And Then Silence...

The banging on the door continued for several minutes as Detective Peter O'Brien stepped closer to the door, listening for movement inside. From the upstairs apartment he heard a shuffling sound, so he continued rapping at the door with more intensity.

“Damn Pete, you're gonna break the door down,” said a female uniform as she leaned against the side wall with her weapon drawn.

“Put that thing away,” he barked. “That's how accidental shootings happen!”

“We are in the projects,” she half whispered.

“Put the gun away now!” he ordered.

O'Brien watched someone pull out the box fan from the window in that very same apartment upstairs and an old black man stuck his head and shoulders out.

“Pete is that you?” asked the old man.

“Mr. Washington?”

“Call me Willie.”

“Willie we got a domestic call from someone in your building.”

The old man grimaced.

“Did you hear anything?”

William Washington swallowed hard. He moved his head into the apartment just a bit, but still had enough to keep the conversation with O'Brien going. He snapped his fingers as if trying to recall something.

“Yeah, I heard something.”

“What did you hear, Willie.”

“Wanda, remember her?”

O'Brien nodded.

“She use to make peanut butter sandwiches for you guys when you were kids,” he said smiling.

“I remember Willie,” said O'Brien. “Choke sandwiches.”

He smiled and O'Brien smiled back.

“Wanda was suffering from dementia for some time now,” he said with a look of distance in his eyes.

“I'm sorry Willie.”

“Sometimes she comes back and recognizes me,” he said somberly. “I treasure those visits.”

O'Brien nodded.

“She came back tonight for a short visit,” he continued. “She tells me every time she comes back that her time is up and if I love her I would end her suffering. She really wanted me to take her life.”

A Look of horror swept over the detective's face, and he dropped his gaze to the porch. For a moment he felt frozen, unable to speak, then he shuffled his right foot as he looked up at Mr. Washington.

“What did you do?”

First, he was obviously frightened about the next words that were going to come from his mouth. Secondly, he had to tell someone.

“I loved her so much,” he said softly. “I had to prove it.”

O'Brien watched William Washington with eyes wide and felt uneasy for several reasons including the fact that he couldn't picture Willie killing his dear wife. Also he noticed that Willie considered himself the victim and not the murderer, this was a bit surprising.

“Is she upstairs with you?” O'Brien asked.

“Yes,” he replied slowly. “It was very difficult for me to do it. She told me she loved me in her last breath. I cried like a baby for an hour. I cried until my eyes went dry. I loved that woman. We were partners in crime and in time.”

“Willie, you're gonna have to let us in.”

“I put on her favorite black cotton sweater, Pete,” he continued. “I didn't put no bra on because I can't get those things in them. Kind of clumsy, and I hope she didn't mind. I want her to be remembered as the prettiest girl in the cemetery.”

“Willie, come open the door, now.”

“Okay, Pete,” he replied as he tucked his head back into the apartment and closed the window.

O'Brien waited for a few minutes and then he kicked in the front door. Seconds later there was a gunshot and then silence. The detective and the female uniform quickly ran to Washington's apartment and kicked in his door too.

Washington was still alive but dying quickly from a gunshot to the head. O'Brien found him on the bed next to his wife holding her hand. The bed, pillows and the headboard was covered in blood, and Washington was whimpering as his head rocked up and down.

The female uniformed walked over to the window and opened it up so the spirits could be free. O'Brien just stood still trying to make sense of the horrific scene that just unfolded right before his eyes.

© 2016 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 36 comments

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 months ago from Southern Illinois

Wow Frank, what a sad scene. Somehow I couldn't dislike Willie, he loved his wife. When are we going to realize that euthanasia is legal in most civilized countries. We put our pets to sleep when they are in pain and no hope for survival, yet we let our loved one's suffer. I loved your story. PS. I know some people would use euthanasia illegally, so who knows?

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

hey thanks so much always exploring :)

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 months ago

Oh Frank, how sad it is to love so much that you feel compelled to do as their loved one asks, even though they know that the person is in distress. I could not do this, poor Willie was put into a difficult situation.

Like Ruby, our gem of a friend says, some people would use euthanasia illegally.

Blessings my friend.

Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 4 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Exciting and interesting story.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Wow you covered so much ground in so little words. Several concepts I will be thinking of throughout some time. Thanks.

clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 4 months ago from Nibiru

Nice Frank, these are great movie shorts.

savvydating profile image

savvydating 4 months ago

I hope to God nobody I know ever asks me that question. I don't think I would do it, but I guess we never know unless we're put in that situation. Such a sad story. Beautifully done, Frank. I am sorry they both chose to go in this violent manner. There was no doubt, though, that Willie loved his wife.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Touching and terrifying at the same time, Frank. I imagine this went on throughout the ages in old times. Lord have mercy.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Pegcole, Savvydating.. Jive Clive.. Eric and Venkatchari oh and you to Shyron for stopping by and visiting bless you all :)

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 4 months ago from london

Sad, poignant, but it happens, as you so rightly show. Sometimes in real life when two are so close, they don't outlive each other too long. A little different this one. Great!

Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 4 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Poor Willie. I felt sad for him. I wonder why she wanted him to do it and not do it herself was it the dementia? Oh well the plot made for a good story.

Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 months ago from Georgia

You expertly capture the feelings of sadness. The story is so touching that we feel the characters' pain and bewilderment that this is the way life ends for some. Life can be so cruel when we enter those last years. Take care. Cyndi

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 months ago from southern USA

Ah, Frank,

This one really tore my heart out for Willie and his one true love in life ...Guess death did them part one way or another.

Each skillfully and creatively crafted line make this flash fiction truly a great read. You are a Master of the flash.

I will give you a Bravo!

Peace and blessings

btrbell profile image

btrbell 4 months ago from Mesa, AZ

Wow! Well done! So very sad yet intriguing

Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

Sad but beautiful, Frank. If that time ever comes..who knows what my wife and I would do...we have often said we want to go together. Poor Willie.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

Thank you guys so much for reading my short.. Manatita, Dana Tate, Cyndi10, btrbell, Faith Reaper, Jodah.. bless all you guys :)

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Frank....You never disappoint. This short packs a wallop. Old Willie did what he thought he needed to as though fulfilling his wife's last request was simply meant to be. Dementia was the real demon here and a love in desperation took Willie & Wanda to their eternal home. You've left your readers shaken Frank, but with a gentle acceptance of what had to be..........Bravo!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

Hey thanks so much fpherj48, good to see you again..:) Frank

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

Startling and so sad. Mr. Kevorkian of sorts only not as peaceable.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Flourish Anyway...:)

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

In many ways, our writing is similar....when you write about the underbelly of society, your writing is powerful, which is no easy trick in a flash fiction...great job, buddy!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks a lot billybuc for the compliment :)

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

Great story, Frank, and it says so much about the agony of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, the futile feelings of helplessness, and the parameters of assisted suicide. I wish I had written this as well as you did.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 4 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Frank, you fearlessly carried this one through to the hard ending. It's difficult to do sometimes. "So the spirits could be free." I'm glad you included that touch of sensitivity at the end of this well told, sad story.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 months ago from California

This feels both intense and sad--really nice writing Frank!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 months ago from The Caribbean

Love does do crazy things. It happens and no one to tell the story in a more acceptable way than you, Frank.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 4 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

What a pleasure to see my favorite fiction writers published on LetterPile. You, Mike (Mckbrdbks), Bill Holland, Ruby (AlwaysExploring), and more. And what a terrific, poignant story, Frank. You know who to pull is into the scene every time.

I agree with Ruby in that I couldn't dislike Willie. Legal euthanasia almost passed in Massachusetts a few years back for terminally ill patients; it was defeated by a thin margin of 2.5%. When my time comes, I only hope I can leave this world with dignity, without causing long, drawn-out pain to my family and loved ones.

Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 4 months ago from Florida

So sad. I mean, what else is there to say. Great story! :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Perspycacious, Cam, Audrey, MsDora, Genna East, and Missy.. thanks for stopping by my silence...:)

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Frank. Your story telling becomes tighter and tighter. You paint the scenes so well, we are there within the story.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 months ago from sunny Florida

O Frank...sad but hard it is for those who have loved each other for so long to be on the planet when one has gone (albeit if by the hand of one of them).

Your writing always keeps me reading from beginning to end. I am so sorry I am not around so much is going on with my family that I just do not take the time to come here. I am always glad that I do.

Just know Angels are headed your way ps

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much mckbirdbks and pstraubie48 for checking out my silence

Deb Hirt 4 months ago

That was powerful, but they are still together, probably making cookies for the other kids in another dimension.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Deb Hirt for visiting bless you

Peggy Woods 4 months ago

Such a sad story and a very believable one. Brings up all kinds of ethical questions but one's heart has to go to people struggling with issues like this. Nicely done!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much for reading Peggy Woods :)

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