Shootings (Part Thirteen)

Shootings (Part Thirteen)

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 | 12 | 13

As he and Alex inched closer, Greg thought he recognized the man curled up and weeping on the ground. He lifted his camera and looked at the viewfinder’s zoomed image to confirm it was Martin Thandle, the man who had shot the huge inflatable coffee cup outside the new Ground Control. He snapped a picture and quickly lowered his camera, his free hand resting on Alex’s shoulder to stop him and keep him close.

They watched the apparent breakdown of a man whose fortunes had taken an optimistic turn only a few days earlier in the week.

Thandle’s sobbing wound down to a few sniffles, and his breathing returned to a normal rhythm. He wiped his eyes and looked around as if to make sure nobody had seen his collapse. His expression fell as he noticed that most of the faces rushing past were aimed at him.

Then he looked at Greg.

“Hey, you’re the calendar photographer,” he said between sniffles.

Greg opened his mouth to reply, but one of the yellow-vested men watching over Thandle interrupted.

“Sir,” he said to Thandle, “are you okay?”

“I don’t know,” Thandle said. “I’m not going to start acting crazy again, if that’s what you mean.”

The two men visibly relaxed and let Thandle move to a sitting position, but remained close.

“So, are you the calendar photographer?” Thandle said. “I saw your picture on the calendar site’s About page.”

Greg tightened his grip on Alex’s shoulder. “Yes, that was me.”

“What are you doing here?” Thandle said.

“We heard someone yelling, so we came over to see.”

“No, I mean at the race.”

“I’m the official photographer for the calendar moms who are running today. We plan to raise money for a good cause and shamelessly publicize the calendar.”

Thandle pulled a tissue from the front pocket of his shorts and blew his nose into it. “Is Brenda Yeager still part of their group?”

So he had been shouting Brenda’s name, Greg thought. “Yes, but she couldn’t be here today,” he said.

Thandle looked worried. “Why? Is everything okay?”

“Fine, as far as I know. Just a scheduling conflict.”

“It’s probably best she didn’t see me like this,” Thandle said.

“Probably,” Greg said. But I’m pretty sure she’ll hear about it.

Alex still stuck to his hip, Greg walked to within an arm’s reach of Thandle. It made him feel the way he had as a child each time his paranoid schizophrenic uncle visited — glad to see him, but unsure which version of him would be present.

He wondered then if his own recent behavior should set off similar alarm bells. The scandalous video he had uploaded, then deleted. His thoughts of turning against Matt if the video ever surfaced. Was luck the only difference between him and the man now sitting on the ground?

Thandle turned his face from the passing crowd — just a few straggling walkers at that point — to Greg. “Do you think I’m crazy?” he said.

Greg turned to watch the last of the participants make their way down the tree-lined street, then looked ahead to the larger pack as it rounded the first turn. The breeze made the dappled light dance on the shifting mass of humanity.

Greg grinned. “Maybe. But aren’t we all?”

4 Replies to “Shootings (Part Thirteen)”

  1. I think it’s oddly appropriate that the two protagonists only came together at the very end of the story. I was expecting them both to have to deal with some sort of situation AFTER they met, resulting in hijinks or maybe even shenanigans of some sort. But no, just a snippet of life that wasn’t really significant to anybody but them, and then, like the Frost quote at the front of your main blog, Mark, it goes on.

    Fun story!

  2. The End?

    What kind of an end is that???

    I feel ripped off!

    What happened to the video? To Brenda? Did the kid who went back to the newspaper blow the cover off the story???
    Wow…

  3. Dave – All those things you mentioned are, indeed, still out there. But, Matt told Greg he wasn’t going to “blow the cover off,” and he was the only other person who knew about the video. Whether he was telling the truth, we may never know. Brenda seemed fine when she testified, didn’t she?

    Regardless, I closed this story for now because real life was needing more attention.

    Ripped off, though? I usually associate that with paying some sort of fee. I think you’ll find that even the most talented storytellers — like, say, Cheeseburger Brown — sometimes leave stories right in the middle when real life comes along.

  4. Yeah, but they don’t put “The End” in it! *LOL*

    (I was kidding… should have chuckled and somehow didn’t).

    But it did stop quite abruptly..! I almost got whiplash from the stop.