Flash Fiction: So much for being a Hero

This story inspired by the Tuesday Picture Prompt:  Tragedy on Flashy Fiction, September 11, 2012.

Burned House

Prompt:  For today’s prompt, think of a tragedy.  Write a flashy piece describing what you were doing there before tragedy struck, or how you came to be at the scene trying to save lives…or maybe you were the one who caused it, intentionally or not.

So much for being a Hero

Sitting in the back of the police cruiser, I stare at the commotion in front of the townhouse. I still can’t believe I ran in there. I never really thought myself the hero type, but I couldn’t ignore the screaming. Even now, it already haunts me.

Walking from my car, I heard the girl, Hayden, screaming, “Stop! Please! I won’t do it again! I promise!” followed closely by the Smack! It’s really amazing how clearly that sound carries.

As I got closer to my door, there were more smacks, less pleas. Her dad was really worked up tonight.

I’ve lived next to Hayden and her parents for a couple years and while this isn’t a regular occurrence, it does happen much too frequently. I’m not sure how old she is exactly, but I’d guess eleven or twelve. She’s a friendly kid, but she’s got a smart-mouth. Never to me, but the walls are little more than paper thin. Her old man, Martin, I think, has always liked to drink, but since he lost his job, he’s been hitting it a bit harder. Her mom works, but I’ve noticed that a few times after the knock-down drag-outs, she’s not left the house for a few days. I’m surprised they’re still together.

Anyway, as I approached my door, I could hear things getting rougher. I could hear sobbing and somebody being slammed against the wall. More pleading, but dad wasn’t having any of that tonight.

Something in me snapped.

Instead of putting my key into my lock, I ran the last three steps and put my shoulder into their door, busting it in. A “What the Hell was that?” preceded Martin coming half way out of what must have been Hayden’s room. He looked at me balefully and started forward.

Hayden peeked out, saw me, and cried, “No, daddy! Mr. Anders get out of here. He’ll hurt you.” Martin turned and shoved his daughter as hard as he could back into her room screaming, “Shut up and stay in there! This is all your fault! I’ll be back for you in a minute!”

I might have bolted then, but her broken face followed by her crashing into some piece of furniture in her room, bolstered me. In his rage, Martin stormed up and swung a mighty roundhouse punch at my head. I dodged the blow easily and shoved him hard, trying to pin over the couch where I could try to get a hold on him from behind.

Unfortunately, being drunk also caused him to be off balance and with my shove, he went right over the low-backed couch. There was a solid thunk as his forehead slammed into their coffee table and he remained sprawled half off the couch.

“Daddy!” Hayden screamed, rushing from her doorway to her motionless father. This was followed by “Oh, my God!” from behind me. I turned to see Hayden’s mom frozen in the entryway, looking from her husband to me, fear in her eyes.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt him, it was…” I began.

She didn’t appear to hear a thing I was saying. Her eyes flicked from Martin and Hayden to me, then to the phone on the counter. “I’m calling the police,” she said, as calmly as she could manage.

I turned back to Hayden and started to move around the couch, asking “Are you okay?”

She screamed, “Stay back! Don’t you come near me! You killed my daddy!”

Shocked that I was somehow the bad guy, I stared a moment longer at Hayden, trying to reposition her father on the couch, and listened to her mother begin to report the murder of her husband to the police. I walked out the door and sat on the stoop.

I’m not sure whether her old man is dead or not. I think I caught a glimpse of them wheeling him out on a stretcher and he wasn’t under a white sheet. I guess that means he’s still alive. I saw Hayden walk out and get in the back of the ambulance. That’s the important thing here. I think he might have really hurt her tonight. It sounded worse than ever.

That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

 

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2 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: So much for being a Hero

  1. mchristineweber September 18, 2012 / 10:08

    This was SO good. Intense, controlled, and emotional all rolled into one short story. Nice. 🙂

    • lorwynd September 18, 2012 / 21:59

      Thanks. I wasn’t really sure where this one was going once I “headed for the door.” That was all the plan I had. Events just unfolded on their own.

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