Shootings (Part Seven)

Shootings (Part Seven)

Shootings is a story about two men with completely different goals, and how their actions affect the same group of women. It will unfold here in serial format.

Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Martin slid open the back door and ran for the utility easement between his and the neighbor’s back yards. He could run along the narrow grass strip virtually undetected from the street.

From the corner of his eye he saw a man wearing a crisp white shirt and dark tie round the corner of the house and turn quickly toward him.

“Martin Thandle, we have a warrant to search your home. We have witnesses placing your vehicle at the scene of a crime.” Then, back over his shoulder he yelled, “Renfield, I am pursuing the suspect on foot! He is armed!”

Martin tightened his grip on his uncle’s coveted cue, and led by 20 feet when he reached the easement. He raced through brown weeds to his knees and jumped over gas meters and cable boxes, as fast as his feet would carry him.

His bare feet. In his haste he had not stopped to put on shoes. The feeling of the dry, crunchy weeds took him back to childhood playtime at a friend’s farm, where they never wore shoes while playing in field, pond, and barn. The problem was that the callouses he had developed back then had long since sloughed off to leave only tender flesh.

His feet were getting cold, but they were burning.

Hoping the cop hadn’t seen him, he dashed behind a tall bush and stood still, holding the pool cue with the wide end up, like a baseball bat.

Facing the easement, he shivered in December’s breezy air, working his hands on the tapered shaft, and looked up at the elaborate handle. A long, metallic silver inlay ran from the butt end to about halfway up the handle and then back down. Between each end of the inlay was a tiny golden scorpion, his favorite animal.

Fast footsteps approached.

Martin re-set his grip and peeked over his shoulder through the bushes. He noted the height of the approaching policeman’s head and adjusted the cue’s angle. Hoping he had timed it right, he swung the cue as hard as he could into the easement, about head-high.

The cue smacked the cop’s forehead and broke about three inches above Martin’s hands. The man shouted in agony and spent his next three strides falling into the weeds. His ribs struck a gas meter. He writhed in pain. The weeds and the dark tie flapped against his back in the breeze.

Officer down.

He shook off that violent fantasy — he never had hit anyone, and starting with a cop was about the worst idea he could imagine.

The cops’ feet were moving slower. They stopped.

“I do not have a visual,” the cop said, only a few feet from Martin, and no longer shouting. “He turned into the easement heading south but is not here now.”

A radio speaker crackled to life. “I called for backup and I’m coming to assist on foot,” said a voice from the radio.

Suspect? What am I doing?

Still behind the bush, seeing no good way around the situation, Martin loosened his grip on the cue stick. “I’m here,” he said and stepped into the officer’s view.

“Whoa, whoa. Drop the stick, Mr. Thandle,” the cop said. Martin complied. “Good, now put your hands behind your head.”

“I’m fine now. You don’t have to cuff me. I didn’t mean to hurt them.”

——-

Greg couldn’t believe his left ear, so he switched his mobile phone to his right. “What do you mean the orders are pouring in?” he said.

“I mean I checked our Yahoo! account this morning after you left for work, and we had a notification saying we had received calendar orders,” Raelynn said. “I checked the site and more than 250 orders have come in. What did you say to Deborah in the liquor store?”

He laughed. “Just to tell her friends they would make great Christmas gifts.”

“That’s all? That’s the extent of your marketing?” Raelynn said.

“Hey, I’m not an expert in that arena.”

“Whatever you did, Greg, it worked. If this keeps up, just think how much money we can raise for our cause. Plus your tiny percentage for your work.”

“Speaking of which, I need to get back to my real work. Thanks for the update, hot stuff.”

Greg had left the house that morning without another chance to get online, and YouTube and Yahoo! Mail were blocked at work. So was his site for Gregarious Productions, labeled a security risk because it was a “personal storage and backup site.” Sure, he had the power to disable those filters, but he couldn’t risk generating more Freedom of Information Act suspicion.

His only hope was that nobody who happened upon that video was in any way affiliated with the City, County, or local media. Several members of each would be familiar with that courtroom, and soon enough they would have access to the court video files shot from exactly the same angle. Doom couldn’t possibly be far.

He hoped that his recognition of Jocelyn Swinson could be attributed to the swimsuit more than anything else. If only his brain, drunk on booze and greed, had organized and prioritized that and all other pertinent information so plainly last night. He had to think of some way out.

Matt walked over to Greg’s side of the shop. “Hey, boss. What’s up? You look tired.”

Greg sighed and sat in his desk chair. “I am. Very.”

“You ever hear a song called ‘Whale and Wasp’ by Alice in Chains?”

“No.”

“That one makes me cry, especially now that Layne Staley’s dead.”

What a weird kid I hired.

Greg had a thought. He should not have had it, but there it was.

“Matt, did you delete that video last night?”

“Yep, during my maintenance window, just like I said I would. You aren’t wanting it back, are you?”

Greg laughed. “No, I’ve seen enough of it. Besides, I don’t think it was subject to FOIA because it was just a test video. The system’s not even officially online yet. We’re both clear.”

Well, not both of us, my dear Matthew.

(to be continued)

EDIT: I re-wrote a couple of lines of the easement scene, because at least two readers told me they didn’t catch that Martin had imagined actually hitting the cop with the cue. Read on.

2 Replies to “Shootings (Part Seven)”

  1. Things are certainly getting ramped up here, aren’t they? Different consequences for different actions for both our protagonists. The dialogue and reactions for the people seem very realistic and natural, and I’m really enjoying the flow of the story. I may even be able to relate to Greg just a little, for having regrets about actions taken under the influence. (But that’s pretty common, I think… right? RIGHT?!)

    So far, my only real criticism hinges on the collapse of that inflatable coffee cup. The fabric is designed to withstand a reasonable assault by the elements, being outside and all, so what can a pump-action pellet gut do to damage it? I was also given to understand (though it wasn’t made explicitly clear) that it was a pretty traumatic event for the mom and kid that got trapped under it as it collapsed. Not sure about that yet, but I feel it would be surprising and scary rather than physically dangerous.

    Since that’s all I can conjure for constructive critique, you can rest assured that I’m walking away from this with far more entertainment value than not. It’s a good, naturally flowing story, Mark.

  2. Simon – Thanks so much for the feedback. The fabric here is not just a thin plastic or latex. I’m picturing that stuff used for bounce houses, etc. As far a how the pellet gun could or could not puncture it… stay tuned.