Note: This story has been submitted to the Australian Writers Centre for their monthly 500 word maximum Furious Fiction competition. This month’s challenge was for the action to occur on a train, to include something frozen and include three consecutive three-word sentences.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
As Max watched his son-in-law, David, board the train, he knew one thing for certain; they would both be dead soon. David would die first. Today. On this train. Max would die later, from terminal cancer. To be sure David hadn’t seen him, Max boarded just as the train was about to leave.
Amidst the metal-on-metal soundtrack and the rock-and-roll sway of the carriage, Max ruminated on the journey that had led to this.
His daughter, Jane, couldn’t see it, not back then, but Max could foresee the inevitable apocalypse that David’s narcissism would bring upon the lives of Jane and their children.
The early warning signs were there when David insisted Jane wear flat heels when they got married, so she wouldn’t be taller than him in the wedding photos. Then came the litany of jobs that he walked out on because management failed to realise his self-assessed genius.
Max hoped the arrival of the twins might moderate David’s behavior but all it brought was more nights drinking with his mates and a new propensity for Jane to walk into doors, followed by extravagant presents of remorse for Jane and the children.
The downward spiral gathered pace when David demanded control of the finances and took out a second mortgage on their house to start a business that was going ‘to revolutionise the world of on-line marketing’. He needed expensive suits and a luxury car to impress potential investors. And then he was bankrupt.
Jane brought the children to live with the widowed Max and started divorce proceedings. Incensed, David bombarded them both with increasingly bizarre emails and texts, saying that he was going to get custody of the kids, no matter what it took. The AVO Jane took out didn’t stop the stalking and harassment. His IT mates always found a way to track her, no matter how many times she changed her phone and email.
At night, Max wondered what had happened to create a world where men could do such things and other men would not only not intervene but aid and abet. In Max’s world, men fixed things that were broken.
When the Family Court inexplicably granted David permission for the children to stay at his flat for the weekend, Max could foresee David’s vengefulness unfolding on the evening news. He took his old service revolver from the safe. It was time.
As the train slowly emptied and the aisle between the seats became clear, Max stood and walked towards where David was sitting and stopped, facing him. Eyes fixed on his phone screen, it took a moment for David to notice Max. When he did, he looked from Max’s face to the gun in Max’s hand and back to Max’s face and the condescending smirk that was his trademark turned to a frozen grimace.
Max did something. David was dead. Jane was free.