“If you had been a better father, your daughter wouldn’t have run away and gotten into trouble. If you had loved her more, she wouldn’t have sought love elsewhere. If you had been a better father, your son wouldn’t have had to go help. Instead, you went back to your beer. You failed your daughter by not being there. You failed your son by not doing the job yourself. At least I was there when they died. Where were you? They died slowly and painfully as the car burned to the ground, screaming for help that wouldn’t arrive. Does that help?”
William caressed the gun like a newborn baby.
“And your wife couldn’t take it, could she? She was an emotional wreck. She needed you to be strong. She needed you to comfort her. But did you? No. You comforted the alcohol instead.” The man put his hand over William’s hand on the gun. “At least she left you plenty of bullets, my friend.”
William looked up to the faint red stain on the wall next to him, streaked from scrubbing with bleach.
“You see?” said the man in black. “It was your fault. Go to them now… apologize. It’s the right thing to do. It’s only fair.”
William started shaking.
“Yes… it’s time. Do it.”
William lifted the gun, his whole arm lurching. He screamed.
William dropped the gun on the table.
The man in black stood and leaned into William’s face and shouted. “What’s wrong with you? Do you enjoy misery? Do you enjoy blood on your hands? You’re worthless! You’re a fool! You’re a waste of a human being! End this… put the world out of the misery of your existence, before you kill someone else. It’s the only honorable thing to do. Blow your brains out. End the pain. DO IT!”
William started to convulse. He grabbed the end of the table and shook it, screaming as loud as he could. The contents of the table slid away and crashed to the floor… including the gun.
“Idiot. Pick it up! What’s wrong with you? You’re a disgrace. You can’t even kill yourself with dignity. You’re a failure at everything. Pick it up! NOW!”
William fell to the ground weeping. He crawled beneath the table for a moment. When he stood he held two items, the gun and a package. As he sat, he placed them both before him.
“What’s that?” asked the man.
William pulled off an envelope taped to the package and opened it. He pulled out a card that read, “Happy Father’s Day” on the front.
The man in black huffed. “Father’s Day was last month. This is a waste of your time. Finish this… finish it before you lose the nerve.”
William opened the card and a letter fell out.
“Don’t read that,” said the man. “It’s from a dead person. It will do you no good. Just pick up the gun and let’s end this. I’m here with you. We’re doing this together, remember? Forget the letter.”
William grabbed the letter and opened it. The man crossed his arms and paced. As William read, somehow he found more tears. At the end, he slammed the letter down, took up the package, and tore through the wrapping.