Clover leaned back in his chair and lit a cigarette, stared out over the city without seeing it. Uncounted poems had been written about the way the morning sun struck the hills overlooking the bay, but it was just visual noise to him. He picked unhappily at the remains of his breakfast, the scrambled eggs, black coffee, and currant jam on rye toast that he started each day with. He had been camping out in this hotel room for over a week, and the waiting was beginning to get to him. The city’s charms were wasted on someone who couldn’t leave their room.

With nothing better to do, he went to clean the high powered rifle yet again, methodically disassembling it, inspecting and oiling each component part, then methodically reassembling the gun. When it was back together, he broke it down again; rebuilt it and broke it down again. The ritual soothed him, replaced the cacophony of his thoughts with a peaceful white noise.

The sun has swung from morning to late afternoon when the ringing of the phone broke him from his trance. He stretched muscles only slightly tense from disuse, and picked up the phone. He said nothing, but a woman’s voice on the other end of the line said, “It’s time,” and a smile broke the surface of his face for the first time in a week.