Lauri Markkanen was embroiled in a particularly pitched match of Rocket League when his doorbell unexpectedly rang. Knowing that his teammates would hate him if he abandoned the game, he ignored the repeated dings of the bell, even as they became more frequent and more urgent. “I’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE!” he yelled towards the door, before apologizing through his headset to his teammates, PlaysWithBalls69 and xDTB_Highlights_GOATx, who were grumbling about the sudden burst of volume.
Finally, the round ended, and Lauri gave some quick goodbyes before shutting his laptop screen and walking towards the door, where the unknown visitor was still hitting the doorbell at one-second intervals. “This better be important…”
When he opened the door, he was surprised and delighted by who stood there. “Niko! What brings you here?”
Nikola Mirotic smiled happily, but there was clearly something on his mind. “Hey, you got any of that Mämmi stuff?” he asked his ex-teammate, referring to the traditional Finnish dessert. “Nobody in New Orleans knows how to make.”
“You know it,” Lauri replied. He always had a few containers of the malted rye pudding ready for consumption whenever he got homesick. “Here, come sit on the couch and I’ll grab some from the fridge.” Thirty seconds later, the living room was full of the sounds of eating as Nikola hurriedly scooped the delicacy into his mouth.
“Finnish food can’t be the only reason you came all the way to Chicago,” Lauri said. “Otherwise you would have just had me mail some to you.”
Nikola swallowed his last bite of Mämmi, eyes closed in bliss at the divine flavor, before setting down the dish and responding. “Yes. You are correct. I have other thing to talking you about. Very important thing.”
Lauri waited patiently for his friend to continue. However, instead of speaking words, Nikola reached under his shirt and withdrew an AK-47, which he set on the coffee table. “You knowing what must be done with this, don’t you, Lauri?”
Knowing the answer but dreading it, Lauri replied with just one word: “Bobby.”
Nikola nodded somberly. “Yes. While on surface, it appear that I reconciling with Bobby Portis, in my true heart my hatred towards him only become bigger.”
Lauri nervously stared at the gun. “I’m not sure where I fit in all of this, honestly. Your beef with Bobby is between you two and you two only.” This was a little bit of a white lie, because he suspected where Nikola was going with this conversation.
His suspicions were confirmed with the next words out of Nikola’s mouth. “I need you to kill Bobby. You here in same city as him, it is easy for you, besides, nobody suspecting young rookie who have friendly relationship with teammates, while all will suspect old teammate who was targeted of vicious punching attack.”
“I don’t know, man…” Lauri demurred.
Nikola suddenly stood up and clasped his hand on Lauri’s shoulder as he walked towards the door. “I know you do favor because you are close friend,” he said. Then, he was gone.
For a long time after that, Lauri sat alone in his living room, staring at the weapon.
Trying to calm his nerves, Lauri paced back and forth in the alley behind Bobby Portis’ apartment. It was just past two in the morning. The AK-47 was hidden under a bulky jacket, making him feel conspicuous. He still wasn’t sure why he was doing this.
Knowing that he might lose his nerve if he delayed any longer, Lauri went up to the door and began his attempts to pick the lock. Hours of YouTube tutorials had fashioned him into a lock-picking expert, and the lock quietly clicked open without too much trouble. He let himself into the apartment, both dreading and anticipating what was to come.
Standing in the dark entryway, Lauri was deciding whether or not to turn on the lights when a serene voice from the next room startled him. “Hello Lauri.”
Lauri reached up to check that he hadn’t forgotten his mask; he hadn’t. How had he been identified so quickly? He rounded a corner to find Bobby sitting cross-legged on the floor. A single candle illumined his face, and Lauri could see that Bobby’s eyes were closed. “Y-y-you’re done for, Bobby!” he stammered, brandishing the gun.
“I knew you would be coming,” Bobby said in the same calm voice. “Do what you wish, friend. I am no longer vested to this mortal life.”
Confused, Lauri lowered the gun. “What?”
“I have reached a higher spiritual fulfillment. This world offers nothing to me,” Bobby explained from his meditative state. “So go ahead. Do what Niko has commanded you.”
Lauri pointed the gun again and pulled the trigger, but when he did this, the gun disintegrated into metallic dust in his hands. The fragments blew away in a sudden gust of wind, leaving no trace of the weapon.
Bobby laughed lightly, somehow realizing what had happened despite not opening his eyes. “It seems as if somebody wants me around a bit longer. Now, you wouldn’t happen to have any of that Mämmi stuff on hand, would you?”