How Would You?
The music player popped and crackled, the antiquated phonograph skipping merrily through a record both warped and weathered. Casting a passing glance about the room, he nodded to himself.
This would do.
He breathed deep. Wasn't this always how it tended to go? In the loss of all else, mankind would turn to its more depraved indulgences? Well, perhaps not so depraved. The stale smoke of a cigarette choked in his lungs, his shoulders slumped in relaxation. A lone glass sat nearby him, the fine wooden side-table smooth to the touch as the ice swirled blissfully in his drink.
He'd started with rum... but quickly moved to scotch. The bitter liquid seeped in the back of his throat, the burning mixing with the strain of his lungs into a delightful, numbing bliss.
Regarding his current cancer stick with a dispassionate glance, he took one more drag before crushing it against the ashtray, the remains of three others smoldering next to his drink. He supposed it was pointless to do any more damage... the damn things didn't really have any appeal he supposed. Maybe it was something you had to get hooked on through repetition.
His thoughts shifted, the matter at hand coming back to him. A distant rumble echoed in appreciation - the sharp crack of thunder distant against the glass of a lone window. He'd taken to watching the rain slide across the pane, his mind blissfully empty for as long as he could be bothered to keep it as such.
As though summoned by the merest entertainment of it - a low creak echoed through the small flat as the door opened. It was shut quietly, but no discernible click came to denote the door being locked. They knew, then.
He leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes briefly. When he opened them, the man that greeted him was as finely dressed in a way that did not befit his stealthy nature. His two-piece suit was lightly dampened by the rain outside, no doubt his chauffer had forgotten an umbrella... again. No matter.
The two sat in simple silence for some time, content to listen to the phonograph play out its last. Then, with a shuddering pop, and the dying croons of trumpets still settling through the room - all that remained was the soft scratching of the needle against record.
Clearing his throat lightly, he gestured briefly to the record player, voice rough and ragged with all the disuse and abuse of the night's activities. "Could you?"
The finely dressed man merely smiled, rising silently before crossing the room in two brief strides. With a gentle hand, the needle was lifted and the disc stilled. Turning back, the man voiced himself as well, amicable and light with a youthful enthusiasm. "Kay Kyser?"
A mirthless chuckle crossed his lips, hand coming up to scratch absently at the neatly-trimmed scruff on his chin. "Jingle, jangle, jingle."
The man chuckled along, returning to his seat. Once more, the two lapsed into silence, the pattering of rain disrupting the still of the flat. Then, finally, the man spoke to him once more. "Why did you do it?"
Ah, the question to end all questions. The root of all evil, and the pinnacle of all heroism. Such was a question he had long since learnt the answer to. "So someone else wouldn't have to."
The man's friendly smile drained away, a pitying look crossing it before his features evened. "You still feel that way, then?"
"Would it matter, now?"
"Probably not." The man replied, looking away.
He nods in response. "Then it's best not to worry yourself with such things."
The man looked to question it, but instead sighed, deflating visibly.
He chuckles again. A laugh bereft of happiness, or even the most transient of amusement. A single, hollow, rock of the shoulders in observation. "I take it they're not too happy, then?"
Another question with an answer he already knew. A rhetoric, musing to himself as another boom of thunder drew his sight to the window with a slow, casual turn of the head. Yes... he knew the answer. It just seemed as though nature herself had deemed fit to remind him of it.
Another heady sigh emanated from the man. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew a single, ornately-furnished pistol. Single barrel, with a finely furnished hammer. Dramatic, and just a little bit poetic. His voice was drained of its former exuberance. His words were slow, hesitant, as though the man had veered from a script. "I... for what it's worth... I'm sorry."
He adopts a weary smile, one that spoke of someone old before their time. Someone who had grown up before they had aged. Who had been thrust into the world, only for the world to return them a shattered husk who couldn't even muster the surprise and horror he was once full of.
"No," he says, words even and curt, "no you're not."
A final sigh comes from the man, before the short click of the hammer pierces the pattering of the rain. He's dimly aware of a flash outside his window, the roar of thunder ignored as the white-hot light casts a sinister shadow across the man's face. His youthful features cast in a mixture of thinly-veiled contempt and earnest confusion.
He grabs his drink again, and takes another sip. A pity, the glass is only half-empty.
He fixes the man with a look, fully aware of himself. Aware of his body, young yet somehow weathered in a way it shouldn't be. Bones that ache in the prime of their life, muscles that burn at the pinnacle of their condition. His boyish features lost, burnt away by the scorn of the world and replaced with something stern and sculpted of contempt.
There's nothing to say that hadn't already been said, the look providing volumes of what was already uttered. Curses thrown, oaths sworn and broken in the same breath. No, he doesn't speak. He simply stares, eyes full of the same defiance they always held. The same penetrating curiosity. The same fiery, volatile youth.
The man merely raises the derringer, squeezes the trigger, and the world fades into the flash of lightning, the crack of thunder, before fading into the soft, persistent pattering of the rain.
This is a writing exercise I found and decided to try. The goal is to write your own death in three pages or less. If you're interested, feel free to post in this thread for it. If not, I still enjoyed doing this little piece.