Monday, September 17, 2018

Man of the House by Billy Dennis

Man of the House

The lamp near where the man sat had been covered in scarves, its light muted, casting wild shadows against the wall. The boy stood out in the hallway, his ragged shirt torn, nearly falling from his slight frame. Blood trickled from his nose as he watched the man. The boy stood stock-still, not moving even to wipe wet blood that he could now taste. 
On the bed next to the man was a woman.  She lay still in the low light, the bottom of her nightdress soaked black by blood and offal. The boy could not see well enough to tell whether she still breathed. The man in the chair wept beside the bed and spoke to the woman in low whispers that the boy could not make out. 
When the man noticed the boy standing in the hall, he rose from his chair. The boy’s hand rose with him. In his hand, the boy clutched his father’s revolver, the same .357 his father had taught him on last summer. The boy held it still despite its weight, and with the other hand drew back its hammer with his thumb, it clicking in to place. 
When the man spoke, the boy fired. The boy’s ears rang, and the man slumped back against the wall, blood coloring it crimson as he fell to the floor beside the bed. The lamp toppled with him, losing its scarves and shade. The boy walked around the bed to where the man lay wheezing, a neat hole in his chest, blood slowly starting to pool around him. Farther up still, the boy inched until he could reach the woman. 
A hand flailed about the boy’s ankle. The boy put his hands on the wall for leverage and kicked the man in the side—again and again—each kick harder than the last. The man coughed and gurgled, thick bright blood spewing from his mouth. 
The boy turned back to the woman and laid a hand on her chest. He held it there a time. When he was certain, he squatted down and pressed the nozzle of the revolver to the man’s nose and fired once more. The pistol bucked hard and mists of blood freckled the boy’s face. He dropped the gun, took one last look at the woman, walked out and shut the door.

The boy walked to the living room and sat on the couch. He picked up the phone on the table next to him and dialed. “Yeah.” There was a short wait. “Yeah. Jimmy. Yeah. Dolan. Mom and Dad are dead. Yeah. Yeah. Dad did. Yeah. He’s dead too, yeah. Yeah, I’m sure. I shot him. No. Okay. All right.” 
Jimmy sat on the couch a few minutes longer, looking about the room, at the pictures on the floor, the overturned furniture, the holes in the walls from his father’s fists; and then he stood up, walked to the TV, cranked the dial until he found Saturday morning cartoons, and then he sat back down on the couch and waited for the police, his face still freckled. 


Bio Billy Dennis grew up in the Shangri-La of North Texas, Mesquite, a place known for its outlaw roots. Billy’s first occupation in life was that of a PGA golf professional, but after a collision with drunk driver, he found himself back in college at thirty-five, with an amputated leg. After attending Eastfield College for two years, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas based on his writing, graduating with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. Billy is also fiction student with Writing Workshops Dallas, where he continues to learn and grow in the craft under the guidance of his mentor Blake Kimzey. In 2014, Billy won the prestigious Eleanor Jones Award in Creative Writing. His work has been published in the Dallas Morning News, The Et Cetera, The Alternative Magazine, and various other outlets.  

He currently lives in Carrollton, Texas with his beautiful and supportive wife, Margot, and their beagle Abby. The best novels he’s read this year were Where All Light Tends to Go and Weight of This World by David Joy, with Don Winslow’s The Force as a close runner-up. At the time of this submission, he was reading Wiley Cash’s celebrated novel A Land More Kind Than Home. 
You can find Billy on Twitter @PlebeianCritic and his website 

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