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by Don Glass

Learning to shoot a gun the first thing they teach you is to squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it. If you pull there’s a chance you’ll jerk and miss. Keep your hand steady, take a breath and squeeze. You’ll hit what you’re aiming at. That’s how I learned to shoot and it’s always worked for me.

I pull the slide on the semi-automatic and point it downward.

Two inches, that’s how far the barrel is from his head as I squeeze the trigger. I could have pulled the trigger but I squeezed it … slowly. I didn’t squeeze for accuracy — at two inches I couldn’t miss. I squeeze to delay the inevitable, the death of the man kneeling in front of me.

Eighteen months I’ve been undercover infiltrating the Delaney Clan. A joint campaign involving the DEA, ATF and the State Police, it’s one of if not the biggest undercover operations in PA history. It didn’t start out this way but quickly snowballed into a multi-organizational operation. When all is said and done hundreds will be indicted, from the leaders of organized crime and bikers to members of the IRA and local street gangs.

I haven’t seen my wife or daughter outside of scheduled visitations since the operation began. We spent a few hours together in a cheap motel over a month ago. The government really knows how to take care of their own. Chelsey, my daughter, will be four years old in a week. I’ll miss her birthday again.

Killing this man is wrong, I know this, but I can’t blow my cover, there’s too much at stake. He stole from us, and he got caught. Like a mongrel dog he needs put down. I have to do it, orders are orders. Putting a bullet in his head is actually helping him out. It could be worse, a lot worse, slow and very painful. At least this way he’ll die fast.

My hand shakes, just a little, not enough for anyone to notice. I can feel sweat seeping from my pores; it trails a path slowly down my back. I slow my breathing, and take deep breaths, steady. He looks up at me pleadingly, his eyes begging. He cried and screamed all night, pleading for his life. I’m his last chance, and he knows it. We both know it’s useless. He has only moments left to live.

Undercover work is the hardest job there is. Total commitment is required. You have to change your whole being, become another person and live another life. You have to balance on a razor’s edge, like a Wallenda on a tightrope. Lean too far one way or the other and you fall.

You can break the law to further the case, but you can’t break any law. You can sell drugs, rob and steal. You can kill, if you need to survive — to save your own life. You can’t kill indiscriminately, and you can’t execute a man, like I’m about to do.

I’m in deep, not deep enough that I don’t know right from wrong. I know it’s wrong but when you’re this far undercover and there is so much at stake, there’s no turning back. I do not want to kill this man. So I squeeze the trigger, knowing this will change my life forever. Thinking of my wife and little girl I squeeze slowly, until the gun goes off.

Donald Glass lives in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He writes mostly about the underside of life that dwells in every city … including yours. He’s had work published in all the usual places online, such as Shotgun Honey, Dead Guns Press, Yellow Mama, Near to the Knuckle, Spelk, Out of the Gutter, and Thrills Kills ‘n’ Chaos, and has had two stories published in the Dead Guns Press anthologies Crime Scene and Dames and Sin.