Everybody’s Got to Have a Hobby


© Douglas M. MacIlroy

He always took a photo at the end of each job as a keepsake. He’d taken out Frankie “the Weasel” Puleo, who WITSEC squirreled away out here renting cheap kayaks.

It was just a job. Last month, it was a Federal Judge. Next time, it might be a State Senator or a rival drug dealer. No matter as long as he got paid.

Ed wasn’t a great photographer, but he enjoyed it. He just had enough time to make his flight. Helen said the kids were having choir practice at St. Andrews and he didn’t want to miss it.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

I couldn’t figure out what the object in the foreground was (some kind of torch or lantern?), so I focused on the structure, the truck, and the kayaks in back. The rest sort of evolved from there.

Oh, WITSEC is the Witness Security Program, otherwise known as the Federal Witness Protection Program, operated by the US Marshall’s service.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

59 thoughts on “Everybody’s Got to Have a Hobby

    • I thought about hinting at something like that, but decided against it. Besides, to a casual observer, the photos does mean anything. Only if someone connected them to crime scenes would it become a problem.


  1. I guess assassins have normal lives to – I wonder if they have families. It’s an intriguing thought. Well done for creating a truly creepy character James – the idea of taking photos after a hit is truly abhorrent, in a sort of good way


  2. I like that you didn’t know what it was nor researched it 😉
    This was a good take on the prompt… be home in time for choir practice after work is done! 😉


    • Maybe. I read something a blogger wrote yesterday about a documentary of a mafia hitman. He was in prison, so I guess eventually consequences catch up with you, but then again, how would we ever know if they didn’t?

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right; we wouldn’t ever. There probably are a lot of murders and crimes that go unsolved. However, I’ve observed that there’s a certain “eye for an eye” justice being dispensed in this old world. It’s fair and often more impressive than jail time, coming as it does with the needling reminders of conscience. Your character would pay a painful price if his family discovered his hobby.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In the 2010 film “Red” starring Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban plays CIA assassin William Cooper, who has been assigned to “take out” Willis’s character Frank Moses. Moses is a retired Black Ops agent, and because of his job, he never attached or invested in a family.

        Cooper, on the other hand, is married and has several young children. Parker plays Sarah Ross, someone Moses has allowed himself to be attracted to, and because of this, Cooper has her kidnapped and held so Moses will turn himself in.

        Instead, Moses finds Cooper’s family, and while the Mom is playing outside with the children, Moses calls Cooper from Cooper’s house phone and not so vaguely threatens to kill his family unless he releases Sarah.

        It’s a bluff and by the time Cooper gets home along with a whole bunch of cops, he discovers his family is fine and Moses is long gone. It teaches Cooper that he’ll always be vulnerable as long as someone can reach out to his wife and children.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great title, James. I would never have guessed it wasnt about a regular person. It’s fascinating that he has a family too. I can’t imagine their heart ache if they are in the dark about his profession.
    Really liked your story, especially since I hardly ever read crime stories. Gave me a glimpse of a person juggling between two entirely different worlds.


  4. I think a lot of people compartmentalize their lives. It’s probably mandatory if you’re a hit man. Intriguing aspect, having him take those photographs and you add a touch of the ordinary there by saying he isn’t very good at it.


  5. Good story James. The idea someone can live a normal life while carrying out such a job will always be fascinating to those of us who can’t ever envisage killing someone without it playing heavily on our minds


  6. A sombre story, and so believable. I have read press accounts of how murderers maintain double lives, so that when caught by the police, their families say ‘we had no idea, he was a good father….’ guess I believe the families.


    • It’s quite possible that a professional hitman (or hitwoman) could also be a good spouse and parent if their lives are so completely compartmentalized. It must be tremendously confusing for their families when they are caught and their double-life is revealed.


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