The sky was dark and the rain started to pound the streets. The walk to the bus station was too far when it was raining. Driving was another option, but it was something that I usually didn’t do. However, the thought of being alone in the car and not on a bus full of people, was appealing. More than anything was the fact that I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain and wait. So, it was settled that I would drive to work.

It had been at least two weeks since the engine had been started, but sitting in the car and waiting for the fuel and the oil to flow through was somewhat relaxing. Once I flipped through the dials on the radio and found a good song, it was easy to sink into driving bliss. The garage door opened and I could almost taste the freedom of the open road. One thing was for certain, I was never going to wait this long to drive again.

My foot eased the pedals and all was clear as I backed the car out of its prison. Even the rain couldn’t stop me from doing what felt right, and that was driving this beautiful car.

“Oh my God!”

An ear piercing scream echoed in the car. It was my neighbor, Michelle. She was wearing a robe and holding a huge umbrella.

“John, stop!” she screamed as she ran to my car. “Don’t you feel that?”

I was slightly confused. It was hard to understand what she was saying because my windows were rolled up, the radio was on, and it was raining.

“John, please stop driving. You are running over Shelly!”

Her frantic arm waving and high pitched voice caused my feet to slam the brakes.

She ran to the back of the car. Since the rain was still falling, I franticly looked for an umbrella. In my rush to drive the open highway, I left it by the front door. Realizing that she wasn’t going to come back to save me from the downpour, I stepped out of the car.

“What’s wrong Michelle?” “What did I do?” By now I was drinking my words. The rain had completely soaked my body. Michelle looked up at me as I reached the back of the car. Blood was being washed down the street by the rain. My heart sank.

It was Shelly, another neighbor’s dog. She lived with a nice family, who rescued Shelly from the humane society years ago. Shelly was always letting herself in and out of the house through her dog door. When I looked back at the fence, it was open.

“Is she alive?” I asked.

Michelle looked at me with disgust on her face. “Shelly is dead.”

“Michelle, I had no idea that Shelly was back there!”
She still didn’t stop looking at me. The rain had washed the blood from her hands. The umbrella that was keeping her dry, previously, was now making crescent moon shapes in my driveway. I was almost tempted to pick it up and use it for myself. However, this wasn’t about me. Poor Shelly was under my tire and it was my fault.

“What are you going to do John?” “The Bakers aren’t home right now, but when they find out about this, they’ll be devastated.”

“I know Michelle.” I certainly didn’t need a lecture in the pouring rain, from a lady who sits at home all day, watching pointless tv.
It was time to end this. The clock was ticking by and the situation was drawing more attention.

“I’ll put Shelly in my garage and leave the Bakers’ a note.”
Her eyes looked down at the mangled mess and back towards me. The disgust on her face was still there, but it was clear she didn’t want to be involved. Plus, I’m sure she was missing some soap opera.

“That’s fine John. I don’t want to stand out here anyways, I have things to do.”

With that, she grabbed her umbrella and stood under her front porch for shelter.

Looking at what I had done was not settling. The more I stared at poor Shelly, the more I wished I would have taken the bus. It was too late now. The bus was long gone, as I too should have been. I returned to my car and drove forward. The scrapping of Shelly’s bones echoed inside the car. The sounds sent chills throughout my body.

Knowing that I didn’t have much time to get to work, I grabbed a lawn bag from the garage. What was meant to hold leaves and fallen limbs was now going to hold a dead dog. A dog that I had carelessly ran over. I moved Shelly off the concrete with a shovel and placed her in the bag.

The neighborhood was watching me. Curtains would fall back into place every time I scanned the houses.

Shelly was a rather large dog. Trying to pick her up, while it was raining, was difficult. I felt bad, but dragging her into the garage was my only option. What was even more stressful, was knowing that I had to be at work soon.

Writing about how I ran over a dog was nerve racking. There wasn’t an easy way to put it. I worked in accounting, not the sympathetic note-writing department. However, it had to be done.

Dear Baxter’s,

It is with deep regret and ultimate sorrow, that I must give you this awful news. I, John Maxwell, your neighbor, accidentally ran over your dog. It happened this morning. Shelly is in my garage and I will be home around six. Again, I am VERY sorry.



Honestly, I’m not sure I could have said it any better, given the circumstances. My clothes were soaked and the clock was constantly reminding me of how late I was. Braving the rain, again, I ran next door and shoved the letter inside the mail slot. With the same amount of energy, I changed clothes and continued to work.

Knowing that I was going to be late, calling was high on the priority list. Since driving wasn’t something that I did on a regular basis, talking on the phone while operating a vehicle, wasn’t my best quality. In that short time, my car(I), hit another vehicle.

It took a while before I actually realized what happened. Shaking off what was becoming a very bad day, I heard a disturbingly booming voice. Smoke from the broken car and sheets of rain made it difficult to see where the voice was coming from.

“Hey jackass, get out of your car!” The voice bellowed from an incredibly huge man. He started to pound on my window.

“Look what you did to my truck!”

His constant yelling did not make me want to get out of the car any faster. That’s when I found myself locking the doors. His fist found his way to my windshield and he started beating on the glass like an angry gorilla.

His body was massive. He was covered in tattoos and of course, didn’t mind showing them off by wearing a shirt with ripped sleeves. The rain covered his skin and you could see the veins in his body pulsing.

There was nothing that could make me get out of this car. I started to pick up my phone and call the police. The large man then looked at me as if I had committed a crime. His eyes stared deeply into mine and the look had actually distracted me from pushing the rest of the numbers. He then took his fist and slammed them into my windshield. The force sent tiny cracks across the glass. In my sudden reaction, my body left the seat, and the phone fell to the floor. My eyes were still locked on his face. The man looked at me for a few seconds longer and started walking towards his truck. Not knowing what he was about to do, I found myself frozen.

‘John!’ ‘You have to snap out of it and call the police!’ The voice in my head was loud. Quickly coming out of my hypnotized state, I searched for my phone. A car door slammed in the distance and I feared he had come back to kill me. My body’s temperature flashed in waves of heat. My palms were clammy and it was becoming difficult to grab the phone.

I started shaking and was sure he was standing at the window with a gun or some other weapon. Slowly turning my head to face certain death, I heard the squealing of rubber. Quickly looking up, the man was speeding off.

Why would someone drive away like that? What would cause you to act like a psycho and then just leave? Maybe he didn’t want any confrontation from the cops.

One thing was for sure, at least I wasn’t going to be in too much trouble. That crazy gorilla left the scene of an accident and it wasn’t even his fault. Listening to the rain tap my car, I couldn’t help but think of how I should have taken the bus.

After waiting in what was becoming a cold car, the police, insurance company, and the tow truck driver made their rounds. The whole time I was focused on the man who left the scene. His stature, the crazy looks, and the way he left. It didn’t seem right and the whole situation made me feel uneasy. The town wasn’t that big and if he wanted to find me, it wouldn’t be that hard. That made me feel extremely paranoid. I felt myself looking over my shoulders and constantly scanning my surroundings.

It was then, while waiting for an estimate from the local garage, I saw him. Again, I found myself frozen; looking at what I believed to be a psycho.

“Sir, your paper work is ready.” It was the young girl behind the counter.

The man was parked across the street, waiting in his truck. Did he really follow me over here? What was going on? Maybe it was just my imagination. I closed my eyes tightly and a vision of him flashed before me. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. Where did he go? Was he even there?

“Sir, your paper work is ready.” Her voice was a bit sterner this time and as I looked around me, people in the lobby were staring.

“Sorry, I just thought I saw someone.” Did I see someone? Looking over my shoulder again, he wasn’t there. This was something I had to snap out of. A headache started piercing behind my eyeballs.

“Sir, are you okay?” The look on her face was genuine, but you could tell she really wanted to get to the next customer. “Your car won’t be ready for a few days. The radiator is busted and we have to order the part.” “Do you have a rental car?”

I almost couldn’t answer her simple question. Driving was out of the question.

“My insurance isn’t that great and I’m not sure I want to drive anymore.”

Seeing that some people in line were getting a little impatient, I moved over to the side and signed all the appropriate pages. The irony of this whole situation was that I was going to have to take the bus home.

Finishing what needed to be done at the garage, I made my way outside where it was still raining. Finding the nearest bus stop, I took a seat at the bench. It was only thirty minutes until the next bus, but the wait felt like hours. What I really wanted to do was go home and get this entire day over with.

Maybe the scary guy just wanted to mess with me for hitting his truck. He obviously didn’t want to be involved with the police, and to pay me back for not paying attention, he planned to make me nervous by following me around. It was working. However strange the plan was, it was working.

The bus arrived and as I took my seat, I saw him. He was parked across the street and as soon as the bus pulled out, so did he. On the verge of panicking, I franticly searched for my cell phone. Searching every pocket I had over and over, it dawned on me that I left it in my car. Wanting desperately to call the police, I asked anyone that would listen if I could borrow their phones. It was useless. They turned their backs and acted as if I were a crazy person.

What was I going to do? Knowing that I couldn’t ride this bus forever even made me more nervous. Why was this happening to me? What was it that I did wrong? What made my heart race more was the fact that the bus didn’t have a back window. How was I to know if he was still following me? I didn’t, and that was scary. When the bus reached my stop, the only choice I had was to run home. It was a half mile to my house and the rain was still coming down. Not to mention, it was getting dark.

Jumping off the bus, I could feel everyone looking at me. It was the story of my life, today. Everything I have done has ended with stares and glares. The unfortunate part of this day, was that it was not over.

Getting myself together, I prepared to make a run for it. Certainly making the right decision this time because he was right behind me. Why doesn’t he just kill me now? It’s dark enough that no one would know what happened. Visions of what he was going to do to me clouded my brain.

That’s when I thought, what if he just wants to give me his insurance? Maybe I was giving myself a heart attack for nothing. That thought was quickly erased when I thought of all the times he could have given me the proper documents. He was slowly driving behind me, waiting for me to enter my house, so he could kill me, or something of that nature.

Finally reaching my doorstep, I fumbled for my keys while franticly looking behind me. He slowed his truck to gaze at me and drove off. What was he doing? Was this really happening to me?

Slamming the door open, I quickly shut and locked it. Falling to the floor, tears filled my eyes as I was certain that he would come back. I jumped off the floor and ran to the phone. My hands were soaking wet and dialing three numbers started to become very difficult.

Suddenly, loud knocks filled the house. I dropped the phone and it fell to pieces on the hard tile floor. It must be him. It had to be him. Who else would be knocking on my door like that?

Slowly, I walked towards the door trying not to make a sound. A hundred thoughts of how I was going to die filled my mind. What was really sad, is how none of the thoughts were how to survive.

Maybe death is what I secretly wanted.

The peephole didn’t make it easy to see who was at the door. To my relief, the frame was smaller than the crazy mans’.

“John, are you in there? It’s your next door neighbor.”

What did she want? I did not need visitors right now. Taking a second look through the peephole, I saw Patricia Baxter. Then, I quickly remembered why she was at my door. Poor Shelly was in my garage.

Opening the door, I prepared myself for the worst. Even though Patricia was soaking wet, I could still see the tears on her face. She quickly smacked me across the face. The stings of pain made me feel alive, which was better than facing death.

That’s when I saw him. Instead of sitting in his truck and watching me, he was walking towards my house. In his hands I saw a shotgun. The rain bounced off the metal and I could swear that the splashes looked like glitter.

Why would he kill me when I have a witness? Maybe he had waited long enough. Witnesses or not, he was going to shoot me.

Grabbing Patricia’s arm, I threw her in the house. She screamed and asked what the hell I was doing. Quickly gaining her balance, she saw what was coming and started to scream some more. It took all my strength to try and close the door behind me. He had already made his way to my porch and was pushing the door open.

Patricia was yelling and asking questions that I had no answers to. My body gave up and he flung the door open. Falling backwards next to Patricia, I kept my eyes on the crazed man.

He slammed the door shut and locked us in. Patricia started crying and started to plead for her life. She told the man how she was only here to get her dead dog. She told him that I ran over her beloved Shelly, and to let her get her dog so she could leave.

It made me angry that Patricia had pawned me off to save her life, but I was sure I would have done the same. Instead of letting Patricia go, he stroked the barrel of his gun. He was caressing it like a woman touching her freshly shaved legs. The silence in the air was unsettling. Turning my head, I looked at Patricia. She was still sobbing, but her eyes were closed. Was she making her peace with God? Should I be doing the same?

It wasn’t right. None of this was right. Questions of doubt and anger filled my head. The biggest one was why. Why didn’t I take the bus?

It was after looking at the man in my living room a second time, when I too started to make my peace. My life wasn’t bad, just unfulfilled. All the things I had always wanted to do were out of reach now.

Camping, hiking, skiing, paragliding, the list was long and would never be finished. My funeral played out in my head. Sobs from my mother filled my ears. Her dreams of hoping I would meet a nice girl and start a family would never happen, as I was her only son. The laughter of my children around a campfire played out and I imagined sitting there, filling sticks with marshmallows. What I wanted would never be. Looking once more at Patricia, I wondered if she was thinking about her family too. Then, I looked at the man holding the gun.

He was still stroking the barrel. Was he thinking about whom he wanted to kill first? His hand grasped the barrel and he forcefully pumped the gun. The sound was horrifying. It put everything into perspective. You could hear the bullet enter the chamber.

Patricia screamed and her body jumped back almost a foot. I too jumped and gasped what was sure to be my last breath. He took the shotgun and pointed it at Patricia. Her eyes shut tightly and I saw her prepare herself for the impact of the bullet.

Why wasn’t he saying anything? Couldn’t he give us, especially me, a reason as to why he was doing this? It wasn’t fair. Watching his fingers, he pressed lightly on the trigger and the bullet left the chamber. The sound was extremely loud. Everything around me was in slow motion. Patricia fell backwards and the blood flew from her chest. It sprayed on my face and oozed all over the floor.

Rage flowed through my veins. Immediately I screamed at him and asked him why. He was still silent. He pumped the shotgun, and Patricia’s bullet casing hit the floor. This man was not going to stop until he got revenge. It made me sick to think what he would have done if I had really damaged his truck.

However, what was worse than death? Knowing you were going to die was horrific. Slowly dying from old age had to be horrible too. It was essentially the same, right? No, it wasn’t the same.

Facing death before your time was not the way I, or anybody else wants to go. Living out a life and dying when you were old was much different, I was sure of it.

I felt the bullet hit my chest. My body fell backward and my head smacked the floor. The casing hit the floor and the sound, like all of the sounds of the day, rang in my ears. It was the final sound of the man walking out of my house and shutting the door, that made me feel a slight relief.

Never again did I have to worry about everyday situations. The warmth of my blood felt good against my cold body. When I looked at Patricia, my last thought was disgust about the one decision that changed this entire day. I should have taken the bus.


16 thoughts on “Decisions

  1. Cindi, I hadn’t read the other comments before this and posted on The Writers Pen because I think we all benefit from what people have to say about the work. I’ll tell you that in my opinion the story was almost too long. In a short story, you focus on the point you want to make and carry that closely to the finish. It’s wonderful that people want to know more about bits and pieces and the psycho. But be careful. That’s not the story. He’s a tool. John is the story. Keep it clean. Keep it real. Keep it focused. If that includes adding or subtracting, that’s up to you to interpret as you see the story’s lifeline.


    1. Hi Annette, I have to say that I agree with you. While it would be good to elaberate, I like short stories. Although, technically, this story is too long to be a short.
      Thank you so much for the comments.


  2. Hi – I love it. I really like your story. The atmosphere is strong and the internal dialogue kept the conflict moving. Now you know how I feel, here are some suggestions. Give a clue it’s a man sooner. It helps fill in the reader’s imagination. The mention of tears reduced his appeal. Perhaps more frustration and anger would keep us rooting for him. Shotguns don’t have bullets – its pellets.
    I too hope you make this a longer story. Consider his death scene – involve his senses. Here is an interesting web site you might want to bookmark.

    Another comment I have is not about your excellent story but about the perception of crime in the USA.
    Our TV and radio media are usually found in the entertainment part of the broadcast company. While the perception of crime and things to fear are held high by the media, we have experienced a steady drop in reported crime since 1996. I’ll leave the possible reasons for that to other discussions.

    While I believe that any crime is too much to tolerate, here are the figures on the crime rate since 1980 from

    Year Rate
    1980 596.6
    1981 594.3
    1982 571.1
    1983 537.7
    1984 539.2
    1985 556.6
    1986 620.1
    1987 609.7
    1988 637.2
    1989 663.1
    1990 731.8
    1991 758.1
    1992 757.5
    1993 746.8
    1994 713.6
    1995 684.5
    1996 636.6
    1997 611
    1998 566.4
    1999 523
    2000 506.5
    2001 504
    2002 494
    2003 475.8
    2004 463.2
    2005 469
    2006 473.6
    2007 466.9
    2008 457.5
    2009 431.9
    2010 403.6


    1. Hi Enos.
      Thank you for the comment. I am thrilled you like the story. I think my perception of crime here is so high because I watch too much tv that talks about it, (the news), just as you stated. I also watch a show called I Survived on the Bio channel. There are some pretty gruesome stories on that show. I am glad to know that crime is not as high as it used to be. What is interesting about the supplied data, is the increase in crime during the late 80s and throughout the 90s. I did a project for school about cocanie during the 80s and 90s. It’s interesting to see those numbers.

      Thank you again for your wonderful comments. I will be sure to update my story with the appropriate cartridge for the shotgun, or prehaps change the weapon to my favorite gun, the Glock. Not sure which one I’ll go with though. Hmmm…


  3. Cindi, I really like this. To me it shows a good imagination and an author who can write short stories, something I am not very good at. So please don’t think me hyper critical for pointing out a few things I found it needing a little smoothing out. It’s because I like it so much I want to point these things out.

    Phrasology – sometimes your phrasing is a little out of sync. ie – the dogs bones scrapping on the concrete is way to much and you couln’t hear them in the car.
    Stroking the gun like shaved legs – very feminine.

    The change from one scene to another was to quick, especially from the dog accident to the truck. We needed to see a little descriptive work to merge one scene into another – like, driving with music distracting her/him and what the surroundings look like.
    The guy with the gun needs to say something at the end to justify the killing.

    This story could be almost double in legnth and it would have a bigger impact. You build tension really well but it lacks descriptive pros to cement it together. I am a little confused as to the gender of John. Sounds like a man but you write him like a female – all that crying etc. The way it reads I think John should be Anne.

    All that said, the storyline is sound and I really like the your style. If you have several pieces like this you might seriously consider working on them and making a collection to be published through The Story Mint. Nice one, Cindi.


    1. Thank you so much Raymond. This story is one of my favorites. I actually have been editing over time. I have been working with Suraya on some of my writing, and she is helping me out so much.

      I was thinking that I may be too descriptive. Like the comment you made about the dogs bones scraping on the ground. I tend to overthink things and this is what happens when I do. I agree with you when you commented about the part in the story that sounds feminine. I want to describe how he is touching the gun, but your right – I don’t want it to sound too girlie.

      As for the quickness between scenes, I wrote this story in a mere 30 min. Probably less. This story was written years ago and until now (especially after the comments), I never really put much thought into it. However, I agree with adding more so the reader isn’t caught off guard. On a side note, I wrote this story because of a challenge. I had a person tell me that I wouldn’t be able to write about death in first person. My first draft was full of first person pronouns and I re-wrote it to where the Is and mes were sparce.

      I do have a hard time seperating myself from the story. That might be why John sounds like a girl. However, I wanted to portray him as a bit of a sissy. He can’t even stand up for himself, he’s jumpy, and scared of nearly everything. (I know a few people like this)

      I’m not sure if I want that psychopath to say anything. I know he spoke when John hit his truck, but I almost like his silence. It’s like a serial killer who lures you in with words and says nothing while he kills you. You can plead and ask why all you want, but will never know the answer. I can play with it a little and see what I think. Maybe the killer can walk up to John while in his house – after he kills the neighbor – and tell him about how people like John make him sick etc. etc. That might be cool.

      I actually had an idea for a collection of stories. However, each story is completely different from another. They are all short. I don’t have the patience for a novel. I find that people who can write thousands of pages on the same subject are brilliant. But I guess something can also be said for people with short attention spans, like mine, and produce short, creative pieces of work. Just as you said.

      Thank you so much for reading.


  4. Wow. This day certainly went a completely different direction than I anticipated. My reader reactions are as follows: 1) I was dreading the possibility that John had hit a child at the beginning of the story and when it turned out to be a dog, I told myself that this story wasn’t going to be that dark. I was wrong. 2) I don’t think John should base all the degenerating circumstances on only one decision (driving instead of taking the bus). John obviously has an attention span problem and probably faces several problems on a daily basis from not paying attention or focusing, especially when driving. Everything has cause and effect implementations in life. 3) John should have manned up more in life instead of cowering in fear. I will never understand how someone who knows they are about to be murdered will cower, hope and pray instead of fight to the death (even if losing is inevitable). 4) Who is this maniac who follows people to their house, home invades and murders two people? It is true that crime is ramped in American society and a lack of intelligence can pay a factor in criminal behavior, but doesn’t this guy know that their are traffic cameras that may have recorded that accident? Possible neighborhood witnesses since the neighbors were already peeking out windows earlier in the day after a neighborhood dog was ran over…..what about to hearing shotgun blasts? Who does this guy think he is? All, we the readers, are left with about this maniac are questions. Maybe he was just released from prison and is having trouble adjusting to society again? Was that his truck, a family member’s truck, a friend’s truck or a stolen truck? At times, until the guy actually used the shotgun…I was beginning to suspect that John was mentally unbalanced.

    I enjoyed your short story.


    1. Hello Jay,

      Thank you for reading and commenting on the story. I’m glad I could shock you. When I first wrote this story, I thought about making it a child, but thought that was too much. I do have a dog, but some people aren’t as partial to furry friends like myself. I am from the country and see “road kill” all the time. It is sad, but not as sad as small children. (not that I see children on the road, I do not – just thought I’d clarify (;). If I had him hit a child, the story could have ended there. The dog was just a precursor to a horriffic day.

      If I do not have John blame everything on his one decision, what else can I do? You are right about John being a person who lacks in the concentration department. I think he is your typical American. He takes the bus to work. His works in an office. He barely makes any money (one reason he takes the bus). His life is mundane. John is a sissy. He doesn’t know how to be brave. I could make him a bit more depressing and that might make readers understand why he just gives up. John’s responce to how he acts when faced with danger is typical. While many people will stand up for themselves, others will not. They have no survival instincts. John is this person. It is quite sad that some people will not fight for the life they were given, but the fact remains – they don’t. It’s a survival of the fittest.

      I am facsinated with serial killers. I study them. In fact, I am persuing my psychology degree and am finally in my core classes. My first paper?… Serial killers. I’m thrilled. My point is that the psychopath in this story holds many similarities of most killers. While I am not saying my killer is a serial killer, he is a psychopath. What nut gets so pissed off about his truck getting dinged, that he follows you to your house and kills you? A psychopath. He isn’t stable. One flick of the switch and his anger hits an all time high and the next thing you now you’re getting murdered.

      To answer your question about American crime – yes. Crime is rampant in America. Some areas are great to live in, and some are not. In my opinion, no where is safe. No one truly knows who lives next to them. I once saw a story on tv about two girls who were driving dowwn a road and a truck is suddenly behind them. He is swerving and tailgating, so the girls slow down to let him pass. He starts to pass, but slows down to where he is right beside their car. He pulls out a shotgun and kills the girl in the passedgers seat. The driver crashes and he follows. He pulls her out shoots her, rapes her, and drags her to his house. Miracuosly she convinces him to get an ambulance to the house so they can treat her wounds. She escapes and lives. These types of things happen all the time. Some are on the news and some are not. I feel this story is highly plausable.

      Also, especially in small towns, video cameras on street corners don’t exist. Only a few highly populated cities have cameras, but are in debate because of privacy and first amendment rights. So the chances of anybody witnessing an accident can be slim – in small towns. You are right about the neighbors watching when something happens. I never thought about those parts in my story before and will change it. About the gun blasts – We do know that when a shotgun goes off, its loud. But by the time the shots go off everyone is dead and the killer is gone.

      I like your idea on John being mentally unstable. With the hopes of keeping this story short, I don’t want to give too many detailed explanations about the characters.

      I’m thrilled you like my story. Later in the week, I will update the parts that need adjusting. The comments are really helping. I hope you are liking the Writer’s Pen. I am new there too. I’m trying to set a day aside where I can take time and read the member’s stories and make comments.

      Thank you again for reading!!


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