Arsenic and Old Lace

Arsenic and Old Lace

The old woman dropped her purse as she fell, spilling its contents all over the sidewalk. He rushed to help her, stopping short when he saw the back gun under the purse.  He was surprised to see an old woman, frail as her, brandishing a pistol. 

What’s the world coming to, or has already come to, in this case?“, he thought.   

He handed it back to her, it was lighter than he expected.  

“Thank you. At my age climbing the sidewalk’s a major headache, I lost my balance. It’s kind of you to help me.”, getting up. 

While she spoke, she used the gun as a talking-aid, waving it, enthusiastically. He tracked its movements, minutely. Scared, she may accidentally discharge the firearm. With a start, he realised she was rambling, some story about her granddaughter. He was mentally plotting ways to get out of this crazy situation, without being punctured by a bullet. 

“…it’s her birthday. What to buy with my limited income? Then I chanced upon this gun here, and I was relieved. Not only does it fit under my meagre budget, but also looks real. No?”. 

“The gun’s fake?”, his only take-away from her verbal diatribe.  

“This? Yes! It’s a water pistol. I got it for my granddaughter’s birthday, she’s obsessed with guns. Weren’t you listening to me?”

“Thank the good Lord! I almost had a heart-attack when I saw it! It looks so realistic. Sheesh.”, relief flooding him. 

“Really? My granddaughter will totally buy it, then. Gosh, I’m late. The party starts in an hour and I’ve got to wrap this.”. She felt dizzy, “I’m still woozy, please can you accompany me till the signal? Thank you.” 

At the signal, the crossroads was clear. She leaned into him, holding his forearm for support, giving him a hug, a peck on his cheek.  He felt a slight pinch on his forearm, where she held him. 

“Bye ma’am. Please be careful while crossing the road!”, rubbing the itchy spot where a tiny indentation appeared. 

She waved, moving away as she slowly walked across the pavement.  

“Victim spotted. Poison administered. “, her voice, hard, professional into her earpiece. “He didn’t suspect a thing. No trouble at all, I used the water-pistol-granddaughter story, never fails. Who suspects an old grandmother to be a mercenary-on-hire? Please inform the client, the victim has minutes to live before he collapses in an agonized bundle. Give me the next target’s coordinates.” 

The young Samaritan felt a burning sensation throughout, his forearm, the epicentre. His legs collapsed as he fell on the sidewalk. His body twitched, his mouth foaming at the mouth. In minutes, he lost consciousness, and in a few more, his life. 

The old lady never turned back, her confidence in her skills, immense. She pulled the strap of her handbag tighter across her shoulder, and soldiered on. Her mind, already plotting the next target’s demise, the last one, just a statistic, another notch in her belt.

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