It was a foggy morning in the town of Marfa, Texas. The bitter, cold wind slashed against your skin like shards of glass. It had snowed yesterday. The sun had not entirely come up, but you could still see the ice melt in front of your eyes. A black SUV skidded down the road and stopped right in front of a dingy barbershop. The old shop had a wooden, well-built front, and flashy glass doors, which were an unusual sight in this part of the town. The door was locked, though you could see the inside of it if you cared to squint enough. The shop had a small, wooden staircase leading up to the doors. The door of the SUV, which was an even more unusual sight in this part of the town, opened in a quick motion, and a tall, muscular man stepped out. He closed the door closed behind him. He was wearing what you would expect an H.G Wells character to wear. A gigantic black overcoat over a brown, shabby sweater, which barely seemed to fit; dark grey pants, the kind which are narrow at the top and loose as they reach the ankles; and polished jet black shoes, which shone when light fell on them. He wore a cowboy hat, and a muffler which covered most of his face, leaving only his eyes bare, which today, had a pair of sunglasses perched in front of them. The man looked around him suspiciously, and then, finding no one in the vicinity, proceeded to walk towards the shop. He reached the door and tried opening the door. The lock rattled, but didn’t budge. The man looked around once again, and in a swift motion, with his gloved hands, he detached his pistol from the holder on his belt. He struck the glass door with the handle of the gun. The glass shattered, and shards of glass pierced his skin like the cold, ruthless wind. He jerked his hand, and once the pain subsided, he moved on to the matter at hand. He kicked the remaining glass down, and carefully entered the shop, avoiding the sharp edges. He pulled the curtains once he was inside, as if they hid the shattered door. He knew why he was there. There were three barber-chairs, all in a single, horizontal row; all facing a long, shared mirror. There was a small, mahogany cupboard kept at the end of the horizontal row, which held the instruments (a pair of scissors, blades, razors, shaving cream) a barber might use. The man had the number inscribed on his mind, and yet he picked a piece of paper out of his pocket, just to be sure. seven-one-eight. the digits were scribbled in neat handwriting. He folded the chit and put it back in his pocket. He bent down, and under each of the leather chairs was a metal trunk. Three-digit numbers were written on each of them in crimson red marker. He pulled out the one labelled seven-one-eight. The cold, grey metal felt nice against his wrinkled skin. He unlocked the trunk. Click. Click. And opened it. Inside was a black, plastic polythene. He picked it up and glanced inside to check if what he needed was inside. The black polythene contained a clear, small pouch, filled with white powder, and a couple of firearms. The man placed the polythene in the inside pocket of his coat, and started to walk out of the door. As he walked out of the door (carefully avoiding the sharp edges), he heard the sound of an engine approaching. Startled, he hid behind a small fence that was just beside the shop. Unfortunate as it was, the car stopped suddenly in front of the shop. A tiny man got out, and went to examine the door. Finding it shattered, he became a bit scared. A robbery? Something this ‘criminal’ hadn’t happened in years. He quickly pulled out his mobile phone. A few meters away, a muscular, overcoat-wearing man sighed. Something twinkled in his eye. Something evil. He tried to believe he was doing the act unhappily. That he had remorse. Guilt. But he couldn’t. He knew what was about to happen, and he was excited. He rarely had the chance. He pulled out his pistol once again, this time with a motive. He saw the tiny man a few meters away, dialing a number on his mobile. He sighed again, and stood up with a small grunt. The man dialing on the phone didn’t notice. He rushed to the side of the shop, so that he was adjacent, in a sense, to the other man. He regained his breath, and tried very hard to control his emotions. He was standing with his back to the wall, his broad shoulders hunched, the gun shivering in his hand. He removed the safety, and cocked his gun. The other man had his phone stuck to his ear, visibly scared. ‘Um-Hello, is this the police depart-’ The man with the gun had now rotated, and was standing directly in front of the other man. Two men, standing in a horizontal line in front of a dingy barbershop. ‘Uh hey, do you know who was here?’ He asked the man with the gun. Somehow, he hadn’t noticed the pistol in his gloved hand. The man with the gun couldn’t control it. He started laughing. A cruel, menacing laugh, that young children sometimes have. The other man was confused now. Before he could express this confusion, the man raised his hand, and in an experienced motion, pulled the trigger. The sound of a bullet shattered the cold morning air, and the other man dropped down in the snow like a puppet, and the phone fell out of his hand. Crimson red blood bloomed on his chest, and stained the white snow. The alive man’s face was stern now. The laugh had been wiped off. He stared at the dead men blankly, with dead eyes, refusing to show remorse. He raised his hand, and shot him squarely in the chest again. He was professional, usually, and did not waste bullets until he absolutely had to. But today was an exception. He hadn’t had the adrenaline rush through his veins in so long. His index finger pressed against the warm metal. His palm rested against the rough, wooden handle. Comfortably adjusted. Like a child in his own bed. He hadn’t heard the sound of the bullet blasting through the air. The sickening sound of a bullet on bones. Warm blood gushing down wet skin. Those gorgeous, dead eyes that he cherished like gold coins. He hadn’t killed in so long.
He felt a sense of victory overcome him. He was overwhelmed with the sight. He dragged the body and plopped it into the backseat of his SUV. and just as mysteriously as he had come, he was gone.
Detective Brown sipped his coffee on the cold, bitter morning, as he sat on a black, foldable chair. There was murder in the air.
‘Charles, do we have anything except the blood?’ The young detective asked. ‘We know that there was a call made to the police station at around seven in the morning. Neighbors reported that there were a couple of gunshots, too. Pretty good chance that it was a murder.’ A tall, handsome man, who was about an inch shorter than Brown answered in a low, matter-of-fact voice. Brown didn’t say anything. He sipped on his coffee, as if trying to make out what murder meant. ‘What about the barbershop? How in the world is this all related to an old-town barbershop?!’ He asked again. ‘That’s the confusing bit, boss. Apparently, the shop had been closed down a few years ago when the owner died. It has been locked up since. No one saw anything suspicious happening around it. We’re trying to locate the kin, you know, maybe he knows something, but no luck yet’ He answered in his low voice. ‘Did we find fingerprints?’ He asked, still sipping his coffee, still gazing into the distance. ‘Nothing, they reckon he was gloved’ He answered. Inside the shop, the forensic team was working to find the fingerprints of a murderer. Charles looked up at them. ‘Hey, Chris, when you’re done with this, bring me some lye, and put it on my tab, I still owe you three bucks for gas’ He ordered the forensic expert, who was kneeling down on the barbershop floor. ‘Will do’ He answered uninterestedly and went back to looking for fingerprints on the floor. A tall, muscular man stepped out of the shop, wearing dark Raybans, and a slick hairstyle. He wore a leather jacket and dark trousers. He had a stern, resting face which could’ve easily been punched at. He adjusted his sunglasses and walked up to Brown, who glanced at him only to confirm who he was. ‘Hey, Brown’ He said in a deep, sexy voice. ‘What the fuck do you want, Jim? I’m really not in the mood to see you’ Brown responded, a bit too harsh, if you ask me. ‘Uh-huh, that’s not how you talk to the forensic head’ He said, clearly flaunting his title, as if he’d won it in a wrestling championship. Forensic Head. ‘Look, Jim, we all know who you are, okay? There’s no point in flaunting it every two seconds’ Brown said aggressively. Jim chuckled, and lit a cigarette. ‘So, whodunnit?’ He said. ‘Jim, let me break this to you. You’re a lonely, lonely man, and nobody wants to talk to you. Would you please inhale smoke somewhere else? We’re trying to work here!’ His voice rose towards the end. ‘Well, I gotta go and buy a shovel’ Jim said, walking away. ‘Why do you need a shovel?’ Brown asked, as Jim reached his ride. ‘I need to bury someone’ He said, and chuckled. But something didn’t fit. There was definitely something wrong with the way he smiled, or so Brown thought. It seemed too real. He blew off these thoughts. He had work to do, he couldn’t afford to be blinded by personal vendettas. Brown closed his eyes, and imagined the crime scene. He often did this, to ‘get in the mind of the killer’, he told Charles. It wasn’t a very successful technique, but Brown insisted nevertheless. ‘Charles, come on, let’s go’ He said, standing up from the black, foldable chair. He couldn’t get the thought of Jim out of his mind. This frustrated him. He needed time to think. Charles the lackey followed him, holding a yellow-paged notepad in his hand, noting down bullet points in neat cursive, as the world around them got ready to erupt into flames.
Brown sat on a comfortable leather sofa, holding a glass of dilute scotch in his right hand, and rubbing his chin with the other. Charles was standing on the blank, mauve-coloured wall opposite him. It had been a long day, and it still wasn’t over. The sun had just set, and the fireplace beside Charles was crackling with deep orange flames. Charles sighed-‘I don’t understand, there’s not a single fingerprint there, no body, no suspects-’ ‘Oh, there is a suspect’ Brown cut him off. ‘Who?’ Charles asked, expecting their first lead. ‘Jim’ Brown answered hesitantly. Charles shook his head disapprovingly. ‘No, Charles, don’t dismiss the thought, wait, let’s add up the facts’ Brown said excitedly, getting up from the comfortable leather sofa. ‘Jim drives an SUV, and we found the same tire marks on the snow; Today morning, he said that he was going to buy a shovel! If that isn’t a sure shot-’ ‘Boss, I really think you need some rest. That was a joke!’ Charles interrupted. ‘Come on Charles, throw me a bone here! He was wearing sunglasses!’ Brown said, almost jumping up and down. ‘How do the sunglasses give him away?’ Charles asked, sarcastically. ‘You know what, you’re the worst’ Brown said, like a child says when his parents refuse to buy him a toy, and sat down again on the sofa. ‘Oh, his hair! he has a murderer’s hair!’ Charles said mockingly. Brown knew he was tired. He just couldn’t get around the fact that he’d wasted an entire day without a single lead. Thee ringtone of Brown’s phone broke the heavy silence of the room. He answered-‘Hello, who is this? Oh, Chris, what’s up?’ Charles watched Brown’s smile getting bigger and bigger. ‘WHAT!? Are you kidding me, oh my god Chris, you’re the best!’ Brown hurriedly stuffed his mobile phone back in his pocket and dashed towards the door. Naturally, Charles followed. ‘Brown, what is this about?’ He asked, pulling off his coat from the coat-hanger. ‘Chris called, he has a lead. We found a fingerprint’ Brown said, sprinting down the stairs. ‘That is great’ Charles said, following Brown. ‘What, that’s it? You’re not excited?’ Brown asked, jumping straight over the last three stairs. ‘Oh, I am, it’s just, there’s a lot on my mind’ He said, as he reached the bottom of the staircase. ‘Oh, well’ Brown muttered, and took out his car keys. ‘Uh Brown, I gotta pee, can you wait for me?’ Charles said, just as they both settled down on the warm car seats. ‘Oh my god, Charles, are you kidding me, dude? We JUST came down! You know what, this is an emergency, I’ll just drive to Chris, you call a taxi’ Brown said, and unlocked the passenger door. ‘Okay, sure’ Charles said, and got out of the car. Brown turned on the ignition, and drove away.
Brown skidded to a stop in front of Chris’s house. For the first time in months, he felt his firearm, which had been reduced to a dummy, until today. He was actually excited about a case. After so, so long. He stopped his car just behind a taxi, and got out as fast as he could. He knocked on the huge wooden door. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then he shouted out his name. ‘Chris! Chris, open the door!’ There was still no response. He decided to do what a policeman in a film would do. Break the door. He adjusted himself such, that his shoulder was directly against the door, and then with all his might, he pushed. His entire weight was flung against the door, and the door came off it’s hinges, though it wasn’t completely broken. Brown was pretty sure he was. Gathering all his remaining might, he threw himself at the door again, and this time successfully broke it. He fell facefirst inside the house with the door. It took him a couple of minutes to regain consciousness, and realize that his hands were wet. In fact, he was lying in a puddle. If it hadn’t been for the door between him and the floor, he would’ve been soaking wet. He looked at his hand and retched. Blood. Crimson red blood that stained white snow had stained his hands. He tried to stand up, but slipped on the wet floor and fell facefirst directly into the red. Somewhere near him, he heard a laugh. Cruel and menacing, like young children sometimes have. He looked up at the unmistakable figure of a man he’d known all his life.
‘Charles!?’ The word left his mouth in slow-motion. He couldn’t feel anything. He felt as if he was in a dream. A cruel dream, where wooden floors were covered with blood. The man above him came closer, and stepped on Brown’s sidewards-face with his right foot. ‘You’re an extraordinary fool, Brown. You try to see the bigger picture, the end of the horizon, and you miss what is lying right at your feet.’ Charles laughed his laugh. ‘What-what does that mean?’ Brown said, rubbing his head, still trying to muster some strength and stand up. He couldn’t. ‘I was operating under your nose all this time. Let’s see, today morning, I ordered Chris to deliver lye at my home. And you didn’t bother to notice. You were to busy trying to frame that bastard Jim. And then, the greatest clue you could’ve gotten- today evening, we sat in the car after Chris called you, when I said I needed to pee? You agreed for me to take a taxi! And you know what? You just parked your car right behind that taxi.’ Brown was shattered. How could he have missed this? His mind wandered to the car ride. When Chris had called- Wait, where was Chris? The question burned in his head like soldering iron. ‘What did you do to Chris!?’ Brown asked, suddenly feeling a lot more nauseous. Charles kicked him in the side of his gut, so that now, he was lying on his back, facing Charles. He looked him dead in the eye. There was a strange twinkle in his eye, an evil twinkle, that he’d never seen before. His lips creaked into an uncomfortable smile. Brown knew what that meant. A strange wave of panic took hold of him. Before he could stand up, Charles took out his gun and pulled the trigger in a single, soft motion. The bullet struck Brown squarely in his face. The sickening sound of bullet on bone. Brown fell down on his back with a loud thump. There was a sort of finality in the way he fell. A strange sort of resignation. His disfigured face stared upwards towards the ceiling. Charles sighed. His face contorted into a stern, deadly expression. He put the gun back in his pocket, and turned around. There was a duffle bag directly behind him. He opened the zipper and took out a large, black overcoat, a muffler, and a pair of dark sunglasses, and set them aside. A few minutes later, a tall, muscular man with neat handwriting, wearing what you would expect an H.G Wells character to wear, stepped outside the house. There was murder in the air.