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Men of Their Word - FREE Fiction

Updated: Jun 27, 2022


For the very first time, I was disappointed in my dad. It hurt to admit this, but the way he surrendered to such a grave injustice struck me as downright weak. I'd never considered my father weak, but he’d placed his bet on a legal system that had failed him, failed my sister, failed us all. We now had every right to seek our own brand of justice. Instead, my father went reclusive, shut me out, and began spending every minute tinkering in his workshop.


The whole ordeal began two years ago with the screams of Ellie May. I heard her voice in the distance, and slid my creeper from under the Bobcat where I'd been wrestling with a leaky hydraulic hose. I saw my sister staggering out of the thicket wearing nothing but a torn t-shirt with red stains. One look at her knocked the breath out of me. Poor Ellie, so delicate and innocent.

I raced across the field straight for her as bombs exploded inside my head. Boom! The blood stains meant she'd been hurt. Boom! She's naked so she'd probably been attacked. Boom! She's running from the direction of the neighboring farm, which means that sicko Herbert Hayden probably had a hand in whatever had happened.

By the time I drew near, I saw she'd been beaten too. She tumbled right into my arms so bruised and broken that she'd never be the same, and I cried with her.

Never the same, my sweet little sis.

She curled in on herself from that day forward, although we did get her to acknowledge that Herbert Hayden, the local cat-torturing creep and known peeping tom, had in fact committed the assault.

Oh, how I hated that bastard, and prayed that God would send one of those explosions to blow Herbert Hayden into a million bits and pieces. Boom!


The court found Herbert Hayden guilty as charged, but by the time the trial had concluded, that gawky, pimple-faced little shit ended up serving only six months in a juvenile detention center. He'd been a minor at the time of the crime, which qualified him as a juvenile offender according to the penal code. On his eighteenth birthday, the state was forced to turn him loose.

Ellie May had suffered three cracked ribs, two black eyes, a broken nose, and the loss of her purity at the hands of Herbert Hayden, yet he'd only served a short vacation for his crimes.

Ellie May, on the other hand, would not speak. She refused to eat. She began to cut herself.

One rainy afternoon, I walked upstairs having made her a sandwich. A peanut-butter-and-banana with no crust had once been her favorite, and while I knew it would be a long shot, it would do us all good if she'd eat something. No surprise that she did not answer my knock on the door. I slipped inside, backing into the room with the plate in hand, and pulled the door closed behind me. Something bumped my shoulder.

I turned to find Ellie May lifeless, her glassy eyes wide open and drying out. A noose hanging from the ceiling fan had squeezed all the color from her face. I dropped the plate and fell to my knees.

As far as I was concerned, Herbert Hayden was guilty of murder—a crime for which he had not served a single day. He deserved to die.

And soon, I felt the same about the elder Mr. Hayden.


After that, we had the dust-up at the hardware store. It was inevitable to happen in such a small town. Arch enemies are bound to cross paths. Tempers flare.

You couldn't really blame my dad for what happened. He had always been an old soul, a humble and soft-spoken farmer with a stiff upper lip, calloused hands and the dependable character of men who built this fine country. He found his morality in the Word of God, and his faith ran deep. But, they say "to err is human and to forgive is divine." That means my dad was only human, and only God forgives.

Dad and I had stopped by the store for a few supplies. He needed welding rods. I needed toggle bolts. We were perusing the tool aisle when he caught sight of Herbert Hayden. Dad's face went blank.

All gangly and slouching, Herbert hunkered in a corner of the store while holding his phone up close to his greasy eyeglasses. I followed his aim to a young girl in short-shorts who stood in the cashier line with her mother. I didn't have to see Herbert's screen to know he was recording her on video.

Dad must have realized the same thing, because his blank expression went blood red and twisted into a war mask. Before I could react, he torpedoed down the aisle and lunged for the asshole's throat. Dad grabbed him by the neck with both fists and squeezed. Herbert's glasses fell off, his eyes bugged out, and at that moment I filled up with a kind of righteous glee.

I wish I hadn't, though, because in that instance of satisfaction, I dropped my guard. I should have maintained what police officers call “situational awareness.” Then, I would have seen Barnaby Hayden step out of the gardening aisle with a shovel. He swung it wide, and the flat of the blade ding-donged Dad right on top of the scalp. Knocked him cold. I caught Dad before he hit the floor, brought him to a rest, and then I charged Old Man Hayden.

I managed to belt him hard across the cheek before the staff of the hardware store latched on to us both to tear us away from each other.

I wanted the man's blood. I could practically taste it—his and his son's dripping right off my tongue.

"I want to kill them both," I told Dad afterward.

"I don't blame you," he answered.