Author’s Note: Carson finally has all the pieces.
“Where’s the money? You spend it on this piece of junk?”
Carson looked behind him, not sure who the other man was, but the way he was talking made him feel like he should try and hide inside the car. He didn’t know what else to do. He was scared. He didn’t want to be scared, not a little crybaby like Nick called him, but something was wrong. His dad shouldn’t be here, the car shouldn’t be here, and the man shouldn’t be here.
“I never had any of the money,” he heard his father say. “All I did was drive the car, and I paid for that mistake. I served my time. I’m done.”
“Oh, yeah? And where’s the money, then?”
“I don’t know.”
“Sure you don’t. These things aren’t cheap. You didn’t get it for free. Where’s the rest of it? I might just let you keep this junk pile of yours, but I want the rest of it.”
“You’re not listening. I don’t have any of it, and I never did. I got this by putting all the money that I earned since I left prison together and traded my other car for this. It’s not in the best of shape—guy says it needs a complete overhaul, that’s why I got it so cheap.”
“Shut up. I know you’re lying. All I want to hear is where the rest of the money is. You’re going to tell me. Now.”
Carson swallowed. “Dad, he’s got a gun.”
“Smart kid you’ve got there,” the man said, and Carson drew back as the gun faced him for a moment. He was gonna get shot. He was scared. He wished his dad hadn’t ever come back. He didn’t want to die. “So what you’re going to do, unless you want this smart kid of yours dead, is give me the money.”
“Stay away from him,” his dad said, moving toward the man with the gun, and Carson thought maybe his dad had a gun, too. He ducked down in the seat, hoping that he wouldn’t get hurt. The man grabbed him, though, and Carson squealed when he did, but it was too late.
The shot echoed around the barn, and still Carson didn’t realize that it had hit him until a full minute had passed. He couldn’t think. He didn’t know what to do. He knew that he’d heard a gun—no, it wasn’t the same as Grandpa’s hunting rifles or Larry’s BB gun—but he did know the sound of a shot, and in that instant, he’d frozen.
The pain made him come back to himself, and he stared at his side and the blood and didn’t understand that, either. A gunshot. He’d been gunshot. No. He’d be dead if he got shot. He remembered Grandpa and Uncle Tim lecturing his brothers and him, too. They had to be very careful with the guns and never play with them. Hunting was not playing. They had to know that they could kill every time they took a shot, and they had to respect what the gun was.
He always hated those lectures, but then he didn’t much like the guns, either. He didn’t like seeing what his family brought home when they hunted. He’d lock himself in his room and cry later after everyone else was busy cleaning up the game.
Wait. Was he game? That couldn’t be right.
“You bastard,” his father said, and Carson heard another shot, louder than the first, so loud that he couldn’t hear anything else. He felt dizzy. Sick. Where was the gun? Why was he in the air? He kicked, trying to get down, but he couldn’t get away from the arm holding onto him.
The man walked forward, laughing as he leaned over Carson’s dad. “I told you you’d get your son hurt if you didn’t tell me. Now you’ve gone and shot him, and you’re shot, too. You got about a minute before I put another bullet in the kid. Where’s the damn money?”
“I told you—I don’t have it. You’re a fool. Even if they’re way out in the fields, they’ll have heard that shot. They’ll be coming. My wife’s father is an expert marksman. He can bulls-eye a buck like no one’s business. You won’t get away.”
“Oh, they won’t be looking for me. And if you’re telling the truth about the money, well, I’ve got no use for you now,” the man said, and Carson tried to get free even as he forced the gun into his hand. “Daddy shot you, so you can shoot Daddy, okay?”
“No!” Carson screamed, but the man pushed down on his finger and the gun went off. His father’s body jerked, but then it was so still that even Carson knew he was dead. “No…”
“Don’t cry now. It’s not like he didn’t shoot you first.” The man started to set him down, and then he stopped. “I wonder if that’s enough. You think they’ll understand why you did it? Why you killed him?”
Carson tried to shake his head. He hadn’t killed him. Only… He had, hadn’t he? The gun was in his hand, and he’d fired it at his dad, and he knew what that did. It killed.
“Huh. I think we’d better make it look a bit more convincing.”
“Don’t,” Carson said, but the man didn’t listen. He yanked at the tear in Carson’s shirt, ripping it wide and then right off. Carson shivered, not liking the way the man kept touching him. He heard himself muttering that word over and over again as the man tore away his pants.
“There you go,” the man said, ruffling his hair. “No one’s going to think anything of you shooting him when he did that to you, huh? Sick bastard. Poor little boy…”
The man laughed again, reaching for him, and Carson bumped into the car, whimpering as he huddled against it. He shouldn’t be cold, but that man made him feel all sick and wrong, and his father was dead, and he’d killed him, and he couldn’t think.
“You know where the money is, kid?”
“Yeah, you’re really screwed up now, aren’t you? Well, I tell you what, kid. Just forget it all. Forget what Daddy did to you, forget he shot you, forget you shot him, and most importantly, forget all about me,” the man said, grinning. He gave Carson’s cheek a pat, and Carson backed against the car, shuddering.