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THE OLD man knew it was the end. The cancer had spread throughout his body and finally nestled down in his liver leaving him only six months. And that was six months ago. His doctor had given him good advice.
“Use your time well. Tie up loose ends. Go back to your home.”
So he went to his first home, Dubrovnik and the beautiful Adriatic Sea.
The cab dropped him off at the quiet part of the beach. The sand was hard packed from the young men driving their cool cars up and down. When he removed his shoes and socks and dug his feet into the sand, it reminded him of his childhood so long ago. It was June; the sand was warm to the touch.
The rundown hotels and small businesses were quiet today. As the sea lapped over his toes, he sighed.
The peace of coming home comforted his heart. The old man had led an honourable and exemplary life.
His wife had died in the war. His daughter and son had both been under seven years old when the three of them had moved on to a better life, a new life, a new continent thousands of miles from his first home.
His children had come late to his life. He had been in his mid-50s when they arrived. But his beautiful, sweet, gentile wife had only been 32 when their first child, his daughter was born. Theirs had been a summer/fall marriage.
After the war, his small family had settled in Seattle, his second home. The old man had led an honourable and exemplary life.
The old man had grown a multi million dollar business in the first ten years. He had brought a lot of money with him after the war. His business employed over 20,000 workers at ten plants all over the state, with all of the workers given shares in the company. The business just kept expanding. All of the workers had a good income and were safe and secure.
When he retired two years ago, his niece from the old country was appointed CEO. She would carry on just as he wanted.
His brilliant daughter and son had taken different paths in life. She excelled in science and technology and was a world renowned environmentalist.
“When I grow up I will save our planet.” She had been saying that since she was 10 years old.
His son after graduating from Harvard medical school became a renowned surgeon, donating his skills to Doctors without Borders. As he had said to his papa since he was 10 years old, “I want to save the world, one person at a time.”
The old man’s good works, humanitarian efforts, his philanthropy had helped to fund hundreds of charities in his second home and around the world. These were quietly accepted. All of his good works were anonymous.
The old man had led an honourable and exemplary life, after the war.
Praise, thanks, kindness, respect and courtesy were always shown to him, after the war.
In his second home, the old man had become that man everyone loved and he loved everyone too. The old man knew this was his last day because he had returned to his first home, Dubrovnik.
He was known here.
The old man could feel, sense the assassin approaching him. But he didn’t care, because he knew it was the end. Though for 22 years he had left his former self behind, a killer could always sense another killer.
The old man didn’t turn around.
“Well, go ahead. We both know what you came here for.”
Click. A round was sent to the chamber.
The gunman placed the silencer to the back of the old man’s head.
“It’s taken me 22 years to find you, scum of the earth. You massacred 18,000 people at Srebrenica . This is for my father and brothers. Go back to hell, Mladic.”