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A Vow to Honor

Karla Shaffer

The grandfather clock in the corner struck midnight. Raising the bottle to his lips, Antonio drank deeply, the amber liquid burning a path to his stomach. He removed a worn piece of paper from his breast pocket. Unfolding it, his dark eyes skimmed across the words he had long ago memorized:

Juan Rimirez, age 18, was killed on May 5 during the Cinco de Mayo festivities. Rimirez was shot three times in the back upon approaching his home, the Casa Del Rio apartment building. No suspects were apprehended. Services will be held....

           Folding the newspaper article, Antonio tucked it back into his pocket where it had been since it had first appeared in the paper, one year ago today. Hearing his mother's broken sobs drifting from her bedroom down the hall, he knew it was time to fulfill his promise. As he paced the floor, the imagery of that fateful night replayed in his mind.

Shots rang out over the sound of music and laughter. The screams of a few brought many more running. Antonio pushed through the gathering crowd, to an expanding pool of crimson. As he crouched in the dirt beside his dying brother, their apartment door burst open. The woman paled as she recognized her son. Falling to her knees, screams erupted from the depths of her soul. She cradled his head in her lap, his blood soaking her dress. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she wailed his name again and again. She looked up at Antonio, her eyes pleading, but, Juan had already taken his last breath.

           "Antonio, please help him," his mother choked out between sobs.

           "Mama, he's gone," Antonio whispered as a single tear rolled down his cheek. "Come inside. I'll take care of him."

           As he led her into the building she struggled away from him to face the crowd and screamed, "whoever among you did this, you will pay! Antonio will avenge his brothers death! Tell them, Antonio! Tell them!"

           Steering his mother toward the door he reassured her, "Yes Mama, you know I will kill my brothers killer."

Yes, the time had come to fulfill his promise. Exchanging the empty bottle in his hand for the gun in the desk drawer, he strode out into the deserted street. He paused, all too aware that he stood on the very ground that had so willingly received his brother's blood.

           The night was crisp and clear, the moonlight bathed the earth with its glow. The cool night air caressed his face as he softly spoke, "I've come to avenge you, my brother."

           He raised the gun to his head.

About the Author (click here) © 1999 Karla Shaffer, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

Author Notes

           I wrote this short story for my creative writing class this year, although I usually write on my own for fun. I love to listen to all kinds of music and I got the idea for this story from a song I like by the band, Ween.

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