The below is a draft of the short story I eventually submitted for my VCA application. The final draft was unfortunately lost when my computer crashed, but the draft is still pretty close. The theme the story had to follow was that of “TIME”.
“This here boy…” the old man grizzled in a weary breath. “…This here’s the ticket.”
Jessop was staring out the cabin window at the cold night sky. He looked over at the old man lying still in bed – the man that once resembled his father. The old man had begun unraveling the crumpled brown package from under his bed.
“…Your mother wouldn’t want me giving you this.”
A worn, rusted Navy revolver sat in his father’s lap, cold and motionless.
“It’s a bit worn down these days. There’s oil in the second drawer, behind ya. Fetch it, and pour some firewater for your old man while you’re at it.”
Jessop walked over to the wardrobe, grabbed the can of oil and some steel wool, and passed his father the remains of the whiskey bottle.
“Listen…… don’t let yourself turn into an old bastard like me,” the old man huffed. “Time only makes you bitter. If I even had half the pair that you have, I would’ve ended it when your mother died.”
The boy stopped cleaning the gun. He looked his father dead in the eyes. The candle on the bedside table was casting a large shadow on the old man’s face.
“What do you want from me?”
The old man paused to look at his son. He licked his gums and took a generous swig from the bottle.
“Ahhh………. Look here boy. You ain’t a child no more. It’s time you took responsibility in doin’ what’s right.”
Jessop continued to stare down the old man.
“Eight years… Eight years, we been without your mother.”
There was a silence that filled the cabin. The only sounds were from the crickets outside. Jessop took a deep breath, and returned to cleaning his father’s revolver. The old man, beginning to turn crimson, shifted in his sheets to get comfortable.
“…Murderers, thieves, goddamn chickenshits;” the old man muttered to himself with a quiet hostility. “These are the kinds of people that stole her from me, you hear? From both of us. The kind that deserve nothin’ but a shallow grave.”
“It was a long time ago, pop-“
“Boy, I don’t give a damn if it was a hundred years ago. It still wasn’t her time.”
The old man was clenching tightly onto the whiskey bottle, his breath fogging the glass with each word.
“Didn’t deserve what happened to her… I know you don’t remember her like you should, but she loved you. She loved you more than me, that’s for damn sure… …Always said you’d make the most of your time on this world. People come and go, but you was gon’ make her proud.”
The crickets outside began to mute. Only the flickering of the candle remained, the wax slowly melting to a harsh stub.
“Boy…” the old man said with a whiskey-soaked grimness.
“…You deserve revenge.”
Jessop eyes widened.
“Wh…what do you mean? ….Revenge?”
His father remained still – he was drunk as a mop, but his eyes were suddenly communicating a message so cold it ran a sharp chill down Jessop’s spine.
“Nuh uh, no way!” Jessop spluttered, jumping out of his chair.
“No way what?”
“I ain’t killin’ no one! No way!”
“And why’s that, boy?”
“I-I’m too young to kill! I don’t got it in me!”
“Bullshit!” the old man spat. “Aint a single person in this world who aint capable of takin’ a life. Now sit down and calm yourself boy. I didn’t raise no Miss Nancy.”
Jessop began to breathe heavily, but obeyed his father and took his seat.
“Now…” The old man stopped to cough. “I aint never teach you how to kill a man. But see, that ain’t my job. That’s somethin’ only you can learn yerself.”
“Why me!?” Jessop wailed. “Why can’t you do it? If you can hold a glass, you can hold a gun!”
“Haven’t squeezed a trigger in thirteen years, boy. Heck, alcohol was a hard enough habit to kick.” The old man smirked wryly as he emptied the bottle, swirling the whiskey around like mouthwash.
“Anyway, I got the ammo just here. Hey – look at me!”
Jessop had tears in his eyes. He wiped them away with his sleeve, as the old man’s voice deepened.
“…You gotta do it boy. The man who took her away aint but a dime’s worth of dog meat, we both know that. There’s a difference between murder and justice.”
Jessop began to feel nauseous. As his father handed him the bullets, a lump in his throat began to surface.
“Time aint kind to most folk. Can’t polish the rust off a man quite as easy as you can the barrel of a pistol.”
Jessop steadily loaded the gun, the click of the cylinder ringing in his ears. He took several deep breaths to calm down, looking into the eyes of the old man once more.
“Life is short son. That’s how it is….. That’s how it should be. Pain’s what makes every single day that much longer… And in my case, every day’s lasted a fuckin’ year.”
And with that, Jessop took a final deep breath, pointed the gun at his father and pulled the trigger.