“One Good Turn”
By Rob M. Miller
WHEN JEREMY STILLS WALKED INTO HIS GARAGE, the first thing that hit was the stench of Benito’s soiled clothing, a foul combination of body odor and mouth-to-ass processed foods and liquids. For some, the stench would have been shameful—a horrid disgrace, and for Benito, this was probably true.
However, Jeremy didn’t blame Benito; after all, it wasn’t his fault.
It was Jeremy’s.
He’d kidnapped the man and put him in the garage, chair-bound and gagged—handy fishing line and old shop rags finally being put to use after years of inactivity—between a full-sized Rubbermaid filled with an assortment of shovels, hoes, and rakes, and a self-propelled 6 hp. lawnmower. He’d also left Benito, bound and gagged, sitting alone in the darkened garage, for the past 15 hours.
Originally, Jeremy had planned things different, having envisioned a simple snatch-and-grab mission, and then—a final solution. Jeremy, though, wanted things to be right in his heart, didn’t want to act too hastily, and by doing so, end up committing some terrible act of evil. That wasn’t like him, at all, not at any time before in his life, and if he had his way, never. He had simply needed to be sure, and now he was. The last 15 hours hadn’t just been spent in nigh-useless contemplation, although there’d had been plenty of that, but had been put to good use. Jeremy had proven to himself, that even if not right, then at least his current chosen course made sense.
Setting the folding card-table in front of bound Benito, Jeremy placed a simple dining room chair on one end, so he’d be able to sit and face his captive.
The two-car garage afforded plenty of room, and now, with the overhead lights on, the place looked—almost perfect.
“I’ll be right back, Romeo,” Jeremy said to Benito, who just stared glassy-eyed, his tear-streaked face more than a testament to fallen hope. He knows, Jeremy thought. Well good; he ought to know.
Jeremy left the garage, leaving the door that led into his house, open. He didn’t stare, or even appear to look at anything as he walked through to his back workroom. There was no need to look at anything. He knew what lay about his place, the home he and Doreen had put together, stocked and decorated over the course of 13-years together. There was also the fact he didn’t want to focus on anything; that would just bring more pain. But maybe not. He was feeling awfully numb. Up for close to 30 hours, his body was now running on pure auto.
Finding himself in the workroom, Jeremy grabbed his piece and the all-important ammunition, scooping up several of the homemade rounds. Have to have these babies.
A moment later, he was back in the garage, ready to begin.
* * * *
“You ought to consider yourself a very lucky, there, Romeo,” Jeremy said, sitting down in front of the card table, in front of the man. “I mean that. I really do.”
Benito Rodriguez didn’t look like he believed it. Quite the contrary, he looked very unlucky. The smell—even if it was unfairly so—confirmed the man’s downtrodden confidence.
“See this?” Jeremy held up his favorite toy, a Colt Python revolver. “This is nice. It’s a .357 double-action stainless steel problem solver. A magnum, naturally, with walnut grips, and a hand-honed trigger system that puts the pull at about … hmm, let me see—at about a pound. And I assure you, that’s really good.”
Jeremy sat the empty revolver on the table. “You may not be impressed with it, though; I do recognize that, unlike yours, it only has a six-inch barrel.”
Jeremy’s reached into a pocket and then deposited several rounds onto the table. One bullet started to roll across the table, and in the terrible silence of the garage, the noise it made seemed enormous. When the round finally rolled off and hit the floor, the sound of the impact caused Benito to flinch.
“Let me share something interesting, hero,” Jeremy said, leaning back in his chair. “I’m not like you, but, of course, you know that. What I mean is … I’m not a 40th degree black belt, nor a big spiritual know-it-all, like yourself, and, apparently, neither am I anywhere in your league in the bedroom department.” Jeremy let out a loud sigh, his mind flashing momentarily to the ‘Dear Jer’ letter Doreen had left, telling how Benito, her karate instructor and spiritual mentor, had opened up her horizons and had shown her how she needed to be let loose—to fly free, to fucking find herself. “But then, I don’t go around giving extra-credit lessons in hand-to-hand with other men’s wives.”
F’ing pussy, Jeremy thought. He’d been a tad concerned about the man and his ‘kara-te,’ especially with Bennie being half his own age, and in far better shape. Jeremy knew he had a lot going against him in any straight-up fight. However, he had been in the Army, and he wasn’t no puss. Violence of action, he’d been taught. And he’d used that principle, showing up at Ben’s, ringing the doorbell, and as soon as the portal had opened: wham wham wham. The crowbar worked well. Benito had never known what hit him.
Karate my ass.
“But again, you’re a lucky man. You’re going to witness something incredible. Something very few people, if ever, get to see. Something supernatural, perhaps.”
Jeremy grabbed the Python, hit the cylinder release, and inserted a round. “This bullet’s interesting. I made it. A reload. It’s a 110-grain jacketed hollow point .357 round, that can go somewhere close to 1,700 feet per second, a fine round, an end-your-life kind of round, if you know what I mean. And that was exactly what I had in mind.”
Jeremy spun the cylinder and then flicked the handgun closed. “There we go,” Jeremy said, “we’ve had our one good turn.” Then he pointed the end of the shiny revolver’s barrel against his own temple and—
The hammer fell and nothing happened. Benito tried to scream, but only a muffled hmmmph came through the barrier of rags shoved into his mouth.
“Kind of spooky, huh?” Jeremy smiled, and then put the barrel in his mouth. Click click click click. “Whew, what a rush!” Jeremy looked at Benito for several long seconds, as if he expected him to really give an answer, rags or no.
“This, according to all mathematical probabilities, should be the kicker.” Jeremy, again, pointed the revolver at himself, this time barrel pointed skyward, from deep underneath his chin.
“Watch this, Benny.” Jeremy pointed the Colt towards the garage door, and quickly cycled through five empty chambers. “Now, here it is, get ready … get ready … get—”
“GODDAMN, that’s loud.” Jeremy stood, set the revolver down, then put his hands to his ears. “Now, what do you think of that?” Jeremy started to pace around the garage, nose taking in the smell of burnt powder, deeply and happily. He’d proven his point. “For me, I think it’s pretty damn amazing. I mean, I’ve tried for hours to put a bullet through my brain, and you know what—I can’t.” Jeremy stood a moment and laughed, looking at the new bullet hole in the garage door. “Good thing I live out in the boonies. Hate to think what kind of freak that loud-ass noise would’ve given any neighbors. Great blessing, being isolated.”
Jeremy walked to Benito, stood a moment, then took a knee, looking at the seated man face-to-face. “What would you call that, oh mighty guru of hide-the-salami with my wife? A sign? An omen? I sure as hell do, and that’s why you’re here. You see, if God, or whatever … whomever, doesn’t want me to do myself—and I don’t really feel like living after you helped open my wife’s eyes, and all—then there must be an alternative. Because I hurt. And somebody—if not me, then somebody—is going to eat a bullet. I made these myself and they’re very good rounds, and they’re going to be used to put somebody down. At least one of ’em.”
Jeremy stood, walked back to the table and sat. Grabbing the revolver, he opened the cylinder again, and inserted another round—then another, and another. In a moment six hollow point bullets resided in Jeremy’s Colt Python.
“Now we’re ready, Romeo. Let’s see what happens. I’ve taken my turn, and just to prove that maybe you got a chance, or perhaps you’re as done as Hitler in hell, I’m going to go again.” Jeremy buried the end of his gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to get over that sound. Amazing, isn’t it? Now let’s see how lucky you’re going to be. If you live, then I’ll be letting you go, after I find Doreen, anyway. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Aren’t I?”
Sighting the heavy gun at Benito’s sweating head, Jeremy enjoyed the man’s look of terror, even enjoyed smelling the man’s shame. His nose was irritated by the smell of sulfur in the garage, and his eyes were somewhat bothered—by the sulfur or by his tears—but he didn’t mind. All he’d ever wanted was his family. Children had been denied to him and Doreen, yes, but they’d still had each other … at least till this Yin-and-Yang spouting free-love a-hole had to come along and mess with his life.
Jeremy gripped the revolver in a seated version of the two-hand Weaver hold. He momentarily felt twinges of fear, almost of guilt. What if this is murder? But the feeling didn’t last. After all, he’d tried hundreds of times now to take the bullet himself. It just wasn’t working. The hand of God, or something, wouldn’t let it happen. The revolver was fine; the rounds were fine. He should be dead now, head blown off and pain-free.
Now it was Benny’s turn.
Jeremy took aim, barrel centered and steady on Benito’s forehead. The man tried to struggle, but Jeremy had known how to use fishing line.
He pulled the trigger.