I really hate Americanos.

Did she know?

She gazed at me from her small, scuffed table in the corner. I was seated near the door. We’d been there for thirty-seven minutes.

My Americano was three-quarters full.

Hers was nearly empty.

I think they taste like watery shit, but she loves them and this is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. What they order, I order. I don’t know why, but I did it on my first time and I have ever since.

You could say I’m unoriginal, but I’m just a sucker for tradition.

She smiled at me. And chuckled.

Yeah, she knows.

Man, she’s good. It’s alright. It’s happened before. She’ll run now. Makes it a hell of a lot harder but it’s fine. Might have to do some subsequent cleaning but that’s what contingencies are for.

She grinned before returning to her book.

What’s her deal?

She spotted me…why hadn’t she tried to run? It wasn’t typical. They always run.

She turned a page, a smile played at the corners of her mouth.

Does she think this is a game?

This was a first.

I’d done this a lot, and not once had someone grinned when they made me. They all freak and bolt, regretting the deal.

See, people make rash decisions when they’re depressed or sick and unable to off themselves. That’s where I come in. It’s like assisted suicide, without all the judgment or red tape. And the best part is they don’t know when or where. It’s easier on them that way. They don’t have a chance to second guess their decision and back out.

We assistants are a dying breed.

Literally actually, as three of my fellow euthanizers wound up on the wrong end of their barrels recently…

She looked up, the smile reappearing, and twiddled her fingers at me.

OK. Now it’s weird.

I don’t like to interact with clients. Most in similar areas of the business don’t, but my niche especially. It just gets…well, weird.

Like right now.

She eyed me, sipped her drink, then indicated my own.

I glanced at it briefly.

There’s no way…could she…?

She threw her head back and laughed. Now I was really starting to worry.

And feel it.

My skin tingled. My heart rate increased. I was sweating.

I’d been poisoned before. Poison I can take. It’s the doing things while affected that presents an issue.

She’s the one. It was her.

I needed to end this quick.

I tried to stand and draw, but my legs were on holiday. I fumbled the pistol.

My head lolled back. I noticed the staff and patrons, obviously part of this, had cleared.

Just us now.

My head lolled forward and she was in front of me, my gun in her hand.

“Why…” I finally slurred out.

She paused, genuinely considering her words.

“Preservation. First for me…once I’d had my wake-up call…and now for those who missed theirs.”

She smiled curtly, then proceeded to discharge a single round, removing the back of my skull.

My Americano toppled over in the process.

Good riddance.

Tradition kills originality, anyway.

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