Good Intentions by Etgar Keret, 1994
The magic trick:
Two moral dilemmas in one story
This story begins with a dramatic moral dilemma. The narrator, a hitman, has been hired to kill the only man who has ever been nice to him. OK, so there you go. Seems like a pretty good setup for a story, right?
Well, don’t get too comfortable because you’re about to get a second, even more complex, moral dilemma in just a couple of pages. The story spins away from its interesting if kinda pulpy premise and into a pondering on the Christ story, the reasons for kindness and the meaning of life. Not bad, eh? And that’s quite a trick on Keret’s part.
There was a thick envelope waiting in my mailbox. I opened it and counted the dough. It was all there. So was the note with the name of the mark, a passport picture, and the place where I could find him. I cursed. Don’t know why. I’m a pro and a pro isn’t supposed to do that, but it just came out. No, I didn’t have to read the name, I recognized the guy in the picture. Grace. Patrick Grace. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. A good man. The only good man I’d ever known. When it came to good men, there probably nobody in the world that could match him.
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