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The old man bent down. Tried, but couldn’t slip the envelope under his neighbor’s door. Checked the empty hallway. Turned and began walking toward the floor’s elevator while pulling a pistol from under his jacket. Pressed the call button and took a deep breath to calm his nerves. Ding. He tightened his index finger on the handgun’s trigger, anticipating the opening doors. Sucked in another calming breath. No one was inside. Tucked his handgun between his belt and watermelon belly. Stepped inside.
The building’s lobby was empty. The security guard had gone home at 10:00 p.m. The condo board didn’t believe it necessary to have him stay longer. Their Rosslyn, Virginia, neighborhood was relatively crime-free. The man walked to a wall of mailboxes directly across from the elevator. Ran a finger along the tenants’ mailboxes, stopping at the second box on the third column. His neighbor’s. He inserted the envelope into it. From his jacket he drew a second envelope, which he dropped in the outgoing mail.
Behind him, the sound of laughter. A couple entering the building through its double glass doors. The man at the mailboxes noticed that the woman was younger. Giggling, holding her male companion’s arm. Her loud chatter and wobbly walk suggested she was drunk. A Saturday-night date, perhaps a one-night stand. The condo building was directly across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, an inexpensive Uber ride from popular Georgetown pickup bars.
The approaching couple appeared harmless, still. The man returned to the elevator and pushed the call button, hoping to board and depart before they reached him. The couple quickened their pace. The old man reached inside his jacket, resting his hand on his pistol. He noticed that she was wearing a gray wool stocking cap and scarf. He wore a red Washington Nationals baseball cap, and the collar of his dark blue coat was turned up. Difficult to see faces.
The elevator doors opened.
The woman straightened, lunged forward, grabbed the old man’s left arm. At the same moment her male accomplice slipped in front of him. A blade before the old man could draw his handgun. Directly into his heart. One thrust. One twist. No time to cry out. Who would hear? The woman steadied him. Pushed the man’s body forward. He hit the elevator floor hard, face-first. Its doors shut.