Fiction Horror

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

Things came into focus as I sat up and opened my eyes, my hand stopped its rubbing across my forehead and I stared in momentary confusion at the curious scene in my mind. I wasn’t completely sure for a second what I was seeing; had I fallen asleep? Awareness of my situation grew and I began warming to the task at hand once again. I suppose that I had dozed for a moment, brooding on my thoughts. Harry’s tale was unfolding at last but only with considerable difficulty.

I sat in front of the desk, hands working sporadically at the keyboard in front of me, filling the empty screen in front of me with words one or two at a time. Writing is sometimes a tedious business. There were differences from my normal position and a knowledgeable person would have no difficulty noticing them. The .45 Colt, normally holstered and clipped to the side of the desk, lay naked on its side in front of my left hand and the bottle of bourbon, so seldom seen that it was dusty, sat to the right within easy reach. It nestled near the dictionary with a glass next to it reeking of having carried shots from the bottle to another, more intimate, receptacle. This was a story long in thought and now that it was being wrestled onto the page, I had no intention of letting it get away.

The lead in was catchy, at least I thought it was. “Harry Dalton contemplated the pistol in front of him as he swallowed another shot from the bottle next to it,” read the first sentence and the following ones built on it. “He had given them both a lot of thought lately and today he had brought them out for a stroll. The story of its presence burned for release but the ambiguity surrounding it demanded imaginative telling.” 

Catchy, right? It sort of leads you into Harry’s world and leaves you wondering exactly where that is, what it might be. I wondered what Harry had been thinking as he considered firearms and fire water. What sort of imaginative tale would emerge from whatever vague knowledge he had? I marveled for a moment at how different today seemed in my own world and downed a shot from the bottle. It made the words flow a bit faster when I set in at the keyboard again and I was truly curious about Harry’s position.

“He set the glass next to the bottle and picked up the pistol. It was a 1911 Colt that his grandfather, who claimed he’d brought it home from WWII, had given him. Aside from that one, Harry had never heard another tale placing his grandfather in WWII, but the gun seemed old enough and more importantly it gleamed with well-oiled functionality. Frankly, Harry didn’t care where it originated, if the story emerging from his efforts wasn’t the precise truth, it was unlikely that anyone would ever find out. Reality or fantasy? Leave it up to the reader to decide.”

Moves right on along, doesn’t it? I reached out and rubbed a finger along the cold steel of the pistol. It’s amazing that a literal well-oiled machine could inspire such a fine story, but where had the pistol come from? I frowned to myself at this line of thought. Why didn’t Harry care whether his grandfather brought it home from the war or not? The steel warmed beneath the touch of my skin as I sat quietly and considered Harry; surely he knew from where his grandfather’s pistol had come. It seemed so to me as I swallowed another shot from the bottle. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

“It had definitely come home from war,” Harry thought as he lifted the pistol in contemplation. The clip dropped out smoothly at his touch. Harry caught it in his left hand and set the polished steel box of gleaming brass cartridges down gently where the Colt had rested.”

Not so bad really. I was beginning to get a bit concerned about Harry there. I picked up my Colt and it occurred to me that the gun would need to be in my right hand to drop the magazine into my left, so I switched it and dropped the clip in solidarity. I downed a swallow from the bottle, wondering why the gun lay on Harry’s left, harder to use. “Good for you, Harry.” I spoke aloud, toasting Harry’s priority of the bottle with another swallow, no need to bother with the glass. My hand was flying across the keys now as the tale picked up again.   

“He slowly pulled the slide until the bright lip of the casing came in sight. Satisfied with his inspection, Harry dropped the slide back in place with a sharp snap and took a swallow from the bottle.”

Come on, Harry, you can hang in here. I’m dying to hear the story behind the pistol. I better try to help you out. I set to work on the keyboard again with my left hand.

“Harry nestled the muzzle of the gun firmly under his chin and released the safety with a low click.”

Stop it, Harry! I took a quick swallow from the bottle and let the weight of my head relax as I set it down on my left and attacked the keyboard in Harry’s defense.

“The thunderous discharge was accompanied by an eruption above Harry, and he slumped heavily on the keyboard in front of him.”

Oh my god, Harry, why? There is always hope, man. Well, I suppose not for you now. What would bring you to the point of suicide, Harry? I don’t know. After all this smooth, swift writing, the story seems incomplete.

“Harry sat up, looking curiously at the form slumped over his keyboard. It seemed oddly indistinct to him and he had no trouble getting his hands to work on the keys after swallowing a shot of bourbon from the glass.”  

Wait, who wrote that?

Wrote what? I rubbed my forehead and looked around in momentary confusion then I slowly tapped out a sentence on the blank screen.

“Harry Dalton contemplated the pistol in front of him as he swallowed another shot from the bottle next to it.” That’s sort of catchy.

Oh my god, Harry, why?  

June 18, 2022 19:05

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