Jake Newton’s family moved to the neighborhood a few years before Mrs. Capro was diagnosed with cancer. At a glance they portrayed the typical middle income American family. Both parents worked to make ends meet while Jake and his kid sister subjected themselves to school and subsequent activities afterwards. The weekends became work at home days for mom and dad. Sadly, Jake used this time to act out.
It started innocent enough. An up-ended garbage can here, a midnight run through the neighborhood spraying paint there, smashed mailboxes everywhere. Jake’s imagination grew more elaborate after talking to several other kids. Through clever research Jake discovered a particular news story involving Mr. Capro and missing school funds. Jake digested this information for days, when he ran into me at the local hardware store.
Jake seemed locked in an internal struggle. I noticed his indecision and thought, “I would go with the cut resistant gloves and the 10lb test”. He stood there looking at me blank faced. I pointed at the gear in his hands and reflected on a time long past, “that way you don’t accidentally leave your DNA on the line when cut”. Jake nervously asked “what did you say?” not sure he heard me right. I turned to face him and said, ” so you plan to some fishing, huh?” “Oh, huh, yeah”, Jake stammered, “me and some friends are going to do some fishing.” I stroll past him calling back over my shoulder, “make sure you use the right bait”.
The next day Mr. Capro left his house headed to work and ran face first into the news article Jake dug up. He had suspended it using the fishing line. Taring at it only got Mr. Capro’s hand tangled in the line when it snapped. Mr. Capro then saw a much greater scheme at play. Jake took the time to dangle multiple pages throughout the yard randomly at first sight. Viewed at the right angle it transformed into the word “thief”. The next week Jake put a copy of the article, edited to include a picture of his handy work, in every mailbox spanning a six block radius.
I have to admit Jake’s efficient use of time in the prank department borders on genius. I thought it would take more effort on my part to convince him to do these things. It continued like this for several more months, then the Capro’s received that fateful diagnosis. Jake heard through several friends the Capro’s situation and thus called a truce for a time. This break allowed him to plan and stock up on supplies. He wanted to have a big welcome back to “Pranksville” once the Capro’s came home. When Jake found out Mrs. Capro never made it home, he offered to take care of the lawn and weed the garden. Mr. Capro exhausted from little sleep and overwhelmed with grief snapped at Jake. “I know it was you, you little fu…” Jake didn’t wait around for Mr. Capro to finish. It wasn’t long after that, Mr. Capro found himself face to face with me as I tried gently slicing him out of plastic wrap. I thought this might be the cruelest thing Jake had done until Mr. Capro found Sparky, his beagle, velcroed to the hood of his car like an ornament.
I have no qualms taking life. I am not particularly cruel when I do. Usually a swift method is best, however there is the rare occasion I must set an example. Jake’s life was not taken quickly nor was it cruel. On his eighteenth birthday Jake was speeding through the neighborhood re-enacting a car chase scene from his favorite movie as he slammed head long into another car. The two cars seemed to unify themselves upon impact. It was the sudden explosion in the dead silence that brought out Mr. Capro. He did two things after leaving his house. First he called the media alerting them of the accident and second he began filming the heap of metal. One other thing he did was laugh to himself at Jake’s misfortune. The hospital pronounced Jake D.O.A.
Part three of a fictional short story by Corey Souliere