Sometimes I like to pretend I live a normal life. When my neighbor's yappy chihuahua wakes me up in the morning (I've decided against the shotgun approach so far), I close my eyes and pretend that the thing's bark is my alarm. I imagine getting out of bed, taking a shower, putting on makeup and heels, and running out the door to beat the traffic.
Boots laced. Hair in a ponytail.
I create this whole office world in my mind–a frustrating boss who yells a lot, co-workers who act like high schoolers. An air conditioner that doesn't work blasting lukewarm air into my office. Of course I'd be in an office. My temperament would not agree with a cubicle.
Jacket from the kitchen, pear from the fridge. Shoulder holster? Check.
But then, I wouldn't get to shoot people as they run away with someone else's stuff. I'd never get away with wearing jeans and leather boots in the world of power suits and lattes. Seriously, those people can't even function without drugging themselves every morning and afternoon.
"Got the map?"
"Yeah, it's in my pocket."
A revving engine. The click of seatbelts.
I would listen to books on tape performed by full casts of actors with voices like James Earl Jones and Julie Andrews. When people cut me off in traffic, I'd just smile because it might mean four more seconds of someone else living a life of adventure, while I was in the (relative) safety of my car.
"#*$&! Learn to drive!"
"Geez, Méli. Calm down."
The target is in the university library. Right turn, left turn, left turn. Wait.
At work, I would gossip by the water cooler with the other girls. If there wasn't a water cooler, I would buy one and put it outside my office door so I could listen. There would be a lot of drama that would make each day feel like the end of the world.
"Don't do anything stupid." A linked pair of zip ties tucked into the waistband of my jeans.
"You know me, Tiberon. I'll be fine." As wicked a grin as possible.
When I got home after work, I would wind down with a glass of wine. Maybe scotch. I'd watch old TV shows and knit hats for my friends. My cat would curl up next to me and try to bat the knitting needles while I worked, and I'd scratch her ears and smile when she purred.
The whoosh of automatic doors. Hushed whispers and footsteps.
Up, up, up to the stacks. Books. Books. Books.
I would go to bed early, wearing a silky pajama dress. My dreams would be about waterfalls and rainbows and people at work and things I had read in the books I had stacked by my bed.
A gun clicks. Zip tie around his wrist before he turns around. "You?!"
Another wicked grin. "Me. Let's do this quietly, yes?"
Down, down, down the stairs.
Saturdays and Sundays would be for sleeping in. I'd have a living garden and green grass. Clean carpet. A fridge full of fresh food I bought at the market.
"I'm not getting in that car."
An elbow crunches into a nose.
"I'b gettinb in da ca!"
Squealing tires. The drop-off.
My friends wouldn't know what you had to pack to pick up a target hiding out in Sao Paolo or Niamey. At our get-togethers, we'd talk about their children and PTA meetings and remodeling our houses.
The dog's tail physically can't wave any faster.
The holster and guns go back in the den.
I toss my jacket on a chair; it slides to the floor.
Avel is waiting for me in the kitchen. He grins.
I think I would hate having a normal life.