It was supposed to be a good night.
My wife Angela was out of town with her friends and I had the house all to myself. I picked up a corny action flick from Redbox, grabbed some takeout, and headed home.
About halfway through the movie I grabbed my new iPad. My wife and I bought matching ones a week earlier as an anniversary gift. Neither one of us really had the chance to upload any new Apps, so I figured it was the perfect time to start wasting away the hours playing some mindless games.
As I turned on the iPad, I noticed an App I had never seen before smack dab in the middle of my front page. It was some countdown App. I opened it and the only thing listed was an event called, “It’s Done.” Next to the name was the countdown clock, which had just hit an hour and 20 minutes.
A thousand different thoughts ran through my head at that precise moment.
How did I get this App? How was the event added? What would happen in a little over an hour?
I’d like to say I was cool, calm, and collected about something that to most people would be quite trivial. But I was an absolute wreck. I already deal with severe anxiety. So this mystery had me climbing the walls.
I thought about calling my wife, but what would I tell her? I mean, I didn’t really know what I even thought. Was my iPad threatening me? Was it some warning from beyond the grave?
As the countdown clock got closer and closer to zero, I got more and more anxious. I eventually ended up going downstairs to our master bedroom, shutting the door behind me, and laying in bed.
As I lay there, I had the iPad propped up on the pillow. Like a tried and true nutcase, I just stared at it. Watched it click down as if it was the New Year’s Eve ball drop.
Then, at exactly five minutes, I heard a loud bang from somewhere in the back of the house. Now, I should point out, I’m anything but brave. So, as any sissy would, I leapt up over the bed, knelt down on the floor, and listened. There was another bang. Then another. Then glass shattering.
In the dark, I reached for my phone, only to realize I had left it upstairs on the coffee table.
Footsteps, heavy footsteps. I could hear them making their way up the stairs. I listened intently as the footsteps made their way to our loft. I then heard them turn back around and head towards the stairs.
I knew then, that it was now or never. I did have a gun. One that I had only shot once in my life. It’s not a manly gun, by any means. Something probably even a woman would be embarrassed to have found in her purse. But anything was better than nothing at this point.
I grabbed the gun from my dresser drawer. As I did, I could hear the heavy footsteps making their way down the hall towards our room. I stood up, my legs shaking wildly.
The door opened. A large silhouette appeared. What happened next is a blur for me. All I can remember is the gun going off. A loud bang. The silhouette lurching backwards. And then silence.
Honestly, I can’t tell you how much time went by before I finally found the nerve to investigate. As I neared the door, I turned on the bedroom light. On the floor was a large man. His neck and arms covered in tattoos. In his right hand was a handgun…far larger than what I had. In his left hand was a phone.
He wasn’t dead. Not yet. The movies make it seem so quick and easy. Bad guy gets shot. Goes down for the count. That’s it. But in real life, death is slow and horrifying. The bullet had punctured his neck. The man made a series of loud gurgling noises as he choked on his own blood. I probably looked heartless as I stood over him, watching him die. But to be honest, I was frozen with fear and anxiety.
After a few minutes, the gurgling stopped, his eyes rolled into the back of his head…and he was gone.
I knelt down beside him. Fear of what had just happened was now replaced by fear of what would come. Would I get arrested? Would I be found guilty of murder? Would I go to jail?
Then his phone started to ring.
I honestly don’t know what compelled me to pick it up. But I did.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t. But ultimately, I’m glad I did.
“Hello?” came a familiar voice on the other end. “Is it over? Did you kill him?”
I knew the voice. I knew the voice better than I knew my own. And knowing that voice…knowing what it meant to me…what it had meant to me…took the air out of my lungs.
“Hello? Hey, it’s Angela. Are you there? Listen…I left my iPad there. I accidentally took his. Grab it for me before you leave.”