There's Something About Calvin

I've decided to write one more short story about the whole affair that was detailed in my story, "There's Something About Wilson," and thus decided to post this. It's still a short story, but it's a lot longer than the first story I've written about it. It's roughly thirteen pages on the Google Document, so be prepared if you wish to read this short story. Thank you for your time!

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Once he walked into the department, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something off about him. The way he casually walked after solving a case that it appears nobody else but him realized the truth. The way he had a big smile on his face as if he was proud of himself for shooting down another human being only a week earlier. The way he dressed like some detective from a black and white noir film with his brown trench coat and brown fedora. The way his eyes were bloodshot from probably getting none of a deserved rest after a case like that. The way he appeared to be one cocky individual, who gladly spoke with others as deafening as possible. However, the most peculiar thing in my opinion was that the Wilson case wasn’t even touched by other detectives. It was as if they completely trusted him and that everything he said was the whole truth, though I’ve researched into why he was fired from his job, and astonished that everybody would believe him even though he is visibly a bit of a psychopath. To simply put it, there’s something about this man named Calvin Gregory. Something that he’s hiding and telling nobody but his conscious, and I intend to discover what that is.

It may seem odd for a detective my age to wonder about these sort of things since most older detectives love to brag about themselves as the best, but just because I’m twenty five and solved in total only three cases doesn’t mean I’m horrible at my job. I’m still fresh according to a couple of the senior detectives here at the Indianapolis Police Department, since I got promoted to this new job about seven months ago but I’m not entirely a rookie. My first case involved some neighborhood rapist, the next about some serial killer who enjoyed designing corpses as pieces of art, and my third case involved a petty murder where the wife hired a hitman to kill her husband.

In my career as both a police officer and detective, I’ve killed only one man and that was the hitman mentioned in my third case. I remember feeling absolutely disgusted with myself for weeks and I couldn’t help but remove that hitman’s corpse out of my head. Though he had shot at me when he fled to the roof of a building and I returned fire to defend myself, I couldn’t help but feel similar to some sort of monster when his blood sprayed on the roof. My wife had been there to comfort me afterwards and still attempts to, but even today I feel the same the moment I fired three bullets through the hitman’s torso on that eventful case, which had sliced through his left lung and heart and died a couple seconds later. One of the elderly detectives at the department told me that I did what I had to since I had no choice, but I might have and I would’ve realized it if I had just a few more seconds if the hitman hadn’t been blindly firing his weapon at me. It doesn’t matter now though I suppose. Nobody can change the past.

I was in the department and in my office only a month after my third case when he arrived. I heard that a former detective was returning to join us, but I didn’t know and could care less who he was. There are detectives I see but never talk to at my job, and the ones that I do is because I need information. Well, except for Erik Schmidt, but only because I consider him more of a friend than just another detective at the department. Erik is another detective who is still rather fresh in the department as he has been a detective only five months longer than me. He was one of the first people to welcome me to the department actually, and we’ve been friends since. He’s a nice guy, but sadly a family burden allows other people to believe they’re better than him and ridicule him. Erik’s grandfather was a former soldier of the Nazi army so he receives a surplus of threats from those who know that family secret, but luckily I could care less. His grandfather’s crimes are nothing related to him, and I appear to be one of the few who realize that since I don’t call him vulgar names.

So, when it was announced a former detective was making a grand comeback as he solved a case that nobody apparently saw, I ignored it and went about my work until I saw Calvin. Calvin walked in with an attitude like he just won an Oscar, and he sure didn’t shy away from telling everybody about his investigation with Wilson. I believed that was rather odd, since he did kill somebody no matter whether they were a criminal or not, but yet he was rather joyful about it. He seemed even grateful for having such a case by the sound of it. I didn’t speak with him since he seemed wacky to me, but one could not mistake if he was around or not with his boasting and insane look. He was offered to join the department once again after eight months, since I guess the department believed they needed him, so I was only one month into my new job.

However, the worse possible scenario occurred when I was partnered with Calvin. I knew that I would then be forced to speak with that forty seven year old detective, since he would bother me to death if I didn’t conversate with him, or he would probably rant on that back in the “good old days” that people spoke back when spoken to. Though, I knew that I would see how peculiar Calvin truly is by chatting with the man. I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.

~=~

We were waiting in my vehicle across the street from a bar around midnight, and it was probably three months ago. Usually we stayed away from each other unless we needed each other to complete a certain assignment. Well, as much as I hated to admit it, I needed him for this task. Two bars had been burned down to the ground, and I believed that there was no coincidence, but I didn’t see this as a case but simply a annoying chore. Calvin had sat in the passenger side of my beautiful red Ford Fusion, when he suddenly sighed.

Calvin groaned, “I don’t think we’ve talked much. I see you at the department, but I never really paid attention to you much. You are always so quiet.”

“Well,” I responded, “we are partners.”

“It’s been only a week since that was announced, and I work best solo.”

“As do I,” I admitted, my eyes glanced over to see Calvin reaching in his pocket and yanking out a package of cigarettes, “but this requires more than one person if crap hits the fan.”

“What’s your name?”

I coughed into my sleeve. “It’s Adam, Adam Parker.”

“Well, Parker, you seem too young to be doing this sort of work.” Calvin took out a lighter while placing a cigarette in his mouth, lit it with the subtle flame, then stored his goods back into his pocket. “Let me tell you some advice, kid. Go home, live with your wife and have a family, and go back to either being a simple officer or go do something else. This line of work will drive you absolutely insane or it’ll kill you.”

I raised an eyebrow. “So are you saying you’re a psychopath?”

Calvin puffed out a cloud of smoke, and I had watched the cloud vanish into thin air. He looked over at me and smiled, then questioned, “Mind if I smoke?”

“Go ahead. You’ve already lit it,” I rolled my eyes, gazing back at the bar and patiently waiting for it to burst into flames. “Also, I’m not a quitter.”

Calvin shrugged. “Fine, but don’t blame me if your wife ends up as a widow.”

I glared over at him, replying, “Then you should quit before your wife ends up as one as well if that’s the case.”

“My wife’s dead,” Calvin snapped back before puffing out another cloud of smoke, leaving the stench in the air.

“Oh,” I mumble, my eyes returning to the bar as I felt like a jerk for bringing up such a awful memory. “I’m sorry, Calvin.”

“It’s fine. We were only married for two years before she got in a car wreck with a semi truck. It was a head on collision; her body was crushed.”

“Sheesh. Well, at least you have your family,” I said with a slight smile.

Calvin shrugged. “My mother died when I was six, and my father committed suicide a month later. Afterwards, I was thrown into an orphanage. So, I’ve been living on my own for about twenty four years now.”

I remained silent for a minute or so, until I managed to say, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Calvin replied. “I don’t need your pity. The only thing I ask of you is that you don’t mind me and go on about your business. Hey, isn’t that the arsonist there?”

I glanced around at the building to see a man sneaking around to the back of the bar with a backpack. Before I said anything else, Calvin leaped out of my car with his firearm out, sprinting at the bar. After chasing the suspect down, we arrested him and that was the end of that night.

~=~

I believe Calvin is covering something up. How could I suggest such a wild thing? Simple! He’s too peculiar, and though one has the right to be weird or awkward, he behaves as if he’s attempting to conceal something up by being nice and grateful for everything. He acts as if he works for God or something, then again I wouldn’t know what that would be like. I never went to church a day in my life, and I’ve still never even glanced at a Bible. I suppose that makes me a bit weird, but I just have a feeling that Calvin is guilty. Every detective has that sort of feeling. Actually, he’s beyond guilty. All I have to do is prove it with facts, and he will be out of the department and behind bars before he knows it.

It’s currently December 24, 2016 and it’s probably five o’clock in the evening. I didn’t check the time yet as I am busy searching for any details on Wilson’s corpse in a file cabinet, or well trying. It felt like thousands of files were locked away in this thing, and usually the correct file found you rather than you discovered it. As I continue searching for the file on the Wilson case, I remember what day it is; Christmas Eve. Snow trickles from the sky onto the city of Indianapolis below and Christmas cheers are heard everywhere on the streets. I love Winter more than any other season out there with all of its wonderful snow and the comforting, cool breeze that comes along with it. Most people hate the cold, but I enjoy it for some odd reason.

After scavenging through the file cabinet for a couple minutes, I manage to pull out the correct file, close the cabinet and walk back to my office. I take a seat behind my desk before placing the file in front of me and opening it to examine its contents. The file contains very little photos, which is rather surprising since I expected a bit more, but at least they show enough of the gruesome crime scene; two corpses, two fatal bullet wounds, and one rifle. However, something didn’t add up already. If a hunting rifle was used at least on the elderly lady, then her head probably would’ve exploded by the impact from that close of a range or at least would’ve caused more damage than a simple bullet hole. Then again, that’s not enough proof to determine that Calvin did something unless I get another picture of what damage the rifle would’ve done, but it began to make me question the reason of why he would do such a thing.

Now that I ponder about it, the motive becomes clear if he did kill the woman and Wilson; desperation. Here’s a detective who has no family, no wife, and no children, so basically he feels as if there is no other reason for him to live besides doing his job. He believes that cracking cases is the reason he exists, and he probably believes he’s the best with his cocky attitude. According to his information through the police database, Calvin has shot down many criminals already but they were the ones who committed the crime, until he was fired for killing an innocent who he thought was the right suspect. So, Calvin was removed from the force and his reason for living was wiped away from him, and when he saw Wilson who did peculiar things according to his neighbors, Calvin turned desperate and took advantage of the situation to become the hero. After all, he’s now back in the force and his reason to go onward has returned to him. It all makes rather perfect sense, but without evidence it means absolutely nothing.

This case pretty much has no available evidence. There are no witnesses, so truly the only two things that could provide any sort of proof if the comparison to a rifle wound and a pistol wound, and if any fingerprints of Calvin’s was discovered on the rifle. However, the police left the rifle at the house owned by Wilson’s mother after it was investigated. Other than those two facts, there’s nothing else unless Calvin admits that he committed the crime and staged it so he could become part of the Indianapolis Police Department again. I need to check out that rifle, but I need a partner to help me, then again my partner is Calvin so that won’t work whatsoever. However, I do know that Erik will aid me. He’s a loyal friend, and plus I don’t recall if he’s working on a case or not. I hope he doesn’t have any big plans tonight or else he’s going to be disappointed.

I close the file, ran out of my office, and casually stroll to Erik’s office. I knock on the door, waiting for him to announce that I can come inside, but I hear nothing. I raise an eyebrow and knock again only to get the same response. I twist the doorknob, and discover that the door has been locked. I glance at a clock on the wall nearby to reveal that my guess at time was off, since it’s actually 6:51 PM with the sun close to descending behind the horizon.

A gritty voice behind me says the same time I almost jump out of my skin, “The Nazi left a minute or so ago. It’s Christmas Eve and he wishes to see his family I suppose.”

I turn around to see one of the senior detectives, which allows me to not be surprised that he labeled Erik as a Nazi. I reply, “I see, well thank you for telling me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be.”

“Just be careful around that one,” The elderly man grunted.

I sprint to the elevator, calling it up and descending to the first floor once I get on it. If I’m lucky, I might be able to catch up with Erik before he drives home, since he really isn’t the swiftest of individuals as he usually loves to relax and take his time. As I wait in the elevator, I feel awful that I have to bring Erik with me rather than let him spend time with his family, but he’ll understand that this is for the greater good. Also, it’s only for an hour or so. It shouldn’t take long at all, and he can be home just in time for Christmas to watch his children rip open their presents. Yeah, it’ll be fine.

The elevator’s doors slide open and I dart out through the hallway, then past the lobby as I burst out the front doors of the department and see Erik closing the trunk to his vehicle. Snow has made the parking lot into a magical, winter wonderland.

I yell as I dash toward him, “Erik!”

Erik halts in his tracks, glancing around until he sees me and simply leans against his automobile until I reach him, panting and exhausted. “Need something?”

After catching my breath, I answer, “Actually, yes, I do need to ask of a favor from you.”

“What for? It’s Christmas Eve for God’s sake, Adam!”

“Well,” I reply, “crime never stops even for the holidays.”

Erik sighs. “What’s the case?”

“It’s not really a case, but more of a hunch and I simply need to search a house for some evidence.”

“What’s the hunch first of all?”

“It’s Calvin,” I nod. “I believe the Wilson case is all screwed up. I believe that Calvin murdered Wilson and his mother for the hope of returning to the force, and he’s here, isn’t he?”

Erik releases another infuriating sigh and states, “You know you’re a good friend of mine, right? I respect your opinion, since Calvin is a bit odd sometimes, but I mean it’s Christmas Eve. You should be worried about going home and spending time with your wife rather than worry about stuff like this! I’ll help you, as always, but can we do this another time?”

“My wife knows I’m doing great things, Erik, and if you’re not going to have the courage to simply help me, then say so. I thought of all people here that you would help me with this. It’ll take an hour or so. C’mon, Erik!”

Erik stares at the ground as if mystified by the snow before he says, “Fine. I’ll help you, Adam, but you owe me for this. I was hoping to see my children early tonight.”

I brightly smile, holding out of my hand and shaking his. “Thanks, pal! Now, we’ll take my car since it’ll be easier for you at least.”

“I appreciate that you’re at least attempting to make it easier for me,” Erik mumbles as we walk to my vehicle.

The destination is set. Wilson’s mother, Diane, lives in a small cabin in the middle of a forest off the highway. It’s not far from the city of Indianapolis, but probably would take twenty minutes or so to reach it. Well, it would’ve been if I didn’t get lost several times on our drive. You think a cabin in the middle of the woods would be simple to discover, but it was surprisingly difficult to find the correct pathway and the journey went from twenty minutes to an hour.

“Well, now it’s 8:02 PM and we’re still outside and not at home,” Erik grumbles.

“Oh, keep your shirt on!” I snap. “I finally found it.”

The path that led within the forest, or at least a portion of it, was alarmingly little to where one wrong turn of the wheel and you might end up crashing into one of the lifeless trees, which have snow hanging on their branches. The moon had ascended over the horizon as the sun had vanished from our sight so my headlights beamed through the forest in front of me, while I cautiously drove to ensure I don’t wreck into something or run over something. After a few minutes or so of our slow journey, the path led to an opening in the forest with a little cabin in the middle of it. My eyes swiftly examined the surrounding area, but nothing of value was around besides the cabin where Wilson and his mother were killed, whether or not it was a murder by Calvin is still in question. I pull up to the front of the cabin and put the vehicle into park before I exit the automobile, though I leave the engine running since I feel like this won’t take long whatsoever. All I need to do is find that rifle.

We enter the cabin, which is was rather small only having a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and a living room with an elegant fireplace. Some rugs were scattered about on the wooden floors, but one near the fireplace had been taken away from after being tainted by the murder that occurred here. While most evidence of a crime scene is taken away, the hunting rifle supposedly used to murder Wilson’s mother remained at the scene after being examined by the police and after the case was cleared up by Calvin’s story, since the family of the murdered victims requested that they leave it here to honor the cabin as that is how Wilson’s mother would’ve wanted it. I didn’t care much about the scenario, since as long as I got what I came to investigate, there would be no conflicts. Erik strolls around the home, glancing out the windows he passes to watch the snow steadily fall down to the ground as I leave him be and enter the bedroom to see the hunting rifle mounted on the wall. After holding it with my two hands, examining the ammunition the firearm would use, Calvin’s story becomes crystal clear; it’s all fake.

Obviously, Calvin had either bribed the police officials that arrived at the scene or they simply believed every lie that came out of that man’s mouth. The old-timer is clever, so I’ll give him that, but I doubt he ever expected somebody to revisit the Wilson case and realize that his story is entirely fictional. According to Calvin’s story, he heard a gunshot when he arrived at the cabin and swiftly ran inside to see Wilson gazing at his mother’s corpse near the fireplace and attempted to shoot Calvin when he entered the building, but Calvin had apparently been quicker and shot him down himself. However, as noted by officials when they examined Diane’s fatal wound through her head, the shot wasn’t taken from directly behind her by a few feet back where Wilson had to have exited the bedroom, turned, and took the shot. Now, unless Calvin was slow or Wilson was lightning fast, this is logically impossible that Wilson was standing near his mother’s corpse. Sure, he could’ve went to see if she was truly dead to double check for some reason, but he would still not be able to reach her in time before Calvin came bursting through the front door. Also, clearly the rifle ammunition couldn’t be used by the damage caused but could be the damage from a Glock 17, the firearm Calvin had on him when he entered the cabin. Another point is that the rifle felt like it hasn’t been used in years and could possibly not even be functional. Calvin really shouldn’t planned further ahead, because now I got him. It would be even better if Calvin simply admits that he had done it.

All the sudden, the sound of a gunshot rings through my ears and glass shattering before trickling down and landing on the ground. My heart drops as I imagine the worst scenario, placing the rifle on the bed and unholstering my Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat Magnum as I cautiously exit the bedroom and glance around til I see Erik, thankfully alive, leaning against the wall near a shattered window with his handgun in his right hand. His eyes turn from the window to me, which he motions me to come over.

I slowly creep up to the other side of the broken window, listening as Erik softly says, “If you couldn’t tell already, somebody’s out there and obviously armed. I don’t know what you did to anger somebody enough to kill you, but coming here was a mistake.”

“Who says this is my fault? You,” I recall to him, “have a family history that could send plenty of judgemental barbarians to murder you.”

“Well that doesn’t matter now, does it? We can rush to your car, since you left it running, and be gone from this place.”

Before I could reply, a voice suddenly calls out to me. “Adam Parker, I know you’re in there. Come out and face your consequences like a man.”

I couldn’t imagine who would ever want me dead, but then it became clear when I notice that the voice that called out to me was rather gritty. Calvin apparently had discovered my plot to unravel the truth, and now he wants to ensure that never occurs while he is still alive. I don’t want to kill anybody, especially not after I had killed the only criminal in my life and regretted every moment of it. I don’t want any more blood to be shed in my life from my miserable hands.

“Calvin,” I yell back, “put down the weapon and relax. I don’t want anybody ending up dead.”

“Come out and fight me or I’ll head to your apartment and slaughter your wife, Adam!” The voice roars back. “I always said she would end up as a widow, but I suppose the roles could be reversed.”

I felt my heart tear imaging my wife butchered by Calvin’s gory hands as I cry, “No! This doesn’t have to end in-”

“This will end in bloodshed if you don’t come out and fight me! Are you afraid of an old man?”

Erik took a deep breath. “Adam, get to the car and I’ll hold him off. Holler for me when you are ready to go, and I’ll sprint out there and jump in and we can escape from this place and turn Calvin in for his crime. Deal?”

I never really want to take over a drastic situation as a leader, though luckily Erik has swiftly thought of a plan that could work, and I trust Erik with defending himself and me until we can both flee from Calvin’s murderous intentions. I nod and silently sneak to the front door, waiting for Erik to distract Calvin.

Erik nods at me before exclaiming, “You want a fight, Calvin? You’ll get one then!”

Erik exposes himself at the shattered window, abandoning his cover and firing two bullets at the edge of the woods, attempting to get the killer’s intention before he slides back into cover from the shots that flew from the forest and pummel into the cabin. I have hope he will accomplish the task, but when I open the front door and to charge out to my vehicle, I witness a trail of a liquid leading from my vehicle to the edge of the forest surrounding the cabin. Then, my ears hear a few gunshots that hit the unknown liquid with ferocious speed before suddenly sparks form and I realize the liquid is nothing but fuel. I slam the front door before my vehicle explodes in a roar of terrifying flames and send me flying back into the living room of the cabin with the front side of the building burning from the explosion, and the flames are already spreading. Calvin has planned everything before he had began his attack, and now Erik and I were stuck in a building slowly being engulfed by flames.

“You gotta be joking,” Erik mumbles before he helps me off the floor as pieces of wood collapse from the ceiling. “We got to get out of here! Quick, out the window!”

Erik aids me in standing up and stumbling over to the window, and he is about to toss me outside until I hear a gunshot ring again in my ears and something splatter on the left side of my face. I feel Erik’s grasp vanish and I tilt my head to see Erik fall backwards and hit the floor with his face splattered with blood from a bullet hole in his forehead. My dear friend lies dead, gone from this world forever, never to smile at me again. I felt my stomach twist, and tears come to my eyes. The lad has- or well, had a family and children he wished to visit earlier but now he lies as a corpse in front of me with no hopes of accomplishing that. I know I’m responsible, and I can’t do anything to avenge him. There is no way out from this besides death. I stumble to the wall besides the broken window, my mind on the verge of breaking and changing me into a psychopath as I wait for the inevitable end. Calvin was correct it appears as I stand here now, my wife will truly end up as a widow thanks to nobody else but me. It’s all my fault.

Just as the fires reach the bedroom, a figure hops through the broken window with a firearm in his right hand, taking a few steps forward and glancing about as if to expect something but seeing nothing. My eyes widen as I realize Calvin wants to finish me off himself, but he made an awful mistake by expecting me to have simply gave up, which I suppose I did but not in the spot he expected it. I suppose he believed I would be holding my dear friend in my arms, devastated by his death though I am, but instead I’m glad I stood there in horror for I would be dead by now. Then again, is death such a bad thing to occur right now? Either way, Erik would want me to attempt to complete one more task for him and that’s to get this crook behind bars or down in the ground.

Before Calvin could turn around to face me, deciding I had to behind him as there is nowhere else that I would have fled to, I swiftly raise my firearm and pull the trigger. The round shreds through his left arm as he had turned and caused the bullet to change its destination from his chest to his arm that now spat out some crimson blood on the floor in front of me, actually some landing on my shoes. He stumbles back, groaning in agony and I quiver as I realize that I’m killing another human being. I can’t do this; I can’t kill him or else I don’t know if I can live with myself knowing that I’ve killed two living creatures in this world, since killing one is difficult enough to bare with. Calvin has suffered so much and all he wanted was to give purpose in my life rather than rot away to be forgotten by everybody, and though he wants me dead and has murdered my friend, I feel pity for him. I can’t end his life and prison might be good for him to randomly have quarrels with prisoners, right?

The gun shakes in my trembling hands as I witness the scene before me, watching Calvin stand up with the wound on his left arm still bleeding as he yells something and charges at me. My eyes widen and I go to pull the trigger, but it’s too late as he tackles me to the ground and I simply fire a bullet into the ceiling causing some more pieces of the wood to give in and fall to the floor below. Calvin takes advantage of the fallen pieces of wood, grabbing a rather large piece with an sharp end before ramming it into my chest. The sudden jolt of pain courses through my body, causing me to release a cry of torment before I realize that Calvin might have to lose his life this night, however I know I will attempt my best to save him. My mind remains on the pain from the wound in my chest, quite close to my heart, until Calvin begins to slam his fists across my face several times and I feel a throbbing pain in my nose and a liquid begin to leak out from it. I slam my firearm against the left side of his head, causing him to wince from the pain before I do it again and finally kick him off.

The fire continues to spread around the cabin, and now reaches the living room while everything else falls apart or is consumed by the flames. I could feel the scorching heat. In a matter of minutes, this cabin will be swallowed by flames, and thus I knew this conflict had to finish before we both die. Then again, we both might die either way at this rate.

After I kick Calvin off me, I scramble to my feet as Calvin does the same before we’re both standing before each other in which he suddenly laughs with a wicked grin on his face before he claims, “Oh, Adam, do you really expect that you’ll make it out of here alive? It’s already over from where I stand.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “It’s not over yet, old-timer! Give yourself up and you might-”

“Might what?” Calvin roars, his eyes glaring back at mine. “I might go to prison for the rest of my life and let my life be wasted? Prison is useless, Adam! I kill the criminals I meet because they deserve that and not let themselves enjoy their lives in prison. Most prisons now are like living in an apartment with all the freedoms you have that you’re practically living the same way!”

“Wilson wasn’t a criminal!”

“His death was for the benefit of the world!”

“No,” I snap, the grip of my weapon tightening from the rage, “it was for your own personal gain! You’re simply a monster just like the murderers you’ve taken out.”

At this time, fear begins to build inside me as Calvin suddenly shakes and his face turns red with undeniable fury. I’ve made things far worse, and now I truly believe there’s no going back now; only one man can leave this place alive and I must make sure it’s me.

“Adam,” Calvin growls, “you’re nothing but an insect that needs to be squashed. I kill for justice and to preserve this nation from monstrosities and blind fools like you. Now, ever heard of the phrase ‘respect your elders?’ If you could stand there as I put a bullet in your skull, that would be much appreciated.”

“I don’t want to harm anybody,” I cry, hoping he will stand down as his firearm lays at his side and I know it’s most likely still loaded.

“Sometimes you have to harm others, boy, because it’s entirely human nature. To be honest, Adam, you call me a monster but we’re all monsters though I’m simply a better one. Send my regards to Wilson will you see him in whatever afterlife there is, and be sure to tell him I’m sorry for murdering him but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” Calvin states with his gun still at his side.

Time stops for what feels like a lifetime as we stand there, our weapons at our sides in our hands as we merely gaze at each other, waiting for one of us to make a move like an old cowboy film. As much as I have an undying hatred for this man, I still wish there is another way but I’m not that stupid to realize that one of us must die before the flames engulf us all. My heart aches as I place my finger over the trigger, standing there and hoping that I will be the victor of this stand off, but I’ve not had that much training. To be honest, I think the old-timer has beaten me. He’s right about what he said, he’s better than me and I know it. This is the end but I won’t lay down and die like a pathetic dog.

“You can send the regards yourself,” I respond as I gently tremble from the fear of dying and leaving this place with my wife as a widow just like Calvin said.

All the sudden, Calvin’s right eye twitches and I suddenly raise my firearm which Calvin does the same and a gunshot screams out in the room. I stand there, still quivering as Calvin’s wicked grin is still across his face when it suddenly begins to fade away as he glances down at himself, his trench coat beginning to change to a vermilion color and he gazes back at me and smiles. Smoke drifts up into the air from the end of my weapon as Calvin falls to his knees and then collapses forward onto the floor. I somehow achieved victory in the fight, but now I’ve killed two men in my life, technically three since my actions led to poor Erik’s death, and I know that I will never be the same as I was. As the flames consume Calvin’s corpse, I don’t hesitate to leap out the broken window and out into the snowy wonderland as snowflakes sprinkle from the sky. The change of scenery from death and destruction had changed so swiftly to a scene from a Christmas movie behinds the burning cabin that I stare at, horrified by what has occurred here.

I use the sleeve of my shirt to wipe away the blood that had oozed out from my broken nose before laying down in the snow and staring up at the sky. It’s peaceful out here unlike the cabin where only despair triumphs over everything. I suddenly hear sirens from the distance, a mixture of them actually, and I wonder if I’ve gone insane until I get up to my feet to watch a a fire truck, a few police cruisers, and an ambulance enter the opening in this forest and park their vehicles. The firemen hop out and begin to exquinish the fire to the best of their abilities while the police and paramedics rush over to me.

One of the policemen I recognize, a lad named Brian, questions me, “Adam, what happened here? We got a call from somebody driving on the highway that there was a vast cloud of smoke coming from here and they heard gunshots! Are you alright?”

I stood there as the paramedics advise that I allow them to examine my wounds as I simply ponder over what will happen next. I’ll have to bring Erik’s vehicle to his home and hand his wife the presents he had stashed in the back of his car, which then I’ll have to explain to her that she’s now a single mother thanks to me. My wife will be glad to know I’m alive, and we can celebrate Christmas together, but Erik’s family will grieve over the lost all because of me. It bothers me to know I’ve caused the death of three men in my life, but I suppose I must accept the burden and I’ll do my best to support Erik’s family for the grief they will soon feel for probably years to come. This job has changed me for the worse, but I suppose the good that will come from this is that Calvin has been stopped. Then again, was the cost to accomplish this task worth it? No, it wasn’t whatsoever. Why do I get to live and he doesn’t? Calvin says sometimes you must hurt others, but I feel as if he’s wrong and always will be wrong. He wasn’t a fool, but he wasn’t entirely a genius either. All I can do now is simply move forward and accept the consequences of all of this mess.

My eyes turn to Brian in which I answer, “What has happened here you ask? Well, I’ll tell you, but let me say that this all began when I noticed that there was simply something about Calvin, and that I’m sorry for everything that has occurred here. I suppose Santa Claus will be leaving some coal for me tonight.”

I softly smile at my own joke, but inside my heart I only feel desolation.

An American high school student who thrives to become a writer, and will be often discovered reading or playing video games at home.

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