This came to my mind while staring at a night sky...thought I'd expand upon the idea. It's a short story called "Renewal".
The night was dark. It was cold and as bleak as a pig’s prospect of flying.
He took his chances. Tossing a coin, without wishing upon the outcome, he surveyed his options, which were not many, and all without redemption from the present circumstances he faced.
“Why, Sammy boy, how many times have I told you that you don’t have to figure out your life? Discover it, son, discover it!” He heard his father say. Then he mumbled “Yeah, dad, just like how you ‘discovered’ that mobster. And how you ‘discovered’ he had a loaded gun. You didn’t discover your life, dad, but you sure found its end.” And then his father’s voice faded away.
“The day you died, father, I died.” And he tossed the coin away.
Never a truer sentence had been spoken. For Sam Fletcher had done way beyond what he was required to do to see his father’s murderer avenged. Court cases, private detectives, public campaigns against gang violence, rundowns with some of the underworld’s biggest mobsters, bribes to some of the politicians to find the killer and what not, only took advantage of his anger, and rendered him bankrupt within the span of 6 months. And yet, he seemed so near, but he knew he was so far from the killer.
“Tony Guiseppe, you will pay. This comes to an end only when your life comes to an end.”
“Only sheer insanity is driving you toward this madness!” said his wife. Being a teacher of English, she certainly had a way with words. Each word made sense, painful sense. “We have children, and the neighbours are needlessly gossiping unwanted things. Give this up, will you? At least for your own good…” And tears. But no, he was too cold to be moved anymore by tears. At least, that’s what he thought.
Back then, when she said those words, he slapped her, and stormed off. Now, each word slapped him in the face, and tears welled up in his eyes. He was more confused than even the time when he received news of his father’s untimely demise.
He decided to walk into a pub to drown himself in alcohol, numb his mind from the pain. He was raised to be a clean person, just like his father. But when the role model died, the protégé pretended as though the role model never existed and turned to self-destructive habits.
There was a dark alley just two blocks before the pub. He just passed by it as though it never existed, and then…
Gunshots! Jittered out of his gloomy aura, Sam hid in the corner just before the alleyway. He heard footsteps moving quickly in his direction. He peeked inside the alley to see a dark figure panting as it moved closer to the exit.
A loud bang was heard. The gunshot had made its mark! The person who had been running out now slumped to the ground with a moan, and for sheer fear of his life, he crawled with all his might toward the now faraway exit from the alleyway. Sam got up and ran towards him without hesitation, and hoisted him upon his shoulders. He stopped running only when he entered the pub.
“This man needs medical attention!”
A table was cleared, and a waitress ran to a payphone to call the ambulance. The man’s leg had been bleeding profusely. A bartender tended to the wound. The ambulance came, and praised the bartender for administering the required first aid.
Sam jumped into the ambulance along with him for reasons best known to no one, not even him.
“Hey man, you’re gonna be okay.”
“Thank you sir, thank you! Those guys were chasing me because I didn’t pay them any protection money for my store. They ransacked it, and then came after me. My son died by their hand…” His panic-stricken voice now became sordid and remorseful at the mention of his son.
“I’m sorry to hear that, sir. These gangs need to be severely dealt with.” Sam began to prepare himself to launch into a story of gang violence and gangs not coming to justice.
“But you can’t blame them…they too are dead men, on the inside.”
“Wait, what? But sir, that doesn’t mean they can have a free rein to do whatever violence they wish to do!”
“Of course it doesn’t. But they think that this can somehow help them. That they can be free from their sad situations by ganging up on other people and intimidating them. I too was a gang member, and I admit that I too have killed.” Tears began to well up in his eyes. “This didn’t set me free! It only trapped me in something even worse! Do you think that guilt will get killers like me or them to stay in peace? Not at all sir, not at all.”
“I see, sir. I too am a dead man. No more to my family…no more to even my father! He wouldn’t have wanted me to end up like this…” came his choked reply.
“I haven’t entered jail for that crime. They should have had my mugshots by now. Prisoner #9087, Tony Guiseppe! But it’s by grace that I’m still not caught. Maybe I didn’t need jail to be broken on the inside…”
But at the mention of “Tony Guiseppe”, Sam’s head reeled with six months of pent up anger. Here they were, the killer and the victim’s son, in the back of an ambulance. When he felt far from achieving the impossible task of finding Guiseppe, fate decided to put him at close proximity to the killer, without giving him time to think of what to do or say.But then…
In his mind’s eye, he saw his father, who had been unruffled by any situation in his life. Even when his best friend cheated him of the family’s business, his father only wished him well, and started working on re-earning those bamboozled riches that the business could have provided. His father forgave his friend, and worked hard on his fledgling of a new business, and retired a rich and peaceful man.
In his mind’s eye, he saw his wife. She knew everything he faced and felt. Heck, she might have even had a word for everything. She never meant any harm. She knew he was going to crash into a wall of unforgiveness that his father didn’t even have to see. Hence, she could only use the words that she could muster just to make his see the error of his ways.
In his mind’s eye, he saw Jesus the wounded saviour on the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
In his mind’s eye, he saw Jesus the bright light in front of Saul. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He then saw that Saul, who had been against Jesus, had been forgiven already. And Saul ended up as the man who took the name of Jesus to the nations.
In his real eyes, he saw Tony lying on a bed, with a broken leg, and a broken heart. “He did not know what he had been doing when he pulled that trigger. Now he knows. But does he deserve to suffer even more? Just so I could have my revenge?”
“Sir? Sir, are you OK?” Tony was concerned for Sam’s disconnect from the outside world.
“I wasn’t, Tony. But now, I am. And I want you to be OK too.”
“I forgive you for murdering my father, Tony. I forgive you.”