(Author Note: This one looks like it was a entry for a story contest in 2010, although I have no idea who held the contest. I think it might have been Harry Widdifield, who, at the time, went by the name Sev Winters. I think the contest was just hosted on Facebook. I believe the opening, except for the last line of the first paragraph, was a writing prompt.)
Vinnie Tuscavedo was the sort of guy that would hand a girl a five dollar bill with which to buy him a pack of smokes, and tell her to use the change to pick up something ‘nice’ for herself. Then, if she came home without a new dress, he’d smack her around for disrespecting his generosity. However, this knowledge could only go so far to relieving my guilt for killing him.
It wasn’t as though Vinnie Tuscavedo was a wonderful man, from what I have gathered during trial. More than one witness has been on the verge of using words such as prick or bastard (or worse, depending on how colourful you want your profanities to be during legal proceedings) before remembering that they were under oath and didn’t want to get a gavel banged in their directions for unbecoming language. One girl actually used those words, and more, before the judge advised her to only speak as much ill of the deceased as was needed to make her point, and nothing more than relevant. I remember that she blushed slightly before admitting, “He wasn’t a very nice man.”
“It wasn’t hard to find a list of girls who wouldn’t mind telling this court about the demerits of Mr. Tuscavedo,” my lawyer once informed me during a recess.
“I’ll bet his mother has different opinions on Vinnie,” I replied, hardly comforted by the people my victim had harmed.
Sometimes, when I am particularly depressed about the situation, I pretend that I killed him to protect the latest woman he had curled around his arm – or had struck with his curled fist. It filled a small void to know that I had made a positive change in one, if not many, subsequent women’s lives. I was ultimately the reason he stopped hurting her, and the reason he wouldn’t be hurting any more woman. This fantasy only lasted until one of any small pings of reality brought my life back into focus. I wasn’t a champion of truth or peace or an implement specifically wired to create freedom from scumbags who had nothing better to do than beat up on their girlfriends. If I had met Vinnie face-to-face, I probably would have averted my eyes and kept on going down the sidewalk, pulling my jacket tighter around me to relieve the ice of his stare.
“Mr. Roberts?” I barely heard the voice, as though it were faint due to distance or obstacles. Something in the tone tipped me off that my name had been said more than once.
“Sorry, yes?” I replied, straightening in my chair. A bulky, uniform-clad man looked at me from nearly at eye level, even though I was sitting.
“They are ready for you.”
I wasn’t ready for them.
No, I had killed him, alright, but it wasn’t to protect anyone. It wasn’t even to protect myself. I had never heard of Vinnie Tuscavedo when the front of my Dodge Shadow struck him and caused his body to bounce down Main Street.
I had been having a pretty decent day up until that moment. It wasn’t anything special to write home about, but nothing had gone particularly wrong either. I had had enough milk in the fridge for both coffee and cereal for breakfast, instead of having to decide between the two. My bone-straight jade hair combed neatly on one side, but less so on the other. Noticing the weather looked a little on the down side, I even remembered to bring my umbrella, which usually got left somewhere in the back of my closet. I had a couple minutes to spare when I left the house that I planned on using to catch up on a few tasks once I got to work. It didn’t start raining until after I had gotten in my car and half way down my street.
My breaks had started acting more touchy than usual a couple weeks before I became a killer. I had meant to book the Shadow an appointment after pay day, but kept pushing that task to the end of my mental To Do list. Spending more money on my car was the last thing I wanted to do after replacing all the ball joints and tires a few months previously. I thought buying an old junk car for cheap was much more price efficient than getting something new, but the Shadow seemed to be trying to prove me wrong.
“I think it is adorable that you have tried to save on travel expenses,” one woman once told me on a date. “I just think you would probably save more if you took a taxi to work rather than run this contraption for the amount of gas it leaks.”
We didn’t date very long. If there are three things that a man can’t stand to see criticized about himself, at least one of them has to be his car, no matter how bad it may seem. The other entries are intelligence and package – most likely not in that order.
The police pieced together than Vinnie must have been walking home after a full night of boozing when the auto pilot for his feet kicked into gear. He sharply turned and crossed the street without so much of a glance to oncoming traffic – another physical manifestation of his cocky attitude, of which I have heard over and over in witness statements. Sometimes I tell myself that even if the breaks weren’t on the brink of going out, I still wouldn’t have been able to stop in time to avoid the man. Clearly the angel assigned to watch over this drunk had clocked out a little early.
“As Mrs. Laird testified, Your Honour, the defendant jumped out of his car and immediately came to the aid of the fallen Mr. Tuscavedo.” My lawyer used that as part of his closing argument. I liked the way he worded it so it made it seem as though I had nothing to do with making Vinnie Tuscavedo fall in the first place.
Despite my efforts to keep him alive while the sirens screamed from blocks away, all I got was a whole lot of blood that didn’t belong to me and the honour of being the last person to look Vinnie Tuscavedo in the eye before his eyes glazed over. I could describe to you the exact shade of his eyes, like I once did for the court during my defense examination, but that only makes sleeping at night even more difficult.
I would have preferred leaving my umbrella in the back of the closet, like usual, over what happened that morning. I would have preferred my car not starting at all – finally throwing in the towel completely and making me late for work. I would have preferred many things to prevent me from standing in front of a court of my peers and hearing the verdict regarding my status as a killer.