“So, you’re the son!”
Dead. The estranged father he treated as someone unrelated saved his life. His regret was too little too late, never to matter to anyone, only to himself.
“He’s my father and you killed him!” Lucas stayed where he was, kneeling in front of a corpse, someone more worthy of respect than the lawman-turned-outlaw in front of him.
Lefty pointed his gun at Lucas, aimed at the teen’s head. The execution would be swift.
“Say your prayers, boy! That is if you know how to pray.”
Lucas closed his eyes, trying desperately to remember only the good times that happened to him. He accepted his fate that like Tony, he would die without the chance to change his life.
“See you in hell!” Lefty pulled the trigger.
The loud click was unmistakable. The gun’s chamber was empty.
With the quick thinking endowed to a soon-to-be-dead person, Lucas grabbed the instant opportunity presented to him. An improvised shotgun near his father’s body provided him hope. He picked it up and in one swift motion, aimed it upwards toward Lefty’s shocked face, and fired.
Lefty fell backwards, holding his face with both hands, wildly screaming, the excruciating pain delivered by the exploded shotgun bullet. Blood flowed continuously, draining Lefty of life.
Lucas sprang up, ran toward the fallen killer and took the short-handled ax. All his rage, resentments, hatred and negative emotions were collected in a common notion: vengeance.
“I am not sorry,” Lefty had much difficulty speaking, his throat pierced. “I did what I have to do.”
The teenager raised the ax and aimed at the killer’s wounded head. He did not want pity to convince him to spare the life of the man who took away all the people that mattered to him.
“I am sorry, too,” he said, keeping his hand steady. “You must go!”
– 0 –
The entire area, more than two hectares where informal settlers once lived, was nearly burned to ground. What was left were stumps of cement posts, crumpled corrugated tin roofs and other metal objects that survived the blaze. Everything flammable went up in smoke. Firefighters from all over the city lost the battle to salvage anything worth saving.
Material possessions were all gone; dazed residents roamed the black spaces and tried to locate where once their huts stood. Grieving families turned over their dead and wounded to ambulances coming back and forth to fetch the casualties. Unharmed survivors shared their traumatic experience and wondered why not them.
Lucas was surrounded by uniformed lawmen, his bloodstained hands cuffed.
A female employee from the Department of Social Services talked privately with the officer in charge.
“He’s a minor,” she reminded the policeman. “We will take custody.”
“His crimes do not exempt him from going to jail,” insisted the cop, raising his voice. He understood the law, too, but he was against its lenient treatment of criminals.
“Ma’m, I am going with them,” Lucas said, his resolve shown in his calm face. “I committed crimes. For that I have to pay.”
“He is right,” everyone agreed except the social services functionary who stood her ground.
“I am eighteen years old,” Lucas lied. “I am of legal age.”
No one believed him, even the arresting officers.
“I just want this,” he held a shrunken severed left hand, “be laid with my father’s body. He’s entitled to a decent burial.”
“I promise to see to it that it is done properly,” the ranking officer swore. “We respect the living, more so the dead.”
“What about him?” Lucas referred to Lefty, whose head was still intact, a fact that proved Lucas followed his conscience so as never to lose his humanity.
“He was a good lawman once,” the officer replied with sadness. “Our society bred him, you and all of us into something we wished we understood but could not. The good and the bad in us continuously fight for domination in our inner consciousness. It is up to us to choose and face the consequences of our decision.”
Lucas finally understood why he was spared. The good in him fought hard to overcome the evil that nearly killed him. The chance for change was his.
At that moment, his new reality kicked in.
– 0 –
T H E E N D