“Nothing is more important than family. If a man makes a conscious decision to screw with your family; you make a decision to make him pay with his life.”
“What if it kills you, father?”
“Then you pay the cost, son. Life consists of two things: consequences and repercussions. Every decision comes with those two things attached to it.”
My father’s voice filled my head, but that’s nothing new. Since he passed away five years ago, a day hasn’t gone by when I haven’t heard him speak in my mind. I leaned against my brother Tomak and grunted.
“We did it dad. It cost us everything, but the family is safe.”
Tomak slid to the floor, and I followed him as far as I could before unconsciousness claimed me.
I wasn’t always a bad guy. Life just kinda worked out that way in the end. For years I spent hours working on the docks of a dairy, loading, and unloading trucks, sometimes I even caught product that entered the coolers via a chain that ran the entire length of the plant and coolers.
It wasn’t glamourous but it paid the bills. I would never have an astronomical amount of money, nor would I enter the ranks of celebrity, but my family would not suffer undue hardship.
My pride and joy in life was my family. I had never been a player when it came to women, I found a good one and settled down. We made our small house a home, added some children, and lived a good life together.
Our life was everything I’d ever wanted. Some people want cars and big houses, I wanted to play games with my children Jayson and Erika or go for a long romantic walk with my wife Sadie underneath a full moon. Life was about the little things. Still, everyone expected something for Christmas, so I went shopping.
As I walked across the mall parking lot my phone rang.
“Hey Sadie, what’s going on? Did the kids and their friends run you out of the house?”
“Um, Mr. Whitman? This is Detective Allan Sloane.”
Time seemed to stand still. I leaned against a brick pillar, my heart raced a mile a minute, my breathing came in small gasps.
“What happened to my family?”
“Sir, where are you? I’ll send a squad car after you.”
“I’m at the mall. I parked in front of Stein Mart; I’m by the entrance.”
“Okay, stay there. A squad car is on the way to pick you up and bring you home.”
Time seemed to drag by while I waited on the police to show up. My mind ran through endless scenarios. A black and white police car pulled up in front of the store, and an old officer stepped from the vehicle. His hands were shoved into a faded tan trench coat, an unlit cigar stuck out of his mouth. I stood up and walked toward him.
“I take it your Mr. Whitman,” he said, “I’m Detective Sloane. Um, let’s get you in the car.”
Detective Sloane was a heavyset man, the act of moving seemed to strain his will to live, but his eyes were a cold gunmetal gray. While his body seemed to give the impression that death lurked around the corner, his eyes seemed to have a life of their own.
“What happened to my family, detective?”
“Um, it’s best we wait until we get you home to discuss it.”
“Is my family safe?”
“We will talk about it at your home, okay?”
All my life, my dad and mom raised my brother and I in the woods. My dad had fought most of his life, in one lost cause or another, and trained us to stand for what we believed in. Momma was a tough nut also. She put up with no guff from her children or her husband.
“Be honest, work hard, and make your own way in the world,” they admonished us. “Don’t accept help from nobody. If people come looking for trouble, then you should give them all they can handle.”
My parents never took help from the government, they paid their taxes and did the best they could by us. Tomak and I grew up, got married, and passed their lessons on to our children. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.
The driver slowed down and turned into my driveway. From the back seat of the patrol car, I could see the bloodstains on my front door.