Stale peanuts, cable television, and cheap beer. If you were interested in an experience with mediocrity, Murphy’s had it all.

“Can you believe that?” The small talk didn’t break the theme.

I shrugged.

“News just said there’s upwards of seven billion people in the world.”

I finished my drink and started fishing through my jacket.

“That doesn’t do anything for you? Seven billion people, Jake! I don’t think you’re visualizing it.”

“What’s crazy about it, Murph? Birds sing, pigs shit, and people fuck. When they stop fucking, that will be a story.” I tossed the crumpled up dollars onto the counter and made my way to the exit. The client hadn’t shown.

I was cursing the guy under my breath when I bumped into him. He was wearing an expensive suit and a look of disdain for his current surroundings. We found a booth and he explained the situation. He was to be divorced, had kids, and the wife wanted custody. He wanted ammunition.

I took the job.

It didn’t take long for me to get a grasp on her schedule, and only a little longer to find the detour she would often make to some less than expensive apartments.

The building across the street would be the place to shoot from. I knocked on the door of every suitable room, most didn’t answer, but one was promising.

A younger woman opened it up. Glancing down her hallway, I saw a cafe uniform on the floor.

“Can I help you?”

“Maybe. How much do you make in a day?”


“I need the view from your room. I’ll pay a hundred a day until I see what I’m looking for.”

“You a pervert?”

“Worse: a private investigator.”

“How do I know you’re legit?”

I pulled out two Grants.

“Okay, but don’t touch any of my stuff.”

The next morning, I arrived a few minutes before she was heading to work, with my camera and tripod in hand. She let me in and showed me to the window; a decoration on her mantelpiece caught my eye. A face made of metal. Twisted, ugly, and awfully rusted.

She noticed me looking at it. “It’s something, right? From the old country.”

“What is it? The Devil?”

“Just a man.”

“That’s a man?”

She laughed and left.

I set up my stuff and waited. That first day, I figured out what room my client’s wife was visiting and what her lover looked like. The curtains closed after she got there, but not before they kissed.

The second day, I got to watch him work out, play guitar, and jerk off.

The third day, she showed up again. The curtains didn’t close. Instead of starting with a kiss, it started with a slap. She hit him. He kissed her. She pushed away. He pulled her back and threw her onto the bed. She yelled; he didn’t care. He tore her clothes off. She struggled, and he enjoyed himself. When it was done, he stood and stretched. That’s when she tried to run. He grabbed her hair and threw her back towards the bed. She didn’t make it all the way. Her head went directly into the corner of the metal bed frame. She didn’t get up.

I had it all photographed. From the start to the finish.

I called my client. “I got news. Some good, some bad—”

“Not over the phone. Meet me at Murphy’s.”

I packed my stuff and returned to the bar, taking one last glance at the mask on the mantel.

The place was full. My client sat on a stool, laughing away the time with Murph.

I handed him the SD card and told it straight. “Everything you wanted is on there. But you wont need it. Her lover, uh, he killed her.”

The guy just stared at me, his face still half a smile.


“You said there was bad news.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Hey Murphy! A round for everyone in here! On me!” The place went off like Mardi Gras. Smiles all around.

I just sat starting at my client’s face.

“Just a man.”

I was starting to see the resemblance.