By Anthony Lukas
Dwight was angry. As usual.
He was crossing the street in the middle of the block going from his apartment to his rust bucket of a car. He hadn’t looked before he’d crossed, just headed out because he was mad and people could just damn well look out for him. If they hit him, well he’d just sue and make a bundle. Like he deserved to have.
He was mad at a world that had left him in a dump of an apartment and with a junker of a car. He could not comprehend that he was in a world largely of his own making, stitched together from a life of not bothering with school, doing drugs, of jobs he didn’t have for long because he was never ‘treated right.’
A car slowed for him as he strode across the street, Dwight not even bothering to look at the driver or acknowledge the courtesy. He did glance back and saw that the car had stopped. What the hell is his problem, smoldered Dwight. He stopped, car keys in hand and stared at the driver, who seemed to be looking back. Screw you, he thought and headed toward his own car. He was just there when he saw that the other car had backed up and now sat opposite him, driver visible as a shadow in the dark of the interior of the car.
“What?” demanded Dwight. Nothing from the car. “Screw you, a-hole.” Still nothing. Dwight balled his fist and stomped toward the car, ready to give this a-hole a reaming. The driver’s window slid down as he approached, revealing a guy with a round face and thinning grey hair. He wore a black sweater with a small silver crucifix hanging down from his around his neck.
“You dumb ass old fart. You don’t want to mess with me!” and then Dwight was at the car, staring at the man who sat calmly, expressionless. Dwight opened his mouth to shout more when he saw the barrel of the gun almost resting on the window frame, pointing right at his gut. Dwight hesitated but then leered, “You goin’ to shoot me, old man?”
Just “yes,” nothing more. No expression, no emotion. Just a conversational “yes.”
Dwight still didn’t get it. Who the f’in did this old fart think he was? Dwight stared, then grinned. “I’m just going to turn around and walk away so if you’re going to shoot me you’ll have to shoot me in the back like some chicken shit.”
Just a conversational “okay.” Dwight still didn’t get it.
“Who the hell are you?”
“We’ve never met.”
“I know we’ve never the f—” Dwight stared at the gun and bit off the rest of what he was going to say. “I know we have never met. So why you want to shoot me?”
“I’d be doing the world a favor, wouldn’t I? I mean, it’s not like you’re worth anything. Kind of a waste of the air you breath.”
Dwight was enraged and wanted to smash the old man’s face. Dwight opened his mouth to swear at the old man, then checked himself because of the gun. “What you want from me?” he said. “I ain’t going to beg.”
The old man raised an eyebrow. “I don’t care.”
Dwight still did not comprehend what was happening. That gun, that gun that hadn’t waived and, those eyes that hadn’t moved from Dwight’s face. He tried again.
“Look, I don’t know what this is about, I don’t know you, so I’m just going to go to my car —”
“Got another car? Well you did wreck the other one didn’t you?”
“The other —,” and Dwight stopped. “What the hell you talking about?”
“You know, the one you ran into the wall after running over my granddaughter.”
Now Dwight started to sweat, the first inkling that he was in trouble penetrating his dull brain. The gun, the dead cold eyes. “I did my time for that.”
“Yes, you did your eight months for vehicular manslaughter and now you’re out and my granddaughter is still dead. And my daughter…well, she just hasn’t been the same. Standing on the corner, watching her daughter crossing and then —” The old man shrugged and shook his head. “She’ll never be the same and there’s nothing I can do for her. A father ought to be able to help, should know the right thing to do or say,” he said, nodding to himself, absently fingering the little silver crucifix.
Jesus, he’s crazy, thought Dwight and looked at the gun, gauging if he could grab it, but then the old man was fully focused on him again. “I can’t fix it, but maybe I can make it right,” he said.
It had finally dawned on Dwight that he might not be getting out of this. He said, “Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to kill her, she was just there.”
“Just there in the crosswalk and you were speeding because you were mad because you had just been fired. Again. Isn’t that right. Dwight?”
Dwight tried to put a swagger in his voice and said, “You can’t just shoot me. There are people around,” looking around at an empty street. “They’ll throw you’re old ass in prison,” he finished lamely.
The old guy just shrugged. “Doesn’t matter.” He smiled a small smile. “You know, Dwight, life’s funny. You get news that leaves you depressed as hell, but then sometimes something good comes out of it,” nodding to himself again. “Funny how liberating a diagnosis of terminal cancer can be.”
The old man raised the gun slightly and as he squeezed the trigger he said, “I’ll see you soon, Dwight.”
Anthony Lukas is a former attorney and former deputy district attorney. For the past 18 years he has owned and operated a chocolate shop. He began writing stories about two years ago. Three of his stories have been published on omdb! – “Death of Mr. Putnam” (July, 2013 ), “The Old Damned Fool” (April, 2014) and “With a Side Of…” (September, 2014).
The author has also been published in Bewildering Stories.
Copyright © 2015 Anthony Lukas. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!