The city was desolate, dark and glistened in the glow of neon lights; rain had recently begun washing away the grime of the day. However, in the distance, amongst the apartment high rises of downtown, the faint noises of a silenced pistol whizzed through the air; certainly, not all the grime could be washed away in this city. The sins embedding themselves deeper within each shot, a heart-broken man had finally been broken.
Standing over the skinny, scabby and life-less corpse-shaking as the barrel of his silencer smoked-Daryl was frozen in time when the bullet shells finally bounced off the shag carpet; full realization he had killed a man was now sinking in (slowly) like an infection. His skin crawled furiously with disgust; sweat dripped off his long, greasy hair and still work-dirty-body. But time was now of the essence.
I need to move, his mind yelled at him while standing in the apartment-sized living room. Swiftly unscrewing the silencer off his pistol, he placed the barrel back into the inside pocket of his black, leather coat and stuffed the gun in the back of his blue jeans. Time was still ticking.
Dry mud covered work boots boomed across the floor, Daryl’s body cutting through the beams of light radiating off the TV, he marched his way across the living room past the blood soaked couch- nothing but the sight of garbage, glass pipes, various bags of drugs, and other unknown, foreign objects lay scattered across the dimly lit room. Immediately noticing the gapping mouth dropping off the familiar face of the dead body, Daryl’s mind wandered through all the events that had brought him to this life-defining moment.
The day prior, after finishing up another twelve-hour day down at the steel fabrication shop- a job he had finally hunkered down and kept for the past six months- he drove home. Elbow resting out the driver-side window of his 1996 brown, Dodge Ram with the rust around the wheel wells, he eagerly anticipated the sight of his beautiful pregnant wife, Sarah, as the blazing, setting sun in the horizon spread across his bearded, weathered face.
Turning off the traffic-jammed highway onto the final stretch of gravel road, leading to their driveway, Daryl began feeling so certain about the future- and very proud of correcting his past life’s trajectory- that when he got home that night, he wanted to finally start piecing together the baby’s room for Sarah. It was something she had been asking for the day he first got the job; the day they found out they were pregnant; the best day of Daryl’s life in his eyes. But the programmed worry “that something was going to go wrong” kept him from finding the motivation to set the room up; whether she left him, something happened to the baby, or anything else that hindered a happy future together presented itself, Daryl’s past had been of trauma, and he was not at a point in his life where he wanted to be hurt or disappointed- ever, ever again.
Although “the life” howled inside of him like a lone wolf in the night, it was Sarah that took him in and showed him a life worth living for; spending multiple drunken, high nights crashing on Sarah’s couch in her downtown apartment after meeting in rehab-Sarah was the one that stayed strong and never relapsed after treatment. She also never gave up on Daryl; sticking beside him through his months of relapsing, constant late-nights with friends and drug dealing, Sarah finally had enough one-night and told him: “either you stay sober or you lose me. One week Daryl. I FUCKING mean it this time,” her voice boomed through her then open-concept apartment. He knew she was serious, because he had never seen that look in her eyes before.
This immediately prompted him to clean up his entire life in exactly one week. He cut off everyone while Sarah was able to get him a job with her Uncle at the local steel fabrication shop- life was beginning to shape up. But Doug wasn’t having any of it when Daryl told him he could no longer party, sell or do drugs, or “live a life where I’m not happy anymore”.
Doug informed him, “you’ll regret this one, bud,” and hung up the phone before Daryl could say anything else.
He didn’t think much of it after that though; he figured if Doug was the “true friend” he always claimed to be, he would listen to Daryl, and join him in sobriety. But Doug, Doug had other plans- and it was something far more sinister than Daryl ever thought he was capable of.
Finally reaching the end of their gravel parking lot in front of the modest countryside home, Daryl noticed the front porch light wasn’t on: “Sarah always leaves that on for me… she must’ve fallen asleep, I guess,” he announced out-loud to himself before taking the keys out of the ignition.
The sky was now a deep, dark purple and bright yellow as the sun was close to being swallowed by the night- which welcomed the cold for all; the loud opening squawk of the old truck door screeched out into the deserted fields as the slam of the closing door brought one big clap for Daryl and his work day. Crunching gravel underneath his muddy work boots, he slammed each foot into both front steps- shaking the entire porch- while simultaneously stretching his right arm out for the front door handle. He hoped he would of been greeting his lovely wife. But something seemed off in the air, and as soon as his hand touched the door handle-he felt the negative void like a surge of electricity through his body. He ignored it as long as he could.
Entering the entrance, he saw the staircase immediately to the right leading up to their bedrooms and storage closets; the kitchen sat to the left with it ending into a dining room that joined the living room; and the living room was directly down the hallway in front of Daryl with one single lamp light on. This was strange, he thought, crunching his eyebrows down while he leaned towards his feet. Unlacing his work boots, he set his red and white lunch bin on their bench and placed his hand on the wall for support. His long, greasy, brown hair covering his eyes, he put it all behind his ears, straightened up, and trudged his way down the family picture covered hallway.
“Sarah… Babe? Are you home!?” he hollered out into the stillness of his home.
Entering the living room-looking to his right- immediately seeing the back of Sarah’s head leaning over to the side, she sat on the couch in her white bathrobe and faced the blank TV that sat upon the wall above the fireplace.
“Oh… you’re sleeping,” he began to whisper with a slightly amused chuckle stepping towards her, “I guess I’ll start making dinner, but first, I. Got. To. Steal. A. Kiss” he continued to whisper while walking around to the front of the couch. But what he saw next, would change their life, forever.
The sight of her gapping mouth falling off of her face and the sound of a heart shattering was all Daryl could see and hear in that moment; devastated, he jumped over the coffee table and began shaking Sarah to awaken, but the several bullets lodged in her chest proved that he was just wasting his time. His baby and wife had been murdered in cold blood. Sobbing into her brown, long, silky hair that smelt of flowers, he could not come to a conclusion as to why she or this innocent, unborn child deserved this.
This had nothing to do with them!, Daryl angrily clutched onto this thought as he closely held his wife and child in his arms for one last time. Their house no longer felt like a home, which emptied Daryl’s soul like a broken change vendor.
When the police finally arrived, he told them she nor he “had any bad air with anybody”; however, certainly, he knew exactly who murdered Sarah and his baby. And nothing, nothing was stopping him from handling his own justice.
Never taking the time to shower away the day after the police were done-but not before taking in an entire bottle of rye, several pain pills, and copious amount of cigarettes and pot tokes-Daryl grabbed his keys, black leather coat, and one family picture from his bedroom shoving it into his coat pocket right above his heart. Looking back into his home before departing, he softly spoke: “goodbye, Sarah. I’ll be seeing you all soon. I love you and I’m sorry”. He felt the photo he held kept what he said alive, but the uncertainty of it all made his heartache while closing his home’s front door.
Menacingly walking to his truck, he drunkenly slammed the driver-side door as he sat down, revved the engine, and spit gravel everywhere as he sped off into the darkness- he hoped that he could find some sort of light before it was too late. But all he was able to discover was the familiar (but unwelcome) creeping shadows between the cracks of the city, and Daryl’s past demons, supplying the tools needed for this fatal venture.
Parking the Dodge between a Chinese restaurant and a very-old, brick built, fourteen floor apartment-Daryl turned off his engine, lit a cigarette, peered up at the second floor balcony hosting the flicker of TV light shining out the window, and proceeded to take one, long deep breathe before exiting his truck.
Walking towards the back door-knowing this may be the last night he had on earth-nothing felt more surreal than the situation he had in front of him: retrogressing and killing one of his past friends for having killed his best friend and unborn child. But Daryl questioned this no longer, suppressed all emotion, shattered the back door window with the butt of his gun, and sprinted up the staircase to apartment 209.
Thursday (Early) Morning
Now climbing down the fire escape, Daryl squeezed his whole body out the tiny window that had held the flicker of TV light and jumped down into the box of his truck. Gazing back up the building, he spotted the small head of a child staring down at him in curiosity from the fourth floor; Daryl’s emotions began to bounce around his head again, but quickly, he swallowed the pain, jumped over the tailgate, and hopped back into the truck’s driver seat. The eyes of the child now burned into his mind, Daryl sparked the engine and sent his tires squealing into the streets of the city. Tears cleansing his dirt ridden face, the street lights flashed down on him as his truck raced out of the city.
Sirens could now be heard all around downtown; the old lady downstairs hearing the excessive banging from Daryl’s work boots, she sent security up minutes after he had fled the crime scene. Police arriving in moments, they identified the body and found Daryl’s prints all over the window sill within minutes of investigating. But Daryl, Daryl was now an hour out of the city in the middle of nowhere-buying his time-until fate came knocking.
“You want the single or the twin bed bedroom, sir?,” the old-man at the motel’s front desk asked Daryl in his Texan-like accent; wearing a trucker hat, a dirty, white muscle shirt, and glasses, the man appeared to be an extreme alcoholic behind his sunken face, missing teeth, and slender, malnourished body. However, Daryl could only stare off in a daze- this annoyed the old man; his eyes bugging out of his glass lenses, the bottom lip of his mouth seemed to engulf his entire upper lip as he stared up at Daryl waiting for an answer.
“Single” Daryl stoically answered back while standing inside of the hut that held the motel’s front desk.
Now the man asking for a credit card to hold, Daryl quickly handed over Sarah’s. Reaching behind him and looping the first key off a hook on his index finger, he placed the yellow keychain on the counter (room 209). What a coincidence, Daryl consciously thought to himself staring into the wide eyes of the old-man assisting him right now.
Leaving the motel’s front desk, Daryl walked to the store attached to the motel and bought the biggest bottle of rum he could find. Stumbling his way up to the room he rented for the night, the motel formed a c-shape around the parking lot and hosted one floor on top of the other. So when the trek up the stairs finally ended, it seemed to be a mountain for Daryl. Completely out of breathe he violently opened the door, sat down on the end of the bed and chugged a quarter of his rum; the taste was vile, but the feeling was splendid as the liquor burned his chest and warmed his core.
Laying back a moment, Daryl dozed off to the mental image of Sarah and her long, brown, flow-y hair bouncing down a sun ridden beach line. Smiling with his eyes closed, within minutes he was snoring atop of the bed still completely clothed.
Waking to a sudden voice booming outside of his motel room, Daryl could now hear police officers shouting: “we have you surrounded! step out with your hands on your head!”
Quickly jumping off the bed-out of his dreams-he ran and began peering out the blinds by the front door; spotting multiple police cruisers in the parking lot below, the officers were now posted up behind their cars with guns drawn. Light cutting through the slits of blinds into the single bedroom, the face upon Daryl’s scraggily head looked on like this is what he had planned all along and his “company” had finally arrived.
Patting his leather coat down to make sure he had all his possessions, Daryl finally opened the front door and stepped out into the blinding daylight. He felt as if his sins were bubbling out of every pore now.
“GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND PLACE YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD, NOW!,” the young, in-shape, female officer yelled up at Daryl.
Staring up at the sunlight beating down on his greasy, dirty clothes and body, Daryl smiled with teary eyes and continued to look back down at all the guns pointing up at him. He knew he could not run any longer- from anything. Past or present.
“GET DOWN!” the female officer demanded one more time. But Daryl could not live on his knees any longer- he was ready to go home. Praying to himself in front of that beating sun, Daryl swiftly went to reach into his inside coat pocket. Suddenly, an orchestra of gun blasts went off and sharp pains spread across his entire chest.
“I..I..I’m coming-” Daryl began saying to himself as blood spilt out of his bottom lip. However, swaying around, standing outside his motel room door, he finally fell and broke through the wooden railing of the balcony. Daryl landed (dead) on his back upon the parking lot pavement.
The officers stepping slowly towards him with guns still drawn- a small smile lay upon Daryl’s face as he gripped a photo of him, Sarah, and Doug at a local park. All sitting on a bench together, their arms reached across each of their shoulders with wide, toothy smiles gave way to a past that did not seem as it was.