Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 50
My head spins under the hot Texas sun. I drop the rock. His blood on my hands, already tacky and drying.
He had wanted my money. My money!
What just happened to me?
I cannot answer that question. Perhaps it was the accumulation of a thousand acts of cowardice. A thousand times of acting small, timid, less-than? Maybe my system snapped from a thousand times of shirking away from being a worthy person, of being a man?
The blood-spattered rock lands next to my right foot then rolls down a slight incline and into a gentle stream that crosses the trail I’d been hiking. The water in the stream is already washing the signs of my crime away. The water looks rusty as it pulls his blood from my rock.
My mind goes to the forensics crime shows on TV, and I doubt every molecule of evidence could ever be erased from the stone.
I was a flurry of energy during, but after, my energy level plummeted. I felt lethargic. I do not know how long I stood there feeling sleepy before involuntarily dropping the stone, my weapon, and returning to the present moment.
For decades, I labored under the misapprehension that I despised violence and that I wasn’t a fighter. When I surrendered to my shadow side, however, I learned both ideas were false. I remembered where the vulnerable spots were, both his and mine. I was careful not to strike with my fists. Fingers, knuckles, hands, and wrists are terrible tools for delivering force. Instead, I was a whirlwind of elbows, forearms, and knees until my hands somehow found the stone that I’d been invisibly carrying for nearly six decades.
While I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ doing what I just did, neither can I say that I disliked the act, not entirely. The purposeful assertion that, yes! I am a man, and no, you may not have my money! In every other area of my life, I was forever playing small, timid, shy, reluctant to ask for my fair share. Decades of playing small had taken a toll on me. I was a powder keg that had just blown.
I had exploded. A man had died. Surely justice must be meted out now.
When I look down at him, I realize I should feel bad, and part of me wants to feel bad, to make this my new source of constant shame. More alarming than not feeling bad is the utter clarity I feel in my body. Today I was tested, and, in my new way of thinking, I passed. For once, I had not played small; I was not a coward today.
I look down at him again. I do not know what his name is. Fortunately for me, he is still face down. I think of kneeling, turning his body face-up, but I have no enthusiasm for that project. That cannot end well. That would only kill the exhilaration I feel now. Right?
I look down again. Flies are already landing on his bloody neck. My eyes drift to the right and consider the rock. I can’t remember ever picking it up. In my memory, the stone had been in my hand every second of every minute of every year I’d been alive. The way I remembered it, I had been carrying that stone for fifty-nine years.
I no longer trust the water to wash it clean. With an exhausting explosion of energy, I quickly stoop low, pick up the stone, hurl it deep into the woods.
Trained police dogs could (and will!) find the tool I just used to end this man’s life! Impotent, illogical reactions such as this will ensure I go to jail for this crime.
The liberal side of me thinks, yes! I deserve to go to jail for what I’ve just done.
My mind replays disconnected snippets of my frenzied reaction, the crunch of bone under my hefty stone. How he had begged for mercy. Yes, I deserve to sit in jail for the rest of my life for what I’ve done. This man is no more. Because of me, his loved ones will never hear his laughter or of his happiness ever again.
Another part of me wants no part of incarceration or justice. That part of me wants to run free and exert power. That part of me wants to shock people, take risks, and finally get around to reading everything by Crowley and Nietzsche I can find. That part of me wants nothing more than to fight, fuck, and feel.
I think about plunging into the woods, trying to find the thrown stone, burying it some place far from here.
A crazy idea. I might never find the stone. Why even bother?
Instead, I do a thorough examination of my arms, legs, and hands. None of the blood drying on me seems to be mine.
So, I leave the scene.
I walk unhurriedly out of the woods. I wonder if I will sleep tonight. My biggest fear right now is I might sleep just fine tonight and every night from now on.