No More Killing - by Jim Bates (Flash Fiction 2021)

Jim Bates lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories and poems have appeared in nearly three-hundred online and print publications. His short story “Aliens” has been nominated by The Zodiac Press for the 2021 Pushcart Prize. His collection of short stories Resilience was published in early 2021 by Bridge House Publishing and Short Stuff, a collection of his flash fiction and drabbles will be published by Chapeltown books in 2021. Periodic Stories, a collection of thirty-one stories based on the periodic table was published by Impspired in early 2021. In addition, Something Better, a dystopian adventure, will be published by Paper Djinn Press in 2021. All of his stories can be found on his blog: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.

No More Killing

by Jim Bates

“It’s not fair,” Frank Nelson complained to his brother Steve a few weeks after the funeral. They were having beers at The Swamp, the local watering hole for the northern Minnesota town of Woodtick. The irony of Maggie having been killed by a drunk driver was not lost on them, and his pain was undeniable, “It was not fair at all.”
Frank was a burly man who wore his hair long, had a full beard and dressed in a red flannel shirt and jeans no matter what the weather. He was an independent logger, one of the last in the area, and a macho guy if there ever was one. But tonight, he wrapped his gnarled hands around his bottle of Bud and tried not to cry, “Lord, Steve, I miss her so much.”
Three miles away at their cabin in the woods Frank’s ten-year-old son Neil lay in bed crying. He missed his mom. He missed the way things used to be.
Two months later the father and son were slowly coming to grips with the tragic loss to their family. Neil went to school while Frank cut timber in the forests. Together they shared responsibility for the large vegetable garden Maggie planted before she died.
Neil’s job was to weed, and Frank’s was to “keep the varmints away” as he put it. He used a .22 rifle, dispatching squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional rabbit with abandon. Much to his son’s horror.
“Dad, do you really have to do that?” Neil pleaded, just before his father fired at a rabbit nibbling on some carrot tops. He missed and the rabbit ran off.
“Damn.” Frank lowered the gun and looked his son straight in the eye. “Yeah, I do. It’s your mom’s garden. I owe it to her.”
Neil didn’t want to say anything to anger his father. Experience had proven he had a quick temper, but the longer the killing went on, the more it bothered him. 
One day, Neil watched sorrowfully as his father raised his rifle on a rabbit. 
The animal froze. Frank locked in on the rabbit’s eyes. He noticed a twinkle in one of them as the little cottontail slowly blinked.
Frank thought then of his beloved wife, gone these past months. He missed her so much. What would she think of him taking his anger and frustration at her death out on poor defenseless creatures? The answer was obvious. She’d hate it.
Frank lowered the gun. Neil stepped up and put his hand on his father’s shoulder, "Dad, are you okay?"
Frank put his hand on his son’s, "I am. But I've had it. No more killing." 
"What are you going to do?"
Frank walked to the garage, put the rifle in a vice and picked up a hacksaw. "What's it look like?" He pulled the blade across the barrel and began sawing.
"Good," his son grinned with relief, "I liked that bunny." He hurried to grab his own saw, "I'll help.”

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