My home burned in the fire of eighty-six. My family, my friends, and my two goats died in that fire. Only six years old, I was left alone. My Papa had once told me that a man finds his strength in his independence. I did not know what that had meant. But now I do.

I am Jake. I am a man now. I am strong. When I see a small town with one gas station and two policemen, I know the place where I can take whatever I want.

The gas station owner cowered before me crying, “please, sir, take whatever you want. Please. Just leave us alone.”

I laughed at him before I shot him.

In the back room I found the owner’s wife. She begged me to leave too.

“Please, Jake, I have two children. Children need their mother. Please, Jake.”

I know a child does not need a mother.

I shot her in the stomach. A wailing baby cried upon her breast.

The police arrived after I left the gas station. They were quick with their work. They left nothing behind. They found the evidence I had left for them.

I applauded them from the roof of the gas station, keeping low so they could not see me.

“We know you’re up there, Jake. It is time for you to come down and face your destiny!” The young police officer shouted to me.

I smiled up at the clear sky. Lying on my back on top of a roof gave me a good sun tan. When people turned their faces to look at me for the last time they saw a chiseled, tan, dirty faced man. My beard did not grow like I wanted, so the tan gave me what my beard lacked.

“Come on down, Jake. Your time is up,” the old police officer shouted this time.

I laughed. My laugh carried down to the two officers. I leapt up and shot them with my fully loaded automatic shotgun. The rooftop of the gas station was only nine meters away from the ground: close range for my shotgun.

They died.

I leaped from the roof, grabbed the flag pole, and slid down. When my feet touched the ground it oozed with the police officers’s blood.

I spat yellow at their heads, “assholes.”

Then my knees collapsed beneath me. I stumbled but did not fall. The sound of a gun followed.
I looked to my navel and saw my own blood. My shotgun fell. My knees hit the ground. My face fell forward.

“You killed my daddy,” a young voice said behind me.

I turned around to see a shadow in the hot sun.

A little boy, six years old, spat on my face.

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