I believe in self-help, improving mental thoughts and seeking solutions to life’s problems. I have authored self-help eBooks and articles.
This short story is written as a response to the popular and top HP writer, John Hansen’s (user id: jodah) challenge of using a random opening sentence of our choice as a prompt. The details of his challenge can be found in his article:
“How to Write a Poem Using One Sentence as a Prompt”
In his article, John encourages other HP writers to write poems or short stories.
One of his rules is to use each word of the random opening sentence beginning each sentence or line of our story or poem. But he keeps it flexible. We are allowed to choose a sentence of our own and make it the basis of our story without using the particular rule.
I have kept the structure of my short story simple without using the above rule. I use a statement as a prompt taken from a novel titled “Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless” authored by Tilly Bagshawe, and I flow with it on my own until the end.
The Entailed Justice Claimed by Tracy
Agent Buck was furious. “How dare Tracy give more priority to her son? She should help the detectives in finding the compulsive murderer who was at play in the different cities of the US.”
The unknown murderer was white, and there had been six murders of white females including women and girls in various regions of the country. Who could be on the loose?
Agent Buck was one of the scores of detectives who were on the lookout for the murderer. They had researched his history via computer help, but each time his disguise was different, and it was difficult to catch him.
They wanted Tracy’s help badly in the case. With her well-known eye for details and a canny head full of ideas, she had solved mysteries with the detectives in the past.
But now Tracy wanted a calm and serene life away from the detectives, murders, and mysterious cases.
Agent Buck was thinking clearly in his mind. “If Tracy wouldn’t help, we would have to take some other action.”
Tracy lived among the mountains on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Her neighbor, a friendly older gentleman named Blake had helped her settle down and assisted her with countless other activities, including the birth of her son by taking her to the nearby hospital right on time.
She was estranged from her husband. Each of them accused of cheating on the other by seeing someone else mutually. Tracy left her home mysteriously in Florida, and her husband, Jeff couldn’t trace her out for a long time.
Jeff knew he had a son. He was instructed by Tracy never to claim their son and to stay aloof for the sake of their son’s future.
And now, Blake, the neighbor catered to Tracy and her son Nicholas’ needs.
But the detectives were back again, and it reminded Tracy how Jeff and herself together had helped them out in the past with various cases, which the detectives couldn't solve by themselves and how they had earned their fair share of compensations from solving such detective cases.
Tracy didn’t have money problems and wanted to leave her past behind. She was only interested in the upbringing and welfare of her only child, Nicholas. She wished fervently that the detectives wouldn’t bother her any longer.
Late one evening, Blake offered to take Nicholas on to the streets for a long drive. Tracy preferred to stay indoors.
Time was flying. She kept herself busy tidying up her son's room and the kitchen. She started to worry about her son and neighbor when there was an unknown call from the nearby hospital, informing her that Blake and Nicholas had been hit in the car by a huge truck. Blake died on the spot. Nicholas was in critical condition at the Holy Family hospital.
Tracy’s heart skipped twice. The whole house started moving in circles. She grabbed a chair and sat down. She told herself, “Think clearly, Tracy. You can figure this out.”
She ran a train of thoughts in her mind rationally and logically. First of all, she decided to inform Jeff, her separated husband, who was now in Europe.
Jeff was having coffee at a coffee shop when he got the call. After he received the call from Tracy, he sat on the chair, fixed, unable to think. Then after a while, he could think again, hitting upon a plan.
Tracy drove to the hospital to see the condition of Nicholas. She was allowed to see him. She went inside the unit and saw Nicholas' head all bandaged, and he could talk. Something sharp had hit Nicholas’ skull at the back, but he was able to converse fluently with Tracy.
“Mom”, he said, “I do not like it here. When can I go home?”
“You are doing okay”, said Tracy.
"Yes, Mom", said Nicholas, "except that the back of my head hurts."
“All right”, said Tracy. “Be a good boy, and we will take you out of here as soon as possible.”
Tracy said a silent prayer. “You just have to believe in God and also yourself”, reminded Tracy herself.
Right now, she believed strongly her son would recuperate. She didn’t tell Nicholas yet that Blake had passed on.
She stayed with him for a few more hours until she was told to leave. Luckily Jeff, soon after, reached Holy Family hospital and gave his name and introduction. The hospital authorities, after contacting Tracy at home, allowed Jeff to see his son.
Jeff was careful not to weep in front of his son. He hadn't been there during all his childhood. Jeff just came to know through Tracy that he had a son about a year ago. He had talked to him and played with him for a while at Tracy's home. As mentioned before, he promised Tracy that he would never claim him to be his son. But the father-son relationship was a blood relationship, and naturally, Jeff ached for his son.
Jeff was asked to leave the unit by the hospital staff. Nicholas needed to relax and rest.
Jeff sat on the hospital seat outside the unit where his son was. He dozed off a little when Tracy showed up.
She said sharply, “You are still here?”
Jeff said, “He is my son as well. Obviously, I am concerned.”
Tracy replied, “Yes, I understand. Did you have breakfast?”
Jeff said, “No, I wouldn’t leave so soon. Do you know if anybody deliberately did this to our son?”
Tracy said, “Not that I can think of.”
Jeff asked, “Who did you last talk with before this incident happened?”
Tracy rewinded her mind, and finally, she could recall and said, "Oh well! I talked with the detectives, including Agent Buck. They wanted me to trace a compelling murderer, which I declined.
“Do you think Agent Buck could be behind this accident?” asked Jeff.
"I am not sure. I didn't think Agent Buck could be that dangerous."
“How about Nicholas?” Tracy added. “Do you think he would recover fully?”
Jeff replied, “His brain isn’t damaged. His skull is just a little bruised. We will all make it, Tracy.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Sure”, said Tracy, fumbling for more words until she collapsed into Jeff’s strong arms.
Jeff said comfortingly, “Everything is going to be all right. There no need to cry.”
Tracy was back to herself and rubbed her tears away with a piece of tissue.
She said calmly, “Thank you, Jeff, for being here. I appreciate your support in a tough time like this.”
She added with an air of confidence, “We must seek justice for what has happened to our only son and my neighbor, Blake. Blake was such a good soul with an always helping hand.”
Finally, Jeff said, “I have to go on a quick errand. I will be back as soon as I can.”
Tracy had breakfast at a neighboring shop and waited for Nicholas to wake up so that she could talk to him again.
After three hours, Jeff came back, and the family was neatly united.
“Uncle Jeff”, said Nicholas, “will you teach me chess? I was about to learn it from you when you suddenly left the last time.”
Jeff was touched. “Sure, Nicholas, if your Mom permits.”
Tracy replied, “Uncle Jeff has the permission.”
Nicholas started to improve, and the hospital staff moved him to a cabin. Two days later, they removed the bandage and scanned his head thoroughly to make sure he had healed fully.
Nicholas was released from the hospital. The trio was a family again among the mountains.
Tracy slowly revealed to Nicholas, "You know, Nick, Uncle Jeff is your father. We argued six years ago and have stayed separated since then. But now we are back as a family. Do you like the idea?”
“Sure, Mom”, said Nicholas. “Dad, I am glad you are not only Uncle Jeff but also my real Dad. I have always thought we were close somehow.”
Jeff and his son embraced each other in a long, warm hug.
“I wouldn’t like you to be hurt again”, said Jeff. “You are as precious to me as you are to Mom.”
“Thanks, Dad”, said Nicholas, “I am happy I have both Mom and Dad.”
Meanwhile, Jeff had already been to the Detective Headquarters and the Chief Justice Section of Supreme Court while he was on the errand from the hospital. He filed a case with both of them that Agent Buck was responsible for neighbor Blake's death and Nicholas' head injury in what seemed like a car accident on the highway.
The case was tried out, and Agent Buck went through a trial. He was found guilty and was sentenced to life-long imprisonment.
The book cover of the novel from which I extracted the opening statement of my short story as a prompt is shown below.
A Lovely Quote
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.
— Robert McKee
© 2021 Rosina S Khan