A young man set on destruction has a moment of startling clarity.
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2007. Word count: 1,383.
The young man watched from across the street. He was safe in the knowledge that none of them would notice him; would pay him any attention.
People, even those trained like the ones he watched were trained, often tended not to notice a wheelchair; or rather the person in it. And as well as the chair, he was partly shielded by a non-descript blue van.
Also, today, unlike most days, he had made no effort with his appearance; had done nothing to make himself brighten. A night deliberately spent without sleep had increased the dark circles that were habitually present around his eyes. The dark circles that were part of the constant pain he endured on a daily basis.
He was there for a reason. There on a mission. A mission for which there could be only one outcome.
As he watched the men and women come out of the building, their faces showing the usual irritation an unexpected fire drill tended to cause, he saw him.
He saw the man who had ruined his life.
The man who had been responsible for putting him into a wheelchair.
The man who had caused his lover to walk out on him.
The man who had taken away his ability to walk.
The man who had caused him to live each day in constant pain.
The man who had ended his career.
The man who had taken away his future.
The man who would now pay for what he had done. Just not in the way he might expect to do so.
His hands were shaking as he began to put together the mini-telescopic rifle. It hadn't been cheap or easy to procure. But one problem he no longer had, thanks to the career choice of the man he watched, was money. The man's employers had seen to that.
It had been an accident. He knew that.
An accident that could not have been foreseen.
A ricocheting bullet, one of three that had taken down a multi-murderer had hit him. Hit his spinal cord and put him into the chair he now lived in. He'd been an innocent bystander; a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. There had been no argument about compensation, and he had received, still received, a more than ample amount. But there were some things that money could not fix.
It had been an accident. He knew that.
But it changed nothing.
Accident or not his life was still ruined.
Accident or not he was still in a wheelchair.
Accident or not his lover had walked out on him.
Accident or not he could no longer walk.
Accident or not he lived in constant pain.
Accident or not his career had been ended.
Accident or not he no longer had a future.
And it was all the fault of the man he watched.
The man who now stood with his lover, smiling down at him, looking at him as he looked at no other person.
For four months now the young man had followed, had almost lived, his destroyer's life with him. Always managing to stay outside of his radar. Never being seen, but always knowing. It had, after all, been his career, before the bullet had taken it away.
He knew his habits. What he liked to eat. To drink. Knew where he lived. Knew that he rarely, if ever, locked his front door. Knew where his lover lived. Knew about the woman, the lover's elderly mother, who was the only reason the couple did not live together. Knew everything about them and their lives together. Knew how often they spent the night together. Knew that his lover was the only man, the only person, his destroyer truly loved.
He knew that the death of his lover would be the ultimate way of making his destroyer pay. His own death would be too simple, too painless, at least for him. It wouldn't have been painless for his lover, not at all. At least this way, his lover would feel no pain; would not suffer. But the man himself would. And would go on feeling pain; go on suffering; go on paying.
The rifle fitted together perfectly.
The sight was sound.
He could see everything so clearly.
He saw how his destroyer looked down at his lover; how his lover looked up at him. He saw the tenderness, the love, the affection, the caring, the friendship, the truth.
He saw and he felt disgust.
He saw and he felt disgust. Disgust at himself.
What was he doing?
What was he about to do?
What would taking the life of a man who had done nothing to harm him do?
How would it help?
Would it give him back his life?
Would it take him out of his chair?
Would it bring his lover back to him?
Would he miraculously be able to walk?
Would it take away his constant pain?
Would he have his career back?
Would he have a future?
It would do none of those things. Do nothing at all.
All it would do was to make him a murderer.
All it would do was to make him the destroyer. The destroyer of two people. Of two lives.
He swallowed hard and began to slowly disassemble the rifle. Noticing that now his hands were shaking far less.
He was the fool.
He had been so swept up in his own pain.
His own self-importance.
His own loss.
His own suffering.
His own self-pity.
He had never once stopped to think how the other man might be feeling. Must be feeling. Yes, the man was a killer, but then he himself had been once; it was, it had been, their choice of careers. But he was not a murderer. He had not deliberately put the bullet into him.
He had come to visit him once in hospital, had come with his lover at his side. He had come and stood by his bed, looking down at him, silent, still; saying nothing. But the dark, steady, pain-filled gaze had said so much. Had said what the young man knew he could never have voiced. And he had been, was still, glad that he hadn't said the words. Hadn't said 'I'm sorry'. Because they would not, could not, have been enough.
Yes, his life had changed. But he was still alive.
Yes, he was in a wheelchair. But at least he hadn't lost control of his bodily functions.
Yes, his lover had left him. But that had been her inability to cope, not his.
Yes, he could no longer walk. But he still had the use of his arms, his hands, his upper body, his brain; and they were all stronger now than ever before.
Yes, he lived in constant pain. But there were people far worse off than he was. And he was getting used to the pain; he didn't consciously think about it, not really. He knew how to handle it. How to cope with it.
Yes, he had lost his chosen career. But he was intelligent; he could do something else. And even if it took a while to find someone to take a risk on a man in a wheelchair, he had no need to worry about money.
Yes, his future had changed. But at least he had one.
He had one. And it was up to him to make something of it.
And if he had gone through with his mission, then not only would his life and future have changed, they would have been over.
He glanced once more at the man and his lover, feeling the hatred, the desire to hurt, to kill, to destroy, to take, flow away from him. It left him feeling more alive and positive and content than he had ever done in his life, even before the accident.
Then, putting the rifle back into the bag that hid it; knowing that the first thing he would do was to get rid of it, he turned the power for his wheelchair back on. Then with one final glance at the two men, the two friends, the two lovers, the young man moved his chair forward.
Moved his chair forward. Forward into his life. Forward into his future.
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