Jason sat at the edge of the cliff and waited. He knew this day would come eventually. He’d spent years frightened and did his best to avoid it. But one couldn’t hide from his mistakes. A day of reckoning came for every man. The dust stung his eyes, and sweat drops collected on his forehead. He waited and thought about how things could have panned out differently. He shouldn’t have betrayed the family. But there was no turning back now. And he was tired of running. It’s time, he thought to himself; The time for judgment is here, and I’m embracing it.

He heard a car pulling up in the distance, and then footsteps.

Jason knew it had to be Marty. The same Marty he introduced to the family; the same Marty he trained and loved like a son.

Soon Marty approached him and sat beside him and looked at the vista. The rolling blue hills enveloped in mist looked beautiful. They sat silent for a while. Marty then pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He offered another to Jason, who politely declined. From a distance, they looked like two friends watching the sunset. The afterglow flooded the place with a purple hue. Jason looked up at the stars and wondered who held them in alignment. Was it Rama? Buddha? Allah? Yahweh? He’d know soon.

“I hate to be the one doing this,” Jason said, breaking the silence.

“You always have a choice. Walk away, and I’ll disappear.”

“They’ll find you. You and I know that.”

It was dark now, and the place was buzzing with flies. They sat, basking in the light of the full moon. They heard crickets and frogs. The weather suddenly dropped, and a cool breeze wafted in.

“Do you still have a cigarette left?”

“Here, this is my last one.”

Jason put the Marlboro Red in his mouth, and Marty lit it for him. He inhaled and felt the nicotine hit him. He exhaled, and the smoke cut through the air. He took a few more drags and tossed the half-smoked cigarette over the cliff.

“Well, get on with it then.”

Marty pulled out his revolver and cocked it. He stood behind Jason and aimed. Watching from a distance, one could see a few flashes of light and hear a loud thud. The birds shrieked and flew from tree to tree. Then there was a silence as if the world had gone mute, and everything in existence had stopped spinning. The sound of footsteps retreating from the cliff completed fate’s script.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

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