The news sites, the TV, the cops. They all said the same thing. They called him ‘the victim’. I suppose it’s technically accurate. You call someone a victim it’s almost like it was expected. I mean what’s a victim but someone something bad happens to? But I’ll tell you. Jake was a lot of things, but the last thing I’d call him was a victim.
That night was Day Three for him. Three days since he parked his car in front of my house, knocked on my door and said, “You’re the one guy I know who isn’t into the shit. I need to be clean. Cassie’s pregnant.” I told him to stay as long as he liked as long as he was sober and I took his phone.
It wasn’t like the movies. He didn’t go nuts. He sweated a lot, but other than that he was pretty normal. He ate half the food in my apartment. He didn’t leave. He told me what a good friend I was. We watched a bunch of South Park. I asked how he was going to make things right with Cassie. He said he didn’t know. He just didn’t want the kid to have a drug addict for a father.
It was just past midnight on the third night when we heard the glass break. I got up and looked out the window. I could see someone in Jake’s car with a flashlight. I turned around to see where Jake was, but he was already out the door in his boxers.
Jake and I had known each other for years. We’d been in more than our share of bar fights and he never once needed my help putting some guy on the ground. But it’d been a long time since I was like that. So I didn’t follow him out. I called the police.
I didn’t see what happened. I was on the phone. I only heard the gunshot. Then another. Then another.
That was ten years ago. And I keep thinking about that word. Jake’s the victim. It sounds like something only happened to him. Somehow I’m not included in that equation. Neither is Cassie. Or Jake Jr. But really, if Jake’s a victim, so are we.
Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas
About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.
So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story. Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal.