The Day The Boy Died

The boy was young.

Just 13.

Little did he know that this day was not like any other day. On this day, his world would change. Forever.

It started out as every other summer day.

Strange really, he already felt as if it had changed.

His older brother had a real job. The chores they shared were now his alone. Although they usually did not get along well, he still missed having his older brother around. The chores seemed more than twice as much work as before.

The boy headed back up to the house from the barn a little early for lunch. 
He was half way there when he felt it. Evil. Pure e v i l.

The hair on the back of his neck stood up, he got chills all over.

He felt fear.

Looking around, what else was there to do? There must be a reason. There. A quarter of a mile away, at the end of the lane, a car sat. There was no doubt in the boy’s mind that this car held the reason he felt fear and the presence of that evil.

The driver backed the car up and started up the lane.

The boy ran to the corner of the garage.

Peeked back around the corner.

What was this person going to do?

The boy watched a man get out of the car and walk to the back of it. He then bent down and did something. The boy could not see what the man was doing, just, that he was doing something. After a few moments it became clear — the man removed the license plate and got back into the car.

WHY! Why the hell wold someone do that? The man started backing the car up the lane.

Because he does not want anyone to be able to identify the car… 
that was the only reason there could be.

Fear. Immobilizing fear.

Flashback to being very young. Just old enough to climb over a fence. Young enough to ignore being told not to. The boy climbs over the fence and walks between the cattle, then face-to-face with the bull.

Bull snorts.

Boy feels fear.

Lots of fear

as the bull begins tossing his head. The boy knows he needs to back up, but his feet won’t move. He is immobilized with fear. Unable to help himself.

The bull stomps and snorts.

The boy hears his Grandfather, behind him, in a soothing voice:

“easssyyyy” to the bull.

Grandfather tells the boy, he senses your fear, he does not understand it. Your fear is the only reason you are in danger. Slowly back up, but, do not turn your back to him.

By now the grandfather had moved and was inside the pen. Approaching the bull from the side, talking gently to him, distracting him from the scared boy that had startled him with his fear.

Fear is more dangerous than the bull.

The boy vowed to never let fear stop him from moving again. Fear can get you maimed. Fear can get you killed.

Fuck fear I gotta move

The boy ran to the house yelling at his mother to call the sheriff:

there-was-someone-here-up-to-no-good.

The boy ran to the den where his father’s gun cabinet is.

Locked! WTF! It is never locked.

Or, at least, hadn’t been for several years. Not since his dad had seemed to feel the gun safety lessons had sunk in. Not since the boy had “passed” his father’s stringent lessons and tests.

Beside the phone was a list of numbers, Emergency numbers. Near the top was the sheriff. The boy called it. This was long before 911. He got an answering machine.

FUCK!

He rattled off his fear and concerns, which, probably made no sense to anyone who finally listened to the recording...but, it didn’t really matter, they could never be here in time to do anything anyway.

He called another number.

One for the town cop, who, had no jurisdiction outside of town limits. But, he would come…

Answering machine AGAIN. Seems he is on vacation… FML!

The boy stared at the cabinet, undecided…break the glass? take the chance that his feelings are wrong? Seconds passed feeling like hours... he couldn’t decide what to do.

The dog started in. Growling, snarling, trying to get through the door — to reach the evil.

Mother yelling at dog. Dog gets even more riled up. This dog is a Lab who loved everyone one on the planet, except this guy. Lab knows this guy is evil.

The boy decides to break the glass.

The realization came that dad put glass in the front for a reason. Like the glass of a fire alarm, no one is going to be in trouble for breaking it, if there is a fire. But, if it is broken without need, there will be hell to pay.

This feels a lot like a fire.

Strangely, at that moment, a visual of his father hiding the key…
Was this a long forgotten memory of years past? Or, insight? Whatever it was, it was where he saw his father putting it.

It seemed so strange to the boy, grabbing a pistol. Those were off limits. Long guns were fine for target shooting. Yes, he had shot a pistol owned by a friend of his father’s, with his permission, grudgingly given. But, his father had made it clear:

Never use the pistols. They are too dangerous. It is much harder to handle them safely. They are mainly their for defensive purposes. And, God-willing, they will never be needed.

On this day they were needed.

Words… words come flooding back to the boy.

IF you need a gun — never let anyone see it until you are positive you need it to save someone from harm. Only then let it be known you have one. Never pull it until you are dead sure you need it. Weapons elevate a confrontation to deadly levels. Be sure.

The boy stuck the pistol down the back of his pants — after making sure it was loaded — even though this one was always loaded.

Strange, how in the surreal feeling of being in a really bad movie instead of just another day in the boring life of a kid on a farm.

A detached feeling of watching himself check a firearm he had never shot (to make sure it was ready, if needed) was like watching a poorly filmed, poorly directed movie.

But. This. Was real.

Mother is yelling to him that some guy needs gas. Dog is still trying to get through the door. The boy checked that the safety was set on the gun, slid it down the inside of the back of his pants, only to realize it would still be seen. On the way out, he grabs a long shirt and slips out the back door.

The boy could not imagine any other reason than theft for the man’s actions. 
He yells to the guy when he is almost to the shed with the gas cans.

He must have ran, followed the boy in the shed, much faster than the boy expected him to get there.

The boy knows deep down he does not dare let the guy get close to him.

Like the bull.

So, he does not. The boy slips out the back door of the shed into the cattle lot and back over the fence. Now the guy is in the shed.

What is he doing?

The boy fills the gas can he grabbed, wondering what’s taking the guy so long.

The guy tries to get the boy back in the shed, coaxing the boy, asking what a piece of equipment is intended for.

Farming the boy said. It is for farming. Now, here is your gas. Take it and go!

Get in here kid! Get in here now.

NO. Fuck you, take the fucking gas and get out of here!

Kid, get your ass in here now! What is going to happen is going to happen no matter what.

I said take the gas and leave.

The man stands just inside the doorway. His right hand and arm hidden behind the door frame.

He starts yelling and cussing at the kid. He does his damnedest to intimidate the kid into going along with whatever he has in mind. The boy is having no part of it: the boy knows this has nothing to do with theft. He just never dreamt he would be the intended victim.

IF the man gets to me, he gets the gun / he gets the gun, dog is no protection for mother / I MUST protect my mother.

The boy backs up another dozen feet from the man in the door.

Thirty feet.

Then, fourty feet away.

A buffer. That feels better. But, this is bad.

I called the sheriff before I came out, I called right after I saw you take the license plate off that car. You better leave while you can. Right now you have only mooched some gas. No big crime in that…LEAVE NOW!

The man doesn’t listen.

You better get over here right now, kid. You cannot change what is going to happen. You might as well just go along with it. Make it easy on yourself.

The boy refuses.

The man gets angrier, commits himself to the harm he intended. He comes out of the shed. He holds two lengths of drop cord (he’s cut from a new drop cord) and a large knife.

The man expects the boy to cave in when faced with this reality.

Small and alone.

His mother in the house hundreds of feet away. The dog inside also. The boy has no protection from a predator such as himself. 
 
Except, the man does not know he has his father’s gun.

The boy pulls out the gun, flicks the safety off. He raises it up. He still does not point it directly at the man.

Still he hears his fathers words: Never point a gun at anything until you are ready to shoot it. Never point a gun at a living thing unless you intend to take its life. Few things in life are worth killing over. None of the stuff you have or will ever have, no amount of money is worth killing or dying over.

The man rushes him. The boy shoots beside the man, giving him pause. It stops the man in his tracks. Though that was not enough. The man knows the boy does not want to shoot anyone. The man knows the boy does not want to kill.

The boy struggles with his choices: kill this guy and go to hell — or — let him get to his mother.

The man takes the boy’s choices away when he comes at him again: You will never shoot me. Just give me the gun.

The boy keeps backing away from the man so his resolve can build. He still does not want to shoot the man, even though there is no doubt in his mind he is faced with evil. The man raises the knife.

The boy knows what he has to do but does not want to.

He aims for the center of the man’s chest, takes a breath and starts to exhale, gently, taking up the slack of the trigger.

In that moment, the boy hears his long-gone: Someone can only repent their sins while alive. If they are dead, it is too late to repent.

The boy pulls the aim off center and down. He shoots the man in the side.
The man spins around from the impact. He looks at the boy with combined fear and disbelief.

The boy (now a man) tells the man the next bullet will be placed between his eyes.

GET THE FUCK OFF THE PROPERTY NOW!

The man flees. The boy watches until he knows which direction he is heading towards.

The too-young-of-a-man goes back in the house to his mother.

What was that racket?!

He begins… to tell her. He watches the sanity leave her eyes. So he lies.

He tells her the guy had some M80’s. He lies about what happened.

The boy must protect his mother. He vows to God to do so just minutes before. He never understood what a nervous break down was until he watches the sanity leave his mother.

She slaps him. The one-and-only time in his life she slaps any of them. The boy forgives her instantly. He did lie, and, it was an ugly lie. Not as ugly as the truth, but, still it was all ugly.

The boy slips back into the back room with a phone and calls the sheriff again. This time he leaves a message to look for a car matching the description.

Hours later a special report on the news.

Escaped convict! Armed and dangerous — the man slipped out of prison and killed an elderly couple with a knife taken from their home. He stole their car and was last seen headed south. He killed again. He forced a 12 -ear-old boy into a shed, tied him up with a drop cord, sodomized him and killed him.

The boy watches the news and dies inside.

A boy younger than him died because he could not bring himself to rid the world of evil, if only a bit of it.

The boy cannot talk about it. He cannot do anything or his mother will lose her mind. It isn’t until years later he finds out his mother had been molested as a child. That explained everything about her reaction.

She could not face that she sent her child out to one of those people.

I get that. I was that boy. I still feel dead inside.

I often think of that poor boy and what he would have become, had I done what I should have done.

There is no doubt hindsight is 20–20. We can only try to make the best decisions we can with the knowledge at hand.

Thirteen is too damn young to have to become a man.

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