I Regret Nothing By D.I. Jolly

“Murderer!”

The bar grew suddenly silent, as everyone started looking around for the source of the scream. Just as suddenly as it had stopped the room refilled with noise as people shouted and scramble to their feet and away from a man standing in the middle of the room holding a gun. All except one man, who sat calmly at the table his friends had just fled from, still sipping his drink.

“Murderer!”

The Gunman shouted again, taking a step forward, now even more outraged for being ignored. In a flash The Calm Man turned in his chair and rose to meet The Gunman, but did not advance, or speak.

“You, you monster! Demon! Look at you. How dare you be so calm!”

Again, the man just sipped at his wine not saying anything, drawing even more anger and frustration from The Gunman who’s jaw tightened and he screamed.

“You murdered my son and you feel nothing!”

The two men finally locked eyes and The Calm Man replied.

“I disagree.”

“What?”

“I did not murder your son. Murder implies it was premeditated, something I chose to do. I did no such thing. He came to me with a challenge and lost. I killed him yes, but I did not murdered him.”

The Gunman’s eyes grew wide.

“You’re arguing semantics with me, you’re standing their drinking wine, admitting to killing my child and you’re complaining that I’ve used the wrong word to describe you! You’re a fucking monster!”

“That may be so, and I am sorry for your loss, but you dishonour your son by being here.”

The Gunman levelled the gun at the man’s head and pulled back the hammer.

“Fuck you.”

The calm man didn’t move except for a slight narrowing of his eyes.

“If I were you, I would consider my next action very carefully.”

The words hit The Gunman and his nerve suddenly started to fray and his arm began to shake.

“I am aware that you feel a deep and profound loss, but you are projecting that pain onto me. Because it is easier to blame me than see the truth.”

“Which is?”

“Your son made a choice, and it killed him. I was merely the instrument of his death, but it was his choice that ended his life, and by pushing the blame onto me you are dishonouring his choice, and his life.”

The Gunman’s arm lowered and his face fell blank with disbelief.

“Your son spent years training, dedicated to a single idea which he pursued forsaking all else, and when he thought himself ready he found and challenged me. We discussed it, I even asked him twice to confirm it was what he wanted, and it was. By all rights, he could have won, but simply didn’t. That is not my fault, it’s not your fault or the fault of your son, it simply is. And there is nothing you can do that will ever change that.”

“My God… you don’t care, you… you genuinely don’t care. You killed my son, you ruined my life, and you just don’t care, do you?

The calm man took another sip of wine, let out a long breath aware of what would happen next and said.

“Not even slightly.”

“In that case, on my son’s honour, I challenge you.”

“You are making a mistake.”

“Is that what you said to my son when he confronted you?”

“Yes. And like to him, I shall say to you. Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

The Gunman raised his hand once again, his voice hard and sure.

“Absolutely.”

There was a moment of uneasy tension before a blur of movement and a loud bang echoed through the small bar. Everyone who hadn’t fled to drop to their knees and cover the heads, ears now ringing. A small bit of the ceiling seemed to burst, sending concrete dust tumbling down on the two figures now on the floor. The Gunman lay with his head in the Calm Man’s lap, gasping with the stem of a wine glass sitting deep in his heart. He looked up at The Calm Man who holding him still, offering what comfort he could.

“Do… do you regret any of this?”

The Gunman spluttered.

“Your son was honourable, today has been very unfortunate and I would have preferred to avoid it, but no, regret is not something I suffer from.”

Tears welled up in The Gunman’s eyes and blood started to pool in the back of his throat. As The Calm Man watched life slip away he let out a breath and said.

“If it makes you feel better , I will no longer be able to see the friends I have or use the name I have, I shall have to move on and start all over again. I may be alive, but my life as I’ve known it the last few years is over.”

A small flicker of understanding passed through The Gunman, but he was gone before he could react. For a long moment The Calm Man stared down at him, then without pausing to explain anything to the onlookers, he rose, grabbed his things, left money on the bar and disappeared into the night.

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