Inspired by: The Ballad of Hollis Brown
Harrison returned from town. He paused, taking in his home for the final time, trying his hardest to think about the good times he had in it.
He ventured out into the Texas Territory to start a new life. The fall from grace for his family came rapidly and unexpectedly. His Grandfather was a respected judge in the Provence and eventually, the State of Maryland. He lived a long and luxurious life, knowing no hardship. Harry’s father died in an alley.
Harry opened the front door of the cabin he built for his wife and five children. He used the small fortune he inherited from his Grandfather and bought hundreds of acres of land and a hundred cattle to graze upon it.
Inside his house, his family was starving. They have all wasted away, little more than skin and bones. His children turned to see if he brought with him food from the store.
“I have a surprise for you, children.”
Their eyes glowed with excitement.
“Your favorite candy! Mr. Smith threw it in for free.”
The children cheered weakly but did not run to his side as he wished they could have. He regretted this whole failed endeavor. He brought them a piece each, and they quickly consumed it.
“You shouldn’t be feeding them that! They need a proper meal.”
“I don’t think it will make a difference, Patricia.” Harrison consoled his wife.
“We haven’t had but one meal all week! They’re starving to death!”
“I understand, honey. I’m taking care of it.”
The quick profit convinced Harrison the family would find fortune in the nascent state of Texas. Land was plentiful, and he took on a larger herd to graze upon it. But the rains stopped coming, and the cattle ate all of the grass. A drought overtook the region, and his cattle wasted away.
“I’m just going to step outside for a minute.”
“You just got home!”
“I just need to check on something.”
“You drag us out here, and then you abandon us! My father was right about you, Harrison Taylor. You and your family are nothing but trouble!”
“I know, dear. I’m sorry.”
Outside, Harrison removed the rest of his purchase. Seven shotgun shells. He loaded them up into his gun. He contemplated what he was about to do, but knew he had no choice. These cost every last penny he owned, and his debtors would arrive soon, demanding repayment.
He was a failure like his father was before him.
He cocked his shotgun and stepped inside.
“Harry! What are you doing!?”
BLAM. BLAM. BLAM. BLAM. BLAM. BLAM.
He turned the shotgun on himself, satisfied his family’s suffering was over. It was the least he could do for them.
He took a deep breath and pulled the trigger. Click.
He checked the shotgun and pulled the trigger again. Click.
He threw the jammed shotgun aside and sank to the floor. He should have known he wouldn’t be able to end this cursed life so easily.