Friday 17 April 2015

'Terminal Cancer' by J. David Jaggers

The lights at the entrance to the gravel lot hummed in the silence. Leonard stood in the shadow of a sign that read Rocky Top RV Park. Welcome Y’all. He checked the safety on the Glock and adjusted his gloves. The cool night air bit at the cancer in Leonard’s lungs and he spat blood on the ground.
Headlights broke through the darkness, pushing shadows ahead of the high beams. Leonard retreated further behind the sign as a truck slowed and turned into the entrance.
The F250 parked at the back of the lot, next to an old Airstream camper. Leonard followed quietly. A woman and a small boy got out of the passenger side and stood huddled. The driver, a bald man, stormed around the front of the truck and slapped the woman.
“Don’t you ever get out until I say so. Is that clear?”
The woman pulled the boy tight. “Yes, I’m sorry. Cameron’s hungry. I just thought…”
The bald man slapped her again, sending her reeling. The boy stood frozen in fear.
“You’re not allowed to think. Now get in the fucking trailer.”
Leonard watched as the woman got up and hurried the boy to the RV, her knees bleeding. This was the third night he’d witnessed this and he’d had enough. Leonard spent years in this park and seen all kinds of deadbeats, but now, after the terminal diagnosis, he wasn’t going to stand by anymore.
The bald man stepped out to the edge of the lot and unzipped his fly. As he started to piss, Leonard walked up behind him.
“It takes a big man to hit a defenseless woman.”
The bald man spun around mid-stream, coming face to face with the Glock.
“Who the fuck are you grandpa?” He said zipping his pants. “What, you’re gonna shoot me? Kill the mean old wife beater?”
Leonard spat a chunk of bloody lung on the ground between them.
“No. You’re gonna shoot me.”  
“You’re out of your mind old man, give me the fucking gun.”
“You mean your gun. I found it in your truck last night.” Leonard tossed the pistol to the bald man and took a step back.
“Hear those sirens?  I called the sheriff. You better go ahead and shoot me now before it’s too late.”
 The bald man held the gun at his side. “You think I’m that stupid?”
“No, I think you’re smart.”  Leonard said pulling a brown envelope from his pocket. “You’ll shoot me because I found your secret pictures. The police would love to get a look at these.”
The bald man raised the Glock and pulled the hammer back. “You went through my things?”
Leonard smiled. “You’re goin to jail as a murderer or a pedophile, your choice. But you better hurry if you want to hide these pictures.”
A gunshot rang out through the darkness and as the blue lights flooded the park, the bald man sat on the steps of the Airstream, staring at Leonard’s body.  

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