I ran, the landscape night with windows of light in the buildings above. The red-light district opened onto a housing area. It was probably 2 AM by that point and the streets were emptying. I ended up under the El track, but it was silent and empty. No vehicles sped up the road.
Though it was freezing, I felt like I was on fire. Perspiration dripped down my face. My coat felt like it weighed a ton and was made of ten layers of wool. I sucked in hot, shaky breaths as I slowed to a walk. I was heading back to the hotel room, though I didn’t know why. Part of me wondered if this was giving up, leaving behind Amnon’s place. Would I go back? Would I carry on finishing this? I didn’t have the answers. I just wanted to be alone, to think.
I didn’t notice the figure in front of me until I was nearly on top of him. I looked up at him with a start, jumping back. I was unable to see any details, only shadows in the absence of streetlights, with so many windows gone dark.
“You were supposed to harm him.” It was Amnon, his voice deep with barely restrained anger.
“Not for lack of trying,” I said. I was so very tired. I didn’t want more of this, more of these things right now.
“Oh but I think it is.” He stepped towards me. “I think you couldn’t hurt him. I thought you wanted to kill all of us. Where are your convictions now?”
“Fuck you. I tried. I wanted to. He was too fast.” I realized I was defending myself against his words, the words of one of those things. I felt sick. Why was I shooting at Sam and talking things out with this?
“I won’t run from you.” He was right before me. I could reach out and slice through him. The wind picked up and that cologne of his wafted over me, smoky and heady. He spread his arms wide as if crucified. “So hurt him.”
I never had put away the knife. It felt white-hot in my sweating palm. Where had my gloves gone? I couldn’t remember.
I licked my lips, which were dry and cracked.
“That’s not how I do things,” I said.
It was too dark to see his face, but I sensed his frown. He snarled audibly. “Then we’ll do things differently.” He grabbed my wrist, lightning-fast, and twisted. I dropped the knife as pain seared through my arm. I kicked at his leg before I could think, acting out of reflex. He didn’t react, but there was a cry of pain from behind me.
Amnon paused and looked into the darkness, then chuckled low, like a growl. “Well that speeds things up a little.”