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The Big Break

When you strive for greatness and God slaps you down,

it's hard not to spit in his face and play God yourself. 

The Big Break by CT McNeely

Everybody felt uneasy when he wheeled in. Bobby Driscoll hadn't been the same since that fight—the big one. The one that was supposed to make him.

It didn't.

No, that's the one that broke him.

"Come on now, Bobby, let's talk about this..." Peters said. He was a new cop. Came to get some coffee. A moment of peace before a hard day's work. Wrong place at the wrong time. That old story.

Now Bobby had that gun and a girl pulled over to him and any hope of peace and quiet in Peters' day was gone. Bobby held the piece to her skull.

"Why do you say that, huh?" Bobby said, trying and failing to hold back the tears. "Why do you say you wanna talk? You don't want to fucking talk to me, do you?"

"Course I do, Bobby. Let's talk about this, man. Just don't do nothin' stupid, we'll talk all you want."

Bobby couldn't stop crying. He cried hard and fast, like a man does. He pressed the gun firmly to the girl's head so that she wouldn't think of moving when he wiped his nose and face with the other hand. He looked around the room. Bobby'd been coming to this diner since he was a kid. A goddamn institution in this town.

He'd come in after a fight with a busted lip or some missing teeth and somebody'd pour him some coffee, black as his eye, and they'd laugh about how he got his ass kicked but you shoulda seen the other guy. After that sonofabitch broke his leg and put him in the chair, Bobby kept going to the diner. His first marriage fell apart. She didn't sign up for no cripple. The second marriage came together and Bobby came to the diner less frequently. Every time after that, when Bobby rolled in bruised or bloodied, nobody joked about it. They all thought about the things they'd seen his second wife say or do but they didn't joke, and they sure as shit didn't talk about it.

"You watch the fights, Peters?"

"Sure, Bobby, sure I do," Peters lied. "You were quite a fighter, huh?"

Bobby ignored him. "Marquides fought Ackerman last night. You believe that? Guy's still fighting."

"It was wrong what he did to you, Bobby."

Bobby snorted. "Right and wrong ain't got shit to do with it, Peters. You know that. 'It's what you signed up for' they told me. You break bones for a living, sooner or later you're gonna get your own self broke. "

"You gonna shoot that girl, Bobby?"

The girl started crying.

"What if I do?"

"You pull, I'll put you down."

"I suppose you will. Suppose I want you to?"

"It ain't gotta be like that, Bobby. Hell, I know you're in pain. I know the things people say and I know you must hear it too, but it ain't gotta be like that. You just put that gun down and we'll see that you find a way to figure all this stuff out."

"I'm done figurin', Peters, and I'm done being lied to." He pushed the girl away just enough to give her the idea and she went running. Bobby never wanted to hurt her; he was just using her until the moment came. He turned the gun on the kid cop.

"Ain't nobody gonna listen to anything I got to say. Don't even want nobody to. Life's just a bunch of hurt and hurting. Sometimes you get hurt, sometimes you do the hurting."

The words made it pretty clear what Bobby's position was, how he had led Peters to this moment. Suicide by cop. They don't train for no-win scenarios at the academy. Peters shook.

"Please, Bobby."

"Think you can still pull that trigger after I do, Peters?"

"Don't do it, man. Don't you fucking do it."

Smoke. Thunder. Broken dishes and broken hearts.

The girl called it in, told it all between the sobs.

Two dead bodies.

So. Much. Blood.

CT McNeely is the Chief Editor of the pulp fiction magazine Dark Corners. His fiction has appeared in All Due Respect. He lives in Arkansas with his awesome family and asshole cat.