George wasn't a murderer. Granted, the vast majority of people in this world could be described under this sentence, but then the vast majority are not.
There was something unique about George, something which defined his character in such a way that forced upon you the conclusion that he hadn't, and for the foreseeable future at least,
wouldn't, kill anyone. He had thought about it of course, as has everyone who has lived a social life.
There are always those at work or in your family that one can't help but feel would leave a presence of something positive, rather than an absence, in their wake.
To him it was the Ambassador for her insufferable condescension, or perhaps the Chief Political Officer for that smile of his that always made him piss a little, not always metaphorically.
Sometimes he sat in his cluttered, claustrophobic office corner and wondered what it would be like if he was the only one left.
If he walked in one day, and the calls, the negotiations, the translations were all down to him.
He liked to think that he would be a roaring success, that he didn't need all the COs or EOs or whatever two letter architypes swooped in and dumbly picked up his completed files.
He liked to think he could kill them all and the Embassy wouldn't know any different. He had learnt a long time ago, however, that what you liked in here stood for very little indeed.
It was for this reason that the Proposal had taken him by such surprise. "There is something you need to do" the man had said, more to himself than George.
"There's a member of your office, you'll know who. I need you to get something to him.
" There had been instructions and warnings and confusions, some of which he could only partly recall now, but most of all there had been fear.
The man had met him outside a pub he like to visit after work, just as he was about to make the short stumble home to his government-paid apartment.
It had been dark and the man darker still, but he would never forget that face. The face that turned his life towards a new direction. The face that made him kill.
It wasn't until he had got home and was quickly sobering up that he had realised what worried him the most.
The man had been right; he had known exactly who he meant, but for the life of him he couldn't work out why.
Clearly, they had been following him, or at least had spoken to one of his few friends to know where he went to drink, so why on earth had they chosen to speak to him of all people.
He had no real power at the Embassy, nor any personal connections to those who did. He had never displayed any daring acts of trustworthiness.
He wasn't even into BDSM for God's sake, there wasn't a violent bone in his feeble body.
These questions were still flying around his head two days later when, as the evening closed in on an already disparaging day, he stepped out onto the busy street.
Had anyone been watching, which he somewhat suspected they had, there would have been very little to learn of his weekend habits.
The one time he had ventured outside in those two days he had stopped, checked his watch, and retreated back inside.
It wasn't so much that he had anywhere to be at the time in question than that he realised there had been no discernible reason propelling him out into society,
and this was a good a reason as any to stop doing so. Of course, there was no real reason to be sat inside either, but it was a hell of a lot easier and there were wonderfully fewer people.
Every conceivable thought and reaction had gone through his mind, and nearly as many had been hurled as insults at his dachshund.
There were a few big ones which he thought really ought to have been mentioned during his encounter.
Why, for instance, did some lowly translator official deserve the ultimate retribution? What if someone caught him?
"Good evening, George" the doorman pronounced as he hurried inside, "you're one of the first. They said to meet them in the Hall.
" He stepped into the vast building and suddenly it was too late, any hope of finding the answers vanished behind the sweet smell of expensive cocktails.
"Thank you, Sam", he replied, wondering if he was speaking too quickly.
The usual dark mundanity of the great embassy corridor had been, if not covered,
at least moulded into a more welcoming interior by banners and bunting and promises of the fun which was to be had.
Ahead of him loomed the giant Hall doors beyond which he could see at least a hundred sparkling, joyous faces.
At the entrace stood two beautiful young women holding the evening's first intoxicating offerings. He took a Champagne and strode inside as confidently as he could manage.
The advertisements around the office had been right; what he saw was not something he would have wanted to miss.
There were people of all social standing there that night,
provided that standing was significantly high up and held there upon the heads of those less holier-than-thou with the thous were people like him. Nice people really.
They were the ones that haunted the nation's televisions screens and nightmares in equal measure.
The ones which could influence the country's negotiations with the same click of the fingers they used to summon their waist coated servants.
At one end of the room a long, faux-oak bar had been set up and was being commanded hurriedly as the four-deep queue edged inwards.
There were chandeliers and candelabras and mahogany tables and deceiving mirrors, all of which had been significantly polished and shined to please any discerning eyes which may fall upon them.
George had little difficulty manoeuvring his way across the room and towards the least barricaded portion of the bar. The nerves had instantly set in.
Even as he walked, barely acknowledged by his superiors, he couldn't help but feel the ghost of suspicion in those he passed. Surely they knew, he thought.
This must be a setup, maybe it was Briggs. He could imagine him now, laughing hysterically as he explains how it was all a practical joke.
How he would be angry, then relieved and it would all be okay and they could go get drunk and make fun of the Ambassador and her husband.
But there was no Briggs, and he couldn't remember the last time anyone played a practical joke on him. Humour, it must be said, was scarce around the embassy.
"George!" he spun around sharply, almost slapping a passing waitress.
The speaker emerged excitedly from the throng of suits who he had sufficiently perplexed with conflicting and entirely fabricated life stories. It was Taylor.
He was a small, middle-aged man, although these attributes he would contest valiantly, who worked in George's office on some of the larger deals and negotiations the country threw at them.
"So glad you could make it" he continued as if the whole thing had been his invention, "come on let's go get a drink, we can skip to the front I know one of the staff.
" There were very few things Taylor meant when he said he knew someone, and nothing professional featured in any of them.
Before he could protest George was quite literally dragged off past the crowd and pushed up against the edge of the bar.
"Two whiskies please, on the rocks and please stop watering them down." Only then did he turn to face George directly.
"So, what made you decide to show up? I can set you up with Lily if that's it, she's the tall blonde one over there" he pointed sharply down the row of tills.
"No, Taylor, stop. I just thought it would be good to put in an appearance for Her.
She goes on so much about a good work-life balance, if she sees me having some fun maybe she'll stop trying to destroy it with long fucking hours." He had rehearsed his.
Taylor laughed, "Unlikely mate, here cheers. To less work and more parties", they touched glasses and downed their contents.
George knew he should make use of this opportunity; this may have been the one time he actually needed Taylor and his over-confident attitude, and he didn't quite know how to accept it.
He could hear him battering on about the people he'd met and the promises of career progression they had given him, but none of that mattered now.
Sooner or later he was going to put into action all of the steps he had thought out in his apartment, and sooner, he realised, was starting to sound a lot more appealing than later.
"Have you seen Mary around?" he asked, cutting Taylor off mid babble.
"Mary, she's the old one that you keep saying would be your type in thirty years. Works in admin I think."
"Oh her. No no, she's a translator, from Germany, I think. Don't think I have, why?"
"Just got a report the other day and some of those words are impossible to work out, thought I'd run it by her." Another well practiced lie.
"Come on George, tonight isn't about work! It's about drinking and telling the Ambassador what a bitch she is." At this he tried to force a smile and accepted the offer of another drink.
It was time to act. There hadn't been any moment of his life which had come close to the gravitas he held in the air around him.
If he got this wrong everything could be over, not just for him but by the sounds of what he had been told, although that admittedly constituted very little,
the whole political climate could be uprooted if any part of his plan fell through.
That was another thing he didn't understand.
If it was so important that he complete his task correctly, why hadn't he been given more guidance?
That wasn't to say he didn't trust the plan he had come up with, in fact he was quite proud of it, but he hadn't exactly had any training.
He hadn't experienced anything remotely like this before and he felt it was the kind of thing for which a practice run would be vitally beneficial.
TO BE CONTINUED...