“Miscue” Dark Fiction by Steve Wilcenski

Almost every evening I sat in the park on the edge of the campus.  Usually got there around dusk.  So people didn’t notice me.  After janitoring all day, cleaning up other people’s messes, it was nice.  Especially after supper by myself.  Always by myself.  Walking made it like I was alive outside that ratty apartment.

One evening I saw this really good-looking woman. From a distance, you know?  Still, I could tell she was better looking than the other women I’d seen there.  She left the big brick building, turned, and headed down the street.  I wanted real bad to catch up to her. You know, to make conversation or something.  I’ve tried that with women before.  Usually doesn’t turn out good. I don’t know. It’s not like I’m ugly or something.

Saw her again the next evening.  And the next.  Most evenings.  She was regular. After I saw her the first time, I made sure to walk to the park every evening. Looking at her made my walks something to look forward to, you know?  I wanted bad to come out of the park to talk with her, but I knew how that would turn out.  I have a problem with women.  No courage, I guess.

One evening, there was a man with her. A big man.  Really big.

They were arguing. Then the guy started slapping her around.  Hit her hard twice.  I wanted to run over and stop him. But he was really big you know?  He hit her again.  I don’t know how she stood it. The guy wasn’t yelling or anything, just hit her. Then he let her go inside. He left.

Good thing too.  I might have got up the nerve. Boy! I wanted to show him!

It bothered me but I walked there the next evening.  That bastard beat on the woman, sure, but I couldn’t let him mess with my life, keep me from going about my business.  It was nearly dark because I was late.  Hard to see good. She walked into the building. He followed her inside. I started for the building.  I just reached the street when he came out, turned, and walked away.  If I’d only had a baseball bat or something or was a fighter.  Someone should teach that bastard not to beat on women.  Especially that woman.

That night, I got my father’s gun from the footlocker. All I ever got from him.  There were bullets.  I figured out how to load it.  Took it with me the next evening.

She wasn’t there. He was.  The bastard!  Coming from the walkway, across the street toward the park. I watched him walk past the park entrance. From where I was in the bushes, I yelled at him,

“Hey you!” I thought to yell something more, like,

“Come and get what you deserve!”

But my courage was slipping, you know?  He turned, looked my direction, then looked left and right. Don’t think he actually saw me. He entered the little patch of overgrown bushes. When he was all the way inside, I knew he could see me. I pointed the gun at him and said,

“This is what happens to bullies who beat up women!”

It was easier than I thought.  Pulling the trigger.  The gun wasn’t loud like I expected.  The bastard grabbed his chest, opened his mouth all surprised. That would teach him!  He fell to his knees, then fell on his face.

I thought to go roll him over.  See if he was dead.  I wouldn’t know.  I never seen a dead body.  Maybe I’d have to shoot him again.  I don’t know much about guns.  Well, if he wasn’t dead and he recovered, that would be a real lesson for him.  If he was dead, well, he wouldn’t beat on pretty women no more.

People were gathering in the street. Figuring where the noise came from.  They yelled things like,

“What was that?”
“Was that a gunshot?”

“Where’d it come from?”

“Over there, by the park benches!”

“Somebody call the police!”

I got scared.  I don’t know why. Dropped the gun.  Couldn’t leave the way I’d come in. 

Turned to run out the back way.  Hadn’t got hardly two steps. Was almost out of the bushes so I could really run.  I had to stop. Two cops.  Right there.  Both of them pointed guns at my face. One of them yelled,

“Stop!  Don’t move!  Put your hands over your head and turn around!”

I did what the cop said. Turned around. Except I forgot the ‘hands over your head’ thing.  One of the cops yelled,

“Don’t move!”  Hands up! Do it now!

About the time it sunk in and I started to put my hands up, something grabbed my left arm.  Bent it back.  Felt something on my wrist.  Then something grabbed my other arm and I felt something again.  Cold and hard.   

At the police station, I explained all over.  Cops weren’t impressed.  Guess in court, it wouldn’t have made no sense to say I wasn’t guilty. I’m not smart, but I’m not stupid.  I didn’t pay no attention to all the hoop-de-do in court.  No trial and all, it was quick. Never got to tell the judge how I’d done good, rid the city of a monster.  Probably wouldn’t have helped, you know?  Figure though, I made it so one bully wouldn’t beat on women no more.

Today I got newspaper privileges here in the prison library.  Reading back issues. Why not? Nothing else to do.  Read where they buried a almost famous actor a while ago.  Seems he was shot dead by some nobody guy off the streets.  That’s a shame. What’s the world coming to? Went on to say they canceled the play he was gonna be in.  Said he was shot just after rehearsing a fight scene.  There was a picture of the woman in the play, too. Almost as pretty as the one I saw from the park.

© spwilcen 2022

Retired from fifty-three years as an IT engineer, SP Wilcenski now goes about life much as everyone else, managing to squeeze free a few hours each day to write. Except for The Chamber Magazine (February 2021), his blog spwilcenwrites, and on theProse, he is unpublished.

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