Dwight was angry. As usual.
He was crossing his dark street in the
middle of the block going from his apartment to his rust bucket of a car. He
hadn’t looked before he’d crossed, just
headed out because he was mad and people could just damn well look out for him.
He was mad at a world that had left him
in a dump of an apartment and with a junker of a car. He was blind to the fact
that he was in a
world largely of his own making, stitched together from a life of dumping
school, drugs, of jobs he didn’t have for long because he was never ‘treated
A car slowed for him as he strode across
the street, Dwight, not even bothering to look at the driver or acknowledge the
courtesy. He did glance back and saw
that the car had stopped. What the hell is his problem? He stopped, car
keys in hand and stared at the driver, who seemed to be looking back. Screw
you, and headed toward his own car.
He was just there when he saw that the other car had backed up and now
sat opposite him, driver visible as a shadow in the dark of the interior.
“What?” demanded Dwight.
Nothing from the car.
“Screw you, a- hole,” Dwight said.
Dwight balled his fist and stomped
toward the car, ready to give this a- hole a reaming. The driver’s window slid
down revealing an old guy with a round face, thinning gray hair, sunken eyes
with dark circles. He wore an old dark sweater with a small silver crucifix
hanging around his neck.
Dwight leaned on the roof of the car,
stared down at the man. “You dumb ass
old fart, you don’t want to mess with me.”
Nothing. The old man just sat calmly,
expressionless, staring back at Dwight. Dwight opened his mouth to shout more
when he saw the barrel of the gun almost resting on the window frame, pointing
right at his gut. Dwight hesitated but
then leered “You goin’ to shoot me, old man?”
Just ‘yes’, nothing more. No expression,
no emotion. Just a conversational ‘yes’.
Dwight stared, then grinned. “I’m just
going to turn around and walk away so if you’re going to shoot me you’ll have
to shoot me in the back like some chicken shit.”
Dwight blinked. “Who the hell are you?”
“We’ve never met.”
“I know we’ve never the f---” Dwight
stared at the gun and bit off the rest of what he was going to say. “I know we
have never met. So why you want to shoot me?”
“I’d be doing the world a favor,
wouldn’t I? I mean, it’s not like you’re worth anything. Kind of a waste of the
air you breathe.”
Dwight wanted to smash the old man’s
face. Dwight opened his mouth to curse the old man, then checked himself
because of the gun. “What you want from
me?” he said. “I ain’t goin to beg.”
The old man raised an eyebrow. “I don’t
What the hell?
That gun, that gun that hadn’t wavered
and those eyes that hadn’t moved from Dwight’s face. He tried again.
“Look, I don’t know what this is about,
I don’t know you, so I’m just going to go to my car ---.”
“Got another car? Well, you did wreck
the other one didn’t you?”
“The other ---,” and Dwight stopped. “What
the hell you talking about?”
“You know, the one you ran into the wall
after running over my granddaughter.”
Now Dwight started to sweat. The gun,
the dead cold eyes. “I did my time for that.”
“Yes, you did your eight months for
vehicular manslaughter and now you’re out and my granddaughter is still dead.
And my daughter…well, she just hasn’t been the same. Standing on the corner,
watching her daughter crossing and then---.” The old man shrugged and shook his
head. “She’ll never be the same and there’s nothing I can do for her. A father
ought to be able to help, should know the right thing to do or say,” he said,
nodding absently to himself, an odd look in his eyes. The fingers of his other
hand pressed against the little silver crucifix that hung around his neck.
he’s crazy, thought
Dwight and looked at the gun, gauging if he could grab it, but then the old man
was fully focused on him again. “I can’t fix it, but maybe I can make it
right,” he said.
Sweat stung Dwight’s eyes but he was now
afraid to move. He said, “Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to kill her, she was
“Just there in the crosswalk and you
were speeding because you were mad because you had just been fired. Again.
Isn’t that right. Dwight?”
Dwight tried to put a swagger in his
voice and said, “You can’t just shoot me. There are people around,” looking
around at an empty dark street. “They’ll
throw your old ass in prison,” he finished lamely.
The old guy just shrugged. “Doesn’t
matter.” He smiled a small smile. “You know, Dwight, life’s funny. You get news
that leaves you depressed as hell, but then sometimes something good comes out
of it,” nodding to himself again, fingering the little silver cross. “Funny how
liberating a diagnosis of terminal cancer can be.”
The old man raised the gun slightly,
said, “I’ll be seeing you soon, Dwight,”
and squeezed the trigger.
The original version of
"Dwight" was published at Overmydeadbody.com in May, 2015.
Anthony Lukas is retired from the
practice of law and from owning his own chocolate store. Now he works
part-time in one of our national parks and produces the occasional short
story. He has also previously been published in Over My Dead Body
<overmydeadbody.com> and Bewildering Stories