A Desperate Decision

Posted: July 7, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

He held the gun in his hands, the panic stricken sweat from his palms making the rubber grip moist and slippery. The trigger felt more promiscuous than it had felt when he was standing in front of the mirror this morning. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.

He stared at the people; random people; strangers; lying on the floor with their hands behind their heads. A small child in her push-chair stared at him smiling innocently. The vision made him sicker than words could describe. He kept seeing his daughter at that age, looking at him and cooing. Closing his eyes briefly and trying to tell himself it wasn’t her, didn’t make the image go away. In fact it seemed to make his gut turn summersaults at twice the speed. The bitter taste of acid hit the back of his throat, as quickly as lighting a match, which was ironic because it felt like it was on fire.

“Get her out!” he said sternly and holding the bridge of his nose. He looked for the mother. She was clearly identifiable as she gripped hold of the bottom of the stroller from where she lay. She was holding it tighter than he had hold of the gun, tears streaming down her face with anxiety. “Get her out of here!” he said again.

The mother stood hastily and running with the push-chair towards the double doors, mouthed the words ‘thank you’ as she passed him.

He’d been out of work for months, after being made redundant from a job he’d been doing for nearly thirty years. He’d spent the last eight weeks struggling to keep himself and his family afloat and had tried everything in his power to keep the roof over his children’s heads. The final red letter had come last week. A single-monthly mortgage payment, within fourteen days or repossession. By day eight of his deadline he’d finally cracked. This was the only way he could think of getting hold of the money.

His wife had left for work, in her new job this morning. He was so proud of her. She looked amazingly smart, for a charity shop suit and blouse. At the same time he’d felt a total let-down; a failure. She hadn’t worked since she’d had their youngest daughter five years ago, but had managed to get a job within a few weeks of applying. He still hadn’t managed to secure one job in the months and months of searching and countless interviews. He was the man of the house, he was supposed to provide for his family. His father would be so disappointed to learn his son wasn’t the man he had brought him up to be. “The man is the bread winner,” he could hear his father say.

The balaclava that hid everything, except his eyes and nose was beginning to itch. A sharp, uncomfortable itch, from cheap man-made material. He always got a hot head when he was nervous. He could feel the heat radiating from the back of his head and beads of sweat rolling down his spine. He continued to point the gun at the cashier as she bagged up the money. He could feel tears in the corner of his eyes as the gun nervously shook in mid air. He held it with two hands to try to steady it, but it felt like he was riding a bike over gravel, jolting in random directions.

He should have listened to his wife more often. Supported her and listened about her new job.

She wasn’t supposed to be the cashier he held then gun at, this afternoon.

  1. Sonia Lal says:

    LOL That’s what he gets for not listening! Robbing his own wife at gunpoint!

  2. Halli Gomez says:

    Wow!!! Fabulous story. I could really feel his desperation. Very very well written!

  3. Wow… I’m an addict for long stories, involved processes and deeply developed characters… But your fiction here really inspired me with the power for short fiction to deliver sharp and poignant twist endings. I’m speechless, but the feelings of hopelessness leading up to the huge mistake–bigger than even I expected–will resonate with me for a long time.

  4. Oh that is awesome! I loved that twist and NEVER even thought about that one coming at us. But when you look back at the story, it is perfect. It really seems like this was written with the twist in mind, not just thrown in for the fun of it. Well done!

  5. Helen says:

    Wow I think they may need marriage guidance counselling after this little episode LOL.

    However, I can feel for this poor man and the need to support his family, his self esteem was in question here. I liked the twist, very well thought out piece.

    I think I have found a typo that appears in a couple of places for you “He starred at the people;” – starred maybe should be stared. – “A small child in her push-chair starred at him” same again and
    “He kept seeing his daughter at that age, starring at him ” starring maybe should be staring.

  6. henriettamaddox says:

    Ha! Agree with Helen – they’re going to need some serious counseilling.

    Thought this was really well structured. And also founda typo on the last sentence:

    “he held then gun” should be “he held the gun”.

  7. henriettamaddox says:

    my own typo! *found a

  8. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Perhaps if he’d listened to his wife more often he’d have found a new job quicker too!

  9. Craig Smith says:

    Loved the twist at the end. And it’s scary that people might be having those same thoughts right now. Doing something desperate to keep their family a float.

  10. John Wiswell says:

    It opens with the most tension I’ve yet read in any of your pieces, then graduates to the absurdity and awful circumstances with the wife. I think it’s your best!

  11. peggy says:

    Yes, as John said, one of your best.

  12. ~Tim says:

    Nice feel of tension and I didn’t see that twist coming.

    I’m wondering what a promiscuous trigger feels like though.

  13. Anneke Klein says:

    Excellent twist, but what I like best is the way you show that the whole project is bound to fail from the start.

  14. Hah! Didn’t see that one coming. Thanks.

    On an aside, all that starring in paragraph two should be staring. Changes the story quite a bit. 😉

  15. marc nash says:

    Nice pay off (as it were).

  16. Anne Michaud says:

    Good twist at the end – never saw it coming:)

  17. I didn’t see that twist coming. Nicely played.

  18. C.A. Kunz says:

    Wow, captured me from the first sentence. I could feel his desperation, his need, but the ending blew me away. Great job 🙂

  19. Rosie Lane says:

    Excellent piece. What a nightmare to find himself in.

  20. Nicely done 🙂

    I definitely felt the tension and found myself feeling his pain at a situation that is so prevalent in the US right bow (not the bank robbing bit – the job loss bit!) – enjoyed the twist 🙂

  21. Oh wow, good story… and you portray his turmoil brilliantly xx

  22. Bravo! Yes, Brav-o! I’m a *huge* fan of the twisty ending and really enjoyed this. Never in a million years (okay, maybe in a million) would I have imagined she being the teller, however like someone else said, it’s clear as day when you read it the second time.

  23. Ouch. That twist is quite the kicker.
    Very much enjoyed the story.

  24. adampb says:

    The opening paragraph sets a great scene and the twist is a great ending.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  25. Lara Dunning says:

    Nice emotional tension. The anxiety and self loathing he felt worked well with this piece. Nice bit at the ending. While I find it hard to believe he didn’t know where she worked, I do understand that the mind can consume its thoughts and block out anything else that you don’t want to see or know. good job!

  26. Hell of a payoff at the end. Awesome.

  27. Bev says:

    Great story! You manage to put us in his shoes- down to the physical sensations- with very few words. I wasn’t expecting the end, either. Great job!

  28. Steve Green says:

    Nice twist, ya know they’re gonna call it an inside job though, doncha? 🙂

  29. Stephen says:

    Well done. That’s the problem with some people–they’re too wrapped up in their own problems to listen to other people. I wonder how he’ll explain things to the wife later.

  30. akweelife says:

    Wow. That was very well done. I love the twists, but your ending was great and really very emotionally deep. I’m glad you have “rediscovered” your desire to write, as you do write really well.

    Thank you!
    Kwee Writings

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