This piece was inspired by a writing prompt. For those of you unfamiliar with writing prompts, it’s essentially as the name suggests, a topic given to inspire a written piece.
PROMPT: When I was 16, my father pulled me out of school and shoved me in a car. His eyes didn’t leave the road as he threw a gun in my lap and said, “we’re going to get your mother.”
It was about 10 o’clock, I had been in class for the better part of the morning. I sat somewhere in the middle of the class, because the cool kids sat in the back and the keeners up front. I was new so I just tried, like always, to just blend in. I didn’t have many friends, there isn’t much chance of that when you change schools every couple years, and this year was no different. I sat there in advanced calculus, with my head starting to droop and my eyes feeling heavy. The teacher’s lecture was pretty much in one ear and out the other, with my attention on the cute brown haired girl in the front row. If I had been paying attention, I might have heard the noise on the PA system, which had asked me to pack my things and head down to the office.
I perked up, now able to focus on all the surroundings.
“Did you hear that? Get your things and head down to the office.”
I grabbed my bag, stuffed my books in it, grabbed my jacket and left. I could hear the typical “ooohs” and whispers from my classmates as I headed out, but I never looked back.
As I approached the office, I saw a man standing with his back turned away from the door. He must’ve heard my footsteps coming because he spun around when I got closer. The office attendant saw me as well and gave me a concerned look, saying “I’m sorry to hear, hun. Give my condolences to your family.”
“Hey kiddo, c’mon, let’s go.”
I didn’t even need to say anything as we walked out, my father lead the way without saying anything else. I didn’t know what else to do other than follow him. His car, a black muscle car that was kinda beat up, was parked out front, and upon seeing it, he told me to get in as he opened the passenger door.
“What are you doing here?”
“Just get in! You’ll find out soon enough!”
His arm pushing my head down just under the roof. I felt the door shut behind me, and saw him go around and get in the driver side.
We sat there quiet as he drove.
I had so many questions, I hadn’t seen this man in ten years. He was gone often, but he always came back home. Then one day, mom decided to leave while he was gone, we just packed up and never came back. I never understood why. I didn’t know what to say, I had so many questions.
He said nothing. He looked different to me. It was the same face, just a little older. He was dressed weird too, like Neo from The Matrix. His long black coat, sunglasses, gloves, shoes. I mean, it was kinda cold out but it was just strange.
Before I could get another word in, he stopped me. He reached over, opening the glove box and pulled out a gun and threw it on my lap. It was a revolver and it was heavier than I had thought I gun would be. I had only ever seen one on TV or in the movies, or on my video games, but never held one. It was heavy, and cold too.
“We’re going to get your mother.”
He didn’t say anything else the rest of the way, and I wasn’t sure he’d answer if I asked anything so I just stayed quiet the remainder of the drive.
He knew where he was going, not once having to ask where to turn or which way. We ended up right outside my house, car parked on the curb, the driveway already had our car in it. He grabbed the revolver from me and got out the car, pointing to me to open the door.
As I unlocked the door and walked in the house, there were voices coming from the kitchen.
“Josh? Is that you?”
I could hear Dean’s voice calling out to me. Dean was my stepdad, he was someone I didn’t care much for but he didn’t bother me either.
What are you doing home?
Mom’s voice followed shortly after.
I walked into the kitchen, seeing Dean typing at the table on his laptop. He worked from home. Mom was cooking something on the stove, her back towards me. I stopped in front of the doorway, Dean noticing me from his chair.
Mom still focused on the food while trying to ask why I was home so early. That is, until a voice called out to her.
She stopped. And paused.
She turned slowly, and saw me standing in the hallway. She saw behind me where the voice came. Dad walked up behind me from the shadow.
“Sarah” he called out again.
“What are you doing here John?”
Mom’s voice trembled, her face grew pale.
Dean stood up from his seat, his chair screeching as it pulled back from the table. Dad raised his hand, holding a pistol up towards them, it was different than the one in the car.
“Now now, let’s not do anything hasty. It’s just a bit of reunion we’re having. Let’s all just have a seat and talk things through, okay?”
No one said a thing.
Dad directed us to the table that Dean had just gotten up from. We sat down, and he followed suit, laying the gun down on the table as well, as a gesture of “good will”.
“I just want to talk Sarah.”
The four of us sat at that table without saying a word for what must have been five minutes. The smell of pancakes was filling the room, the low heat sizzling the pan that sat on top. Dad played with the gun, spinning it on the table as he tried to collect his thoughts. I was scared, mom was scared, Dean, I bet he was scared.
“Why Sarah. Why did you leave?”
Dad let go of the gun, allowing it to spin on it’s own carried by the momentum. He reached in his coat pulling out a cigarette box. I watched as the gun rotated. Mom looked towards my dad, towards the man she only knew as John. She watched as he took out a lighter and lit the stick that sat on his bottom lip. His eyes stared right back at her. There was no love there, just hate. Hate towards each other. Tears ran down her cheeks and her voice trembled.
“I had to. You were too deep in your ‘work’. You couldn’t protect us. We weren’t safe. I did it for Joshua.”
The moment John lit his cigarette, the gun stopped spinning, handle towards Dean, and the barrel towards my father. Dean reached out for it. I flinched, along with my mother. John didn’t move, just puffed that cigarette. He threw the box of cigarettes on the table towards my mother, as if enticing her.
“You left me for this fucking idiot? You think he can protect you?”
Dean held the gun at my father, his hand shaking out of what must have been a mix of emotion. “Fuck you asshole”
John leaned forward, reaching for his revolver he had kept tucked behind himself. Dean saw this and pulled the trigger on the pistol he held. His eyes closed while doing so. There was nothing. No kickback, no blood, no gunfire. Dean pulled again, and again the only sound that the gun produced was an empty one.
*Click. Click. Click.*
A look of dread came over Dean’s face as John stood to greet him with the the barrel of his revolver pointed at him.
“I think this is the sound you’re looking for.”
The thunderous ‘boom’ filled the kitchen and reverberated throughout the house. Mom screamed in horror as Dean was thrown back, his chair collapsing beneath him. Blood stained the wall behind him. It smelled like smoke of the burning food in that kitchen. Dad moved around the table to find Dean struggling to drag his body back and prop himself against the wall, while mom fell to his side. Her hands were covered in the blood pouring out of the hole in his stomach.
“FUCK YOU YOU MONSTER!!!!”
Mom was hysterical, crying and screaming at the same time.
“What the fuck do you want!?!?”
“To take the things you love from you”
John turned to me, with my mother noticing.
“NO!!! Don’t you dare John!!!!! Don’t you fucking dare!!! You take me instead, you hear me!!!”
She reached for the gun in his hand but he pushed her back to the floor.
“You think i would harm our son!? You think I would do that!?”
He raised his gun back up to mom; she began weeping as he did. John looked back at me as he did.
I heard it again.
And again, until I didn’t hear it anymore.
BANG. BANG. BANG.
My eyes shut with each shot fired, I was afraid to open them.
The silence, I wanted to cry.
Then I heard her. I heard mom cry, as if feigning to the circumstances. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw her okay. When I opened my eyes and saw all six bullets fired into my stepfather.
“You need to come with me now.”
My father’s hand rested on my shoulder.
“There’s nothing for you here.”
“No” I responded flatly. How could I just leave my mother now? All the emotion I had was bottled up and was storming deep in me.
“You either come with me, or you stay. And you know what the police will find? Your stepfather, dead. And the only fingerprints on the revolver used to kill him are yours…