Ben closed his eyes and tried to hold his breath as he felt the pocket warm blade of the knife press against the folds around his Adamís apple. He didnít feel it cut into him really, just a buttery sputtering of blood and his lungs letting themselves out through the new hole in his neck. All he could think about was how he had expected to be stabbed in the back. He didnít think these punks had it in them to cut an old mans throat. However, what he did feel in his back was a foot kicking him to the ground. As his face flew towards the asphalt, Ben braced for what he knew was going to happen. His face hit the icy ground chin first, and he felt his dentures slip out of his mouth as his bottom jaw shattered into pieces. He opened his eyes, only to see his precious old blood hastily pooling into a steaming puddle around his face.
This was the end of his life. The thought deflated his very soul. Ben knew he would never get up again. He knew he would never see the sun again. He knew he was a dead man, and all the wonderful things he had once seen and felt and loved would never be seen from again on this earth.
He didnít ever think it would end this way.
As the noise around him faded, Ben began to choke. He was discovering just how difficult breathing actually was with a slit throat. It puzzled him that even at the age of 89, lying in the ice and snow bleeding to death, life could still teach you new things.
The world slowly began to spin as he watched is blood form small red rivers in the snow.
At least I died trying he thought.
As soon as Ben closed his eyes, letting the icy cold take him, the sound of the girl crept past his dimming senses and called to him from the numbing darkness. He pried open his eyes and could see that they were starting in on her now, circling around her like jackals. After the first strike, her screams and moans were intermittent through slaps and kicks.
Ben was helpless. All he could do was look on and think about how he had let her down. In his final moments, when he was needed the most, he failed. He failed and now they would get her. The shame gripped his heart and squeezed the life from him. It was simply too much for him to bear, and he wished death would come quickly and release him from his defeat. Then suddenly, as if it has always been there, Ben remembered.
Forgetting all the pain and blood, he summoned every shred of strength he had left. He desperately commanded his body to respond and grant him this dying wish. He slowly began digging his hand into his pocket, and was greeted by the familiar sensation of warm heavy metal. The rush of adrenaline that coursed through what blood was left in his body seemed to stay the reapers blade, and flooded him with strength.
Ben heard the sounds of the girlís clothes being ripped and torn away, and the lusty jingle of fumbling belt buckles and zippers. She wasnít putting up much of a fight, but who could blame her after seeing what they just did to an old man who gave them trouble. Hot gasoline blood burned in veins throttling his old heart. He felt as if he could explode. Ben dragged his .38 from his pocket. Unable to lift it, he slid his Colt through the icy puddle of steaming blood that had gathered around him and into position. He thumbed back the hammer and took aim. It was only then he realized the girl had stopped crying, and was staring directly at him.
The shot rang out like a metallic fire cracker. When the bullet connected with the back of its targets head, two things happened. The bullet continued on, carrying away brain into the misty night, and his targetís body toppled backwards into the snow bank. As hard as it was to breathe with a hole in his neck, Ben could reckon it was even harder to stand without a brain. Without wasting a moment of his precious borrowed time, he then shifted his gaze to the other man, who was standing with his pants around his ankles, trying to grasp what had just happened. Perhaps the sight of an old man beaten, bleeding out his neck, with false teeth hanging out of mouth, pointing a gun at him, was a little hard to process.
ďStop please! Iím sorry man! Please donít shoot me!Ē he stammered, one hand holding up his pants, the other in the air surrendered to Ben.
Ben thumbed back the hammer again.
Another shot rang out into the blistery chill of the night, and the sound of it raced away on starry snow swept winds.
As quick has it had come back, his remaining energy fled his body. The cold returned and the blood flowed. It took Ben a moment to realize she was screaming. He saw her sitting in the snow, hugging her knees to her chest screaming, but he couldnít make it out. He could see she was upset, but at least she was safe, and he could live with that. He could die with that.
Ben then let go, letting the world cascade into nothingness around him. As he drifted off, he could make out the fading sound of jazz whispering to him from his car radio, and the low warm thrum of his Cadillacís exhaust.
Not a bad way to die he thought.