A SHORT LIFE
When Bob walked into the gun store, he had no idea what he was doing. He had never owned a gun and only shot a BB gun when he was a kid. But he was now sixty-five years old: he had heard about robberies in the area and had started thinking about protecting himself. Bob never served in the military and never did anything with law enforcement. He had been an actuary before retirement. He and his wife of forty-five years lived one block off the beach in a small cul-de-sac in sunny tropical Florida. The crime rate for his zip code was less than one per thousand on petty crimes and zero per thousand on homicides. Bob went ahead and bought a gun anyway and paid for a month’s worth of lessons.
"Stop squeezing your wrist! Use your trigger finger! You miss all your targets to the left!" the instructor exclaimed in a firm, but barely polite tone.
“I’m trying. My finger is not strong enough to pull the trigger. Maybe you can show me another way to fire the gun,” Bob replied.
The lessons continued, but he was still a lousy shot.
One day Bob was out walking on his street. He talked to some neighbors, said “hi,” and waved to few, then stopped at a house that was only two lots down from his house. Butch and Jamie, a couple in their late forties, were outside working in the yard, and they chatted. Butch mentioned they had a twenty year old son, and their daughter was in high school. They chatted a little more and Bob went home.
Later that summer, in the afternoon there was a whole bunch of commotion on the street. Butch and Jamie were setting up for a party. Their son, Doug, was turning twenty-one and they wanted to keep it at the house. Jamie was really concerned if he went out with his friends something would happen. Doug their son was ready for the blast and was resting that afternoon. Bob got nosy and went to investigate. He chatted with Jamie, and she showed him a picture of their boy. She was smiling from ear to ear as she talked about Doug, being a proud and happy mother.
“Can I help?” Bob asked.
“Sure,” replied Jamie.
So, he set up a few tables in the back yard, then went home. As he walked home he noticed that Butch and Jamie’s house looked similar to his and had the same landscaping. Maybe the same builder built both houses. He let the thought go and home he went.
The party started at nine p.m. and neighbors were invited, but it was mostly Doug’s friends. Bob and his wife did not go: they stayed in for the night.
For Doug and his friends the party was not really going to start until about eleven p.m., when they were all going to meet on the beach. Per his mom, there was to be no driving, just a walk across the road to the beach and the moon to light their way. Perfect for anything a twenty-one-year-old man could want, friends, girls, and drinking. Lots of drinking. So, from nine p.m. to eleven p.m., the parents talked to some neighbors and their friends who stopped by; they knew that this rite of passage is only for them to observe. At eleven p.m., they cleaned up and went to bed and Doug and his friends went to the beach. He stuck to his mother’s rule, and none of them got behind the wheel of a car. The beach party went on till the booze ran out , which was about two a.m. in the morning. They all new there was more to drink at Doug’s house, so they slovenly wandered down the sandy beach path towards the crossing in the road. They watched for headlights, laughed, and carelessly threw some bottles on the road without even thinking about the broken glass. They eventually crossed, and in the way of drunkards; crawled, swayed and staggered their way to Doug’s yard. Then sat on the lush green grass, or passed out, while others waited. One of Doug’s friends was sober enough to try and open the front door, it was unlocked, so they went in and turned on the TV.
Doug’s friend, Billy, started asking, “Hey, where’s Doug?”
“I don’t know,” one replied, then added, “I thought he was hanging on your shoulder.”
“We need to find him”
So, they staggered outside, and as they were standing in the front yard, they heard gunshots, three to be exact and very close by.
Doug had fallen behind the group and staggered across the street by himself. He went up to what he thought was his house and began banging on the door. He thought his friends were playing a joke on him. He banged and pounded on the door, making a lot of noise.
“Come on. Let me in. Let me in” Doug yelled.
Then suddenly the door opened, and Doug rushed in. He rushed into Bob’s house and Bob shot him dead.
All of Doug’s friends heard the shots, and they got sobriety real quick. They ran for the neighbor’s house and found Bob standing at the door with his gun.
Doug’s friends started shouting. “He killed Doug. He killed Doug.”
The next door neighbor called the police. They arrived quickly and began the investigation.
An officer went to Butch and Jamie’s house, woke them up, and asked them to come with him. They were frantic with questions. When they got to the door the officer told them he needed them to ID the victim. Jamie collapsed, and Butch went in alone. He saw his son lying on the floor, dead. Bob was being questioned by the police. The police had to restrain Butch; he would have killed Bob with his own gun, probably emptying the clip into Bob’s chest or head. But the police stopped Butch and saved Bobs life.
Bob was not charged at the time with any crime, and he did not go to jail. He was allowed to be a free man, and free to hear the ridicule.
“Why didn’t you call the police and let them handle it, you old fool.”
That was the mild stuff! He was harassed, threatened by the neighbors, and families of Doug’s friends. He called the police and made reports, but no one was arrested. It was just hearsay. A few months went by, and Bob sold his house. He and his wife moved away.
The police never charged Bob because it was determined to be self-defense. He was scared for his life, locked safely in his house, with a drunken young man banging on his door.
If you're a graphic artist and you're interested in this story, email me. I'd like to see it become a graphic novel.
© Copyright 2014 Artemis J Jones
Revised 07/27/2015 by Artemis J Jones & Edited by Ryan Lanz