Sam pulled the last of the hunting gear out from the bed of his truck and walked toward the small cabin. He could hear his father inside in the living room, grumbling about the cold. Once inside, Sam went straight to the cabinets and set his bundle down.
“Boy, you is slower than molasses. Get to movin’ and start a fire ’fore we freeze to death. Jesus, you just ain’t worth a lick of salt.”
“Yes sir,” Sam replied. Anger bubbled inside of him. Sam wasn’t sure if it was from the harsh words or his inability to stand up to his aging old man. Without another word, Sam went outside and did as he’d been instructed, just as he’d always had.
Once back inside and the fire crackling, Sam set about preparing lunch. Thankfully, his father had been quiet for the past hour as he busied himself with cleaning his rifle.
Meal fixed, Sam reached into his pocket and pulled out the bottle of pills Shawna had given him. A smile appeared on his lips as he shook two out in his hand. They looked just like the real heart medication prescribed to his father, but they were far from anything beneficial to the old bastard’s weakened heart.
“Light a fire under that slow ass of yours, boy. I’m hungry and my chest feels funny. That no good sister of yours made my coffee too strong. I need my medicine.”
Sam walked into the living room/dining room. He felt the surge of adrenaline pulse through him as he handed the pills over. Once he took them, there would be no turning back. “Sorry, Daddy. Here you go.”
Will looked up at him and grimaced. “What, am I supposed to swalla them dry? You ain’t nothin’ but a waste of my sperm. Shoulda pulled outta your momma. You forgot my water.”
Gritting his teeth, Sam kept his mouth shut while he walked back into the kitchen. What he really wanted to do was pick up his rifle and stick the barrel between the old bastard’s eyebrows and blow his head evil off.
But that wasn’t part of the plan. It has to look like an accident.
As he filled a plastic cup with water, Sam called out over his shoulder, “Whatsa’ matter with your chest, Daddy? Are you hurtin’? Sure you want to go out today? Maybe we should wait until the mornin’, when you’re feelin’ better.”
“Boy, don’t you treat me like I’m some withered old fool."
Sam walked back in with the water and handed to his father.
"I may have a bad ticker, but I could still whip your worthless ass. And don’t tell me what we’s gonna do. I give the orders and you follow. Remember? Or, do I need to remind you with this? Seems like it’s been a while since you had a lesson.”
Sam swallowed hard when his father raised his gnarled hand in the air and formed a fist. The memories of all the times during his childhood of being on the receiving end of it made his heart pound and the bile rise in his throat. “No sir. I remember.”
“Good. Now, stop your yappin’. I wanna eat in peace. You’re just as mouthy as your momma. No surprise since you is such a Momma’s boy anyway. Thought I was gonna catch a break from her whinin’ when she croaked. Instead, I get to listen yours. Typical.”
Sam sat down at the table pushed his food around on his plate, unable to bring a bite to his mouth. The acid in his stomach bubbled and churned with anticipation.
Hurry up and eat. Gotta surprise for you in the woods.
The sound of their footsteps crushing the dried leaves on the ground was loud in the quiet woods. They’d been walking for almost thirty minutes in silence as they made their way toward the deer stands they had built years ago. Sam could hear his father struggling for air as they trudged through the heavy underbrush. It took everything inside him not to break out in a smile.
“Hang on a second, boy. I’ve got to take a whiz.”
Sam almost laughed. He knew better. The old geezer just wanted to catch his breath. Sam looked around and finally did smile when he noticed they were deep enough in the woods. His heart pounded with excitement.
Sam watched his father set his rifle against a tree then unzip his jeans. The old goat took a few steps and stopped behind the tall oak. The withered frame of his once imposing father wasn’t much different than the leafless tree. Sam felt the surge of excitement flow through his veins. His fingers shook as he removed his own rifle from his shoulder with quick, quiet movements. He checked one last time and made sure a round was chambered and the safety off.
He lowered the barrel.
“You know, there is somethin' I’ve been meanin’ to talk to you about, Daddy,” Sam snarled, the last word spoken with disgust. “And now is the perfect time to have a little chat.”
He watched his father’s back stiffen. The old man’s ears heard the threat in the voice of his son. Sam had never, not once in his thirty-three years, spoken to his father like he just did. With a quick zip of his pants, Sam watched his father turn and face him. He had been expecting fear, but instead, the old man laughed.
“Whatcha gonna do, boy? You ain’t got the guts. You’s just like an ol’ huntin’ dog. All bark and no bite—after the fire was beaten outta ya.”
Sam watched the old man take a step forward. The second step halted in mid-stride when Sam raised the gun to chest level, smiled, then fired a round less than two inches from his father’s foot.
For the first time in his life, Sam saw true fear behind his father’s dark brown eyes.
“You’re right. I didn’t have the guts to stop you all these years. Not for all the beatin's I took, or Momma, or Shawna. I was a scared, frightened dog, just like you trained me to be. Funny, I wasn’t afraid of anythin' else as a child—just you. Terrified of my own flesh and blood. Sad, really. I think that’s why I became a cop. So I could help others and arrest the sorry excuses who supposedly loved their children or wives and showed it by beatin' them senseless.”
“Well my, my. Look at you. All grown up and tough talkin’ behind that gun of yours. Actually, I must admit I believe this is the first time I’ve ever been proud of you, boy. Seems you grew a pair of balls after all. And here I always thought you had a twat between your legs, just like your sister.”
“You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?” Sam sneered. He watched the color drain from his father’s face. “Yeah, you would. Shawna told me all about it. Poor thing broke down after she killed Momma and told me the whole story of the awful things you did to her.”
“What did you say, boy?” his father whispered through clenched teeth.
Sam took a step forward, his fear of the man who beat him daily nearly gone. The stench of his old man’s terror filled Sam with bravado.
“Which part didn’t you understand? That I know all about how you raped Shawna, or that your daughter killed your wife because she knew what you were doin' and never tried to stop you?”
In the quiet forest, the father and son stared at each other for several minutes. Sam could tell by the look on his father’s face he was trying to figure out what to say next. The color had completely drained from the old man’s face and fear rolled off of him in waves.
“Your sister is a lying little whore, Sam. Did she tell you how it really happened? How she seduced me the night after I told her she couldn’t go to the prom? How she found me on the couch and started rubbin’ her dirty thing all over me, beggin’ and a pleadin’ to go? I mean, come on! You know how women are! They use that thing to get what they want.”
“Wrong answer,” Sam barked. He followed his statement by firing another round. The bullet smashed into the ground centimeters away from the man he hated more than anything else in the world. “You never were very smart, Daddy. All brawn and no brains. You really think I'm buyin' that sack of shit you're tryin' to sell me?”
“If you kill me, you’ll go to prison. Cops don’t fare well in prison. Come on now, son. Let’s talk…talk…oh, God.”
Sam watched his father stumble back several steps as his right hand flew to his chest. The old bastard was white as a sheet when his back butted up against the tree. He gasped for air like a fish out of water and slid down the sharp bark, landing on the hard ground beneath him.
“Ahhh, what’s wrong? Heart givin’ you fits? Gee, I wonder if it is from our little hike, the caffeine pills Shawna gave you, or the fear of starin’ down the barrel of my gun?”
In a last ditch effort to save himself, the old man tried to reach out and grab his own gun. But it was no use. Sam watched the pain of the heart attack overtake him and smiled when the last, ragged breath was drawn in.