Out on a technicality! That scumbag, mother fucker, got out on a technicality. I shouldn’t be surprised, the newspapers had covered it for the last four weeks; it made me feel sick.
The local news ticker scrolled along the bottom of the TV, spreading messages of hatred and disgust that the police could screw up so bad. Cameras flashed, reflecting off the bald-headed, comb-overed troll as he exited the station, hands unbound, free. He wore a smile so big I expected his jaw to fall off. He waved at the people on the pavement below, as if they were his fans congratulating him on his freedom.
I pointed the remote at the TV menacingly and pressed the power button; the sound and picture disappeared. I didn’t feel as satisfied as I hoped I would.
The kettle boiled. I added five heaped teaspoons of coffee to a flask and filled it to the brim with the hot water.
I picked up my warmest jacket and headed out.
I had been watching the house for around two hours before Arnold Hinsky arrived home in his brown Oldsmobile. The suspension gave out a big sigh of relief as he left the vehicle. His oversized frame waddled along his driveway. He unlocked the side door and entered. The front room lit up and I waited.
One hour later the light went out, a minute after that the bedroom light came on. I went to take a sip from my flask, it was empty. I turned it upside down and shook a couple of drips out. It was getting cold and my feet were getting numb. I wiggled my toes in an effort to get the blood flowing and to stimulate warmth to return.
Fifteen minutes and the bedroom went dark. Anticipation and anxiety got the best of me. I got out of the car, crossed the road and walked slowly towards the two storey ranch house.
Large trees lined both sides of the road and did well to obscure the upper floors from seeing directly down to ground level. Wind howled in the branches, shaking some of it’s precious leaves fluttering to the ground. It was deep winter cold.
I reached the house and stared. I didn’t have a plan. I had acted so far on pure rage and instinct. I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I was sure I’d know when I was looking directly into that man’s evil eyes.
I pranced along the driveway like a cartoon character creeping up on their nemesis. I stayed in the shadows, concentrating on staying silent. I reached the side door. It was now or never. I put on some gloves and a balaclava. Instantly I felt safer, I felt in charge. I turned the handle. It opened, but stopped with a loud clunk as the chain went taught.
I winced as I waited to hear muted sounds from above; nothing happened.
I closed the door and moved to the back yard.
A wooden gate and fence kept guard in front of me, keeping me from the rear. The circular door latch was unlocked and allowed me entry easily.
The green lawn, dark grey in the full moon light, stretched out as far as I the eye could see. The limestone tiled driveway continued seamlessly around the back of the house to the sliding doors looking out over the acres of real estate.
Cupping my hands around my eyes, I pressed myself up against the glass of the patio doors. The inside was dim, but it was vacant.
I grasped the handle and the large pane of glass slid slowly open. I thought someone guilty of the crimes he committed would not be stupid enough to leave their house unlocked; more fool him.
The living room was sparsely decorated, shiny laminate floor reflecting what light bounced off it’s surface. A large staircase in the middle of the far wall beckoned me up.
The floor was forgiving, no creaks or squeaks to give away the intruder in the building.
Shit, what about alarms?
I stopped in the middle of the living room, arms outstretched like a surfer, trying to stay as still as I could while I searched for sensors.
Damn! One in the far left corner.
At a ridiculously slow pace I approached the sensor, focusing on it, willing it not to turn red and detect me. I could get away with this if it was sound based, but was screwed if it was heat based.
It was within the last few feet when the sensor lit up. I scrunched my eyes, preparing myself for the loud waling; nothing. If I was a cat, I’d be down two lives.
Relieved I started up the stairs confidently.
Arnold’s room was open, I could hear the almost choking sounds of a fat man snoring. In the pace I was accustomed to, I approached his room.
I reached into my inner pocket and took out my flick knife. Pressing the release, the blade whizzed into action. The sleeping man snorted at the noise, I scolded myself for being so naive and careless.
Delicately I pushed open the door, it gave out an ever so quiet whine as if to warn it’s owner of his impending doom, but it was too quiet.
Standing at his bedside I pulled back the covers to reveal a string vest stretching over his bulging stomach. He shivered at the cold and awoke. He looked me dead in the eye, stunned, and peered at the point of my knife raised above my head.
I saw his diaphragm inflate, his stomach bulging to breaking point, the precursor to the bloodcurdling yell that exploded from his gaping mouth.
I bounded out of the bedroom like my ass was on fire. Down the stairs three at a time, holding the railings for support. With a hop, slip and a jump I toppled, head first, into the sliding doors. My scalp hitting the window with crunching momentum, the double glazing reverberating seconds after I came to a jolting halt.
Stars shot across my vision, my faculties taking stock of how I ended up on the floor. My brain replayed the last few moments until I ended up in my current heap.
I’m in a hurry and need to get out.
With pain abseiling down my head, I wrenched open the door and pushed myself back to my feet. Dizzy and disorientated I ran as fast as I could along the driveway and out onto the pavement. I slowed as I neared the car, but misjudged the speed I was travelling and I clattered into the door.
Entering the vehicle I stripped off my gloves and balaclava and started the engine. The house was lit up, as I approached, driving at a modest pace, trying to stay inconspicuous.
As I neared, I saw the half naked man running down the driveway, waving his arms as if to flag me down. I snapped my head back and looked straight ahead.
I turned off the road and back onto the dusty country road that took me home. My pounding heart would not relent, reminding me how close I came to killing him. I did not feel guilty, I felt annoyed I did not take my chance.
My wife was already in bed by the time I got home. She left out a half-empty bottle of red wine and a clean glass. I smiled as I sat at the kitchen table. Within ten minutes the bottle was empty.
The next day I was off from work, which was more than just convenient. My wife left early in the morning to visit family and I looked after our daughter, Jessica.
After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, we wrapped up warm, ready to leave the house.
The chill from the day before had taken up residence and was not going to leave us for the next few weeks. Jessica’s mittens dangled off her sleeves with elastic string.
“Hey, Jess, could you be a good girl and put your gloves on please? It’s cold out today,” I asked.
Without speaking she stopped in her tracks. With determination on her face she picked up one and slipped it on, then struggled with the other. When she finished, she jumped on the spot and turned around.
“Done!” she said happy with herself.
I put my arm around her and we strolled down the path of the front yard, to the car that awaited us at bottom.
The heating kicked in around five minutes into our journey, not a minute too soon. Jessica took this as an opportunity to remove her gloves, she kicked her legs and gazed out the window.
I followed the journey I made home last night in reverse. We approached the T-Junction for Arnold’s road, I slowed the car, anxious to see his house.
Just as I’d expected. A patrol car sat outside the house, no doubt a side effect of his midnight visitor the previous night. I continued along the main road and into the centre of town.
“I tell you what! Would you like to go for ice cream?” I asked.
“Yay!” was the hardly understated reply.
We slid into the parking space along main street in front of the local Ice Cream Parlour.
Jessica’s eyes widened as she dug into the banana split in front of her. I watched and enjoyed her stuffing her face. My heart quickened, my smile sagged. A slight melancholia fell over me. I considered the plans I had for the day. But the greater good I told myself, for the greater good.
My daughter was asleep by the time we reached the Elementary School. It was now 11:30am, and I saw Arnold’s car parked twenty yards away. The school was empty of all but teachers today. The field between the building and the road was covered in a pristine layer of dew, still not moved by the morning sun.
I picked up my phone and dialled the number for the headmaster’s secretary.
“Rosemount Elementary School,” the middle aged woman said.
“Hi, yes. Does anyone own a brown Oldsmobile?” I asked, a cold perspiration preparing to cleanse my body of the lies I was about to tell.
“Yes, that would be one of our teachers,” she replied puzzled.
“It appears his tyres have been slashed, I thought it best to let him know. Didn’t want him finding that at the end of the day and not being able to drive home.”
“Thanks for letting us know, sir,” she said, her tone more pleasant that it had been.
Five minutes passed and no sign of him. I monitored the front of the building, waiting for him to leave.
Come on! Come on! Yes!
I could just make him out, his gait was unmistakable.
I leaned over, “Come on Jessica, we are going to play a little game, okay?”
I took her small hand in mine and we headed for the middle of the field.
“Daddy, why is your hand so cold and sweaty?”
“No reason, Jess,” I said softly as I peered up at the school, “Sit here and close your eyes,” I continued as a tear rolled down my cheek.
For the greater good.
Jessica sat down on the wet grass.
I reached into my pocket and withdrew my flick knife. I pressed the button and it sprang into life.
It’s now or never, the greater good.
I squatted down behind her, put my arm around her throat and brought the knife around, stabbing it into her stomach.
A scream more frightening than I’d ever expected.
It broke my heart.
Why the fuck did I do this?
Tears streamed down my face as I pulled out the knife and left it in her lap. An heroic amount of blood leaked out of her stomach.
I turned and ran back to the car, the sounds of Jessica’s cries filled the sky, reverberating in my skull. I ignored my parental instinct to help her, to help my baby.
The greater fucking good!
I hid behind the front of the car, waiting for Arnold to hurry. I could see he’d heard her, but had not found the source of the sounds.
He looked left and right, scanning for where the screams were coming from, he started into a jog.
Yes, yes, bingo!
His eyes spied my daughter and he broke into a full speed run, his ridiculous comb over flapping in the wind. His gut bouncing in all directions.
He lumbered to a stop in front of Jessica. He looked at the blood and panicked. He picked up the knife and lifted her up and turned to take her back to the school.
I slipped my gun out of my holster.
“Freeze! Sherriff’s department! Don’t move!” I shouted at him.
He dropped her to the ground, Jessica landing on her back, sprawling.
I pulled the trigger a single time, one bullet, dead on; directly through his blackened heart.
Jessica is in intensive care, she’s come around now. My wife is with her at the moment. She does not remember what happened. Only that she was happy her Daddy was there to help her. I’m not sure I’ll get over the guilt I feel right now, but it was for the greater good.
A fucking technicality, not on my watch.