Word Count 494
For Want Of A Vote
By Josh McMullen
“How am I supposed to feed my family?”
It was a simple question, really, one that the senator had no trouble giving quasi-answers to on TV shows and in the newspaper. But one-on-one, with the scraggy man standing in front of him, he could only stand there and say nothing.
“It’s a simple question, Senator. I have a wife and two kids. With what you just did… How. Am I. Supposed. To feed. My family?”
The senator flushed, knowing exactly what he was talking about. Less than 24 hours earlier, he had cast the deciding vote on a bill that, for all intents and purposes, would allow employers to force their employees to pay full price for provided health insurance if they deemed it necessary.
He was just on his way to write his resignation letter. He didn’t like it on principle, but principle didn’t pay the bills, not in government, at least. The writer of the bill came to him in the middle of the night. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours someday,” was all that was said. If he wanted to do what he wanted for his constituents, he needed every vote he could possibly get. A handshake later, the senator had officially sold his soul. There was absolutely nothing he could do, because it was on its way to the president’s desk in five minutes.
They said nothing. The senator had no excuse for what he did, and the scraggy man was too filled to the brim with rage to speak any further.. The dissonance was palpable, yet still (and without the other knowing such) they shared an unspoken harmony.
“You have one chance to explain yourself,” The scraggy man said. “I honestly don’t care what happens to me.” That’s when he pulled out the gun. “My wife won’t have to worry about it…there’ll be one less person to pay for, thanks to you.”
“Look, you don’t have to do this,” the senator said. “I know what I did was wrong. It was purely based on politics, and I have no excuse. I’m sorry.”
The scraggy man thought for a second, then fire came back into his eyes. “You know what you did was wrong…yet you did it anyway. You claim to be a man of the people, yet you do things like this. That’s it, the time for talk is over.” Without a second hesitation, he pulled the trigger, and the senator fell to the ground, crimson flowing all around him. The last thing he heard was the loud explosion of the second bullet burying itself into the scraggy man’s chest. He fell to the floor right next to the senator as a flood of humanity surrounded them.
It’s strange…for want of a simple vote, a simple raise of the hand or cast of the ballot, two lives were lost. May God and my constituents forgive me for what I’ve done… the senator thought as everything faded to black.