Maybe I’m not the right person to talk about Fernando Ricardi, since I was the one who ultimately caused his death. Yes, yes, I know, you don't generally hear stories of compassion from a hitman. We’re not known for our affectionate talks about our victims. But, what can I say; the late Fernando was an impressionable little mo-fo.
Believe it or not, I even started liking the bastard, and he even started growing on me. Plus, there were the discussions we had about art, love, life, and everything else in between. The sorry-ass was quite a conversationalist. How could he not, with all those visits that I had to pay him, regarding the many debts to the big boss. All those times that my buddy Tyrone and I had to play good-cop bad-cop with Fernando; I started genuinely feeling sorry for the guy.
Call it professional hazard. That's what happens when you get too close to your subjects. People working in the office get their big bellies and deformed asses, construction workers get their arms and legs broken in injuries, while we, the hitmen, get brain damage. And believe you me, in real life there are no Sopranos-like psychotherapy sessions that we could attend.
That's what the economic recession does to you. With half the Wall Street obliterated, there's a shortage of high profile targets, and so we have to play the role of debt collector to poor souls like Fernando. It would've been all peaches and gravy, if we didn't have to go around enforcing the rules of the business. Do you know how draining that is on an expert like me, who prides his professionalism on the detachment from his targets? There is a reason why we don't get involved with our subjects.
Anyway, I remember Fernando running like crazy during those last moments of his life. We were chasing him through the streets and alleys of Hoboken. Or was it Tribeca? It all becomes one big blur when you are in the business as long as I've been.
What I remember though, are the dark streets. I remember stepping on puddles of rainwater while disturbing the reflections of the half-moon and faint yellow streetlights. I remember hearing Fernando's bumping on trash cans as they would spill throughout his escape route. I even heard him struggling to open a locked door, before he decided to jump over a fence at the end of the alley.
If it wasn't for Tyrone's fat ass, it would've been an easy and clean hit, but the fatso couldn't keep up with the chase and kept stumbling and falling and loosing him.
Just when Fernando thought that he was safe, my punch landed on his face from the dark corner. The blow pushed him three steps backwards, until finally he fell down on his back. He was bleeding all over that navy-blue sweater he always wears; the one with splattered drops of yellow and green paint all over it. Now, there were some extra drops of red.
How did he end up like this? The poor soul was a model citizen in the community. Had a job, a girlfriend and filed taxes on time. He was passionate about his graphic designer job. How messed up do you have to be to end up in some dark alley with a bullet between your eyes? What caused his downfall, this domino effect? How did he get involved with people like my boss? The little mo-fo told me everything.
Didn't I mention the professional hazards? I should stop thinking about my subjects. The recession is taking a big toll on my health. Who could've thought that prolonged contact with these lowlifes could be so damaging to mind, body and soul? Just take a look at Tyrone’s recession-caused fat ass. That's how I feel inside, when I talk about my subjects. I can't wait for the economy to pick up again, and the numbers to start climbing. If I keep doing this for much longer, I'm gonna end up in a nut-house.
Anyways, Fernando had to pay the ultimate price for the overdue debt. I sure hope the “stuff” he’d bought was worth its money.
In the end, when Fernando was looking down the barrel of my gun, what could've I said, except "Sorry buddy, nothing personal, just business. I hope you understand". How fucking cliché...
The article was originally written in English.
Photo Credit: FEDERICO BEBBER
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