Dreadful night warmed only by a dim light of an old incandescent lamp. The surrounding room of 4×4 meters is all vague. The light brightens weakly on an investigation table. I couldn’t lower my grip on the cold and unfamiliar atmosphere. Also, there is a cruel criminal sitting in front of me.
The case of ‘El Salvador’ is the biggest work in my carrier as a police detective. It is a center of gambling, nightclub, and alcohol businesses. This place running by a great and powerful corporation. The people behind this corporation are no other than gangsters or mafia. One day, there came a report of corruption in El Salvador. By the time police arrives, the corporation executives were holding a meeting. We came to the meeting room and found twelve people poised to death.
It takes more than six years for me to catch the mastermind of the incident. The horrendous crime this person had done make me think about a big ruthless man. In fact, the criminal sitting in front of me was wearing a tight red dress. Angelic face that appears strong yet seductive. Perhaps I mistaken her for a movie star, but that isn’t the case. Rather, she is a cold-blooded killer who committed murder for profit.
Hours of investigation resulted nothing as she is unwilling to speak any clue. The gun in my pocket was never intended to threaten a woman. I can’t make her speak using the old way. She is a different case in that I have to use my wit more.
“I will answer your question under one condition. You have to play a game with me.” She said.
The game is Russian Roulette. Played with a gun and a real bullet. There are five chambers in a gun. Filled one bullet in the revolver and spin the cylinder. Players will take turns shooting each other without knowing in what turn the bullet is. Questions are asked alternately. If the opposition refuses to answer the question, shooting is acceptable.
I agree to play this losing game. To be precise, death game. Bargaining my principal and ethics as a form of negotiation. For I hope this is a wise option. So, I throw the other four bullets in my gun and spin the cylinder. The gun is placed in the middle of the table. The game begins.
“How do you stay hidden for years?” I asked. She smirked as she might think how typical the question is.
“I suppose you already know it involves money and people. However, the main reason I was able to hide for a long time was your fault. You don’t expect the villain to be a woman, do you? You are weakened by the stereotype and underestimation you have of my kind. You should beware of what you think.”
“That explained nothing”
“Then shoot me” She responded without hesitation. I take the gun, aimed at her face. My trembling hand contrasted with the calmness of her face.
Slowly, I pull the trigger… Empty bullet.
“You see, maybe I don’t have power as strong as yours, a voice as loud as yours, or a body as big as yours. But I have another resource that is extremely powerful. At certain times, with bad intentions, it can be dangerous. This should be the only answer you need.”
She took the gun in my hand and placed it on the table. Indicating her turn in this game.
“If I tell you I was being harassed while working for the corporation, will you defend me?” Deep and cold she stares right at me. I’m sure that her stiff movements lead to a traumatic experience.
The injustice that happened in this society needs to be resolved. My duty is to defend anyone who is oppressed and harmed. But this treatment had to be done in a decent manner. Sadly, she chose her own path, and I can’t help anything.
“If that’s the reason, you shouldn’t kill those guys.” Her face reddens furiously as she suddenly stands and points the gun at me. The sudden movement caught me off guard. Drip in fear, I lose my breath when she pulled the trigger with raging anger.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Now it’s my turn to ask a question. After my near-death experience, I didn’t want to waste time. I got to the point of this investigation.
“Are you pleading guilty?” I asked. She grinned at once.
“You don’t admit to killing those people?”
“It’s not entirely on me.”
Silence for a moment. I was watching for her purpose.
“If it not because of the injustice and weak law system, I would never have to do it. How do you see me as guilty if all I did was stand for myself? It’s my final effort because the governor doesn’t provide any security.”
I gasp for a while. Never have I imagined those words came from a person who chose to work in El Salvador. Among the most repulsive places on earth. Abuse and crime are likely to happen on a daily basis, yet the place is still in operation.
I don’t decline her argument. The people haven’t always felt safe under the law. But how can I show more compassion when she did a far worse thing—murder? Yet she positioned herself as a victim.
“Revenge and redemption. What a classic motif. You can portray yourself as a victim, but you are not innocent. This action involves a lot of money, robbery, this is a more solid purpose so stop trying to gaslight.”
After those words came out of my mouth, she appears even stronger. Cross her legs and sit up straight. Her chin is up, indicating that she is neither being intimidated nor portraying herself as a victim. Indeed, she committed horrendous actions to gain victory.
“Money is power. Being powerful is how I defend myself. There is nothing in this world that cannot be bought, including justice, legal system, even you.”
I stand up in raging emotion. I take the gun and so ready to shoot her head. She insulted me in the most horrific way. I can’t let that getaway.
“You are pleading guilty!”
“You are offended” she responded carelessly.
“Why should I be respectful when you never show empathy or a sense of humanity?”
I only need to roll my eyes. How amazing that a murderer spoke those remarks.
“I will shoot you now,” I said. She is sickening me. I’ve made up my mind. I point the gun closer to her head.
“Don’t you have any woman in your life? Wife, mother, or daughter. How do you feel about them being harassed? don’t you…”
“Don’t compare yourself with those people. You are a horrendous-horrendous murder!”
“I am just a woman!”
It was only a second away from me to pull the trigger. My intention faded when I see the emotional gradation of her.
“…who’s trying to survive.”
At that moment, I realized when I see her face. A raw emotion of despair and vulnerability. Like a soul that craves to be protected, appreciated, and loved. I can now see her for who she truly is. A woman.
Still, that doesn’t decline the things she had done. I spent years working on this case. The hesitation I have on the top of my finger. And so, I pulled the trigger.
Dreadful night warmed only by a dim light of an old incandescent lamp. Now, that lamp has shattered by a gunshot. The surrounding room of 4×4 meters is all dark. I tried my best to search for the emergency alarm. Soon as I turn it on, a loud sound echoed through the entire police station. Officers come to the room and bring a light for the spot. But she is no longer present.
I decided not to shoot her. Her death or the case resolved is no longer relevant to me. Instead, I aimed the gun at the only light resource, creating a small chaotic situation and losing a big progression. She is gone.
The police once again make an attempt to trace her, which resulted in nothing. A press conference is held a week after to proclaim her death. Sure it’s not true, but El Salvador is a way too powerful corporation. Untouchable by the law system and beyond justice.
I have no regret in losing her. After all, the mastermind behind El Salvador is not her. She is just a pion. The bad guy was more formidable and dangerous. As long as a million dollars is deposited in my bank account, her existence or the case’s resolution are no longer important to me. There is no need to struggle as everyone else in this system is driven by money. It appears to be a win-win solution for all. And with that, the case is closed.