Sharon’s note: The human condition is fatal. Blunt, unpleasant, but unfortunately true. It manifests differently in everyone, but everyone has it. There’s very little of it we can control, but how we choose to look at it is one of them. Maybe instead of blunt and unpleasant, it’s just a short and bittersweet interlude before moving on to something else. Or not. It’s up to you. Warning: Author is in kind of grumpy today.
The man was huge. A brute. He had one of his gorilla arms locked around Grandpa’s fragil throat and a gun pointed at me. Twice he tossed his head in an attempt to get the sweat soaked, scraggly blond hair out of his panicked pale face. It stayed in his eyes and Grandpa kept whimpering and-
“Shut up! Shut the hell up or I will blow your brains out!” The brute brought the gun up to Grandpa’s temple and I lunged forward. The gun swung back to me and I froze. Damn it, I wasn’t close enough.
“Hey man, you don’t have to do this, okay?” I somehow managed to keep my voice calm even though my heart was trying to explode through my throat. “What do you want? Do you want money?”
“I want you both to shut the hell up!” The brute dropped Grandpa and took a step back. I didn’t have a chance to get closer before he had the gun pointed at Grandpa’s chest. There had to be something I could do, but my mind was blank.
“Just tell me what you want, man.” I held up my hands, trying my best to sound soothing.
“Okay. Okay.” The brute took a deep breath. “Here’s what you’re going to do. Do you have a car?”
I considered lying for a second, but maybe I could get him out of the house without any bloodshed. “Yeah. The keys are in the other room. Right on the coffee table. You can take them. I’ll stay here.”
“Shut up,” he screamed and jabbed the pistol forward and my stomach clenched. “You only do what I tell you to do, and don’t talk unless I ask you a question. I’m going to take this old guy with me-”
“No, you can’t,” I pleaded. “He’s got a lot of health problems-”
He fired a round into the floor. The sound tore through my ears and left a high pitched buzz behind. Grandpa threw himself out of bed and onto the brute’s arm. I raced forward and slammed a fist into the brute’s face. The gun went of two more times and even a pain radiated through my hand I hit again.
Grandpa fell to the floor. The brute stumbled back, the back of his head cracking into the wall before he dropped bonelessly. I grabbed Grampa and dragged him away, adrenaline warring with relief when I saw there was no blood.
The brute didn’t move. I put Grandpa back on the bed and found something to restrain the brute with. I called the police, but we were a long way from town. I dragged the unconscious brute into the living room and checked on Grandpa. He was back to staring at the TV, mouth moving silently. Back to normal. I left him there to go keep an eye on the man tied up in the other room.
My throat tightened and my stomach churned. For just a second I had seen the man my grandfather used to be. He’d grabbed the brute like he was trying to protect me. I’d hoped . . .
It didn’t matter. I loved Grandpa. It didn’t matter if he didn’t remember me all the time. He loved me when he did. That was why he threw himself at the brute. That is what I chose to believe.