Latest Flash

The Break-In

Today in The Gutter: Patrick O'Kelley's debut.

Wear armor. This one is banging.

The Break-In by Patrick O'Kelley


Whether it’s the first or hundredth time, you never get used to the sound of shattering glass.  Thank God this is my last go. You always want your last to have the biggest score. Most of my shit’s always been small time. Anything to kiss the boss’s ass, mostly petty shit like gas station cash grabs. Nothing I’d get sentenced to life over. But this one... this one’s different.

I wait the long silence before entering, slip over to the foyer, and catch a glimpse of my next obstacle: the staircase. I’ve always hated two-story jobs. My foot rises and comes down gently onto the first step. The wood plank creaks. Damn it. I take a moment, listening for any extracurriculars going on above me.

I make it to the top, stopping to catch my breath as I pull out my 9mm. I go to the first door on the left. Laying on the bed is a boy of about ten or twelve, best I can tell. A poster of the ThunderCats hangs above him. In the corner is a nine-inch Zenith portable television set with a Nintendo hooked up to it. Next to me is a shelf with some Cabbage Patch Kids resting on it. I take one of them. My little girl has been wanting one for several months. Broke my heart seeing her come up empty handed for Christmas. She’s such a sweet girl, my Charlotte.

Times are tough and thieving ain’t glamorous. I’m not different than most. Living job to job like others live paycheck to paycheck. Only difference is a nine to five is steady.

I look back at the boy laying in his twin bed, sheets scattered about. I turn, returning the doll to the shelf and exit the room, leaving the door open.

I continue down the hall to the parent’s bedroom, twisting my silencer onto the barrel of my Sig. The couple lay there, moonlight hitting their faces.

Boss is nice enough if you don’t screw him over. Of course, that’s what this man did. What’s that old saying, “sins of the father” or something like that? Well, this time the father’s sins call for the family’s funeral. Never been a killer before, but this is my one chance to get out.

What would you do to make sure you’d always be there for your baby girl?

It only takes three seconds. Shoot. Pause. Shoot. White pillow cases now stained red. I sigh in relief.

Behind me, the hallway light buzzes to life. I turn as a twelve-gauge shotgun racks at the end of the hall. The boy aims the shotgun in my direction. The Cabbage Patch Kid is laying sideways on the floor. Sweat beads my forehead.

I raise my hands, shaking the 9mm in surrender. I slowly bend down to slide it to the boy. Not taking my eyes off of him as I rise and see a tear fall down his cheek. I tell him I am sorry, stepping towards him. 

He backs into his room, raising the shotgun to his wet eye. He lines me up best he can and takes the shot. 

I hear the noise before I feel the shot. I fall onto my stomach. The shot wasn’t clean but effective. Blood pours out of my left leg. I look up in his direction.

I see my daughter. She bends down to pick up the doll, tears flowing from her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” I say. Not to the boy, but to Charlotte.


Patrick Joseph O’Kelley, 26, works as a GIS Inspection Coordinator for a utility service provider in North Alabama. I have no previously published works. Thank you for your time and consideration.