Here's how it happened.
It was a cold night. We'd lain in wait all day in the van, freezing. We had no heat: We didn't idle the engine for fear the exhaust would show in the cold air. We drank a little coffee to keep warm, but we couldn't move around. The van would shake, and Borges was known to be watchful. So we sat and waited, shivering. The night came and we were free to stand up and stretch as best we could, but the temperature fell. Our teeth chattered and our muscles ached.
It was a bitter day.
Finally, Borges left his house, an old, blind, shaking man flanked by hulking thugs: His graduate assistants, killers all, schooled in the arts of swift and unexpected death.
Alexei fired the shots. The first went wild, clipping the ear of a bodyguard. He bore Borges to the ground while the other guard crouched in the snow, drawing a gun from his coat. They didn't see us. They were trapped, out in the open with nowhere to hide, glancing everywhere. By the streetlight I could see the steady drip of blood from the wounded man's ear staining the snow.
Silence. We waited, and they waited. Minutes passed. Alexei hunched in his seat, gripping the rifle. We could hardly breathe.
The wounded guard thought he saw something to his right, out of our range of vision. He shifted, and Borges's head was visible.
It was over.
The other guard had seen the flash and returned fire, but I was already gunning the van, skidding down the street between the cars. I heard Alexei fall in the back but I had no time for him.
Miles away in a silent wood, I buried Alexei. He was a good man. He'd done his duty. The Brotherhood was safe.
I went to ground for six months in safehouses all over the East Coast. They moved me by night, and I never knew where I was. Sometimes I smelled the ocean, sometimes a river, once for days on end the thick reek of a steel mill. I never saw daylight in all that time. On the day I came out of hiding, there was open fighting in the cities. It had begun.
This is what I want you to understand, now that we can move freely and act in the open: It wasn't always like this. Power came at a price. We paid it gladly.