Front door,

Hanging askew.

One rusted hinge.

Wedge of sunlight,

Smeared across plank flooring.

Beretta in hand.

Push door with flashlight.

Won’t budge.

“I heard a shot but I was too scared to look. Is he in there?”

“Stay back, please.”

Standing to side of doorway.

Breathing heavy.

“Frank?”

Silence.

Sweat trickles from lower back into waistband.

Heart pounding.

“Frank. I’m here to help. You okay?”

Nothing.

Flies buzzing,

Darting in and out.

Deep breath.

Quick peek.

Maglight low.

Minimum target.

Blood spatter.

Lots of it.

Tissue on ceiling.

Sitting on floor.

Shotgun in lap, upright.

“Frank, you okay?”

Useless words.

“Is Daddy all right?”

“Go back in the house. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Hand over mouth, sobbing. “Okay.”

Squeeze through door.

Flashlight aimed toward ceiling,

Casts dim light throughout.

Holster weapon.

Not needed.

Friends since high school.

Twenty years, or more.

No face.

“Why, Frank? Great kids. Great wife. Nice house. Good job. Wonderful life.”

Deafening silence.

Radio crackles.

“Send M.E. and paramedics. No particular order.”

Doesn’t matter.

Chest moves.

A wet breath, from somewhere.

Finger twitches slightly.

“Frank?”

Another jerky, unbelievable breath.

“Hold on Frank. Help’s on the way!”

Frantically grab radio.

“Tell paramedics to hurry. Victim is alive. Repeat. Victim is alive.”

Sit in floor,

Holding Frank’s hand.

Sirens getting closer.

“Hey Frank. Remember when we …”


 

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