This story is by Austin Bartolo and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
The door creaked as David Brown pulled it open and limped into the Swayback Bar and Grill. He stood in the doorway as the door closed, extinguishing the daylight be-hind him. David looked around to get his bearing in the dimly lit room. Once David’s eyes adjusted, he limped over to the bar and eased his butt onto one of the stools. He spun around and placed his hands atop the lacquered, woodgrain bar. David made eye contact with the bartender.
“What can I get ya?” the bartender asked.
“Silver bullet please,” David said.
The bartender walked over, flung open the cooler, and pulled out a Coors Light. He placed it on the bar in front of David.
“$2.50,” the bartender said.
David placed a $20.00 bill on the bar. He looked up at the flat screen monitor hanging above the bar.
“What’s your name?” David asked.
“Mike,” the bartender said.
“Hi Mike, I’m Dave. Can you change the channel?”
Mike grabbed the remote and looked up at the monitor. Before Mike could change the channel, the anchorman spoke.
“We have more information in the missing person’s story we brought to you last week. David Brown’s family told us that Mr. Brown was awarded the Medal of Honor and may be suffering from PTSD. If anyone has any information on his whereabouts, please call the police at the number shown below.”
“You the one they’re looking for?”
“Yeah. You dialin’ the number?”
“Not unless you want me to.”
“I don’t, thanks. I’ve brought them too much pain.”
Mike placed the change on the bar. Dave held his beer with one hand and popped the wide-mouth open with the other. He lifted the can and took a big swig. Dave looked around and took in the scenery.
“Slow today?” he asked.
“It’s always slow at one o’clock in the afternoon. If I may ask, where did you serve?”
Dave looked down at his feet. His right hand trembled as a tear fell from his eye.
“Dave, you okay?”
Sunlight rushed into the bar. Mike and Dave tried to shield their eyes to no relief. Three men entered. The first walked towards Mike and pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at his face.
“Don’t chu fuckin’ move.”
“Whatever you say,” Mike said with his hands raised shoulder high.
The second gunman entered holding a Glock 9mm pistol and covered the door leading into the kitchen at the far end of the bar. The third gunman entered holding a 12-gauge shotgun. He closed the door behind him and locked the deadbolt. The two men guarding the doors did not speak. The first gunman waved his shotgun up and down.
“Chu behine de bar, where’s safe?”
Mike didn’t say anything.
“I not fuckin’ ‘round. Where’s safe?” the first gunman asked again, chambering a round.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Dave said lifting his head up, eyeing the gun-man.
The gunman redirected the shotgun at Dave’s head.
“Who da fuck are chu?”
“Someone you don’t want to fuck with.”
“Chu wanna die t’day?”
“No, but if you don’t put that gun down, you and your buddies will die today.”
“Fuck y…,” was all the first gunman was able to say.
Dave grabbed the barrel with his left hand and aimed it at the second gunman by the kitchen door. The first gunman squeezed the trigger and popped off a round hitting the second gunman in the thigh. Mike jumped. David reached inside his jacket with his right hand and pulled out his Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. He pointed it at the first gunman’s chest and pulled the trigger. The first gunman flew back and the shotgun hit the floor. David pulled the trigger a second time and dropped the third gunman guarding the entrance. He stood up, turned, and pulled the trigger hitting the second gunman in the head, killing him.
“Holy shit!” Mike said. “That was bad ass.”
Dave turned back, walked to the first gunman, and put one more bullet in him. He moved to the third gunman and did the same.
“Okay, Dave. I think they’re dead already.”
“You can never be too sure. Sometimes they get one in when you least expect it. Two to the chest, one to the head, that’s how we do it. Might want to call the police now.”
Mike picked up the bar phone and dialed 9-1-1. After providing his life story to the operator, he hung up the phone.
“The police are on their way,” he said.
“Were you in the Army?”
“Hell no! Marines.”
“I thank you for your service and for walking into my bar today. What did you do in the Marines?”
Dave sat back down on his bar stool and took another swig of beer.
“I got shot up a few times. Sometimes I wonder how I got out of there alive. Res-cued a team of five during OPERATION Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Two didn’t make it, but they all came home.”
“That’s awesome, Dave, so what brings you here?”
“I don’t have many years left on God’s great earth. I’m here to give my daughter my Medal of Honor.”
“Not really. My daughter followed in her daddy’s footsteps and became a Marine. She was in Afghanistan and came under heavy fire. Her and her team…”
Dave’s voice changed and tears were dropping down both sides of his face.
“Her and her team… didn’t make it.”
“My God, I’m so sorry.”
“I’m going to bury my daughter tomorrow and she’s going to get my Medal of Honor. She deserves it more than I do. It sounds like the police are here. Is there a back door I can use?”
“Dave, you need to stay here and help me explain this situation.”
“You know they’re looking for me. I can’t stay. You should unlock the front door.”
As Mike walked toward the entrance, Dave grabbed his change and limped out the back door.