By W.P. Baldwin / March 3, 2013
Ray’s body quivered. He tried to swallow the dryness away as the heat radiated up from the driveway; his slacks gave his knees little protection, but he couldn’t summon enough strength to stand. Ray opened his eyes then blinked several times to clear his vision. He shook his head. His neighbor still laid in front of him, lifeless, the blood, a horror he hadn’t seen since…. Had he not been so selfish Allen would still be…
“Mister! Did you see what happened?”
The stranger’s voice startled Ray, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Allen, nor could he muster the words to respond.
“Where did they go?”
Ray could only give a slight shrug of his shoulders. He hadn’t seen which way the carjacker had gone.
His deceit had cost Allen his life. Ray never could’ve imagined this, especially…
From both sides Ray felt strong but gentle arms embrace and lift him up, then with his weak attempts to help they guided him into the shade of a tree and set him in a chair, pre-positioned with its back to Allen. A chair he did know belonged on his front porch.
Ray stared down at the grass, numb, guilt-ridden.
As the ambulance and two police cars brake hard in front of his home Ray realizes the sound he had been hearing were their approaching sirens.
The incident flashed before Ray’s eyes; the unmistakable feel of the gun being shoved into his back, the too hard-a-faced teen shoving him onto the hard driveway, glancing back into the barrel of a gun, Allen striking the teen in the face with a rake, a gunshot, the car door slam, his car backing up, Allen on the ground, his legs unnaturally folded under his body and the obviously fatal head wound.
It had happened so fast. If he had only fought back Allen wouldn’t be lying dead behind him now. His cowardice. His appraisal. Twice Ray had betrayed Allen.
He always wondered if Allen knew. At the time it seemed right. Hadn’t he been following the law? Doing his civil duty? Allen did drink too much. He was confrontational and known to strike his wife; as far as he knew Allen had never been arrested and had gotten one speeding ticket four or five years ago, but… Ray could no longer justify his motives; his absence of reason and quickness to judge clouded by a fear conditioned by society. Had Ray not recommended Allen be denied the right to purchase a handgun Allen wouldn’t have been using a rake to protect him; at least Allen would’ve had the opportunity to be alive today.
© Copyright by W.P. Baldwin / March 3, 2013