A little far down the line
The morning unpolluted air roamed free in the streets of Rome, while Veronica Black, dressed in jeans and leather jacket, holding a school bag walked in the direction of the cafe down the street.
She had left her home only at first light to avoid the tremendous honking of cars and people desperate to utter what they couldn’t control in their minds. She hated it when people had to disturb the peace and silence by their same routine blabbering.
The cafe was deserted, much to her preference. She walked in and the girl on call need only glance at her before she hustled to make her a rather large cup of black coffee, as had been her routine for the past week that Veronica had been in Rome.
She would come here and leave in an hour or so. Today however was different. It was her last day in the country and she wanted to enjoy the normal people; she wanted to sit by and watch people moving about in their lives.
Young love coming for their breakfast together; Bachelors coming to sip their favorite coffee before running off to making money, secretly hoping to meet their soul mates.
She wanted to sit there and watch all the magic happen- the one she ever so did believe in once but didn’t let happen in her life-, she just wanted to experience the peace she was missing inside her.
The best thing about the cafe was that it was both indoor and outdoor. Its design was a work of art in itself. Whoever had created it did so with love and attention to the psychology of people.
The inside was just a room decorated with a story wall on one side; people, whoever wanted to came and wrote their stories that they wanted to share with the world but were to scared to share, shared it on the wall. There were chairs facing that wall, where people sat for hours and gained courage from the ones who were bestowing them. The wall opposite to it was painted; a dark night with stars that shined dimly, you just couldn’t be sure that you saw them. On one corner sat a man, holding onto the hand of his lover, who wanted to venture into the world of uncertainty and explore but the love- their bond, his hand- was stopping her.
One side had the counter where they served while the other separated the terrace with just a glass wall.
The terrace outside was simple and was built centuries ago. Its floor and the marble benches and tables, were a living proof of it.
Veronica was already settled on a table outside, working on her laptop when her coffee was served. The aroma filled her nostrils but before she could indulge her mouth and end the agony of her throat, cars from all sides pulled in around the place and men, all dressed in black, poured out of them; pointing gun at her.
Panic and confusion ran through Veronica at the sight of the guns pointed at her. Before, she could make a move; she backed in her stance and collided with a rigid body. A gun came in contact with the side of her forehead, as she looked at the deer in the den.
He was younger than her. His face lacked the maturity which his job and action demanded. He was well built, in a grey shirt and khaki trousers. His breadth reeked of confusion.
Veronica kept looking at him until he finally returned the contact and there, she could see the fear crawling up at his neck. He immediately broke the eye contact and looked around trying to find an escape route. His attention was anywhere but at her. That was all Veronica needed, she moved her arms resting at the table and inserted it inside her bag. The boy had no idea of her action and Veronica knew why. He was terrified of her. He was still innocent. Her hard and piercing gaze was making him uncomfortable and too ashamed with himself, his conscience was mad at him for putting an innocent at danger, little did he knew. He was trying his best not to look in her direction. It was the moment before she felt her fingers touch the cold surface of her own gun, when then that she actually felt sympathy for him.
She did not even pull the safety off and pointed the gun at the only place where the sun for him, didn’t shine. At the immediate moment, he looked at her and she could despair, all his despair and fear. But the emotion that got to her was the look of lost in his eyes. He was the not the only one looking at her.
Veronica could feel the eyes of everyone divert at her before they resumed their original post.
None of them were any government officials nor did they belong to any legal agency, Veronica had concluded. They were far to poised to be that. They had to belong to some sort of mafia or another. The beautiful country of Italy had always been known for its ever dangerous mafia.
Nonetheless, they didn’t quite fit in the mafia. They were hesitant; consciously and without any drop of fear. They were hesitating to take out the poor kid above her head. The mafias had never been known to feel any empathy for the collateral damage or killing one they were after.
She was still figuring out her next move, when a shot was fired and more near to her than her liking. She looked at the boy and at cue he fell to the ground. In his place, now stood a much more mature man, who seemed to have fired the shot.
He sighed and hooked the gun in the holder behind his jacket.
He was average tall, with hairs to drool over. His face was shaved yet Veronica could spot traces of hairs, freckles and the dark circles. He was extremely handsome and the last handsome guy Veronica had an encounter didn’t end well with either. This one however, looked different. Yes, he was handsome but not the type cliché girls these days looked for. He had an air of authority and a dark personality but he wasn’t a dark person really. He looked human with an inhuman jaw line.
All he wanted was to feel that passion of hope again, that things will be better.
He sat at the bench opposite to her and motioned at her; at her coffee.
‘All yours.’ Veronica replied and moved it towards his comfortable reach.
He took a sip, while his men disappeared into their cars.
‘Rough morning?’ Veronica asked.
‘More like a rough lifetime.’ He offered as took he in more of coffee.
Veronica waved at the waiter to bring more coffee and went back to her laptop like nothing had happened. The place was still deserted and much to her surprise all of the action had only taken not more than 5 minutes.
After what seemed like another 5 minutes, the guy in front of her cleared his throat and she looked up at him. He seemed far more relaxed and calm now.
‘Thomas Harrington.’ He bowed his head a little.
‘Veronica Black.’ She offered half a smile.
‘It takes a lot to kill someone.’ He offered.
‘Poor kid. He looked so afraid and lost.’
‘You are not reacting as people normally do to when they see someone being shot in front of them. Are you acquainted with such dealings?’
‘No. But this isn’t the first time I have someone seen being killed in front of me and besides, I am just as shook as you. I assume, this is not the first time you have killed anyone?’
‘Much to my shame, No.’
Veronica only nodded.
‘I must get going. It was pleasure to meet you even in such unpleasant circumstances.’ Thomas said as he rose up.
‘It was a pleasure meeting you too.’ Veronica replied and on he went towards his fancy car.