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His Last Sunset

24 Jun

It was the last sunset he ever saw. He never forgot it. He walked into the apartment building and shut the door behind him at dusk. The latch was falling off due to the fifth break-in in a month. The landlord had stopped replacing the door jam. Soon, the whole door would be gone, and the building would be further open to the riff raff wandering the night.

He walked up the stairs to his room. A studio apartment should have had at least two rooms; his had one big room. The toilet was in the kitchen area. He had put up plywood around the toilet, so he now had two rooms.

Using the deadbolt was a pipe dream on the thin, hollow door, but he did it anyway. He was getting older and he didn’t know if he could fight off a robber if he had to. He kept all his most valuable possessions in a safety deposit box, but no one knew that. The kids who had been terrorizing the building recently would surely tear down his door just as fast as anyone else’s. The deadbolt helped him sleep at night, though.

He washed his face in the kitchen sink and ran water over his gray hair. He’d been here for thirty years. Thanks to city rent control, he had paid the same rent for the duration of his stay, and he couldn’t afford to move. As he lifted his head from the sink, he recognized the sound at the front door.

A loud BOOM made the frame shake. The hollow door quivered as a hammer made a gaping hole in the door. He sighed and considered opening the door, but he really didn’t want to get hit with the swinging hammer. Instead, he sat on the bed and waited.

The drugged kids were in the room in under ten minutes. The door jam eventually gave and they were able to reach in to undo the deadbolt. They nearly jumped out of their skin when they saw him sitting there.

“I thought you said no one was here,” came the girl’s voice. They were so strung out on drugs that they didn’t bother to hide their faces.

“Shut up,” said the boy, “Old man. Where’s the money?”

“I haven’t got any,” he responded, placing his hands on his knees. “You can search the place.”

He waited patiently while they tore apart his room. They even poked holes into his makeshift bathroom walls; as long as they didn’t turn the hammer on him, he let them finish their business. As he sat and waited, pains shot up and down his right arm. When the couple finished their fruitless ransack, they approached the old man.

“WHERE IS THE MONEY???” the boy screamed.

“There isn’t any. You wouldn’t listen when I told you that before,” he responded.

The boy raised his hammer and brought it down hard on the old man. Since he was high, he missed the man’s head and instead hit his shoulder. As the old man fell, he rolled off the bed and reached underneath, grabbing the Colt .45. He fired, and his aim was true. Two holes in the boy’s chest, one in hers. Blood poured onto the floor and splattered over the man’s face. Neighbors came to respond to the gunshots; the police responded soon after.

The old man was charged with two murders. As he waited in jail for his sentencing, he was treated for two heart attacks in the county infirmary. A week after he began serving a double life sentence, he died silently from a massive blood clot in his aerola. He died in his sleep, dreaming of walking into that last sunset.

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