Family Fire

by Joseph Kwarta

                John jumped out of his Jeep Wrangler. The moon shined bright through the trees of the orchard.

                Come on Skip, he yelled to his dog in the back seat. The old German Shepard did not move much. He lifted his head at the sound of his owners voice, but that was all. Margret slammed the passenger door and walked around to meet John.

                So, are we going to do this? she asked. John looked around at the apple orchard in which they stood. He reached up into a tree and grabbed a dirty red apple. He stared at the apple for a short time before crushing in his large hand.

                Are we going to do this or what? Margret asked again.

                We have to, John replied. He let the crushed apple fall to the ground and then wiped his hand on his jeans revealing his Ruger 9mm that he had brought just in case anything went wrong. He opened the trunk of the Jeep and pulled out two large red containers and handed one to Margret. You go start on the building. Ill work out here in the orchard. Margret walked into the darkness as John began his work.

                Father would be so proud, he thought. He used to have the best orchard in the whole county. That was until this rich city slicker came out here and started this orchard. He hired so many helpers that he didnt even have to lift a finger.

                But my pa, John muttered. He had to work every day to provide for us. He worked long and hard to make his orchard the best. Until you came along and ruined it.

                Im just trying to make a living son, said a voice in the dark. John jerked his head his head up and reached for his 9mm ready to shoot. Instead he ended up staring down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun. Now, why dont you put down that gasoline can and come back to the house. Were going to let the sheriff deal with you.

                No way, you ruined my Pas life!

                I did nothing wrong son.

                Yes you did! You... John was interrupted by the sound of crunching leaves. Margret emerged from the trees.

                I finished pouring the gas.

                Dont move! The man shouted as he swung the shotgun to point at Margret. She let out a scream at the sudden sight. John snatched the pistol from his hip and pressed it into the mans temple.

                Put it down! John shouted.

                Not with that thing pointed at my head. Until you drop the gun none of us are going anywhere.

                John, what do I do? Margret said. This wasnt supposed to happen.

                Just shut up ok! John replied. Margret began to cry.

                This can all end quietly son. Just put down the gun and this will all be over.

                You are wrong, this cant end quietly.

                What are you going to do John? John took out a zippo with his left hand and flicked it to expose a bright flame.

                Dont do it. John threw the zippo to where he poured the gasoline. The ground lit up with fire, snaking its way through trees.

                What did you just do boy! The man shouted. Margret fell to her knees in tears.

                Im bringing this to end.

                You have no clue what you are doing!

                Your Jeep is on fire, Margret cried. John glanced over at his burning Jeep. The man took this opportunity to rear the butt of his shotgun into Johns nose, knocking him off balance. The man spun around and grabbing Johns hand to keep the gun from being pointed at him. He dropped the shotgun and punched John hard in the side of the head, which dropped John to the ground, unconscious. The man regrouped himself and picked up his shotgun. He aimed it at Margret, only to lower it again. She was curled up on the ground weeping.

                Skips in the car, she kept crying. The man looked at the burning car.

                Oh dear God, he groaned and ran over to the car. He went to grab the handle of the rear door but quickly jerked it back due to the heat. He took off his coat and then wrapped it around his hand so he could open the door. The old German Shepard was sitting at the edge of the seat but would not jump out because of the fire.

                I got you fella, the man said as he grabbed the dog from the car and carried him over the fire. He carried the dog back to where John and Margret lay on the ground. The sound of fire trucks sounded in the distance.

                I got the dog, now grab your brother. We have to get out of here. John staggered up from the ground. He then lunged at the man and stabbed him in the neck with a large buck knife. Skip fell to the ground as blood poured from the mans neck. John stepped back from his victim.

                You ruined my pas life.

                John? Margret stammered. John leaned over and picked up Skip.

                We have to get out of here. John walked away from the fire with Margret on his heels.

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