Was I Right?

by James A. Feld

I've hated him for a long time. What he did to my mother was unforgiveable. She would plead for him to stop, but in his drunken rage, he didn't care.

When he came home that day I was waiting. My mother, bless her heart, had gone to the market and I knew she wouldn't return for at least an hour. I waited in the closet with the door almost closed. A shaft of light sliced into the dark interior as I stood surrounded by musty coats that hadn't been cleaned in years. A pair of mud dried shoes were on the floor beneath me and I shoved them aside separating several clumps of hard brown dirt with small stems of grass protruding like uncut whiskers. It didn't matter; nothing mattered, but my resolve. Then I could hear him come onto the first step of the porch. The telltale growl of the pained wood plank was unmistakable. Years of unintentionally listening to its call for help, pleading to be repaired, told me exactly where he was. Then, the sound of the second step being intruded upon, could be heard followed by four clunking steps across the porch and the screen door began its noisy swing outward. The nervous sound of a key entering its intended receptacle was followed by the door knob painfully resisting, but turning, and the inner door swept across the dirt cluttered aging carpet pushing aside several small indiscernible pieces of something.

I could only see him with my left eye through the vertical shaft of the almost closed closet door. The gun in my hand shook as I lifted it from near my flank and held it horizontally across my chest. A quick glance at the vague outline of the thirty-eight caliber in the almost dark interior was reassuring to me. My knee quivered slightly; thankfully, only I knew. My stomach was counter-attacking with a mass of some unfathomable material that hardened. I was scared. Then I realized he was taking off his hat and coat and walking towards the closet. This was the moment. Doubts, created by years of maternal non-violent nurturing, began to muddle my brain and I felt like my gray matter was joining the sweat oozing from every pore.

If only Dad hadn't died. He was such a good man and Mom couldn't bear living without a man to protect her. That's when Arnold entered. Sometimes I wonder if he attended Dad's funeral under the pretense of an old friend and he was actually a preying monster that read the death notice and was taking advantage of a broken heart that needed support. Those early days, he seemed okay, but once Mom married him, everything changed. The meager life insurance money that she received was soon going for booze and other women and soon Mom knew about both, but was unable to self admit it. Once I told her how I saw him with another woman and she smacked me in the face for lying about the man she married. She needed my help.

Suddenly, the door opened and there stood my step-father. Foul black stubbles flourished haphazardly from his reddish chin and upper lip. His nose, bent from some long ago barroom adversary's fist, stood guard over two vile nostrils infiltrated with repulsive tangled hairs. His eyes were a mixture of evil intensity and anger that continually searched for human weaknesses. Directly above each was a bushy eyebrow that satanically slanted upward to the side of his head. The inside of the hat in his hand had a tainted ring of grime from his graying unkempt hair. He smelled.

"What!" he yelled when he realized I was in the closet. "Wha you doin in there?" he said in the moment he realized who I was. "And wha you doin with dat gun?"

The moment had arrived. The anticipated future had disappeared into the present and everything that I became consumed with for years rushed into my brain and at that moment I became what I am today.

"I hate you!" I yelled loudly. Spit caused from the vehement level of my voice hit his face and caused him to wince slightly. I pulled the trigger.

The first bullet severed most of his left ear and he staggered backwards; instinctively grabbing the side of his head. His horrified face revealed he knew what awaited him.

"Don't Ronny," he said as he held his right hand in front of him, his left hand filled with blood and continuing to cradle the small remains of his ear.

"It's too late you son-of-a-bitch," I yelled. "You've assaulted my mother for the last time and now you're gonna pay for what you've done," I added injecting as much anger as I could.

Suddenly his fear turned to defense and he reached out for the gun in my hand. I pulled the trigger again. This time the bullet entered the upper shoulder on his right side and it threw him backward and he began his final fall; his useless right arm affording no buffer from the floors impact. I walked over to him with a resolve that was controlling everything I did. I pointed the gun at his forehead only six inches away and as I looked into his terrified eyes, I pulled the trigger.

His head and entire body lurched backward in a muscleless slumping motion. Blood began to spread outward on the floor seeking to move away pieces of his brain that had preceded the projectiles exit. I fired again and again. None of these mattered except within my revenge saturated mind. As the gun in my hand clicked indicating no more rounds were available I looked at this mound of flesh that was once considered a human being. "I hope you're in hell" I said uttering one of my last statements as a free man.

That was four years ago and I don't regret a moment of my act. He was a despicable human being and even today I recoil from his memory.

Somewhere in the unknown reaches of The Great Beyond is his spirit and the State is ready to send my soul there also. I don't deserve the same place in eternity where he is, but I did violate the Sixth Commandment and am prepared to serve everlastingly for what I did. I would do it again. After the judge sentenced me I was told, that had I shown remorse I might have been saved from the executioner's needle, and my priest told me I could be saved from the eternal fires of hell with repentance. I verbalized neither remorse nor repentance nor contemplated either; I feel justified in what I did.

"It's time, Harry," said Father William as he heard the clanking of the cellblock door opening. "They're here."

The end.

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