Shootings (Part Eleven)

Shootings (Part Eleven)

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 | 9 | 10 | 11

The Managing Editor of the Town Times called the Mayor about Matt? And it was important enough for Greg to get a call after hours? This can’t be a good thing, Greg thought.

He tried to tread the unfamiliar water. “What did he have to say?” Greg said.

“He wanted to let me know that Matt was coming back to the newspaper, and to ask if I saw any conflict in having him take the city government beat,” Mayor Lancaster said.

That didn’t seem so bad, but the other shoe was going to drop. Greg just knew it. He cringed and said, “And?”

“I thought I would run it by you, since you were his boss. Did he seem disgruntled or like he would run and tell any secrets?”

Good God, I hope not.

“Umm, no, not really. He always was upbeat around me. And don’t worry, Your Honor, all of your secrets are safe.”

They both laughed.

Greg had another thought. “It will be kind of weird, though, like he’s working for the dark side or something.”

“I guess. I’m pretty sure the old coot was going to put Matt on the city beat no matter what I said. He’s never cared about my permission on anything else.”

Greg pushed the Indiglo button on his alarm clock and watched the blue light fade out slowly. “More of a warning, you mean?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. Let’s just be extra careful. For starters, change any important passwords he might have known.”

There it was. She had called so Greg could immediately revoke Matt’s privileges.

“Will that hurt your group much in his last two weeks?”

“No, ma’am. He hadn’t moved too far outside desktop support, so limiting his access won’t bother us.”

Greg had great respect for the Mayor and never had a problem doing whatever she asked. He frequently told people that if she requested it, he would wash her car.

Whatever she asked, Greg thought. Oh no.

“Your Honor? Do you know if Matt said anything about why he was leaving his job with the City?”

“No, we didn’t discuss that.”

Had Matt decided that Greg’s asking him to delete the video was so unethical that he had to leave? Worse, had he done anything else with it before deleting it? Would it be the center of his triumphant return to journalism?

“Thanks for calling me, Your Honor. If there’s nothing else, I need to tag team with my wife,” Greg said.

“Of course. I don’t want to keep Raeylnn waiting any more than you do.”

“I’ll make sure to tell her you said that. You might need her vote next time around.”

Greg couldn’t talk to Raelynn, who had become his only confidant, and he couldn’t call Matt and talk to him about his motives. Instead, he went through the motions of dinner and Alex’s bedtime preoccupied by dread.

——-

“All rise,” the bailiff said.

Martin stood from his chair at the defendant’s table and, seeing the American flag on a pole near the back wall, barely stopped himself from putting his hand over his heart. She isn’t coming out here to sing the national anthem, genius, he chided himself.

Then he almost laughed. That would make for an interesting final day in court, no matter the verdict. He controlled his smile and stopped himself from taking it further; his imagination and his impulsiveness had landed him in this courtroom, but he was not going to let them get him hauled off to jail.

Always look respectful and respectable, he reminded himself with his late mother’s own words.

His mother. What would she think of all of this? Of his committing violence, accidentally though it was, with a gun, however low it ranked on the lethal scale. His parents had always hounded his brother and him about gun safety. Never aim at anything you don’t intend to kill.

He thought back to the last day he saw her alive.

It was on a frozen mud road bordering a thickly wooded forest in the Mississippi delta. She sat in the passenger’s seat of the shortbed, four-wheel drive pickup, next to his father, while Martin sat in the truck bed with his younger brother, Billy.

The two boys, 12 and 14, huddled tight against the back of the cab to block the cold December wind. Each held his deer hunting rifle by his side. The road was rough, and despite his layered clothing Martin felt his tailbone bang against the metal with every bump.

A larger jolt bounced the boys up, and Billy lost his balance and fell backward. A deafening explosion sounded. Martin opened his eyes to see a hole in the rear windshield and his mother slumped over the dashboard.

His father stared at her for a moment, in shock. Then he leaned over and put his hands on her head. “Oh, God! Shelly. Honey? Can you hear me?”

An inhuman cry came from his father’s mouth, filled the forest, echoed back from the trees on the opposite side of the meadow.

Billy had left his rifle’s bolt closed and its safety off. Somehow while falling and trying to keep control of the gun, he had pulled the trigger. His father never forgave Billy for the accident, and permanently left the boys with their uncle. Billy sunk into depression and committed suicide a week before his 14th birthday. Despite his uncle’s frequent nights out to drink and play snooker, and then obsessively play the game when he happened to be at home, Martin survived his teenage years and went on to college.

Then, on a simple morning work commute, he had done something colossally stupid, bordering on crazy. Although he had not killed anybody, he almost had. Am I crazy? The woman whose life Martin had affected had indirectly forgiven him, and he liked to think that his mother, had she survived, would have forgiven Billy. Instead, he had been convicted by only one man — their own father — with extreme prejudice.

The judge’s gavel brought him back to the present. Now all that mattered was what those 12 people in the jury thought.

(to be continued)

2 Replies to “Shootings (Part Eleven)”

  1. Just wrapped up chapters 10 and 11 here this morning. Too busy yesterday to get any reading in at all.

    A little bit of Martin’s back story helps bring his personality into perspective, and Matt leaving Greg to go work for the paper sort of ramps up that situation, doesn’t it? Coming together now.

    And Mark… I’ve seen those Coke Zeros in your crisper!

  2. Interesting post… can’t wait to see where this goes! And BTW… indiglo? *LOL*
    Rubbing it in how I lost then found my alarm clock? *L*