by Christopher Davis
His back aching with arthritis, Albert Wood felt his way along the darkened hallway. Wood had lost his sight some years ago. There was no need to reach for the light switch just now.
It was later than midnight. This the old man knew because he normally woke at this time to piss, sometimes in, sometimes on the toilet.
Waking to sounds of breaking glass, his terrier, Reginald, had whimpered and slid deeper within the blanket. There was a time when both man and beast would have been on the intruder like stink on shit, but those days were long gone. Now Wood, old and alone, made his way over the dirty carpet with his right hand twisted around a Smith & Wesson .38 like the gnarled roots of an old pine.
The intruder had no idea.
William Austin was in a fix. He needed some cash to make good with some people that he owed. Billy was a good kid, had been a good kid, but his liking for meth had started to get him into trouble here and there. Billy still had a job for now, but his habit had him teetering dangerously close to the slippery slope of addiction.
Austin knew the old man had a house full of really cool shit and he just wanted to get in and get out of the run down dwelling without disturbing Wood. The old man had to be in his late eighties, blind and nearly crippled, an easy target, an easy score.
Wood stood in the hall listening, his eyes closed, straining to hear past the heartbeat in his ears. Someone shuffled near the roll top by the fireplace. A smile broke on the old man’s lips. The fireplace hadn’t been lit in twenty years now.
Something fell against the dusty oak. Thin glass from a picture frame broke, its tiny shards tinkling to the lower desk. Although Wood no longer had the sight to see them, he knew the pictures and mementos were there. His sweet daughter Ann had arranged them before she passed ten years ago. These simple things were a reminder of his younger days, days when Sergeant Wood had stood against the foe on the islands of the Pacific.
“Hey, old man,” Austin said, seeing the light from the window reflecting on the blued steel of the Smith & Wesson. “There’s no need for that thing. I’m not going to hurt you.”
That smile broke on Wood’s lips once again. “Then why the fuck are you in my house, you lost?”
“No, mister,” Austin said, staring down the short barrel. It didn’t matter where he moved in the darkness, the short barrel followed.
Austin moved forward to silence the old man. Wood’s gnarled finger felt for the trigger and squeezed before he fell to the floor clutching his chest.
William Austin was dead by the time Sergeant Wood felt the cool breeze of the South Pacific one last time.
Christopher Davis is a central California native and grandfather of three rambunctious little ones. When not tending the herd, he’ll try his hand at writing Civil War, Western and crime fiction, some of which can be seen in Shotgun Honey, The Big Adios, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama and David Tyson’s Ghosts Anthology. Find out more atwww.christopherdaviswrites.com.