This is from Creative Copy Challenge. The object is to use ten words and build a cohesive story. The ten words are bold. Original Post

The cold dark winter wind bit at Jerome as he sat in the back of the old pick-up truck. He bounced around as the vehicle raced down the interstate. If he didn’t think he was going to die soon, he would never have jumped in the back of this deathtrap. He held pressure on his lower abdomen to keep the bleeding to a minimum. He was thankful for the Samaritan who said would give him a ride to San Antonio from Houston with no questions asked. As cars passed, light would sometimes reflect on objects inside an old hubcap sitting next to him.

His friend, Casper at the liquor store said it was called a USB drive. He was begging for change at a familiar intersection when a car sped by and tossed the object out of his window. Jerome had no idea what it was; it was shiny and looked expensive. He’d been away from home for ten years. He thought maybe he could exchange the treasure for some liquid at Casper’s that would drown a sorrow or two. Casper tried to pull something up on his computer, but nothing happened. Only a name appeared, “Jericho”. He gave it back to Jerome and a forty for his time.

Jerome had gone to his corner to sit and enjoy his liquid amnesia. He noticed a couple of non-descript cars pull up to Casper’s a few minutes later. The visitors left a couple minutes later as quickly as they entered. Within seconds the place exploded. Jerome wasn’t sure if they saw him leave earlier or the stupidity of running from the scene that tipped off the visitors, but it wasn’t long before he noticed the burning in his side and the smell of gunpowder. He didn’t know why they left him for dead instead of following up on their initial attack. Maybe they thought an old homeless drunk wouldn’t be a threat.

He managed to get the bullet out with the old switchblade that currently rattled next to the USB. Is this where his decisions in life have taken him? His mind raced ten years ago to when he left his wife and daughter. He looked at the crumbled picture he always carried of him and his daughter Rose. Ten years on the street did a lot to the good looking man with the sharp haircut and trimmed goatee. He couldn’t remember if Rose had been in kindergarten or first grade in the picture. Regardless, he didn’t know how much time he had left. All he did know was that he needed to tell her something before he might die.

The Samaritan stopped a block away as promised and Jerome jumped from the truck bed. He felt the pain radiate through his torso the second he landed. He grimaced and limped his way back to the familiar house he once shared with his wife. He remembered bringing Rose home from the hospital. He thought of how scared he was when she got real sick shortly after the picture was taken. He couldn’t take the pressure of all the treatments, tubes and tests that were constantly attacking his daughter. A part of him died each time he saw his daughter in pain. So he just left.

For ten years he has beat himself up constantly about his decision. He would fight and clobber and wrestle with his fear of failure to find some excuse not to go back. The six months in what was generously called an asylum didn’t help much either.

So here he was, waiting for her to come outside to go to school. He needed to tell her something. She was the only one he trusted, maybe the only one that could possibly trust him. If only for a minute.

The five hour trip and two hours of waiting finally paid off. Rose came out the front door. He never knew that someone could be so beautiful. He wondered how someone as dirty and broken as he could have a daughter as wonderful and pure as this young lady. He knew it would be hard on her, but he had no other choice. Time was running out. He came out from behind a car as she approached.

“Rose.” Jerome softly spoke.

Rose jumped back and screamed.

“Wait, it’s me. Dad!”

“What?? Who?? Daddy?!?”

“I know I have a lot of explaining to do, but I don’t have much time left. I just need you to know that I’m sorry for leaving. I regretted the decision every day the past ten years. I love you very much and you’re the only one I can trust with this. I hope that you find it in your heart to forgive me someday. Take care of this please, the person on this has caused a lot of hurt and needs to be dealt with. In the name of love, please take this.”

He put it in her trembling hand and walked away. Rose stood frozen, not knowing what to do, say or feel. Jerome turned the corner, sat against a fence and died.

Rose wiped the tears from her eyes, opened her hand and cried as she pressed the picture against her chest.