Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2314184-The-Long-Payoff
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Drama · #2314184
A girl grimly takes care of her father as he once did for her.
Riding shotgun next to Papa, she felt safer than she ever had. The actual shotgun she carried wasn't what made her feel that way, though. It was the fact that he had a limp, no feeling in one hand, one useless ruined eye.

And why would that make her feel safe? Because he had had his leg broken in five places when some of the rednecks from Touy's decided they were going to make her their Saturday night sport when she was just 11. Daddy had found out, and he had come for her. Daddy had shot one of them, managed to knife another. But there were five of them, and only one of him. He gave her enough opportunity to run, and she had. But by the time she got the police and they got back to him, Daddy had been beaten within an inch of his life, and all five of those "good ol' boys" had vanished. One side of his face was caved in, the shape of a boot toe clear in his skin, the eye filled and bulging with blood. His left arm lay at an impossible angle, and his leg was bent back and forth in a cartoonish pattern, like he was a scarecrow whose stuffing had shifted in an evil wind. He had to have known he couldn't take five big farmhands. Yet he had strode in to rescue her without hesitation, to make her safe, knowing he might get killed for it.

The doctors at Mercy had put him back together best they could, and the Union had seen to it he got at least enough of a disability pension to keep from starving. And when he needed help during the long road to whatever limited healing was possible, his little girl had helped him--grimly sometimes, cheerfully others, she had helped her Daddy come back to life.

Now she kept him safe, never letting the shotgun go unless she was in the bath. All someone had to do was look at Daddy wrong, and the next thing they were looking at was the inside of a gun barrel.

They drove around the nowhere shithole of a town named Forrow for a while, cruising the inevitable strip of honkytonks. Just in case. The men from Touy's were stupider than oxen, and herded at the local watering holes the way oxen did. Sometimes she and Daddy got lucky--they'd found the last one pissing on the corner of some shitty little beer joint over in Brighton. The other two, now... they'd really had to hunt for them.

Of course sometimes they had help. Sometimes she would talk to the men's friends, while Daddy sat in the truck. True, it was often hard to separate the facts from the screams. She had quickly found a formula that worked pretty well: a round of buckshot in one of their legs started then talking pretty good; leveling the gun at their hateful peckers kept them going until she'd heard enough; and one slug in their cowardly heart turned their noise off for good. And she never lost a wink of sleep from it.

So they had stumbled on one and sniffed out a couple more over the past five years. Three down. Two to go. Daddy wouldn't stop until they were all dead or she told him it was alright to stop. And she would never stop until all five of those child-raping chickenshit motherfuckers were dead. Not gone, not put away--dead. By her hands. The ones they had held and twisted as they ripped at her clothes and pinched and groped and touched and--

She looked over at her Daddy. His one good eye blazed with concentration as he scanned every face. She smiled. They were both safe, because they were both here.

It didn't seem like either of the other two assholes from Touy's was here in Forrow, though, so he pushed the gas a bit harder, and the old pickup rumbled down the road to a shack of a motel called the Komrite Inn. Tomorrow, they would drive down the road to Holbrook and start the search again. Again.

They got their room, and she made sure Daddy was comfortable, as she did every night. She kissed his cheek, then the lid of his scarred and blinded eye, as she did every night. Then she laid down in her bed and drifted off, a calm smile on her face.

With the shotgun cradled in her arms. As it was every night.
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