stood there because all the seats were filled up, but their unmoving stance filled him with trepidation. What would the French secret service be doing at the burial of a gambler? The dead guy owed his boss over ten million euros and he had been hired to retrieve the money. He was here to make sure the guy was not faking his death in order to abscond from his responsibility. Known locally as le grand meurtrier, the great killer, these guys won’t hesitate to arrest him if his presence was known. He made to stand up slowly to leave, but a hand came to rest on his shoulder, forcing him to sit back down.
She sang her heart away. It was the only cure she knew for her heartaches. Whatever emotional state she found herself in, she knew the songs to sing to make herself feel better. But even this time, her heart refused to budge. The choking sensation that had held her since she heard of his demise refused to let go. How would she, Sophie Angelique Vela live without him, she didn’t know. He had been the center of her world. Twenty four years of age and her heart refused to love any other. Thoughts of him brought smiles to her face often, and her diary had accumulated quite a number of poems and songs inspired by thoughts of him. Her world came to a crashing stop when she heard the news. She took off to his house to confirm the news, and seeing cars from sympathisers parked around the house confirmed the news to her. She couldn’t bear to set foot into the abode, nor the courage to face his wife, because she felt like she had been cheating on her with him, even though M. Cartier-Bertrand rarely looked at her twice. He always greeted her politely, but there’s this twinkle in his eyes that always excited her. And that twinkle she thought of each time she touched herself in the bathroom as she showered. Fantasies painted in her mind and of which she wrote poems. Fantasies that would never be now that he’s dead. She felt the choke hold her heart and plunged deeper into the solo she was singing.
The congregation stood, chanting hymns from the hymnal distributed before the service commenced. A chorister will solo a verse and the church will respond with the chorus. Mlle. Marge Rapuntier, her name for today, stood scanning the crowd. Her job done when she walked by the corpse earlier, would have left the church, as was her MO. However, she was attracted by the young soloist currently singing, and her voice entrapped her with its silky quality and at once she had envisioned an impassioned steamy session with the songstress. How good it would feel to have her sing afterwards, or in the shower, or whenever they cuddled. She preferred younger females and only had guys when she was working. Her most potent guile in her trade. Only that M. Cartier-Bertrand refused to fall for her antics. Refused to wind up in her bed. He really had her wondering if she was getting old, but yet each time he rebuffed her, albeit politely, she didn’t find it difficult to pick up any man she wanted just to reassure herself. She had him researched, to discover that the extremely rich guy had made his fortune dealing arms around the world. He sold to any party willing to buy. In fact, she had been hired to neutralise him by a party to a conflict that realized that, not only did he sell to the other side, he sold to them far cheaper than what they got the weapons for. Seventeen million dollars was the price, but her excitement wasn’t from her impending account balance, she was far too preoccupied with the girl to think about the money. Maybe it’s time for her to retire. No need to put the girl in harm’s way. Retire and vanish with her. That she was the most lethal assassin and currently number one on Interpol’s most wanted list would remain hidden from her. She bade her time as the priest got up to incense the casket.
The priest added incense to the censer and took it from the young altar boy. He approached the casket and made ready to pray over it. He prayed to God to grant the man a permanent, eternal rest, for he hated him. Père Simon hated the man in the casket for the distress he had caused his wife, Mme Jacques. He had known her over ten years now but about five years ago this man came and married her, interrupting their long-running affair. Père Simon had pleaded with her not to marry but she refused, because he himself had refused to leave the priesthood. And after the marriage, she refused to see the père for about a year, but when she came back, it was with a vengeance. The husband was always away, working as a pilot with the Doha headquartered Qatar airways. He spent months away at a time, but the few weeks he was home were the longest and loneliest Père Simon would know. Most nights he would cry in his cold bed at the thought of his love in another’s arms. But what pained him most was seeing her cry like this. He never believed she loved the pilot this much. And it was a relief to stand backing her now, so he wouldn’t see her tear-stained top. The tear drops had made the dress cling to her features, making the outline of her bra visible and giving him an erection on the altar. Holy fuck! God is so merciful the chasuble is free-flowing, or his embarrassment would have been unbelievable! Men! He would need to see her soon to console her personally. And hopefully, this would be her last marital adventure.
The gray-haired man sat quietly in the pew. His face was showing the signs of wrinkling as he was getting on in years. He seemed to pay no attention to what was going on but actually missed nothing. He had seen the beautiful Argentine-born, Russian-trained, freelance assassin, for whom the burial had been set up. She was the most lethal Human alive and most evasive. But the dead man, a brilliant genius had come up with a plan to ensure she would be at his burial. It was a pity his best agent had insisted on resigning at such a very young age. He beat all other agents hands down in intelligence duties. All offers made to retain him had been declined and to stop him going, a bargain was made that should he be able to catch the female Carlos the Jackal, he would be allowed to retire. He had done that with flourish, and even threw in the local hitman for good measure. It seemed his greatest satisfaction in the whole scheme came from the natural end to the marriage with his cheating wife. Her affair with the priest had disgusted him a lot but gave him the impetus to stay longer on the job. He hated coming home. But still, he had found a small source of happiness in a beautiful young lady, the same one whom the feral jackal kept craning her head to look at from time to time. Normally she would have left, for the plan was to capture her outside the church as she left, but her lesbian side had kept her captive. Well, either way, she was never going to lay a hand on Sophie. She had been doomed from the time she showed up for the funeral.
Serenely he lay in the casket, unmoving. He would have loved to see how his funeral went, but some things were more important. Completely dead to the environment and people gathered, he found himself wandering in the dreamland, but the dreams weren’t happy, because he could see his Sophie was very sad. And he couldn’t console her. As for his wife, he couldn’t care less if she committed suicide. He kept to her because he had a job to do. Other than that, he would have left ages ago. He had never talked to Sophie, other than to greet her, but he knew she loved him to bits. He saw it in her eyes. And he reciprocated by the twinkle each time he greeted her and hoped she noticed.
The risk involved in the job was such that they expected an attempt would be made to ensure he was dead. So his suit, made by an agency tailor, had silk Kevlar between the suit material and the lining. Even his gloves were Kevlar. Which was well because hidden beneath the Jackal’s manicured fingernail was a contraption loaded with a king cobra’s venom. The Kevlar had prevented the delivery of this poison to his system, but he didn’t know or feel anything.
Funeral service over, the hearse was carried out of the church. The mourners followed the pallbearers to the horse-drawn carriage. Inside the casket, his finger moved. The tetrodotoxin from the puffer fish meal he had eaten earlier was beginning to wear off.
©Chukwu Dominic
August 2017