The street below is as empty as it always is in the warehouse district at-- What time is it? Matthias Stone pushes up the sleeve of his simple black suit jacket. His silver watch reads 7:15, but he thinks maybe the hour hand approaching 8, and the minute hand being over the 3, means it is 8:03. He’s not sure why he even wears the thing, since he can’t read the time. One of these days he’ll invest in a digital watch, or get one of those phone things.
Matthias Stone looks exactly the way you’d think a professional killer might look. A decidedly deadly fashion statement in his line of work. “Be unseen. Be unknown. Be lethal.” That’s the code of the Assassin’s Guild. Though Matthias has never quite seemed to grasp it. He understands the lethal part well enough. Put a bullet in the target, and collect the bounty. But unseen? How can one be unseen, if one cannot turn himself invisible like that wizard kid in the movies with that cloak?
Matthias is not invisible. He’s six feet tall with an athletic build, black, bald, handsome, and too slick not to notice. He is striking even in the cheapest of plain black suits. As if that isn’t already enough of a dead giveaway, he also wears a red necktie, like that other hitman in that game about hitmen. What was it called? He can’t remember, but he likes it, and it was made right here in Montreal.
His target, one Jason Ransik, was due to arrive on the street below at 7:15 a.m. But that was a whole hundred or something minutes before now. Did he miss him? Or did he remember the time wrong? He reaches into his breast pocket, even though he himself does not have much in the way of breasts, and pulls out his little black book. Again, not the sort of thing an assassin wants to carry around, in case of apprehension by law enforcement or a rival guild. But we’ll let him have this one, because a man like Matthias can hardly be trusted with memory alone.
Jason Ransik was indeed supposed to walk around the corner below at precisely 7:15. Matthias wonders what is taking him so long. He pushes aside the mostly transparent curtain with the business end of his 30.06 sniper rifle. The gun rests on a tripod, and Matthias peers through the scope.
And there he is, dressed exactly like the photo that came with the dossier. The photo itself wasn’t wearing any clothing, to be clear.
But Jason Ransik is a rat of a man with corner store sunglasses and a cheap green suit from the ‘90s polyester section of the Sally Ann. He walks down the sidewalk nervously, his head on a swivel. Matthias wonders what a swivel is. It’s some type of turny thing, for sure. He quickly makes a note in his book, “Look up swivel,” and returns to his rifle scope.
Matthias steadies himself, and exhales slowly as he squeezes the trigger. Thud. The muffled sound of the hammer hitting nothing in the chamber of his gun. He opens the chamber to reveal... nothing. “Empty,” he whispers, scrambling as he searches all of his pockets until he finds a rifle round.
He quickly loads it into the chamber backwards, aims, and takes the smallest moment to gloat. “Easy money.” Matthias squeezes the trigger. But, as mentioned, the round was loaded backwards.
Let us take a moment to examine Matthias Stone, who in this brief display of ineptitude, has proven to us three things:
- He can not tell time.
- He can not load a rifle.
- He is in fact an idiot, and has very little business, if any, being a professional assassin.
These things being the case, one must consider the question: What could provoke Matthias Stone to choose this profession? It does after all require weapon proficiency, and at the very least a modicum of intelligence. And with neither of these attributes in his employ, what exactly drove Matthias to take up professional killing?
Money? Well, no. One might think financial gain is the primary factor for anyone in the business of killing, but for Matthias it is not. As a young man, he’d come into an unexpected inheritance after the mysterious death of his great uncle Stevie Stone. And each year since he was 17, Matthias has received upwards of $20,000.
He isn’t sure how it all works, but it pays for rent and utilities. Jobs are, as far as he is concerned, optional.
And this is, let us say, a good thing. Because Matthias has always found it difficult to hold down even the most menial of jobs. Nor does he aspire to become wealthy. While he does know he needs money, and with some time and encouragement can count to at least a hundred, a casual observer would never assume Matthias really understands money. In fact, he doesn’t even feel he needs it. It’s always just been there.
So what is his motivation then? Passion? Revenge? Blackmail? Simple bloodlust? Righteous judgement of underworld criminals? None of these quite seem to fit our assassin. The original thing which drove Matthias to take up professional killing is, in short, anyone’s guess. Even he himself, one must assume, is not aware. Regardless, here he is bumbling his way through his first contract.
But wait! Where did Jason Ransik go? Matthias springs to his feet, snagging the butt of the rifle on his jacket pocket, which tips it forward and out the window, tripod and all. He hears what must be the rifle breaking on the concrete below.
His Glock 17 secure in a concealed holster, Matthias jogs out of the room and makes his way down the stairwell to the ground floor. For no apparent reason, he kicks the emergency door open instead of simply pushing on the rather convenient panic bar. This of course sets off the building’s emergency alarm, right as the door swings back and slams directly into Matthias’s perfect beautiful nose.
As you may recall, we described Matthias as being quite good looking. More handsome than your average bumbling buffoon deserves, perhaps. And while he would eventually be so again, in this very moment, his face quite resembles the flaming bag of turd he left on Mr. Miller’s porch that Halloween when he was twelve.
Naturally, we mean after Mr. Miller stomped out the flames. Matthias, at least for now, is not on fire, bless his soul.
And perhaps his not being on fire right this second was why Sugar Shack, a neighborhood sex worker, felt this was an appropriate time to proposition him. “Hey sweetie! You lookin’ for some sugar?” Matthias, leaning his head back and pinching the bridge of his nose, peers over his hand at Sugar Shack. She looks tired and worn. He already has some sugar, he assures her. But she protests. “Baby you ain’t never had my kind of sugar.” Matthias looks beyond Sugar Shack just as his quarry, Jason Ransik, turns into an alleyway.
For clarity, Jason Ransik did not become the alleyway. He isn’t some urine soaked inner-city alleyway version of Turbo Teen, an ‘80s Saturday morning cartoon about a teenage boy who could turn into a red sports car. Rather, Matthias’s target turned away from the main road he was on, and walked to his right, into a space between two buildings.
“My sugar is made from beets. I’m sure your sugar tastes the same,” Matthias tells Sugar Shack, as he walks around her in pursuit of his prey. She watches him leave, and without exclusion, likes what she sees. “Mm-hm. Sexy and dumb as a post. Where have you been all my life?”
Matthias turns and walks into the alley. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Matthias pulls out his handgun and proceeds cautiously. At least he knows enough to exercise caution on occasion. Jason Ransik’s shoes stick out obviously from beneath a pile of cardboard, but Matthias walks right past them and doesn’t even notice.
Actually, we take back what we previously said about Matthias being cautious. He is in fact quite reckless. And we will add that he is singularly unobservant. Again, why is he an assassin? It makes literally no sense.
Nevertheless, here he is in the thick of it, and he continues walking forward until Jason Ransik springs from his hiding place, with his gun pointed at Matthias Stone’s back.
“You lookin’ for someone?” asks Jason. Matthias turns quickly and the two stare, guns drawn. Matthias answers simply, "Yes."
Jason asks, “Do I know you?” Matthias looks him over, and notices one key distinction between the target in his photo, and the man standing before him now. This man, if he is indeed a man at all, is not wearing sunglasses. And therefore, in the mind of Matthias Stone, cannot be the same as the man in the photo.
At this point, you must be screaming “nobody is THAT stupid!” And refreshingly we can report that Matthias is not in fact that stupid. His sudden inability to see Jason Ransik for who he is, now that he is not wearing sunglasses, is not about stupidity at all. Rather, Matthias was born with a rare form of face blindness which-- oh forget it, he actually is that stupid.
Matthias lowers his gun. “Sorry. I thought you were someone else.”
“So you follow me into an alley with your gun drawn?” says Jason, not lowering his weapon. “Who exactly is it that you’re lookin’ for?” Matthias holds up the photograph of Jason and shows it to him.
“This guy. Goes by the name of Jason Ransik.” Jason looks Matthias over, unsure. “That’s me. I’m Jason Ransik. Who hired you to kill me?”
Matthias chuckles. “You’re not the guy in this picture.” At this moment, Jason’s pride takes over. And for reasons known only to the vast intangible force which created humankind, he becomes dead set on making sure his would-be assassin knows that he is in fact the man in the picture.
If he were speaking to any other assassin, doing this would almost certainly seal his fate. But he is speaking to Matthias Stone, who is apparently not the only one lacking in the brains department.
Matthias stands stubbornly by what he feels is his evidence.
“Oh my god. You’re serious,” says a baffled Jason Ransik, before lowering his gun. Matthias replaces his Glock into the holster and says, “Anyway, Mr. No Sunglasses Man, I need to go kill the real Jason Ransik. Sorry for the case of mistaken identity.”
“No worries,” replies the real Jason Ransik, as Matthias Stone walks out of the alleyway.
Matthias slows on the street outside, as if some truth finally dawns on him. He takes out his little black book, uncaps his pen and writes “look up different sugars.”
Replacing the book and pen, he returns home to search the internet for sugar, swivels, and a new sniper rifle. He will inevitably become the victim of credit card fraud. But it will turn out okay for him, because he will be unaware of it. The same way he is unaware of being kicked out of the Assassin’s Guild, and Jason Ransik’s forthcoming retaliation.
But learning about swivels does put a smile on his face. Such are the simple pleasures of Matthias Stone.