(This was really experimental on my part. Tell me if it's any good.)
Juan Gonzales held the magnum up to the man's face, clenching and unclenching his hands around the butt, sweat beading like pearls on his hairline. The man stared back at him – unmoving, silent, a cigarette dangling from his lips – holding his own gun with both hands, tense and wary. Oil, smoke and powder seemed to radiate from both guns. Smells he could taste and feel. This was a duel. Ten paces, turn, fire. He didn't want to kill the man, but he still couldn't help picturing his blood, his screams, a twisted expression. Blood would run in the grout. And he would drink it. Warm and rich and coppery.
Kill him, Papa said.
Juan exhaled and blinked sweat out of his eyes. The man blinked back.
Remind me why again, Papa. He hasn't done anything to me.
Papa laughed softly, clear and bell-like, vibrating. Mi hijo, I call the shots here. You do what I say. This man dies. Tonight.
Florescent lights hummed above them, cauterizing Juan's retinas, casting harsh shadows. The contrast was bright, white, like a poorly developed picture and smoke from the man's cigarette curled into the air and fingered the bulbs gingerly. The man waited. Juan waited.
Drugs, his Papa had whispered to him. Rape, murder, all kinds of vice. This man was a repeat offender. A criminal king pin. They would be doing the world a favor, knocking this bastard off of the streets. One shot would end it all. It would be a public duty, a public service; like cleaning trash out of the ditches and gutters...except on a larger scale. This man was a different kind of trash. Poisonous and deadly.
And this place – Juan glanced fleetingly around the room, bare and naked, except for himself, the man, and Papa – was a different kind of gutter.
And here they were. Barrel to barrel, eye to eye, the man’s survival-of-the-guy-on-crack-cocaine versus Juan’s higher moral dogma. But he didn't want to kill the man. His Papa wanted him dead. Integrity and principles and ethics had always been his father's métier. Papa was the kind of man who would fight escaping felons barehanded, cross swords with child molesters in the streets, and hang heroine addicts on the nearest tree if he could. Bad people deserved bad ends, he always said. Plain and simple. He was a white knight vigilante, draconian in his own twisted way. And if he had to take the law into his own hands a couple times, so be it.
It was better to ask forgiveness, than permission.
What are you standing there for? Pull the trigger!
The man pulled on his cigarette without a word, waiting for Juan to make a move. For some reason, Juan felt a sort of empathy for the man. He had made his own mistakes in life, after all. And yet repentance and redemption had always been available for him; a proverbial cup full of sweet, thick, cool peace of mind and purity. Juan wanted to reach out to the man and give him directions back to the straight and narrow road, the pathway back to the cup.
Hang a left and drive about a mile. Can't miss it.
Father, I have sinned.
I know this. Kill him and things will be better.
And what if I don't?
You will. I know you, mi hijo. You will make the right decision.
And then there was the blood. Also sweet, thick, cool, full of peace of mind and purity. He looked the man up and down. He would like to taste it, his blood. Salvation pulsed in the man's veins, pumped in his heart, flushed in his face, while God and Christ were arcane and out of reach. He blinked and the man blinked back.
Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
I will say it once more, mi hijo, and only once. Pull the trigger.
Kill him, you indecisive ass!
Under the florescent lights, his face contorted, tears running down his face suddenly, Juan Gonzales pulled the trigger. The bullet carved through the air, humming, buzzing, screaming.
And shattered the mirror.