by B J Bourg
I opened my eyes and stared into the blackness. My heart beat a thunderous tune in my chest. Something had caused the alarm to go off in my subconscious mind, but there was no sound but the ticking of the wall clock. I shrugged mentally. Maybe an 18-wheeler had passed on the highway. That always caused my house to shake and could have disturbed my slumber.
I was about to turn over in bed when I heard a faint squeak from the area of the living room. Maybe the rash of burglaries in my small-town neighborhood was just making me paranoid, but I eased the blankets off, slid to the edge of the bed, and let my feet drift to the floor. I tiptoed to the door and paused, listening. Nothing. I pushed my bedroom door open and made my way down the dimly lit hallway.
I reached the end of the hallway and scanned the living room. I sucked in air when I saw the front door to my house — it was open! There was glass on the floor and a masked man right inside the doorway. He saw me just as I saw him. A surprised yelp escaped from his mouth and he turned to run. I was too fast for him. I hurdled the pile of glass shards and was on him before he could make it off the cement porch.
“Gotcha!” I tackled the man and sent him sprawling. I jumped to my feet and stepped between the suspect and his getaway. I bounced light on my toes, flashing back to my days in the amateur boxing ring. “Get up! It’s time to pay for your sins.”
The man rose slowly to his feet. Before he could react, I shot a stiff jab that snapped his head back. I followed up with a hard right to his chin and watched him collapse to the porch.
As he lay there, I bent and grasped a handful of mask and ripped it violently from his head. I dragged him to the edge of the porch, where the moonlight shone brightly, and pushed his head back. When the light splashed against his face, I jerked back and nearly fell over.
It was my sister’s 16-year-old son. His nose was bent and leaking blood. Hatred glowed in his eyes.
“What the hell are you doing, son?”
Without saying a word, Jonathan struck out with his right hand and hit me in the stomach. I groaned as the air left my lungs and my legs folded. This was like no punch I’d ever felt. Jesus! I’m out of shape.
I tried to stand but couldn’t. I looked into Jonathan’s brown eyes — they were wild. I saw the glint of light on an object in his hand. It was a large knife, and the blade was wet.
I reached for my stomach. My hands were immediately drenched in warm blood. I strained to breathe but couldn’t. I tried to stand but only succeeded in crashing to the cold cement deck.
Jonathan jumped from the porch and disappeared into the night.
I couldn’t move, and the realization hit me like a left hook — I was dying! Fear’s icy fingers gripped my fading heart. I closed my eyes. Time seemed to slow down. Tears squeezed through my lids and slid down my cheeks. I was too young to die, hadn’t been married, no children. Hell, I was my father’s only son. His name would die with me.
I was suddenly angry. My name would die, but Jonathan... his name would live on. I had been nothing but good to that boy. Had been like a father to him when his own was rotting in a jail cell for fourth offense drunk driving and drug possession. Had paid for his drug rehab. I gritted my teeth. It would kill my sister, but he couldn’t get away with this. I had to find a way...
I struggled to drag my body toward my front door, but I was too weak. As I clawed with my fingers, I smeared blood on the cement floor. An idea suddenly came to mind. I remembered seeing an episode of Third Watch where an officer obtained a dying declaration from a murder victim. This was one exception to the Hearsay Rule and was the only way I could reach out from the depths of the grave and tell the world the name of my killer.
With a hand that shook, I pushed my right index finger into the hole in my stomach. I pulled it out and began scribbling Jonathan’s name in blood on the cement floor. Letter after painstaking letter I scribbled, returning often to the inkwell in my belly. Just as I finished forming the last letter of his last name, my arm collapsed.
Blood continued to drain from my body, and I could feel my heart slowing. My muscles relaxed. Eyelids slumped. They twitched slightly when I realized a pool of my own blood was approaching the name I had written on the floor.
My last regret was my foolhardiness, and the last thing my fading eyes saw was my arm feebly pushing out to try to redirect the crimson tide that threatened to swallow my dying declaration like a fire engulfing dry leaves...
Copyright © 2007 by B J Bourg