A father’s right

grass in sidewalk crack

He sat on the curb, legs bent so he could rest his elbows on his knees. A freshly fired pistol, now unloaded and its clip removed, lay on the sidewalk beside him, but out of reach.

Dressed in clean jeans, his most comfortable pair of running shoes and the red plaid button-down his wife always complimented him on, he looked like an average, middle-aged man. Except for the blood spatter hidden in the pattern of his shirt, and flecks of crimson dotting his face, he could be the guy next door.

His cell phone buzzed, but he ignored the noise. The last number he called was showing on the caller ID, but he had nothing left to say to the person on the other end. He said it all minutes before:

“I need a police officer and ambulance at 1212 Caster Street. I just shot someone.”

He was sure his target was dead, but he requested the ambulance just in case. He wanted the other man dead, hoped he was, but another bullet would only make the situation worse. He made his point already, anything more was unnecessary.

This was his last act of hopelessness. All his complaints, all the emails and voice messages, the notes left on her windshield, even hospital photos of ghastly injuries weren’t enough to get anyone to help. If the legal system wouldn’t stop the abuse, then there was only one option left.

When he finally came to trial for the murder of the man he claimed was physically and psychologically tormenting his daughter, neighbors and friends asked the inevitable questions about why he did what he did.

What gave him the right to take the law into his own hands, to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

In her opening statement, his attorney answered:

“Desperation had given him authority.”

Master's Class
Inspired by T.H. White’s “Once and Future King”
Desperation had given him authority”

10 thoughts on “A father’s right

  1. Nice work, Tara. Tightly controlled story in few words. And the theme, makes me think of the father of the woman in India that was attacked. Well done.


  2. I love how you took this situation and drew out the suspense. Your details were so minute yet so effective. I also like how you tied him to his personal relationships without having to overly detail them. This was short yet powerful. Well done!


  3. This is so brilliant. If I were a father and my daughter was being brutalized by her husband… I would let me desperation take over as well…


  4. I agree with Lance. This is superb. I love all the little details that brought the story to life, the suspense you built quite well, and the motive at the end. You’ve set the bar high this week, Tara. I won’t be grading on a curve. ;)c


  5. I like how you jumped ahead to the trial and went after the motive. Teh whole time he was on the curb I wanted to know why. I like the details of what he was wearing and where the blood was. This was really tight and crafted superbly.

    standing ovation


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