A short story by Keven Newsome.
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William supported his head with the palms of his hands, elbows resting on the table. Tears ran unhindered down his forearms as his body convulsed. An unopened beer sat on the table to his left… a .45 to his right.
Nothing else mattered. Either choice would suffice.
A figure stepped out of the shadows, a handsome man with slick black hair. He wore a black trench coat and dark sunglasses. Smiling with one side of his mouth, he stepped to William’s side. With one finger he touched the small puddle of tears collecting on the table. His smile deepened.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” the man said as he moved behind William. He put his hands on William’s shoulders and squeezed. “You can end this anytime you like.”
He moved his hands to William’s cheeks and lifted, guiding him to look beyond the tears. “Have you forgotten the gun? Why must you continue to be so miserable? Pick it up. End this now.”
William sniffed and the tears stopped. He stared at the gun. His fingers twitched toward it.
The man moved to the other side of the table and knelt behind the gun in William’s line of sight. “It won’t even hurt. Just a gentle squeeze of the trigger, and all this pain goes away.”
William tore his eyes from the gun and put his head back in his hands.
“What are you waiting for? They’re not coming back.”
William reached for the beer and pulled the tab. He threw his head back and guzzled for several seconds.
The man stood up and circled the table. “Go ahead. Numb the pain, but it’ll be back. You know I’m right. And what are you going to do then? You can’t stay drunk your entire life. Think about it.”
William set the can down and stared at the table.
“Let the alcohol work through your system. It’ll make this easier.”
The man knelt by William’s side and leaned close to his ear. “Don’t you want to be with them again? Don’t you want to see your son? Your daughter?” He leaned in and whispered. His lips almost brushed William’s ear. “Your wife?”
He stood and started circling again. “You miss them. You miss their voices, their presence. They left you. They left you… alone.” The last word seemed to echo from the walls of the kitchen.
William’s fingers flexed toward the gun, though he continued to stare elsewhere.
The man smiled, curling his lip. “You could be with them in only a few moments. It would be quick. Why wait? They would want you to. They want to see you again. They’re waiting.”
William’s hand moved a little.
The man stepped closer and loomed over William. “You can be happy again. You can end the pain.”
William moved his hand further.
“Do it! Now!”
William grabbed the gun and pulled it close, holding it to his chest with both hands.
The man knelt again. “Don’t worry. I’m here to help. I’ll talk you through it. I’ve done this many times. I was there to help your wife.” He put a hand on William’s arm. “The important thing is for you not to listen to the lies. No matter what anyone else has said, no matter what your instincts tell you, you need to realize that it was your fault, just as you suspect.”