wraithMick knew he only had a few minutes left. His son Tyler couldn’t stop the bleeding from his throat. Mick looked up and smiled. He wished he could tell him how much he loved him, Tyler and his little boy Jimmy.

Mick knew tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal would taste like ashes to them, to Tyler’s wife Jenny, three months pregnant with their second child, a grandchild Mick would never know.

He knew they would find it hard to be thankful, but Mick was thankful.

He was thankful he’d stopped the son of a bitch from taking Jimmy.

The bastard had been preying on children all over Orange County for a year and a half, sneaking into houses at night, forcing a window or coming in through an unlocked patio door. He’d been taking children, probably followed them home from school or spotted them playing in front of their houses, cased their homes, set up a plan so he could kidnap them, rape them, and murder them.

Not this time.

Mick was old but not in such bad shape. His biggest problem recently was insomnia. His wife died six-months ago of cancer, and Mick still had a hard time sleeping without her on her side of the bed.

Tyler, his wife Jenny, and little Jimmy were visiting him for Thanksgiving. Mick had plenty of room for them in the house he and Linda had raised their five children in.

An hour ago, he’d gotten up, gone downstairs, and sat in his recliner in the living room. Jimmy was sleeping in the spare bedroom by the front door. Mick could hear him breathing. His five-year-old grandson always wanted the door to his bedroom to be left open a bit.

After a long while, Mick heard something else, something that didn’t fit. He heard the sound of the window in Jimmy’s room being opened, and what could have been a person climbing through pushing curtains aside. No one had used that spare room in months. The window must have been left unlocked, dammit.

Mick turned on the lamp on the table next to him and immediately regretted it being momentarily blinded.

“Hey you! Get out of there!” Mick hoped his yelling sounded more intimidating than he was so whoever was crawling into Jimmy’s room would get scared off.

He burst through the semi-opened door, saw the shadowy figure frozen in shock right next to the open window.

Mick used the intruder’s momentary confusion to grab a now screaming and crying Jimmy and shove him out the doorway and into the hallway. “Tell your Dad and Mom to call 911,” he yelled at the boy.

The guy pulled a knife. “You’ll pay, motherfucker.”

Mick was 67 years old and although he still went to the gym several times a week, he was no match for the much younger man. In seconds, Mick’s arms were covered with defensive cuts, then the assailant got lucky and sliced the older man’s throat.

In a desperate act to save his life and protect his family, Mick punched the other man in the face as hard as he could, causing him to trip and fall backward. The man hit the back of his head against the unyielding window sill, and Mick could hear a distinct snap. When the man’s body came to rest on the floor, his head was tilting at an unnatural angle. His neck was broken. He was dead.

And Mick was dying. He was on his back now. Tyler was trying to apply pressure to the wound, but it was too long and too deep.

“Dad, hang on. The paramedics are coming. Just hang on.” Mick could see tears dripping from his son’s eyes. They were falling on his face.

He smiled again at his son or tried to. He could hear the siren in the distance getting closer, but he knew he wouldn’t make it.

He was sorry that he’d never get a chance to see Jimmy grow up or to hold his unborn grandchild in his arms, but he was also thankful.

Mick was thankful that he’d saved Jimmy. He figured this was the same guy who had been preying on all those other children, so he was thankful he’d stopped this bastard permanently. He’d never have a chance to hurt any more kids.

“Thank you,” Mick tried to whisper. He tried to say “I love you,” but only a gurgling noise came out. In the last moment of his life, Mick was thankful that Jimmy was spared and that he would grow up. He hoped he would grow up to be a good man. Then blackness closed all around him.

I wanted to write a Thanksgiving-themed story and this is what I came up with off the top of my head.

2 thoughts on “Thankful

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