He mistook the daughter for her mother, which was entirely understandable as the two looked almost identical. The mother was an individual of distinguished lethal skills. Naturally, the daughter didn't know her mother held such talents. What made matters worse is that the daughter only spoke a few words in English, two in fact, "I can," which could operate as either a question or answer, depending on the emphasis. Those words were the only ones needed and essential for her job, which, like that of her mother and her mother's mother, was a helper, for lack of a better term, in the family-owned hotel and restaurant. She helped cook, clean rooms, assist with guest check-ins, and so on. Unassuming and shy, she would go unnoticed when clearing the table between courses or when the guests had finished their meals. If uncertain if a guest had finished eating, she would gesture to their plate and ask softly, "I can?" The guests smiled kindly one way or another, more often than not understanding that her communication ability in anything other than her native language was limited.
When the man, having mistaken her identity and needed her mother's skillset, stayed at the hotel, sat enjoying breakfast, and propositioned her for a job, she replied with the only two words essential for her career, "I can." Then, in a hushed tone, he rattled about the assignment which required her qualifications. Not understanding a word, she assumed he was complimenting the food; she smiled and walked away.
Naturally, she didn't complete the task.
When he received the unfortunate news from a somewhat irritated party for whom he was acting as the middleman that she hadn't completed the job, he returned to the hotel seeking answers. The following morning after a somewhat fitful night's rest, he entered the restaurant eager for its renowned food but more desirous of an explanation.
"I can?" the voice startled him from his mildly sleep-deprived state. Her face was more innocent and gentle than he remembered; 'how could this lady be an assassin?' he thought. But, not wishing to upset what he thought was a cold-hearted killer, he diplomatically explained how he needed this job completed and done as soon as possible. She smiled, "I can?" He looked at her questioningly. She smiled and nodded again. "I can?" He nodded, didn't smile, and said, "you can."
Once more, she did not complete the assignment, so he returned.
His frequent visits to the hotel intrigued her, and she wondered if he fancied her. So she told her mother about the guest and his recurring visits. Her mother decided to meet the gentleman who was seemingly smitten with her daughter.
When the mother and daughter entered the hotel restaurant the morning of his third visit for a formal introduction, the two merely stared at each other. The man gaped in utter bewilderment, shifting his gaze from the mother to the daughter as if trying to understand what he was seeing. The mother hoped her vacant stare wouldn't betray her knowledge of his identity. The girl, confused and saddened by how unexpectedly dreadful and awkward the introduction was going, ran away in tears. She thought her mother would be happy. It was clear he was well-dressed, polite, and financially well-to-do.
When her mother returned to the kitchen, she said, "he is not for you! You will no longer see him." The girl didn't understand, but she heeded her words out of respect for her mother.
Emptying the last sip of his coffee, the man sat, still perplexed, smoking a cigarette in a state of confusion and disbelief. Initially, he paid no attention to the tightness in his chest as it was minimal. Then, the tingling began in his fingers and moved slowly up his arms. The cigarette fell to the tabletop. He watched as a perfect charred circle appeared and spread outward. His windpipe constricted, and no matter how he turned his head, which was becoming increasingly challenging, he could not seem to ease the tension. Finally, his body became immobile, and he toppled over. From his paralyzed state on the floor, he saw the mother or the girl; he was unsure which, approaching.
"Go," she yelled to the remaining guest and the servers, "call for help." She was alone now, kneeling over him. He tried to say something, but it came out as a strange gurgling sound. "Oh, it's far too late for that." He struggled for air; veins were showing in his neck and forehead, and a frothy spittle escaped his mouth. "What did I tell you when we last parted?" she asked rhetorically. "I told you that motherhood was my true calling, that I was done. But you had to come slithering around." She could hear the commotion outside the restaurant; the paramedics had arrived. She continued to look at him, studying him coldly as if trying to comprehend his ignorance. "Oh, look," she said, pointing to the coffee cup and saucer that had fallen off the table with him and lay broken on the floor. She picked up a few larger pieces and exaggeratedly held them out so he could see them. "I can?" she asked. He didn't answer. He no longer struggled for air. His eyes, which were just moments before full of an odd mix of fear and resignation, stared blankly at the ceiling.