Danny had been shot before. He’d tell you it was only once, but that’d be a lie adapted to keep his wife calm around that dismal memory. Two rounds slammed into his chest on the same night from the same man and Danny knew what type of gun fired in the shadows. Semi-automatic pistols have distinct sounds—a low pop or a dull pah—that follow the barrel’s flash and those bullets strike quicker than a swarm of aggravated wasps; stingers ready to kill.
He had been lucky then, and this morning’s impromptu stop on his way to the office proved a far cry of that near miss years back.
There was no midnight alley way nor backup within arm’s reach and his atmosphere illuminated enough to see a revolver held by youthful regret.
“My god, what have I done?” Stammered the shooter.
Funny, Danny thought I got right back up when I was last shot… that’s right; back then I was on the beat and I wore my vest every damn day. Maybe taking that detective position wasn’t for the best after all.
His body never reacted like an action movie’s cliché climax. Absent was the outrageous theatrics a firearm’s impact and the staggered waltz of drunkards didn’t linger when the bullet crashed into his abdomen. Danny just tottered backwards as if he was shoved, tripping over complacent doubt and into a display of candy bars. He slumped to the ground while packaged treats rained atop his head and the pain settled in stronger than a burst of intestinal spasms.
And the shooter followed suit, mimicking Danny’s decline with an impassionate show of mirrored pain. He rocked on his knees back and forth, muttering over and over inaudible gibberish mixed with abhorrent sobs.
“Gut shot,” said Danny to the shooter. “Don’t think I am gonna make it without an ambulance. Do you have a phone? Left mine in my truck.”
“Oh god, oh god, oh god.”
“God isn’t here, son. It’s only you.”
The shooter brought his boney hands away from his covered face and stared in confused awe. Just a stupid, stupid kid.
“What did I do? Oh my lord what did I do?”
His voice was muffled behind a bandana designed with stereotypical blue paisley and the black hood of his sweater pulled down, concealing most of his face except for bloodshot green orbs filled with tears.
“You shot me in the damn stomach, that’s what you did. Now do you have a phone or not?”
“No sir, no I don’t.”
“Smashing that phone from the cashier you knocked out does me no good now, huh?”
“No sir, I suspect not.”
A gnarled vise cranked his ravaged innards, twisting and twisting beyond excruciating horizons. He guessed it wasn’t long before unconsciousness came to take him under and glancing down affirmed this thought. The young man slowed his rocking and calmed his breathes. “I’m sorry mister, I really am. I’m sorry oh god am I sorry.”
Danny heard what he needed behind the shooter’s trembled call.
Underneath his fear was an honest cry that pleaded for acceptance.
“I’m gonna forgive you for some reason,” Danny said. “Goes against my better judgement but I’m gonna do it. Now snap out of it and listen to me.”
“Yes sir—just tell me how to save your life and I’ll try my best.”
“I need to put something on this,” he nodded downwards to the entry wound oozing through his soaked button-up. “That bandana on your face will do for now. Give it over, if you’d be so kind.”
The shooter didn’t hesitate with pulling off his robber’s mask. His hood lifted back around his neck to reveal a tuft of short brown curls dirtier than his scabbed face.
Definitely a junkie and one that’s on the prowl for a fix Danny thought as the compress was applied.
“What’s your name, son?”
“That’s good, Kenny. Now go on out to my truck and get my phone. You can’t miss it charging on my dash. I’d say go ahead and call for me, but I doubt you’ll get my code right. No offense, but I made it hard to unlock.”
“Yes sir, I can do that.”
Kenny was out the door and Danny knew there wasn’t much time. He slid forward as much as the pain and blood loss allowed, pulling with heels and pushing off with his free palm to the revolver. The tips of his sneaker inched out and touched the metal. Torment brewed and palpitating anguish shot throughout his body as he nudged the gun forward to his thighs, and eventually, to his grasp. Danny groaned as he rammed the revolver into his waistband and sighed minor victory as he noticed the security camera overhead.
Now I just need him to come back.
The door buzzed and chaotic shuffling morphed into the frantic shape of Kenny. Danny’s vision was blurring, and fast.
“Here you go, sir. I got it just like you said,”
Kenny fumbled the phone and it slipped from the sheen of sweat on his hands like the revolver had. The screen landed flat in the pool of blood rippling underneath Danny.
“Well… shit,” said Danny.
“I’ll fix this sir, I promise,” Kenny snatched the cellphone and wiped the glass surface on his sweater. At least my blood is on his sweater if I die. “Look, it’s all clean.”
Blood smudged into the cracks of the screen and the light emitting was tinted crimson. Danny’s thumb swiped and swiped until the phone unlocked.
“You did good… Kenny. You did good. Now come closer and help me with one last thing.”
The compress lifted, his fingers jammed a speed dial, and the revolver came out, pointing straight at Kenny. Before the voice on the other end picked up, Danny fired, and Kenny fell to the floor, grasping at his stomach.
“This is officer Danny Mitchell… I’ve been shot at Sunoco on Twenty-two south… just off of exit 38… suspect is down… send two ambulances.”
Screams filled the early morning hours and Kenny bleated why? Why did you lie to me?
“I still forgive you… and maybe… you can take that gift… and forgive yourself.”
© Copyright John Potts Jr. All rights reserved.
The one thing I am struggling with is forgiving myself for being the kind of alcoholic that I was. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over and it is this: Recovery for me will change to the past tense when I die. Luckily I have been able to abide by this grim outlook and it keeps the bottle far away.
It works for me and that is all that really matters in the end.
I have mountains of regret and shame that I still haven’t been able to shake off from my drunk years. It all encapsulates with my stubborn inability to forgive myself. I use to be worse than I am now and I have come to realize that I was the self-sabotaging critic of my own demise. I’d find myself in fits of anger over my mistakes and in the end I dug that hole deeper and deeper until it turned into an oubliette; bottomless and absent of all light or warmth.
That’s life sometimes.
Thankfully the light has returned over the years and I have found new guidance and purpose. I think being a father helps. Some of the goals of being a parent–at least from my perspective–are to teach children how to avoid past mistakes. If history is going to be repeated, lets at least make it positive experiences and not the shitty ones.
I am absolutely, one-hundred percent starting a Patreon page. First I am going to prepare.
My Drill Sergeant taught me a great acronym I try to use today, and its the Six P’s:
Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
I am taking my time with the roll-out for this as I want to execute it’s delivery and continued success with careful preparation.
I have spent time going through some of the stories posted here and I have given them a harsh once-over. It was needed. I am huge on progression and I always want to reflect on what I can and will improve on as a growing writer. Like I mentioned in my last afterthought, I will still have this site and Ghoul Flash Fiction opened and will continue to post weekly on both. Those platforms will work as my portfolio so far. I want to give hopeful Patrons a sample size and that must be high quality.
Ghoul went on a double date for valentines this week, and next week, he is dealing with a parking ban. He’s a busy guy, ya know?
I’ll catch you all next week, and if I am fortunate, I’ll have a break from the snow.
John Potts Jr