Redemption - Book cover


Robert R Sytnick

Chapter 2

The rain has eased, but the brisk wind persists as I make my way to 2940 Higgins Avenue, my home. After sliding the duffel bag off my shoulder and setting it in front of me, I smile. Home at last.

All the lights in the house are off. I hold my wrist toward a distant streetlight to check the time. It’s 12:35 a.m. The start of a new Sunday morning.

Knowing that the swinging gate squeaks when it fully opens, I carefully open it a quarter of the way and then walk through, lifting my duffel bag over the fence.

Once on the house steps, I kneel and fumble under the doormat for the house key. The familiar chill no longer grips my body. A new sensation controls me—the longing for my wife in my arms.

Unlocking the door and tiptoeing into the entranceway, I set my duffel bag down and slip my long coat off.

I hear Barbara moan as I quietly climb the stairs. Perhaps she is turning in her sleep. My hands shake, and my knees grow weak with anticipation of making love to my wife again.

Standing at the door, I turn the bedroom knob slowly, not wanting to wake her. Quietly, the door opens. The moon’s glow breaks the darkness as it shines through the bedroom window.

The picture of me in my uniform on the windowsill is turned face down, and our wedding pictures are gone.

Time stops. Hell begins.

In a rage, I throw myself onto the bed, pushing the stranger off my wife and swinging violently at the man making love to my wife in ~my~ bed. His blood spews onto the pillow, splattering into my left eye, and I only see red.

I continue to beat him with my fist. Eventually, we fall onto the floor, and I regain my hold on him.

Barbara is screaming hysterically, calling out, “Richard, Richard! Richard, stop! Stop, Richard; I thought you were dead!”

But I don’t want to hear it. I only want to kill the son of a bitch.

“Richard, please stop! Stop, Richard! The telegram from the War Department said you were dead!” Barbara screams as she tries to pull me off her lover.

My hands wrap around his throat, squeezing harder and harder. His bloodied mouth spews saliva, and his eyes roll back into his head.

I can see his left hand searching under the mattress, but I enjoy watching him gasp for air.

“You son of a bitch!” I scream at him.

Barbara takes the lamp off the night table and cracks it over my head. Suddenly, I feel dizzy and weak.

Taking one hand off his throat and pushing her back, I scream at her, “Get the hell away from me! I come home to you and find this asshole in my bed, screwing you! Get back, get away from me!”

Her lover continues to struggle for air. Both my hands are on his throat. His reddened face begins to turn blue.

I feel something rubbing against my side; a gun he retrieved from under the mattress. A shot rings out but misses my forehead.

The scuffle for the weapon and the fight for my life gives me new inner strength. Barbara gets down on her knees, pleading with me to stop fighting as her fists pound on my back and ribcage.

My one hand swings back and forth at his face as my other tries to control his gun hand.

A second shot cuts through the Sunday morning air. A voice, a quiet voice that I had been longing to hear for the last four years, stops time.

“Richard! Richard, I love you. I will always love you.”

Barbara falls against me, lifeless. My emotions peak as I gain control of the gun. Seconds stretch into an eternity.

I push the barrel of the revolver into her lover’s mouth, slowly squeezing the trigger as I watch him squirm.

“There, you son of a bitch. I’ll see you in Hell,” I say. Blood squirts in pulses from the bullet wound at the back of his head as his dead eyes stare at me.

Ignoring the glass from the lamp lodged in my leg, I quickly turn to Barbara, nestling her in my arms.

I lay her gently on the bed and cover her with the blanket before sitting next to her lifeless body, praying to God.

Holding her hand, I look up and shout, “God, turn back the hands of time! Please, I beg this of you.”

My bloodied fingers close Barbara’s eyelids, wiping the tears from her cheeks while guiltily crossing myself.

I leave the bedroom and enter the bathroom to remove the glass from my leg and find a bandage.

Washing my face and hands, I avoid looking into the mirror, not knowing who I am or what I’ve become. The guilt is soaking into every part of my body and soul.

I stand in the hallway, a lost and broken man, knowing I have two choices: calling the police or becoming a wanted man on the run.

Returning to the bedroom, I stand over the body of Barbara’s lover. The gun rests on his chest, under his chin. I don’t cover his naked body, leaving him on the cold, blood-soaked floor.

Looking down at the bed where Barbara lies, I get on my knees and say a prayer from the Bible. A prayer I had repeated to myself many times in the hundreds of foxholes I slept in over the last four years. I want to bend down and kiss her forehead—but cannot.

I hurry down the staircase into the kitchen where we kept our extra money and the key to our safe deposit box at the back of a cupboard.

Sliding the old kettle toward me, I stuff the money and key into my pocket, then quickly exit the house with my duffel bag and coat.

I cling to the shadows and the cover of the trees, worried a neighbor might have heard the shots or seen me.

I am now a fugitive who committed a crime of passion. And yet, to my late wife, I had already been a dead man.

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