The Tooth Collector


Jumpy flinches at the smell of his underarms as he takes out his passport from the inner pocket of his jacket. His stomach rumbles but not from hunger. He doesn’t like long flights because they seem to decompose his body.

He exhales. Ugh. His heart pounds when the immigration officer calls the person before him.

He wonders again if he left his fingerprint on the faucet at the victim’s house during his last assignment in this country. After shooting him Jumpy had taken off his gloves to pull out an incisor from the target’s mouth. While he was washing the tooth, there was a knock at the door. He shoved his gloves back on and scampered out the window as the key turned in the door lock.

“Next,” the officer says, looking at Jumpy.

His heart almost explodes. “Hello,” he murmurs, handing the passport.

“What’s the purpose of your visit?”

“Tourism.” He wouldn’t have come back to the country if his girlfriend, the boss’s daughter hadn’t persuaded him to take the assignment.

“Right hand on the scanner.”

His hand trembles as he places it on the reader.

“Left hand.”

“Look in the camera.”

If he clears the immigration he will retire to some island. His body relaxes at the sound of stamping.

“Next,” The official says, handing him back the passport.

Jumpy smiles a toothless grin (collateral damage from his first mission), and changes his mind about the retirement.

~ fin ~

Rajni Gupta lives with her husband and daughter in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was a finalist for the Elizabeth Simpson Smith award in 2011. Her stories have appeared in Muse India, Shotgun Honey and Pif magazine.