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by Donald Glass

I spent the night sitting in the dark, a bottle of whiskey in my hand, before I finally drifted off. I woke to the sound of her sobbing. The sound carried down the hall from the bedroom, echoing like a malicious laugh. I could picture her tears streaming down her bruised face, dragging last night’s mascara along. The blood on the floor looks more real in the cold morning sun. A bright red last night now dried to a shit brown.

Once during the night I slipped down the hall and peeked in on her. She lay curled up in a fetal position, her tears pooling on the floor. One eye was swelled shut. She’s hurt, scared and afraid. I looked at her, helpless and in pain, and knew I’d do it again if given the chance.

Most of what happened is a haze of memory. I see it replaying over and over, like I’m outside myself looking in. I regretted it at first, right after I threw the first punch. It didn’t last long. I thought I’d feel like shit about it. Surprisingly I didn’t, I felt good. I felt relief; it had been coming for a long time. Sometimes people don’t know what’s best for them. I want to go down the hall and apologize but I can’t do that … it needed done.

I heard a shuffling coming from her room and knew she’d be coming out. It was time to face the consequences. She started toward the living room. I stepped in front of her, cutting her off. I’m sorry, I meant to say, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wasn’t sorry and I’d do it all over again. Her sobbing, I only wanted it to stop.

During the night I packed some of her belongings and put them in her trunk.

“Go stay with your mother tonight, you don’t need to be here.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I should have listened to you, you were right, I was wrong.”

I knew she’d come around and see things my way. She’s a smart girl and doesn’t want to be hurt anymore. Will she someday understand that I did what I did out of love? She flinched as I raised my hand to wipe a stray tear from her cheek. I tried to show regret on my face and failed.

“I’ll take care of this,” I said, sweeping my arm to Gerald’s dead, lifeless body lying on the dining room floor. “You go and try to get some sleep. I love you.”

“I love you too, daddy.”

Society frowns upon what I did, but I smile. I ask myself would I do it again, raise my fist in anger, strike another human being, pull the trigger? Yes. My only regret is that I wish I’d done it sooner. Some people need put in their place and that place is sometimes six feet underground.

“It’ll be ok. He’ll never hurt you again.”

“Thank you,” she said and left.

Donald Glass lives in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with his soul-mate Roxanne. He has had stories in The Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Dead Guns Press, and Yellow Mama. His first story in print is in the anthology Hardboiled Crime Scene by Dead Guns Press.