by Chris Beckett, Hampden, ME, USA
“Mr. Kaczmerak, you better come down and see this.” The crackle of the radio irritated Elijah every time it squawked. If he wasn’t already in a foul mood, it usually pushed him over that edge.
“I’ll be there when I can,” he spat into the comm. Sliding his finger forward, the old chair came to life and shuddered ahead, its nervous ticking announcing his passage.
Minutes later, the old man rolled into the large atrium at the front of the house. He could feel his ears starting to burn. Standing at the door, which was still ajar, was the captain of his guards, Seth Palmer. Slumped beside him, dark blood dried on one side of his face, was Dale, the one Elijah had sent to watch Karen.
“What the fuck happened here,” rasped the old man, his gnarled voice raising the hair on the back of Dale’s neck.
“I lost her,” was the guard’s feeble reply.
“What? I can’t fucking hear you.” Elijah lurched the wheelchair forward, stopping three feet from the two men. Lifting himself out of the seat, he leaned over, holding a hand to his ear.
The Captain shoved Dale harshly, sending the injured man to his knees. “Tell Mr. Kaczmerak what you did.” The Captain’s tone was heavy and even.
“I-I-I-I lost her,” he sputtered, hands shaking feverishly as he clasped them together to try and make them stop.
“You. Lost. Her.” Elijah’s eyes bored into the quivering guard as Seth took a spot beside his employer.
“Do I not pay you enough?” Elijah fell back into his chair as he spat the last of this question out, a coughing fit racking his upper body. Despite this, he kept his eyes squarely on the shivering excuse before him as the coughs passed.
“Yes, sir. You pay me good Mr. K.
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Dale added, as if this made any difference.
“Have you ever been paid better?” Elijah acted as if he’d not heard the statement, his voice rising once more.
“No, Mr. K.”
“No!” The word landed like a hammer.
“And yet, you lost my daughter. How does that happen?”
“I don’t know, sir.” Dale was now prostrate, arms outstretched with clenched hands begging for a reprieve.
“Honest answer, but the wrong one,” said Elijah. “Now, take your gun out.”
Dale looked up, confused. His mind went over the old man’s words again, but he was unable to act.
“Take the fucking gun out, son.” Elijah’s tenor faded slightly. Dale did what he was told.
“Good. Now, eat that fucking gun or I will rend the flesh from your worthless hide.” Dale searched the old man’s eyes, but they didn’t waver.
“I SAID EAT THAT FUCKING GUN!!” Dale fell back before Elijah’s volume as another fit of coughing overtook the old man. Unable to process the absurdity of the order, Dale remained motionless.
After a long minute, Elijah finally relaxed and leveled his eyes at the cringing man one last time. “I need to keep order in my house. That is part of the reason for your substantial retainer. If you are going to fuck up royally, I cannot keep you on.
“So, eat. That fucking. Gun.” Elijah sat back, contentment finally crossing his withered features as he slid one hand up to the palm console of his chair.
Dale looked at Mr. Kaczmerak, then at Seth, and back to Mr. K once more. Neither one flinched, and Dale understood.
Instinctively, he turned the gun on the two men before him, and just as quickly, Elijah tapped a switch resting beneath his left index finger, sending a signal to microchips implanted within all the weapons in the house.
Dale’s gun did not discharge. He pulled the trigger multiple times, the frail click dissolving what hope was left.
A smile split across Elijah’s face. “I control everything in this house. You would have done well to remember that, you dumb shit.” The old man continued to stare at Dale as he reached across and pulled Seth’s own gun from its holster. Leveling the heavy weapon at the sobbing man in front of him, Elijah Kaczmerak quickly tapped the switch beneath his left hand once more and fired with his right.
Dale fell back, blood seeping from his midsection as he convulsed spastically, tears running over the dried blood on his face. He worked to say something, but the effort was too much. It was another fifteen minutes before he properly expired, but his last words had already been uttered.
“Shall I take care of him sir,” asked Elijah’s Captain.
The old man looked up with weary eyes and shook his head no. Then he raised the gun and shot Seth as well, point blank, blood and bits of skin spattering across Elijah.
“Ultimately, are you not responsible for your men?”
Dropping the gun, Elijah activated the comm-unit to speak to his butler. “Gregory. Get a cleaning detail to the atrium, please. And see if you can’t find a good investigator. I want him here by the end of the week.”
To Be Continued . . .