“The Right Decision” by Ben Conover

He stared blankly at the TV. Ever since he was fired, Roy had nothing to do but count down the minutes until each meal and each unemployment check, staying in the same place for hours on end, molding his very own figure into the cushion of his cheap couch. His apartment was filled with the humid smell of mold, and the only light came from one window in the very corner. Next to him was Jackie, his Aussie Shepherd, still a puppy, and Roy’s best friend and “partner in crime” as he liked to call him. He could call his mom, but she was already disappointed enough. He knew he couldn’t keep it up for long though. His money was draining like water flushing down the toilet. It was time to check the help wanted ads in the newspaper. He looked over them carefully until falling asleep at his desk.

He woke up and groaned, he slept on his arm again. It ached like an elephant had slept on it as well. He slowly got up and put the same jeans he’d been wearing for days on, and grabbed his coat. He got into his car and drove down to the store for the week’s groceries. All he got was essentials, eggs, milk, bread, and a bag of dog food for Jackie.

“Will that be all for today?” The cashier chimed in the same flat tone as she did to everyone.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Roy said. “Say, are there any jobs avail-”

“It looks like your card didn’t come through, Sir,” she said, cutting him off. “You can get everything here but the dog food.”

“Alright,” he said despondently. Roy grabbed his groceries and left the store.

As he walked up to the door of his apartment he saw a red slip of paper pinned to the door.

“EVICTION NOTICE,” it said.

“Hey there, Jackie,” he mumbled as he walked into his cramped apartment. He could barely look at her, ashamed of himself, not even able to afford food for his best friend. All of a sudden, he knew what to do.

“If this doesn’t go well, Jackie, then I’m so sorry,” he rasped. He ran into the bedroom and lifted up his mattress, pulling out a revolver, fumbling with the bullets for what seemed like an eternity when attempting to load it. He put on a hoodie and got back into his car, it was time he showed the bank that he wasn’t gonna be pushed around by them anymore. Because he walked in calmly, and waited patiently in line until he was up. No one had any idea what was going on. Roy pulled out his revolver and fired a shot into the air.

BANG

“EVERYBODY GET ON THE GROUND!!!” Roy yelled vehemently. He shoved his bag to the teller and turned around to watch the door, when all of a sudden, he felt a tug on his leg, and next thing he knew, he was on the ground. He scrambled to his feet, panicked, and shot randomly, hitting someone in the leg.

“AHHH,” they screamed, “THAT GUY JUST SHOT ME!” Roy immediately fled, grabbing the money and sprinting out the door, as fast as a rocket ship.

“So Mr. Anderson, what did the criminal look like exactly?” asked Louis Parkins, the local police chief.

“6 feet tall, brown hair. And just call me Jim,” Jim Anderson replied, “and let me know when you catch this guy.”

“Well, I hate to say it but chances are that we won’t. These things don’t always turn out successful, but we’ll let you know,” said Louis, glumly. As soon as Louis left the white, sterile hospital room, Jim pulled out his phone. “Hello is this Gabriel Robins? Yes, I have a job for you.”

Roy stumbled on through the woods. What had he done? He had single-handedly ruined his life even more. He stopped. Roy could hear the vociferous sounds of a helicopter nearby, and only growing louder.

“Oh no,” he muttered to himself, “that can’t be good.” Roy began to run.

Gabriel squatted down to the ground, there were footprints in the mud from last night’s rain, he wasn’t far behind. Apparently what happened was some guy got shot by some burglar, and now they wanted revenge. He was happy with his job. He enjoyed it. It may not have been praiseworthy, yet being a bounty hunter had good pay, and he was certainly doing a better job than the cops.

As Roy trudged through the forest, his mood began to change. Maybe this thing wouldn’t be the worst for him after all. He could start a new life, make a new name for himself, but to do that he’d need to do a few more robberies to get just a bit more money . . . or a lot . . .  definitely a lot.

Louis sat in his seat, perched on the edge of the helicopter with his binoculars in hand, scanning the forest, if this case went well then it could very well mean a big promotion for him in the future. He was determined to catch this guy.

He’d done it! Gabriel watched Roy intently, it looked like he was sleeping. Gabriel did a little victory dance in his mind and began to approach him. Gabriel walked slowly, but didn’t pay enough attention, and stepped on a stick, breaking it. Roy snapped awake and stared at the figure standing a mere foot away from him.

“Wh-Who are you?” Roy mumbled.

“I’m a bounty hunter, you’ll be coming with me.” Gabriel started to close in more, but, without hesitation. Roy shot up with inhuman speed and broke into a sprint, but got tackled immediately. Gabriel pulled out a baton, about to knock him out when he heard him.

“Please,” Roy whimpered, “I know I messed up, but there was no other way, my life was in ruins, I just needed a little bit of money . . . ”

Gabriel stopped. He didn’t know why, but he saw some of himself in this guy, he as well used to be like him, but then he got his stuff together and really started to work.

“Listen, kid, I feel a bit bad for you, so I’m gonna cut you a deal,” Gabriel said. “Okay?”

“Yeah,” Roy mumbled.

“Here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m gonna let you go. And you’re gonna turn yourself in, that way, your sentence will be shorter, and as soon as you get out, get your life together. I used to be just like you, until I actually did something,” commanded Gabriel.

“Yes sir, I will.” Roy got up and dusted himself off, and began the long walk towards the road. Gabriel smiled, it felt good to help someone for once, maybe it was time for a change

As Roy sat in the back seat of the police cruiser, he contemplated his choice. He was happy, he’d made the right decision, and when he heard the loud buzz as the prison gates opened after his 10-year sentence, he was a changed man, and within weeks he had a job and was living with Jackie again in a brand new apartment, all because of Gabriel’s kindness. If it weren’t for him, he could’ve gotten a life sentence, and who knows what would’ve happened to him then.

 

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