One Picture, One Story
Eric threw his empty bottle at the concrete wall, smashing it into tiny shards of glass. It felt good to destroy it and in his constant drunken stupor it seemed to be the logical thing to do. He strung together a great tapestry of curses as he stumbled to his chair, vomiting as he tried to sit down. The act of evacuating his bowls threw off his balance just enough to cause him to miss the chair entirely and tumble face first into the fresh pool of bile on the floor. Undeterred, pulled himself into the old, vinyl rocker whose age was quite obvious by the holes and tears that covered it. Eric whipped the vomit from his face with his shirt and sat back, letting out a deep sigh as he did so. He mumbled to himself as he fished around for the TV remote, finally retrieving it from the vomit he had just lay in. He slowly drifted off into an alcohol fueled sleep as the late-night infomercials flashed on the screen.
When he awoke it was obviously late in the day already, the vomit had completely hardened on the old, worn carpet and an afternoon soap opera was well into its improbably story line. Eric stood sheepishly and stretched, raising his arms in the air as high as he could. He looked down at his vomit stained shirt, shook his head and made his way to the toilet. There was little more than a sheet separating the bathroom from the rest of the space that he called home. He took off his shirt and mulled over the reflection he cast in the mirror. There was no shower, so he washed himself as best he could with the tiny, old sink and a worn out cloth. He smirked at himself before drying himself off with an old, torn up sweater that happened to be laying on the floor. He pulled up his old jeans that at present were showing off his skinny, malnourished ass. He tightened the shoe lace that he used as a belt and walked to a small dresser to pull out a t-shirt that didn’t have puke all over it. He returned to the mirror and combed in stringy, dark hair into a more presentable style than it was. He sighed before returning to his chair, noticing the hardened vomit as he approached. He grabbed a cleaning brush and worked at cleaning it out of the carpet. It didn’t take too long as the old carpet was so worn that it was as hard and smooth as concrete.
Eric had lost his 3rd job in two months the night before and had drowned his anger in booze as was his usual answer to any sort of emotional state. He realized that his drinking was what kept getting him fired, but he would rather blame his “terrible” bosses or co-workers for his obvious problems. It had been years since he spoke to his family and had managed to talk himself into the small suite in the old workshop on his parents’ property. It lay far enough from the main house that he didn’t ever see his mother and father and they didn’t charge him a cent in rent. He could see his brother and his family drive by every so often as they went to visit his parents with their beautiful son, Tristan. He had met him once while out in the field one day. Young Tristan came bounding up one day and said “hello”, taking him by surprise, but putting a giant smile on his withered face. The smile was erased when he heard his brother yelling at his son to get away from “the strange man”. It broke his already broken heart to be treated like a stranger by his own brother, though he knew it was by his own actions that it had come to this.
He walked out into the afternoon warmth and stood silently in the field, surveying the swaying grass as the midday breeze caressed it. He felt something tug at his shirt, so he turned to see Tristan standing and staring up at him with a terrified look on his face. Eric jumped at the sight and immediately dropped down to Tristan’s height and asked him what was wrong. He said nothing, only pointed towards the house. He kept tugging at his shirt as if to tell him to hurry, so Eric stood, picked Tristan up in his arms and raced to the house. He noticed tears forming in the young boys eyes as they approached the house. Eric noticed a black car parked in the driveway. He had never seen it before and he immediately felt as though there was something not right. There was a neighbouring house about 1/4 of a mile away that Eric knew would be a safe place, so he took Tristan by the shoulders and said, “Tristan, I know you are scared, but you need to listen to me and do exactly as I say.” The boy nodded in response. “I need you to run as fast as you can to that house over there. You should be safe there.” Eric wrote a note telling the recipient to keep Tristan safe and to call the police to the house. He gave him the note, “Give this to the people there, they will know what to do.” The terrified little boy took a deep breath, turned and began to run full speed towards the small house. Eric watched for a few moments as the little boy made his way to the neighbours. He took a deep breath and turned his attention to what could lay inside. The back door was open slightly and the jam looked to be damaged as if the door had been forced open. He opened the door slowly, trying to be as quiet as he could. He made it inside without bringing any attention to himself. He checked the hall mirror and saw in its reflection a man, about 6 feet tall, holding a gun while another was tying Eric’s brother, Gerry, to one of the dining room chairs. His mother was with another man, filling a bag with jewellery and other valuables. He swore under his breath as he tried to come up with a plan. From his vantage point it seemed that only one of the guys had a gun and the others were unarmed. He was about to make a move when the armed man fired a shot into Gerry’s knee cap causing him to cry out in pain. He heard what sounded like Gerry’s wife scream as well. Eric had enough, he had nothing to lose as he had no friends in the world so he decided on a go-for-broke, reckless approach and dove through the doorway, tackling the armed man and knocking the gun from his hand. Eric scrambled to his feet, trying to get to the gun first, but one of the other intruders got to it first and held it to his head, between his eyes. Eric’s eyes crossed as he looked at the barrel, but he pushed forward, causing the gun to discharge into the air. He managed to knock the gun from his hand, but the third man grabbed it and fired, hitting Eric in the shoulder. Eric fell to the ground, grimacing in pain. The intruder looked down at him with a smile and immediately turned the gun on Gerry. “Your heroism is going to get someone killed, stranger.”
Eric glared at him as blood poured from his wound. The intruder winked at him as he moved towards Gerry and raised the gun to his head. Eric jumped into action and got between the gun and his brother just as the trigger was pulled. Eric fell to the ground and the room seemed to be far away as he writhed in pain. He heard the front door getting kicked in, followed by yelling and police swarmed the room. He heard muffled voices telling him to stay awake. He felt cold and tired and didn’t feel much like staying awake before he heard the young boy’s voice in his ear, “Uncle Eric, please wake up!”
Eric turned to look and saw Tristan’s tear filled eyes as he begged him to live. He saw Gerry getting attended too in the corner as he was wheeled away. The last thing he heard was a small voice say, “I love you Uncle Eric. Please don’t leave.”