He pulled the hand gun from out of the drawer and sat it on the rosewood desk in front of me. He didn’t say anything. He hadn’t spoken for at least fifteen minutes.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he walked over to the drinks cabinet and poured himself another whiskey.
I wriggled around on the wooden chair he had tied me to. The rope was beginning to irritate my skin as I tried to free my hands from behind my back.
“Damn it, say something, Jack!” I yelled.
He turned and faced me, but remained silent as he downed the whiskey without a flinch. He walked back to the desk and casually picked up the gun and rotated it in his hand, examining it. I watched without blinking. The sheer sight of the gun made me nervous.
“I can’t believe it’s come to this.” Jack finally said, looking at the floor. He couldn’t even look me in the eye.
“This is your mess. Nobody else’s,” I told him.
He didn’t respond to that. He just stared at me, blankly. I stared back. I could see there was sadness and possible regret in his eyes. He had always told me that if you made your bed, you lie in it. He was lying in his now.
My head was beginning to ache; I hadn’t noticed the pain when I first woke up on the chair. I could feel the blood trickling down my face from my forehead. The wooden ornament was tossed on the floor next to me. God, it was huge. That explained why this hurt so much. I didn’t know why I entered the room the way I did. I should have known he would react like this.
“Why won’t you just talk to me?” I pleaded.
“There’s nothing to say. We both know what’s going to happen now.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Please, think about this.” I tried to convince him.
I watched as he walked over to the window and gazed out. He looked weak and was as white as the washed pebbles that covered the driveway. I could tell he hadn’t eaten in days. He was almost sixty and had to be reminded to look after himself.
There were a few minutes of silence.
“How did you know I was here?” Jack asked, continuing to stare out of the window.
“I knew this was the only place away from home where you could survive.” I told him.
The cottage was miles from the city. He and Ella had bought it six years ago and visited it at least three times a year. They even spent Christmas in it. Nobody else knew about it, except from me. The only reason I knew was because he had asked me for the deposit money, which I gave him.
“Are they looking for me?” he asked.
“Not yet, but they will be. What did you think was going to happen?”
“Not this. This isn’t how I pictured the remaining years of my life.” His voice broke up. I watched him wipe tears from his eyes.
I struggled in the chair again. My wrists and my head were hurting bad. I needed a drink of water and really needed the bathroom. From what I felt, the wound on my head would need to be dressed soon, too.
“I know why you did what you did. But why did you do this to me?” I asked him.
He turned and faced me. “You came here to turn me in.”
“I’m not a police officer any more, you know that. I took early retirement a year ago,” I reminded him.
“So? You still have your contacts, don’t you, and you have a phone. All you had to do was make a phone call!” He was becoming agitated. I could tell from the way that he spoke and how he suddenly was unable to stand still.
“This is going to end on my terms. I did what I had to,” he said.
Jack fell to his knees. I remember the sound of his crying, so clearly, as it echoed around the tiny sitting room of the cottage. It was painful to watch. He knew what he had done was wrong, but he also knew, by his own beliefs, that it was right.
I heard the crunch of the driveway as the police car stopped outside. He suddenly stopped crying and got off his knees. He quickly looked out of the window and then back at me.
“They’re here. I knew you would tell them.” I could hear the anger in his voice.
Before I had a chance to tell him that the police arriving had nothing to do with me, he slammed another whiskey down his throat and walked towards me. I was sweating uncontrollably, I had no idea what his intentions were towards me. We had never seen eye to eye.
He raised the gun.
“Jack, don’t do this, please!” I begged.
“I know you want me to say sorry, but I’m not. I know you understand.”
I squeezed my eyes shut and gritted my teeth as the gun exploded. The sound shattered around the cottage and my ears were ringing. I opened my eyes and watched Jack fall to the floor in a lifeless heap.
It was too late.
As Jack lay dead at my feet, I thought back to earlier that day, when I had found her lying in bed. As soon as I entered the house that I grew up in, I knew something was wrong. She had been ill for years, and in all that time, I had never known Jack to leave the house or her side. When I called and nobody answered, I prepared myself for the worst. Ella had been terminal for the last two years of the cancer. I knew that one day she would no longer be around, and thought that the disease would kill her. Not suffocation. I took the pillow off of my mothers face and gently closed her eyes, as mine filled with tears.
I waited for the police to enter the cottage and remembered that my mothers nurse was due today. She would have arrived not long after I had left and called the police. I suddenly wished I had the chance to tell that to Jack.
As an only child, my biological father died before I was born. And now I waited to be rescued, as my Stepfather of fifteen years lay dead at my feet and my mother lay in her bed, taken from the world prematurely, although finally free of pain.
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