A man hunched over in the darkness, balancing his hand on a park bench to keep from falling over as he vomited. His outline glowed under the pale street light, he was so skinny. He wiped off his mouth and took a swig of whatever was in his flask to wash down the taste. I stood a few yards behind him and refastened my gloves. The wind was cold and ruthless and broke through my skin in little bursts through the tiny hole in the back of my jacket. That’s what I get for buying a jacket from a thrift store. I wondered if he was cold… It was New Years Eve and this man was out in the cold instead of celebrating with his loved ones.
The man kept wandering down the sidewalk, swerving from side to side and drinking from his flask. He ran a hand through his greasy hair as he walked. Eventually, the sidewalk ran out and the lights disappeared. But he kept walking. My stomach was in knots thinking about the man and what he might do in the darkness, drunk as could be. I decided to follow him.
He trotted down a hill and I lost sight of him in the pitch black. I followed down the hill, waiting for some sound or movement I could use to find him. Leaves crunched under his heavy feet. When he reappeared in my sights, he was a few feet from me, sitting with his back to a tree. He was smoking weed, which smelled awful. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and I could make out discolored spots down his arms, like he’d been in a fight.
“Do you have any food?” He asked in a tired voice. I dug through my bag until I found a granola bar. “This will do.” He muttered. He devoured the granola bar and stood up on his weak legs. His knees locked and he fell back against the tree. “Thanks,” he got back on his feet and wobbled on towards a creek. As we got closer to the creek, the sky exploded with fireworks. He stared up in wonder at the flashes of light while I got a good look at him. His eyes were bloodshot and he carried enormous bags under his eyes and hollow cheeks. His lips were thin and chapped and his hair fell to his shoulders in tangled chunks. He looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks.
“My name is Jonas by the way,” his voice sounded between the bursts of fireworks. It was almost midnight. He tripped and fell and landed on his knees.
“I know.” I drew out a cold, black cylinder from the small of my back. For a moment, I thought about going home. I could go back to my friends’ house and watch the ball drop and pop open bottles of champagne and toast to a new year, a better year. I could let the past go and make resolutions to exercise more or stop eating desserts. I could have a normal life in spite of all that happened. I could be happy.
No. I could start being normal tomorrow. But for tonight, I needed something else.
“I know who you are. You’re Jonas McCall.” My hands trembled under the weight of what I was going to do. “You were born in Michigan. You were raised by a single mom, dropped out of high school, and never stuck with a job for more than six months.” I shifted the cylinder to the other hand. “But that doesn’t matter to me.” I looked at the device in my hand. It was the only way to heal my wounds- my family’s wounds. “None of that matters to me.” If I did this, maybe my dad could celebrate New Years next year, instead of drinking too much whiskey and locking himself in his office. Maybe my mom could be home and smile at me and scream “Happy New Years” at midnight instead of working late and never telling us why.
“My name is June Trevors. And the only thing that matters to me, is that one year ago today you ran your car off the road. You hit a pedestrian walking home from a party. You were under the influence.” Tears started dribbling down my cheeks, but not for sympathy for this deadbeat, but out of anger at what he’d done. “You drove away, you didn’t get out to make sure they were okay.” I wiped off my eyes, I wanted to see his face as I did this. “Well, fifteen minutes later, that pedestrian was dead. That pedestrian was Robyn Trevors, my sister.” The handle was cold in my hand and I trembled as I raised it. I pressed the barrel to his forehead.
His eyes were empty. There was no remorse, no regret. I wanted him to cry, to scream out for help, to make some attempt to apologize for killing her. But no. He was too far gone. I don’t think it was because of the drugs, I think he was a psychopath. He didn’t stop when he ran her down. I saw the footage taken of the accident, there was no hesitation. He ran over her and kept going like he’d just hit a squirrel.
In the light of the fireworks, I could see the discoloration on his arms was from needle marks. Heroine. I wondered if that’s what he was on the night he killed Robyn.
That was a person. A human life. And he didn’t even stop. He would do it again if he wasn’t stopped- if I didn’t stop him.
Another round of fireworks went off and I saw his face for the last time. He sat on his knees, staring at the person who was going to kill him, and he couldn’t even apologize. In the distance, I heard a countdown. Ten, nine, eight… He stared at me and he smiled. A sick, sick smile. “Five, four…”
He mocked me, “go ahead. You don’t have the-” One. The final round of explosions. But this time they weren’t all fireworks.