Interview with a Vegan Assassin
I met her one summer night in a vegan restaurant in Germantown. There I was, enjoying a glass of Kentucky Kombucha, a Beyond Burger on rye with fries when this hot dish stops beside my table and stares, deadpan. After an awkward moment, I say, “Hello,” with an overstuffed mouthful of food.
“May I join you?”
She’s looking at me, but I’m not believing. I look around then point to myself.
A tantalizing smile forms on her face, and she says, “Yeah.”
Dudes, eat your heart out. Here’s a classy chick who could have her pick — and asking to join me? No way. Something’s not kosher. Like, she’s a man-hating serial killer, and I have asshead wrote on my forehead. “Um,” I said.
“Thanks,” says the bombshell, pulls out a chair and sits. “Name’s Strob,” and thrusts her hand across the table.
I don’t shake hands, but this one came with a bang and a boom, so I broke the rule. And with a grip that caused me a grimace. “Peter,” I meant to say, but it came out an unintelligible squeaky sound.
“I know who you are,” she says.
That’s weird, “Oh?” I swallowed.
“I followed you here.”
Definitely a serial killer. I glanced at the door and swallowed again, loud enough for Elvis to hear, and I said, “Um,” for the second time in less than a minute.
“I follow your blog; you’ve got talent.”
Okay. What this doll lacked in artistic taste, she more than made up for in looks. “That’s an overstatement,” I told her, trying for unconvincing.
“I want you to interview me.”
My reply was a raised brow, but my mind churned crazy thoughts, like men’s minds do, twisting wishful fantasy into sexual innuendo that was neither said nor remotely implied. “Interview?” I squirmed.
She grabbed a napkin and wiped the ketchup from my chin. “You and me, a Q and A, tomorrow.”
“Whoa, slow down, babe.” Yeah, I said that. “What’s this all about?” I’m thinking bondage and not in a good way.
Strob looked around the room to see if anyone listened and I caught myself mimicking her. She leaned in and so did I, her breath hot and fatally sweet like nectar and I’m the bee, “I’m an assassin,” she whispered.
Fucking knew it. I sat back.
“A vegan assassin,” she says.
Afraid to ask, I braced myself for a bullet in the head, and said, “You kill vegans?”
She rolled her eyes — and wow, what eyes, “No, dummy, I’m a vegan and an assassin.”
“Oh, right? Any particular targets?” A stupid question, in hindsight.
Being more than a just little loopy from her honeysuckle scent, I grinned with grim approval.
“Meet me here,” she wrote on a napkin, a clean one, “tomorrow night, eight o’clock.”
“A hotel on thi-third street?” I said.
“Five-star. Top floor, suite 1804. See you then,” she winked, took a bite of her Beyond Burger, got up, and walked out, leaving her vegan fare mostly untouched. I called for a to-go box. And why not? I’d eat it later and eat after her any day.
The next night I was early and Strob met me in the lobby. Her timing seemed coincidental, but I’m betting not. Something about this dame told me she knew my every move before I did. “Glad you could make it,” she says.
Like a mouse lured to cheese in a body-clenching trap, I went for broke, “Wouldn’t miss it,” I said.
Strob wore a beige, long, and tight-fitting evening dress slit up one side and leaving awful little for the imagination, and I’m damn good at imagining. She was vegan eye candy for every dandy and lady in the joint. And I, grossly underdressed in jeans and sneakers, glance down at my food-stained t-shirt. –Great, another reason to feel inadequate. I scratched at the stain.
In the elevator, we stood pressed shoulder to shoulder. I looked at Strob, and she smiled. I turned away and sucked air to stifle the sensation, whether fear or desire, hard to say but the lady was like a drug. I was hooked and getting higher with each floor.
In the room, she said, “Turn off your phone, no pictures. What I say, you write.”
She poured herself a glass of vegan wine and handed me an imported kombucha, “You don’t drink, I know.”
Assume she knows everything, Peter. “Thanks,” I said, taking the glass. “Shall we start?”
She sat on a love seat with her back to the window. I thought that odd for one in her stated profession, but then there were no positions outside to snipe from, only city lights spread wide across the horizon far below us. I considered the possibility of a helicopter attack, checked the door, and gauged my chances. Strob crossed her legs and revealed … thighs, a lot. I tried going for her eyes but missed the first time, cleared my throat and said, “You’re not what I would expect an assassin to look like.”
“That’s in my favor.”
“You told me yesterday, you kill meat-eaters.”
“Yes, but not just any meat-eater.”
“Oh, a discriminating assassin?”
“My targets are the animal agricultural elite, the CEOs and those holding the higher shares of corporations and industries that profit off animal exploitation, everything from abattoirs to zoos.”
“But aren’t these enterprises simply supplying a demand?”
“A demand they create.”
“Touché,” I said.
She reached in her purse, I froze, “Do you mind if I vape?” she asked.
“It’s your health.”
“My capers will kill me before this will.”
Probably, I didn’t say.
“How many assassinations have you committed?”
“I don’t keep score, but my work takes me around the globe.”
I asked, “Is it fair to say you have no compunctions in killing?”
She said, “Governments kill people, domestic and foreign, and people support their governments. Do either have compunction in murder or murder by proxy?” she asked.
The answer was no, but I said, “It ain’t the same.”
“You’re right. I kill in revenge for the innocent. My targets are evildoers. And my victims don’t suffer long, unlike theirs.”
Moving on. “Speciesism is a term thrown around in vegan circles. Do you consider animals and people as equals?”
“No. I hold animals in higher esteem, they’re guileless, guiltless, and unpretentious. It’s only by an ignorant, brutal arrogance that people regard themselves as superior to the creatures. Where do they get the notion?”
“Some say God, Genesis, 1:28.”
I was trying to play the Devil’s advocate, but finding it difficult. I needed to change tack, discredit her. “If you are a vegan assassin, shouldn’t your exploits have made world news?”
“I’m a professional, Peter. My work appears as accidents, car crashes, bad drug deals and overdoses, suicides, jealous lovers. Except for the presumed hunting accidents, I seldom shoot anyone.”
“We’ll verify your claims later. But, why this interview?”
“I’m changing strategy. I want the assheads to know their lives are in danger. I want them looking over their shoulders at every moment. I want them double checking locks and leaving on lights. I want them scared as hell, just like their victims.
“Then tell it to a mainstream journalist, not some obscure blogger.”
“I trust you, your passion is clear. And they’d paint me as a criminal.”
Well, you are, I thought.
“And vegans should know someone’s doing more than abstaining.”
“Murder is more,” I said, and not too gingerly, “I’m not sure they’d approve.”
“I’m not looking for approval, from you or anyone else.”
Ouch. Strob was calm but steely, and my fear of imminent death drew near.
I tried placating, “Nonviolent resistance is …”
“Doing nothing,” she interjected.
That made it worse.
“The number of animals slaughtered increases each year. If it were vegans they were killing, we’d all be fighting real fights. What’s the difference, to a self-proclaimed non-speciesist?”
She was right, I wouldn’t argue facts; my hypocrisy is an open sore.
“I’m advancing the vegan revolution by hundreds of years, but it’s not enough. The enemy is bigger than me and growing. I hope to be the inspiration to spark a greater revolt. And someday, when I’m too old or too dead, I’ll need successors.”
She looked at me with that look. “Sweetheart, I’m already too old,” I said.
“Don’t sell yourself short,” she says, “I’ve seen you shoot and throw an ax.”
“Um,” Yeah, I throw an ax quite regularly, but I hadn’t been to the gun range in a year.
She read my thought, “You should stay practiced.”
After the interview, we reviewed the “accidents” of several muckety-mucks around the world. Strob stared out the window or walked around the room telling me names, dates, and other specifics as I researched the web. With a hundred percent accuracy, she either owned an uncanny ability to remember people, places, events, details, and incidentals, or she was telling the truth.
That morning I awoke, and she was gone without a trace or a farewell note. Relieved to see she left my clothes, I stayed in bed a moment longer to snuggle her scent.