There’s something to be said about living in different spaces. What that is I don’t know but each apartment I was sent to had its charms and flaws. Knowing I would not be in each for a long time also had its benefits, especially for the more dank places. Over the years my accommodations ranged from million dollar penthouses with trillion dollar views to moist and moldy basement storage rooms lit only by a single, swinging, bald bulb. I assumed all of the properties were owned by Terrance under various business fronts with various names, but I could be offside on that.
I’m not sure the exact point of moving me so much but I think it was a way to keep me off-base and always on-call, never laying roots and becoming comfortable. It worked, however, as with any routine whether it involves constant motion or rigid stasis one becomes accustomed to it and this provides an altogether different level of comfort. I knew I was moving so I never became attached. I did manage to enjoy each of the spaces to some degree, even the ones on the more decrepit side. With those there was nothing to focus on but the book I was reading and exploring the part of town it was in. Again, there was no need for attachment and those spaces forced that issue kindly enough. The trillion dollar views were hard to give up. Being able to look out and see the entirety of a city provides a whole other perspective. It begged me to examine this city on a grand scale and during the times I would do so I would be continually drawn to the idea that this place is a giant organism and like every living thing it is made up of cells that push and pull and give that organism life. Each person, from the penthouse dweller to the basement book reader, plays his or her role in civic life, some saving it and some killing it.
With that in mind, I would be drawn in thought to my role. Where and how did I fit in? If I stopped this insane series of events would it make the city a better or worse place? On the whole, I can say without doubt, better. On the micro level, with Terrance’s threat to you, I would argue worse.
One time I was surprised to find I was housed with a roommate at one of the more posh apartments. For three days – until she received her next job – we lived in an odd, mostly silent state. We never formally introduced ourselves to protect each other and our innocent, leveraged charges and spent most of those three days in our respective bedrooms until the day her job package came through and she knocked on my door that evening with the offer of sharing some Chinese takeout. Our conversation was one or two sentence questions and answers at the beginning of the meal concerning innocuous topics from our pasts – school, cultural background, where we were raised – until I was compelled to ask her the question I had been grappling with. Are we bringing good or evil into the world? She was silent for a full minute as she focused on eating her noodles and I thought the query ignored. Then, with her eyes still focused on her plate she asked me why it mattered. It really didn’t matter the moral and ethical implications of the work we were doing, because we really had no choice and if it wasn’t her or I that got dragged into this fresh hell it would be two other poor souls and the work would be getting done anyway. And she was right. Somewhat at least. The good or evil of the situation was moot. Even wasting time thinking about it was, well, a waste of time. Completing the job was the only option unless we were willing to make a great sacrifice and the way Terrance set up us, and possibly others, he knew we would continue to do what we had to do to keep our loved ones safe.
After that we ate in silence. She finished before me, cleared her dishes and without acknowledgment, she left. I never saw her again, but as I was finishing my meal a chill ran through my body. I had seen her before, or at least heard her. I recognized her voice from my training. There seemed to be a rotating roster of trainers, and they were always paired, always masked, and always dressed in black. I never saw their faces. But her voice, I definitely heard her voice during training. Was she a forced assassin like me? Was she one of Terrance’s minions placed here as a test for me? Was she Terrance even? The one question that hit me the hardest was, how long would I be tied to this business? After my contract would I be forced to train the next candidate as that woman might have been? How deep does this shit-show go? The remainder of that night I was restless and would have preferred to lie on the cold concrete in the cellar of an industrial complex. At least in those spaces I felt I embodied the role I played in the city. I was the diseased vermin taking down the organism one cell at a time.