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Live by the Sword


In my Matric (final High School) year, I was asked to write a lot of short stories in English. Many of these have been lost, but this very short one was found in one of my old files. My task was to write a short story starting with a feeling. The feeling I chose was anxiety. I extended the requirements by trying to work in the common adage, “To live by the sword.” The story is short, and perhaps creates decent foundation for a larger story. I hope you enjoy.

He felt it – the bite of anxiety and nauseating uneasiness which could only arise from one thing.

He had been betrayed and his family was next. There was no evidence to give his fears credence, but Joey Ganitó had not spent his entire life in this industry without learning a thing or two. If someone betrayed the family, losing their life was the least of their problems. A sword loomed over him, and its shadow covered his family.

As Joey stumbled from side to side, blood seeping from a wounded thigh, he could not help but feel that this poison which caused this attack on his life had been administered months ago.

It may have been a thug with a knife who tried to take his life this time, but Joey knew it was more the poison of his actions which had set things in motion.

Now that he thought about it, the poison may very well have taken hold forty-five years ago. When he was born. This poison was one flowing through his veins and had been in his family since the old country. And it had stuck with him, as he had lived by the sword every day of his life.

“If only I had backed out,” Joey Ganitó whispered to himself. “It was dad’s business. Didn’t have to join. He would have understood…”

Joey had had similar regrets only three months prior. Those regrets seemed to be a cure for the venom, but now seemed to be merely infecting the wound.

“I shouldn’t have listened. I had a choice. I knew the costs. No one crosses the Family and lives.”

Now, his potential assassin lay dead at his feet, his own knife lodged in his throat. Yet, the attempt on his life was not what terrified the Capo. The leader of the family, Don Curio, was a thorough man. He would not allow any loose ends. The Ganitó family would be slain to the last babe.

With a limp and a wince, Joey made his way to the open doorway. He would need to phone his contacts in the Agency – no, he needed to contact his family. The Agency had brought him nothing but trouble. He was wrong to turn snitch.

Joey’s car, much to his relief, was still parked outside the rundown tenement.

“Start, damn you!” he repeated over and over, growing anxious until the car started. The sudden whirl of the engine had never given him so much relief before now. He immediately sped off and headed straight for his house in the suburbs.

At almost full speed, it had taken minimal time for Joey to travel from downtown to the suburbs at the outskirts. His house was near the border and he screeched to a halt outside. He let the door fling open, a pistol in his hand. He ran to the door where he stopped.

As his hand reached towards the doorknob, he somehow sensed his death approaching. He would not survive long after opening this door. Yet he would open it. He would die by the sword.