It was love that drove Hank Jankson to assassinate the Dalai Lama.
Like an American voting against their own interests, the path had been one of incremental instinct rather than decisions. The choice equivalent of going down hill. He couldn’t leave Jennifer, it would be easier to breathe underwater. But he couldn’t live the rest of his life knowing he’d have to speak to his mother in law again any more than he could live the rest of his life with a beehive in his underpants. That left only one option, as far as he could see.
The Dalai Lama’s head exploded like a watermelon in a slow motion Youtube video.
‘I know what you did,’ said Jennifer, weeks later.
Hank looked up from his knitting. ‘If you mean the Fast and the Furious commemorative plate I broke, I didn’t tell you because I wanted to replace it before you noticed. I found one on Ebay, it’s on its way.’
Jennifer made the face that the characters in The Fast and the Furious would make if you scratched their car. ‘I mean you stealing a sniper rifle from my mother’s sniper rifle collection in order to frame her for the assassination of the Dalai Lama.’
Hank carefully put down the woollen Vin Diesel he was knitting. ‘In my defence, I did it for you.’
Jennifer made the face that the characters in The Fast and the Furious would make if you scratched their car and then told them you thought they’d like it better that way. ‘You sent my mother to prison for me?’
‘At least this way you can visit her,’ said Hank. ‘Or would you have preferred that I murdered her? Is that what you’re saying? Are you actually angry at me because I didn’t murder your mother? Well sorry I’m not a mind reader like in your unsold spec script, The Fast and the Furious: Self Driving Psychics.’
‘You leave my script out of this! There’s been a lot of industry chatter and you know it!’
Hank softened. ‘I’m sorry. I just… I was only trying to do the right thing. I hate your mother as much as I love you, and I thought that by framing her for the murder of your favourite public figure, you’d find it easier to cope with losing her.’
Jennifer relaxed into a quiet tone that condemned more than shouting ever could. ‘I’m not even angry at you for framing my mother.’
Hank responded with the optimistic suspicion of a prisoner given a slice of cake by his executioner. ‘Wait, really?’
‘I’m mad at you for assassinating the Dalai Lama.’
That made more sense. ‘Because you love him so much.’
‘Because I hate him.’
‘Now I’m confused.’
Jennifer picked up the half finished woollen Vin Diesel as if to hurl it across the room, and then regained control and placed it carefully back down. ‘I’ve told you so many times how much I hate the Dalai Lama. How I hate his stupid glasses, and his stupid smile. How I hate he way he makes idiots think they’re enlightened. We’ve had long, sprawling conversations about it.’
‘Then you should be happy! I killed your enemy!’
‘But you thought you were killing my hero,’ said Jennifer. ‘You don’t know me at all. You don’t even listen to me.’
‘I knew you had strong feelings about the Dalai Lama! That’s halfway right.’
‘It’s over, Hank, like Vin Diesel’s relationship with The Rock in The Fast and the Furious.’
‘You can’t leave me, I’ve sacrificed so much for you! Not least the Dalai Lama and your mother’s freedom.’
‘People who love people don’t frame their mothers for the assassinations of their enemies, they frame their mothers for the assassinations of their heroes!’
‘That’s what I was trying to do!’
‘Trying’s not good enough! I need someone who succeeds, like the main car from The Fast and the Furious.’
Hank paused for a moment to drive through his memories. ‘There is no main car in the Fast and the Furious.’ Then he Tokyo drifted back over their argument. ‘And Vin Diesel and The Rock were never in a relationship, they kept things casual because they were afraid of ruining their friendship.’
‘That’s what I meant!’ Jennifer had only hesitated a fraction of a second, but it was long enough to recognise the lie.
‘Oh my god. You’ve never actually seen The Fast and the Furious, have you?!’
‘I thought you’d like me more if you thought it was my favourite movie.’
‘But you have that tattoo on your back.’
‘That was an accident. I pointed to the wrong picture and I didn’t realise until it was done.’
‘Our whole relationship was a lie!’
‘In a way, all relationships are a lie,’ said Jennifer. ‘You can never truly know yourself, let alone someone else, and no two people ever experience the same thing exactly the same way. You just imagine your own version of the relationship and hope it doesn’t conflict too much with what the other person imagines it is.’
Hank did a donut around this idea. ‘So then my belief that you loved the Dalai Lama was every bit as valid as your believe that you hated him!’
‘That’s not what I -‘
‘Everything’s going to be okay!’