Lucas Pool did not for one minute consider reneging on his vow.
He had broken many promises in the past, including those to the one he now owed a debt of gratitude. But this debt would be paid. Only an act of a kind and loving God could have been responsible for the outcome of his recent brush with the Internal Revenue Service.
Pool had had only himself to blame, and he knew it. He had let his books get sloppy, and when the IRS audit landed in his lap he had little time to work anything up. He had hired Theo Rikmann simply because he was available, but Theo’s work was always suspect.
And so Pool had prayed to God: “God, if Theo’s bookwork gets me past the IRS, I promise I’ll do something nice for you. I’ll rid the world of something ugly. I really will.”
When the miracle occurred, Pool cast about in his mind for the something ugly he could rid the world of on God’s behalf.
His first thought was Theo Rikmann. Had Theo’s work not been of sufficient caliber to soothe the auditor, Pool had planned to make certain Theo apparently committed suicide rather than be dragged into the process. Theo was something of a loose end, but he wasn’t the sort to blab or demand more money. So Theo Rikmann got to live.
“It’s an ugly world,” Pool said, looking out his window. The summer sunshine bathed the street in gold as children played in the yards and old men smiled at them from rocking chairs on porches. “I should be able to reach out my hand and touch something God would want to see gone.”
He looked as far as he could to the south. Ten blocks farther and about fifteen or so west was a little synagogue. It might make God happy to see it burned down. Those were the bastards who killed His Son, after all. “Aaaah, as long as there’s all of Israel, what’s one little synagogue here?” So the synagogue was left untouched.
He looked as far as he could to the north. That held possibilities. That homo couple lived some twenty blocks north and five or six east. The guys who had gotten married in California last year and came back and made a big deal of it. Not that it was recognized as legal in Pool’s state, but they still flaunted their fake marriage everywhere they went.
“That might just do,” Pool told himself. “God just hasn’t gotten around to dealing with them yet. He’s gotta clean up San Fran first. Now how to do it?”
There were ways to get a gun that would be tough to trace, but Pool wasn’t a great shot. He kept shotguns at the store and at home and a handgun in his car, but he never seemed to find the time to practice with them. Recognizing this drawback, he always kept the safeties off so he didn’t have to fool with that in an emergency.
Pool snapped his fingers. He went into his kitchen and rummaged in a couple of drawers and a tiny closet before he found it – a wrist-braced slingshot. He had taken it away from a kid who was shooting at the side of his store one day a few years back. It had come in handy when he needed to deal with wasp nests and the occasional stray dog that was crapping on his lawn.
He looked it over and blew some dust off of it. This might be the weapon, but he wasn’t yet sure how to make the best use of it.
It seemed obvious to Pool that the removal of the ugliness would have to be carried out at night, when no one could see him. Maybe he could shoot a ball bearing at the house, get the homos to come outside and look, and then pop each of them in turn.
The memory of a couple of wasp stings reminded him that his aim wasn’t as true as he would require. It would be best just to burn down the homo house with them in it. Molotov cocktail, of course. Maybe he could launch one with the slingshot.
The uprights were kind of close together, though. Pool picked up a fallen soldier from the previous night and tested it. Nope; the bottle wouldn’t go through. “Maybe … I can just launch it over the top, though. I still get the power. It’ll arc up, come down through a window, and boom! Yeah. That’s how. Gasoline’s in the garage.”
Pool took a little nap between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. so he would be refreshed and ready to do the Lord’s work. He had everything in the garage. The slingshot was on the never-used passenger seat, and two beer bottles – each filled with gasoline and a rag protruding from its top – sat on a shelf. He picked them up, set them between his legs to keep them upright, and headed out to fulfill his vow to God.
The block where the homos lived was nice and quiet. Just a typical block. Kids lived there, probably even went trick-or-treating at the sodomites’ house. How parents could raise their children like that Pool couldn’t understand. “It’s an ugly world,” he said. “But it’s about to become more beautiful.”
He parked two houses east of the homo dwelling and got out of his car with his equipment. He walked around to the right rear side of the car, planning to use the trunk to steady his aim. The car was just far enough from the curb to let Pool crouch on the pavement.
He put one of the bottles against the slingshot’s pocket and made a few test pulls to get the right angle. After the second dry run, he turned the rag farther away from him so as not to singe his own hair while pulling back on the rubber bands.
Pool’s heart thumped in his chest. He had only one chance to get this right. If he failed, the homos would be alerted and it would be far more difficult to make good on his promise to God.
He took out a disposable lighter and set the rag aflame. He pulled back on the rubber bands and took aim. He let the bottle fly. It went straight over the end of the car and smashed in the middle of the street, burning brightly.
Pool cursed and snatched up the other bottle. He lit the rag and loaded the slingshot. He drew the bottle back and aimed upward – and the right rubber band snapped of old age.
Pool’s hand, no longer held in tension, continued to come toward him. Both his hand and the bottle smacked up against the side of his head. He tipped the bottle, allowing a little gasoline to spill down his back, and the burning rag lit it.
Pool screamed in outrage and blossoming pain, and he dropped the Molotov cocktail. It bounced off his car and broke on the pavement at his feet. The burning gasoline found purchase on Pool’s shoes and pants, and he rapidly became a living torch.
It might have interested Pool to learn that when a neighborhood is awakened by flames and screaming, people do not rush off their porches to investigate. They hang back in their doorways, trying to wake up enough to discern what is happening. By the time the police and fire department arrived, Lucas Pool was dead.
He had, however, made good on his promise to God.