Downtown Toronto, Ontario was a building that several support groups met once a week. It seemed like a great idea at the time when Carlos (A.K.A. Carlos the Cobra) left his business card on the table where brandy and sponge cake were left out. The others in his group followed suit, there was: Frank the Finisher, Bulls-eye Benny, Sammy the Shark, Hangman Hunter, Lethal Larry, and Chloe the Cougar their names were self-explanatory. All seven of them were experts in their field and each used their own method to get the job done: Carlos was good at killing with his hands, Frank used any and all methods to get the job finished, Benny brandished a gun, Sammy sliced with a knife, Hunter hung or choked his targets, Larry dealt with poisons, and Chloe used lethal gas her perfume in fact. The goal was to scare up new clients, old habits die hard. Following their support group session that night was another peer group named Dead End consisting of a bunch of suicidal individuals who whined about their miserable lives and the worthlessness of it all. It was the perfect arrangement. Carlos was the one who founded the organization named Trigger Happy; not many knew what their sessions were really for, it was all top secret, to die for. There was a high turn-over of Dead End clients clamoring for their killer services; the dough was rolling in. And they always had satisfied customers, or so the service providers thought. It was hard to tell with no feedback, the dead don’t talk. At least their clients wouldn’t go to hell because they didn’t actually commit suicide. The contract was beneficial to all, but it ensured that no-one in either support group would be “cured”.

It’s hard to understand how someone becomes a hit-man but in Carlos’s case his neighborhood was the reason. He was born and raised in the Jane St and Finch Ave neighborhood of North York which had one of the largest concentrations of criminal gangs of any area in Canada and it was the closest in comparison to New York’s Harlem just a watered-down Canadian version with unemployment and mortality rates more than twice as high as the rest of the city sectors. It also had one of the highest proportions of youth, sole-supported families, refugees, and immigrants, low-income earners and public housing tenants of any community in Toronto. Carlos’s parents left their small village in Italy when his mother got pregnant they were poor and terrified of the Sicilian mob that ruled all their lives with cold-heart violence. They heard that North America was a more prosperous, safer place to live and since his father had a cousin that lived in Toronto, Canada that was where they chose to live, in fact in the same neighborhood as his relative. Not once did they do research on the city nor did they ask the cousin because if they did, they most likely would be living somewhere else in Canada but they didn’t and ended up jumping from one frying pan into another.His father had a special work skill in refinishing furnishings and his mother found a job at the nearby mall in the food court cooking in the back because she didn’t know English. They became close to the relatives but within five years they moved to the maritimes when the former neighbor and friend offered him a job hauling lobster on his trawler.

When Carlos turned ten his mother died when a drunk driver ran over her, hit and run. Her senseless death was a turning point for Carlos in fact it was his first act of violence when he tracked down the bastard and beat him to death with a baseball bat, the police never found his body. When his mother was killed his father turned to alcohol for comfort and spiraled down so far that he lost his job, went on welfare, and was given depression pills by doctors unaware of his drinking problem. He’d down the pills with booze a deadly combination and every day pass out in front of the television. Carlos took care of himself he made his own meals, got to school every day on time, and even learned how to pay the bills while his father grabbed another rum and coke.

The sheer thought of someone so young surviving alone in such a dangerous environment was amazing and the only way he made it out alive was to become as lethal if not more so, than others on the street and that was no small task. He took archery, boxing, wrestling, and karate for defense and offense. He was preparing to join a street gang for protection but opted to be their trigger man instead. When they wanted someone dead without creating any attention or mess they called Carlos. He had already proven himself by killing the drunk driver. Carlos quickly earned  the reputation of being a crazy bad-ass you shouldn’t mess around with.

Carlos also took driver’s education and auto shop so he could learn how to hot-wire a car and make a fast get-away. On the academic side he took all three sciences in a bid to make himself a more lethal killer. Obviously he learned about poisons and bombs in chemistry, in biology he educated himself on what parts of the body to maim or lethally stab someone, and in physics he pictured bullet trajectory.

When he finished high school just after his graduation ceremony in fact his father tumbled down the concrete basement stairs searching for more rum and died when he broke his neck so Carlos filled his backpack and hit the road. In his travels Carlos met bucket loads of shady people from the so-called legitimate decent branches of society such as accountants, businessmen, cops; there was good and evil within everyone. His first professional job no big surprise was to kill a politician, a political competitor was the one who ordered the hit because he wanted to increase his chance of winning since the dead guy’s replacement was a weak substitute. By word of mouth like wildfire news of Carlos particular service was spread city-wide the jobs paid extremely well, he worked whatever hours he deemed necessary, and he had no co-workers or supervisor to get along with. But Carlos made the decision after his first hit that he would only kill bad guys, you know murders, mob members, rapists, pedophiles, cult leaders, the like since his initial experience was the first innocent he killed, if you can call any politician innocent, and it played on his conscious but sometimes the line wasn’t so clear. Did a cheating spouse, lying lawyer, crooked cop, blue-collar thief stealing money deserve to die?  The trouble was that his clients weren’t much better than the targets themselves they too were undesirables, criminals to varying degrees hence his inner conflict. One night while watching television he saw a commercial for Alcohol Anonymous meetings and vaguely thought there should be a group for addicted hit-man trying to quit and suddenly the thought went from a joke to a serious consideration and that’s how Carlos started the group Trigger Happy although it didn’t quite turn out as he pictured.

Illustration by: Jason Hendrickson


Illustration by: Jason Hendrickson