Before the Gun Fired This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 1, 2011
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If a cloud of judgment were visible, there wouldn’t be a better time to see it than now. At the wrong end of a gun, held captive by the threat of a twitching trigger finger. The man’s upper lip twitched in the same manner of his finger, a delicately twisted mustache resting on his pursed mouth. Even now, staring at the sweating face of my soon to be killer, I despised every characteristic feature of his face. Unable to prevent it, my mind wandered aimlessly.

“It’s been too long Jones.” The figure before me stated, his voice like the roll of thunder, metal on metal. It echoed throughout the dark alleyway, reverberating off each moonlit gleaming trashcan. The smell of an evening before rain stilled the cool breeze, slowing time.

“Forgive me, Carlyle, if I’m not the business partner you once knew so long ago.” I smiled devilishly, knowing he picked up on my intense sarcasm.

“Watch your mouth! I wouldn’t be talking if I were you.”

Not wanting to push my luck, I bit my tongue perhaps a little too hard. I could have sworn I tasted blood. Gripping the revolver tighter, Carlyle jabbed it in my direction, his thin lips pulling back like curtains to reveal his gritted teeth. The rain picked up instantaneously and my limbs felt numb. It came down in a heavy pour as if someone had released it from a burlap sack. Through the thick sheet of rain I stared deep into the eyes of a man so lost and troubled. Like a lamb with a lion’s heart. It made me sick. But to know that I had caused him so much pain was satisfaction enough. The pain I had felt was far worse, however, and a simple minded man like Carlyle was too lowly to accept it. Nothing could bring back the love of your life and he knew that…I knew that now. But it hadn’t stopped me from trying to fill the empty gap with such dark and sinister things.

He said he wanted to make amends but I refused. Time and time again, I refused until it drove me to the unthinkable. Revenge as cold as the rain on my skin. A sly grin wiped across my face.

“What did the doctors tell you Carlyle? It must have been terrible news.”

“I said shut up Jones!”


I laughed. What else was there to do in the face of danger? The face of death. Images of a life I’d never have again danced in front of me, taunting and tormenting my very existence, begging that I plead for death. Insanity can be the sweetest bliss when you know nothing of it. It let me see her face again. Her kind and gentle features, lips as full and red as a rose. Her eyes as deep as the puddles beneath my feet. Puddles of tears and rain. Might as well have been tears only, but I dared not show it. Not in front of Carlyle.

“She was beautiful, you know. Even in a casket she couldn’t help but make it look like a throne.” I looked down sorrowfully to find my reflection beneath me, a face as scarred and torn as my heart.

“My God, you think I didn’t know that? You think that I didn’t know about you two together? I never meant to harm her Jones…” The sincerity in his voice was astonishing. It cracked and dropped like the breaking of a violin’s strings, hushed by the roar of thunder. Such sweet lies.

“I begged you not to leave her to die you callous old fool-!”

“There was no choice!”

A flash of lightning whipped across the night sky, blinding us with fury and passion. Carlyle screamed out,

“Dear God, you’re making this so hard for me!”

There was silence.

“I almost wish it weren’t so hard. We may have been done with this already. You’re weak Carlyle. I was never that weak.”


My vision became blurry, obscured by a crimson veil as I entered a trance like dream. It was near impossible to conjoin the two separated and skewed images of his wife and son swirling around in my mind. The sensation of falling dawned upon me as I tipped over, steadily racing towards the floor. In a peal of thunder the concrete floor rushed forward to greet me, my hands unable to move fast enough to catch myself. Sudden exhaustion swept over me as something thicker than water slid up my face, finding its way through the gaps that presented themselves between the floor and my skin. It felt warm.

Time sped up once more, my eyes finally opening. A tearing pain burned a whole in my gut causing my body to cease all movement. Panic should have swept through my body but it didn’t. Adrenaline should have coursed through my veins, but it didn’t. I had given up. When every fiber of my being was shut down, cold and dark, I had given up. There I lay, chilled and displeased with a life not worth living, begging for a chance inside my mind to take everything back. Begging for not even a day or an hour but just one minute to change everything, daring not to speak.

“You had to pay Jones! You had to pay for what you’ve done to me and my family! If there is one thing I will do with the rest of my life, its end the madness that was allowed to live.”

The corners of my vision crept inward, an ebony black fog announcing its lack of forgiveness upon my soul. The barrel of Carlyle’s gun smoked, its billowing cloud of judgment passing over my fallen body. A pool of shining red blood soaked the bone dry concrete beneath me. Not a word was uttered before or after the gun had fired. Without warning, a sudden and terrifying wind howled as it began to rain.





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