Revenge comes at a cost

by Max Saucedo

Living on the reservation meant the nearest fire station was a mile away, more than enough time for a fire to consume the small house he called home. Smoke filled the room and as Chayton finished dousing out the flames, he suspected this was more than a simple kitchen fire. His grandfather was beginning to slow down in his old age, but he wasn’t diminished enough to accidently start a fire in his own house. This was the work of those damn Locklear brothers down at the bar, Chayton concluded, as well as the slashed tires of his truck a few weeks back after he and his grandfather returned home from a funeral. Chayton originally chalked up the incident to wear and tear on the tires after going all the way to Los Angeles, but he knew better. The Locklear brothers probably saw an open door and thought they’d have a little fun at the expense of his grandfather. This was serious and he’d teach them a lesson.

A cold fury began building up in him, as the idea of getting even sounded satisfying at the moment. He headed to his room, found his gun and headed out the door.

His grandfather Benjamin “Crow” Black sat on the porch outside, wearing a faded flannel, a straw cowboy hat, jeans, boots and a pair of sunglasses. He looked asleep, but Chayton knew better. Crow had a sharp sense of hearing for his age and usually feigned sleep to appear unnoticeable.

As Chayton hopped off the patio, he heard his grandfather stir.

“Where you going with your thunder stick, grandson?”

Chayton slowly turned around, a sense of rage permeating from him.

“It’s just in case something happens, Grandpa.”

Crow cocked his head and pon- dered, “Something happen or are you going to make it so?”

Chayton shook with anger. “In case you didn’t notice Grandpa, someone set the kitchen on fire!” he said, gesturing to the rising smoke.

His grandfather turned and looked back into the house for the first time, seeing the chaos inside.

“Huh, musta’ left the coffee pot on.”

“It wasn’t you Grandpa, it was the Locklear brothers who done it, same as before with my tires. I’m going down to their place and teaching them a lesson.”

He turned on his heels and headed for the Locklear house.

“Think about what you’re doing, Chayton. Is it worth it?”

Chayton dismissed the thought, thinking how bad it was to be related to a coward like his grandfather, unwilling to stand up for himself. Crow was once an enlisted man, which made Chayton even more enraged.

As Chayton approached the Locklears’ house, both of the men were on the front porch in a drunken slumber. Once he reached the old shed, which housed their motorcycles, he carefully began the process of drenching the shed in gasoline, before lighting it on fire.

As the flames engulfed the bikes, Chayton snuck out the back way, observing the brothers awaken to the destruction of their beloved bikes. From their cries of anguish, he got a small amount of satisfaction.

Crow gave a sniff as Chayton arrived home.

“Smells funny. What you been up to?”

Chayton stood defiant on the porch, gun in hand.

“Protecting us, Grandpa. If we don’t stand up to those men, they’re going to run us out of town. “

Crow ran his hands through his hair and murmured, “What have you done, boy?”

“He burned down our shed with our bikes in it, Crow,” a voice belted out.

Chayton turned around just in time to catch a right cross to the cheekbone from “Big” Jim Locklear, the older of the two brothers. Chayton fell and hit the dirt hard. Randall, the younger brother, complemented the punch by kicking Chayton in the stomach. Chayton grunted and doubled over.

“Thought you’d get away, boy? Well, we found you right quick. Now we’re going to kill you both.”

The two men circled him with murderous intentions. Crow began to speak, but Randall slugged him in the gut. Chayton rose with a cry, before receiving another kick and feeling the pain and pressure of Jim’s boot on his head. He struggled as he saw Randall kicking his grandfather, who lay on the ground. With deft expertise, Crow gritted his teeth and flipped Randall on his back, before twisting and breaking Randall’s leg. He howled and flopped down. Jim, preoccupied with Chayton, did not see Crow in time to catch his charge. Adrenaline surged through Crow’s body, like it used to all those years ago in Vietnam, as he grabbed the pistol in Jim’s hand, and pried it out, but not before he broke Jim’s hand in the process.

Tossing the gun away, he punched Jim’s nose, breaking it, knocking him out. As Crow rose and approached his grandson, he sensed a different man—a man with a primeval, raw power exuding from him. Chayton began to speak, but was interrupted by the click of a gun’s hammer being drawn back. In one fluid motion, Crow whipped out his knife, pushed Chayton back and threw it, catching Randall Locklear in the chest as the gun discharged. Chayton’s vision blurred and then focused when he saw his grandfather shudder as the bullet hit him. Crow fell to the ground. Chayton grabbed him and cradled his head in his arms. Crow’s eyes shifted around, his breath in short gasps.

His eyes found Chayton’s and his finger rose to Chayton’s chest, “Don’t forget who you are, Chayton.” Tears blurred Chayton’s eyes as Crow gave his last breath.