There Is No Wrong

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Write about a character with an unassailable moral compass.... view prompt

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American Crime Drama

On a lonely stretch of highway in the remote desert of northcentral Nevada, a billowing lightning storm was approaching a backpacker walking alongside the road. A black dust-covered 1967 Chevy Impala roared toward the hiker as the winds started to pick up and the ominous storm neared. Red brake lights glared through the blowing dust and increasing darkness as the Impala slowed down and stopped next to the hiker. The man walking along the road was carrying a large backpack, dangling with a blanket, tin cup, and other artifacts that come in handy when living on the move.

“Hey, man! You’re a long way out here for a lightning storm coming down on your ass. Not a very safe thing out in these parts. Why don’t you hop in, and I can give you a ride,” the driver of the car belched out the passenger side of the vehicle over the rumble of the Impala’s engine.

The hiker, a mid-aged man of around 40, with dark hair, medium build, about 6ft. tall, looked into the car at the driver. The driver, maybe in his mid 30‘s, lean, solid-built body, thick biceps and forearms, and dusty blond hair with a thin beard, gave a mesmerizing look.

“I appreciate it! Can I just throw my pack in your backseat?”

“Yeah, man, go ahead and jump in here. That storm is going to be on us any moment!”

The hiker opened the rear door taking off his pack, and started to toss it in the backseat, noticing some blankets covering a figure splayed out on the backseat. He couldn’t see the face, just blond hair streaming from out of the opposite end of the blanket.

“Never mind her; she’ll probably be passed out for some time. Just toss it in the floorboard.”

The hiker tossed his pack onto the floorboard near some wadded-up clothing and a pair of womens’ stilettos. He closed the rear door noticing the blanket stir from the figure beneath, readjusting herself. He opened the front passenger door and climbed inside as dust grains pelted the car from the increasing wind.

“Thank you for your hospitality. Hope I’m not intruding on a honey trip or anything? My name is Shawn. Shawn Grady.”

Seth looked over at Shawn. His eyes scanned him up and down, quantifying him. He was of medium build, slightly chubby but not obese, clean cut with short dark brown to black hair cut short and neat. His face looked aged from perhaps too many years of living a party lifestyle, too many miles, or just tired. Seth nodded, then looked back out the windshield toward the road. His hand rested upon the shifter, hesitating, then put the car into park. He gave a sigh of impatience as he watched the dust blowing with increased intensity outside and visibility dropped to just past the hood of the car during peak gusts.

“You got in just in time Shawn, look at her blow!” a crack of lightning flashed off nearby. “I think we outta sit here for a few minutes and enjoy the show. This’ll blow through in a few. In the meantime….” Seth reached back behind his seat and pulled back up a 1/5th of Jim Beam that was about half full. He thrust the bottle toward Shawn in offer.

“No, no thanks, Seth. I gave it up. A long story.”

Seth pulled the bottle back to himself, unscrewed the top and took a swallow, wiped his mouth with his empty hand, and stuck the bottle down between his legs.

“We gotta few minutes, why don’t you tell me your story. We got a ways to go before the next small gas station out here in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know how far you’re going, but your welcome for the ride.”

“My travels are a part of my story, really, so I’m going where ever I’m called, so to speak. See, I gave up booze 2 years ago. My brother committed suicide because of drinking, and I was well on my way to the same fate. Then I had what you might call a spiritual experience. I don’t call myself a religious follower of any sort. Still, I found the belief in a power greater than myself, call it God, Buddha, Allah, or whatever; I’ve read about all of them. But at any rate, this experience stopped me from drinking and starting on the path that I am now on,” Shawn explained.

“And what is that path?” Seth asked as he lifted the bottle back to his lips, taking another swallow of whiskey.

“I started around six months ago. I sold my house, my car, most of my possessions and bought that nice top-of-the-line backpack, best-hiking boots, as reviewed by the popular hiking magazines, along with some clothing and gear to make myself comfortable. And I began walking America. I started on the coast of Oregon and have made it this far, just meeting people and being of service where I can. I try to spread a message of encouragement and peace to everyone I meet. Not as some religious disciple, but one of a spiritual sense, if you get my drift?”

“Well, I guess you and I are kind of similar there, Shawn. See, I had what you may call an epiphany after growing up in a functioning dysfunction of a family where ma was strung out and dad usually drunk and kicking me out of the house. I got my guidance on the streets. I maintained a somewhat level head working odd jobs and bouncing around here or there. Still, there was always that wasted authoritative figure ready to bust my balls. Then one day, it happened. This boss running a racket on goods at the docks had me in as a partner. He was always acting the elder even though he only had 5 years on me. He was connected, so he told me. Then one day, I learned how much he was screwing me over. We got into an argument, which led to a physical struggle, leaving him dead on the ground and me on the run. Though I did manage to take away a good stash from that place after that encounter. So, I propose you have a drink with me! A toast to our two roads meeting, come on, what do you say?” Seth held the bottle back over to Shawn.

“I must say that your story is one of hardship, and it is because of people like you I have been sent on this mission. I can help you to get over that anger and live a life free from those chains. First, it means putting down that bottle and getting a sober state of mind,” Shawn replied, pushing the bottle back toward Seth.

“People like me, huh? A life of freedom? Fuck, I’ll show you freedom,” Seth reached down with his left hand between the seat and his door. He pulled up a .45 1911 pistol and pointed the large barrel directly at Shawn’s face while extending the bottle again.

“Now, why don’t you go ahead and have that drink with me.”

Shawn sat for a second. He became a bit unnerved, and sweat broke out along his brow and hairline. He answered with a slight tremble in his voice at first but gained strength as he spoke in a deep breath.

“No…no. Seth, I will not have that drink, and that may sound foolish while a large barreled .45 is pointing at my snout, but I will stay with my convictions no matter the outcome.”

“Well, ain’t you something! A real apostle,” Seth turned his head away toward the driver’s window and lowered the pistol; then, with lightning speed, he pulled the gun back up and struck Shawn in the side of the temple with the but of the pistol grip. The blow knocked Shawn out in an instant, and he slumped over against the passenger door.

The next thing Shawn recalled was opening his eyes to a piercing headache and pain at his left temple that had swollen to golfball size. The next thing he felt was arousal from his loins and his blood rushing as he was nearing orgasmic climax. Opening his eyes wider, he saw a blond head of hair raising and lowering over his groin. His shirt was pulled up, and his pants were pulled down. He grabbed the blond’s head and forced her from his erect cock. She sat up, looking half out of her mind with lipstick smeared across her face. She was a pretty girl but made up like a street whore. All she had on were panties, and her plump breasts jiggled as she wiped at her mouth with her hand.

“No, no, sweetie. I don’t need that, nor do you,” Shawn said to her. Her gaze immediately turned to disappointment, then she scrambled over the front seatback to land on the passenger side facing Seth.

“What’s the matter, you a fag or something,” the blonde exclaimed as she reached back, grabbing her shirt and shoes.

The car came to a screeching halt as Seth slammed the brake on. Shawn was flung into the rear floorboard, still in the process of pulling his pants back up while the blond flew forward, sending her shirt and shoes flying up onto the dash as she slammed against the glove box.

“Jesus man, you trying to kill us!” the blond barked at Seth; while she gripped her side, she struck against the dash. Seth immediately pulled up the gun and pointed it at her face.

“Get the fuck out of the car, you whore! Calling my new friend here a fag! You got some nerve. Now get the fuck out.” Seth yelled at her as he tightened his grip on the pistol. The girl was terrified and immediately opened the door and jumped out in just her panties slamming the car door back shut. Seth shifted the car into drive and smoked the tires as he took off.

“Christ, Seth, you can’t leave her out here like that!”

“You’re right holy man,” Seth reached up and grabbed a shoe and the shirt, and threw them out of the passenger window without even slowing down.

“Happy now! Your spiritual quest is working! Hahahaha,” Seth began laughing like a madman, both hands back on the wheel with the pistol in grip.

“I can’t allow you to do this to that woman Seth. No matter how deplorable she may be, she’s still a human being. And leaving her way out here in the desert going on dark just ain’t right,” Shawn complained, now sitting up in the seat directly behind Seth. “You must go back and get her, or I will jump out of this car myself!”

Seth hit the brakes again. He spun around, pointing the pistol once again into Shawns face.

“You’re not going to shoot me, Seth. I can feel your energy.”

“No, maybe not, but if you jump out of this car and go back for that bitch, I will turn this car around and run her ass over in front of you. Care to try me?”

Shawn stared into his eyes and got the feeling that Seth wasn’t lying. He didn’t believe Seth would shoot him, but he didn’t doubt what the villain said.

“Now climb your ass up here, and let’s continue on our spiritual path like grown men!”

Shawn obliged. He finished fixing his pants and shirt then climbed over the seat to the passenger side as Seth held the gun on him. As he settled into the front, Shawn grabbed the other stiletto shoe and tossed it out the passenger window. Seth, giving a half-cocked smile, put the car back into the drive, and they sped down the road as the desert night began to swallow them.

30 Minutes Later

“Do you believe in God, Shawn?”

“Well, I don’t really know. I considered myself an atheist, but like I said, I had this spiritual awakening, I guess you would call it. I don’t know if I call that God, for me, I call it a higher power, and that is the universe.”

“I asked you if you believed in God, numbnuts. It’s a pretty straightforward yes or no inquiry.”

“If you want to call the universe God, then sure, I guess. See, the thing is the whole universe is connected and all life….”

“The whole universe, blah, blah, blah! You believe in God, motherfucker. Just say it!” Seth took another swallow of the whiskey, getting more aggressive-looking by the second. Shawn stared at him as sweat began to drip down the side of Seth’s sideburns and forehead. The radio played in the background a haunting but fitting melody.

Well, you’ve got your diamonds, and you’ve got your pretty clothes

And the chauffeur drives your car

You let everybody know

But don’t play with me, ‘cause you’re playing with fire

“You see that light up there in the distance, Shawn? That’s where God is. Let’s go ask him if there is such thing as wrong.”

Shawn could see the lights of a lone gas station up in the distance, and he could tell the demeanor of Seth had taken a turn for the dark. His hair on his arms and neck began to prick up as he watched Seth take the last swallow of whiskey and throw the bottle out of the window just before they pulled off into the gas station parking lot.

“Open the glove box, Shawn.”

Shawn opened the glove box and saw a revolver. He then saw the large .45 pistol appear up beside his temple.

“Take the gun, Shawn, and I ain’t fuckin foolin around this time,” Seth said in a dark evil tone. He took the gun. “Now, you only have two choices. Be a spiritualist (Seth said mockingly) and see if you stop me without doing bad, or stop me by being an evil motherfucker.”

“What if I refuse and just stay here in the car?”

“Then whoever is in there is going to get their head blown off, followed by you! Let’s go!”

Seth got out of the car and started toward the store. Shawn sat for a second and watched as Seth headed toward the gas station’s door with the gun behind his back. Shawn swallowed the sickness he was feeling and opened the door of the car. Once out, he stuck the revolver into his pants and pulled his shirt over the gun.

By the time Shwan got to the station’s door, he could see that Seth had a gun pointed at the store attendant, an Indian man with a large beard and turban on his head. The Indian’s hands were in the air, and he was muttering in tears for Seth to put the gun down.

“Do you believe in God?” Seth shouted at the man who clasped his hands together as in a prayer shaking them.

“Yes, yes, sir. I do believe in God, yes, oh, yes, please!”

“Is there such thing as wrong, God? Is there?” Seth yelled, looking up into the air. “What are you going to do, Shawn? What are you? Can you be bad?”

Shawn began to reach for the gun under his shirt. Just as he was getting a grip on the handle, the door to the gas station opened, and a chime went off, notifying that someone had come in. Shawn looked toward the door and could see Seth turning his whole body toward the door as well as a shot rang out. Seth’s body jerked backward, and he was knocked off his feet by the bullet’s impact sending him to the ground on his back.

An older gentleman wearing a large cowboy hat stood just in the door’s entrance in a squatting stance holding a large smoking revolver in both of his hands. Shawn looked at Seth, sprawled out on the floor, who had a large bullet wound in his chest and was coughing blood. Shawn kneeled down beside him and looked into his face, feeling pity for him. Seth looked back into Shawn’s eyes as he coughed and choked on blood, and Seth began to speak while spitting blood.

“Shawn, you and I are the same thing. We are both on a spiritual journey, only we were on different paths.”

Seth raised his pistol and fired.

July 16, 2021 17:16

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