I didn’t sleep again last night. Not because today is the most important day of my life. Not because of this awful bed. It was the dream again. You know how you wake from a nightmare panting, your face covered in sweat. Your heart racing because the dream felt so real. Then you have some idea of how I have spent most every night for the last four years. The only difference is when I wake up the dream still feels real….because it is. I lived my nightmare, and I relive it over and over again.
I take my time getting ready. It’s funny how people do that on an important day. As if everything will go to hell if your hair isn’t combed just right or you missed a spot while shaving. It’s not so much that you need to look your best. I think people like to be in control as much as they can. So when you need everything to go as planned at least you have done everything you can. But at the end of the day no one gives a shit if you missed spot shaving. But this interview has to go well. So I am willing to spend the extra ten minutes getting ready, even if it only awards me some peace of mind.
Every time I am in a new room I find myself studying it, like I will need to remember it later for some reason. The pale green walls, tiled floor, the ceiling fan above my head that looks like it may break loose from the ceiling at any moment. But I need to focus, I need to pay attention to what is about to happen.
Why do people buy these lights? I hate fluorescent lights. They make everything seem sterile and filthy all at the same time. I need to focus. This isn’t like any other interview I have been through. This one is important. Damn, this chair is uncomfortable.
“You are Mr. Jesse Coair?”
What? Focus dammit!
“I am Commissioner Tompkins and also joining us will be Commissioner Diaz. Now you are here today for your initial parole hearing. You have served four years of a nine year sentence for vehicular manslaughter, to which you plead guilty is that correct?”
“Yes sir it is.”
“Do you have any appeals at this time?”
“At this time the family of Mr. Harold Davis will have a chance to speak, Mrs. Davis?”
“Thank you.” Mrs. Davis stands up shaking. She looks me dead in the eye. “These last four years have been the hardest of my life. There has not been a single day that I have not thought about what happened that night.” Her hands are clutching her purse so tightly her knuckles are pure white. “I must admit…I hate you Mr. Coair.” A tear streams down her cheek but she keeps staring. “I hate you for taking my Harold away from me.”
She must have lost 30 pounds since the trial and she was not a big woman then.
“I hate that my son doesn’t have a father. I hate that my life has been completely altered because of your actions.” She grabs a tissue from her purse and dabs the corners of her eyes.” But I forgive you.”
“I forgive you Jesse because that is what God has told me to do.”
God was wrong.
“And I know my Harold would want me to forgive you too.”
That’s the problem with Christianity. Complete forgiveness. Some people are not worthy of forgiveness. What happened to an eye for an eye?
“Thank you Mrs. Davis. Mr. Coair, do you have anything that you would like to say to this board?”
There are a thousand and one things I could say. I stand slowly and take a breath.
“Yes Sir. First off, Mrs. Davis I want you to know I am haunted every day by that night.”
I could tell them to keep me in this God forsaken place.
“I wish that I could change what happened and that I could take your husband’s place.”
That I deserve to be here. I killed your husband.
“I wish that I would have been more responsible. That I would have never gotten in that car.”
That you shouldn’t forgive me.
“That I am a different man than I was.”
That I am weak.
“Members of the Parole Board, I can in no way pay for what I have done.”
That I only want out so I can say goodbye to my mother.
“I made a mistake four years ago. A mistake that I will never forget.”
That I am giving myself what I deserve.
“I have learned from that mistake and if I am granted parole,”
I am giving myself what the state of Illinois should have given me four years ago.
“I will be a model citizen and change my life for the better.”
I am giving myself the death penalty.
You would think someone who has taken as many cabs as I have would feel at home right now. Dozens of times I have sat in the back of a car while some stranger takes me wherever I want to go. Dozens of times I have surveyed the back seat just looking at the floor boards, not wanting to make eye contact with the rear view mirror. Even though I am no stranger to this seat it feels wrong. Wrong because I have spent the last four years in one place and now I am free. For four years I was told what to do and where to go, now all I have to do is say the word and this man will take me anywhere.
It feels wrong because if I would have been in this seat four years ago Harold Davis would be alive. If I just would have called a cab everything would be different. It is useless chasing that thought. I nearly drove myself crazy chasing that same idea. If only I did this or that he would be alive. The only thing that train of thought gives me is pain and nausea.
The past is the past. It is concrete. Four years ago I got in the driver’s seat and killed an innocent man. It does not matter if it was my intention or if I am sorry, the man is still rotting in the ground. According to the state it does matter. If you kill a man in cold blood they will sentence you to death or life in prison. If you kill a man because you got in your car after a night of drinking…4 years. Either way you have made a decision and that decision cost someone else there life. It’s simple really.
As we enter my part of town I see it has gone downhill. Several businesses have been closed. Boards stand where there were once windows. Graffiti covers any wall that is not interrupted by a door or window, and some of those as well. Even after seeing that, I am not prepared for what I see as we turn into the neighborhood.
What happened here? So many houses…abandoned.
The first house I notice used to belong to an older couple. They died about a year before I went in and left the house to their son. They always made sure their yard was taken care of. Every spring you could see her planting flowers and pulling weeds. Her husband would cut the grass at least twice a week. It looks like the yard has not been touched in a long time. The paint on the house is chipping in several places. Most of the windows are broken out and the front door hangs on a single hinge. Trash litters the front porch where there used to be two rocking chairs. There were a dozen or more houses like that one.
I feel another wave of disbelief as we make our second turn and I see three houses on one street that have been burned to the ground. Nothing remains but the charred studs and black chunks of wood that used to be furniture. It gets worse the further we go into the neighborhood. So many homes destroyed. Five years ago you would see children playing in the yards, fathers grilling burgers on the deck, mothers tending their gardens…families, people building their lives. I suddenly get the feeling I am driving through a cemetery. Each broken house a tombstone marking the death of the American dream.
I feel my face get hot when my street comes into view. The moment is here. The moment I have looked forward to and dreaded simultaneously. After four years I finally get to see my mother. Finally… yes finally I get to see her. This is where my dread comes from. This is the last time I will see my mother or anyone for that matter. Final. I knew this would be the hardest part. Pulling the trigger will be easy. I have sentenced myself and have no reservations about it. My mother, how can I look her in the eye knowing that I will take her son from her forever?
I am relieved to see that for the most part the homes on my street are livable. When I see my house I feel tears in my eyes. I quickly rub them away and take a deep breath. I am not an emotional person. I didn’t cry when I killed that man or even when I was sentenced. Emotion just gets in the way of things. That does not mean that I am unfeeling. I, of course, feel sorry for the woman I made a widow. I feel terrible about what I am going to do to my mother. I am certainly not looking forward to blowing my brains out. My tears, however, serve no purpose. That being said sometimes emotion gets the upper hand on logic and ruins everything. If I am to say goodbye to my mother without her knowing it is goodbye then I have to have my emotions in check.
The car comes to a stop in front of my mailbox. I hand the driver his money and grab my white mesh bag. I step out of the car, close the door and turn toward my house and there she is. On the front steps of my home my mother stands. She is standing there holding her hands tightly to her chest, tears streaking her aging face.
She walks slowly down the stairs to the sidewalk. My feet are stuck. I stand there, still gripping my bag as if it were the only thing keeping me from falling to the ground. I finally take a step and then another and another, fighting the entire time the urge to run into my mother’s embrace. When we were within two paces from each other she opens her arms and I rush in to hold her, for her to hold me. For a moment I am not a convicted felon. I am not a murderer. Standing there with my mother holding me I am a child. Even though her head is just below my chin I am a baby in her arms.
“I missed you so much mom.” I start to get choked up and clear my throat. “It’s good to be home.”
“I missed you too Jesse. Promise me I won’t have to miss you anymore.”
I feel my throat tighten and have trouble catching my next breath. Ever since I was a child and would get in trouble my mom could always say the perfect phrase to fill me with guilt. I never was sure if she did it intentionally but it was the most effective punishment she ever gave.
How am I going to do this? We break apart and I realize I have tears running down my face. I quickly wipe them away and attempt to gain composure. This is going to be even harder than I thought.
“Well as much as I would like to keep you all to myself there is a house full of people who want to see you.”
I didn’t even notice when I pulled up but there are half a dozen cars in the driveway.
“Mom I thought I said not to make a big deal of it.”
“You should have known better than that. Come on let’s get inside.”
From the porch I can here laughter and multiple conversations coming from inside. But when we walk in the door all conversations are instantly cut off and every eye is on me. I scan the living room to see who came. It’s mostly my mom’s work friends that I have known for years and a few aunts and uncles. I was hoping Jason would be here. Maybe he had to work. A moment or two passes before my Uncle Eric come up and gives me a big hug. He is my father’s older brother, and the closest thing I have to a father. After we break apart people start their conversations over and resume whatever they were doing.
“We sure did miss you son. Glad your home.”
“Thanks Uncle Eric it’s good to be home.”
I have several interactions much like the first one. ‘Good to see you.’ ‘Glad your home.’ ‘We missed you.’ ‘I prayed for you every day.’ I thank them all for coming and for being there for mom. I try my best to keep it short because I see that my mom made homemade pecan pie and I have had nothing that even resembles home cooked food in four years. I finally make it to the kitchen and get a slice then excuse myself to my room to change.
I open the door to my room and see the only other person I cared to see other than my mother sitting on my bed playing my Nintendo 64.
“Why don’t you just make yourself at home ass hole!”
Jason looks up from the game and turns toward me. “Jesse! Awe man I am so glad your back.” He gives me a tight hug that lasts for a few seconds then clears his throat and sits back on the bed. “How are you doing?”
“I’m okay. It will take a while to get back into the swing of things. How have you been?”
We spend the next fifteen minutes catching up. Most of that time I had to spend convincing Jason I wasn’t raped in prison, which was annoying and refreshing all at once. Even that few minutes I spent talking to everyone in the living room it was obvious they did not want to mention the fact that I was in prison. If you were eaves dropping and didn’t know any better you would think I just got back from the army based on the way the conversations went. Jason was never one to beat around the bush and for the first time I’m glad.
“So what are you going to do now that you’re out?”
“I guess get a job. Where are you working?”
I came up with answers for these types of questions in the cab.
“The job market is pretty tough right now. I am bar tending at a restaurant in town. I could probably get you a job there until you found something else.”
I won’t need a job.
“So what happened to the neighborhood?” I ask.
“I know man it went downhill fast. It started probably two years ago when the car plant shut down. A ton of people lost their jobs and couldn’t pay for their houses. People were getting evicted left and right. It’s sad man.”
“I didn’t know the plant shut down. What about your dad? Did he find a job?”
“Yeah he was one of the lucky ones. He is working construction now. The pay is not as good and its rough on his back, but it pays the bills.”
“That’s awful. What about the houses that burned down?”
“Gangs I guess. That’s what I hear at least.”
“What gangs? There aren’t gangs here.”
I hear a knock at the door and see my mom poke her head in. “Jesse your uncle is about to leave and wants to say bye.”
“Ok mom, be right out.” She closes the door back. “Hey Jason want to hang out tonight?”
“Yeah man. I have to work till 10 but you can come to the bar. It will be slow tonight and we can go somewhere after. I need to get going anyway.” He stands up and heads to the door and turns back. “I really
am glad your home Jesse.”
I get undressed and grab my favorite jeans and t-shirt. My jeans are a little loose. I guess I lost some weight while I was in. I did work out a lot. My shirt is a little tight on my arms and chest. This Batman shirt looks a little less ridiculous without my gut sticking out.
I pull into the parking lot of A&C where Jason works. He should be off in about 30 minutes. After being around all those people this afternoon it will be nice to have a few minutes to myself. That was one thing I didn’t mind about prison. Plenty of time alone. There were three times I had to share a cell with someone. Each time was no more than a month. I have always enjoyed solitude.
I wonder what Jason will want to do tonight. At this time of night bars are about the only thing that will be open. I would love a drink, but I am done with that.
From behind me I hear sirens. I look in the mirror and see a fire truck racing up then speed past and out of sight. After what I saw this afternoon I can’t help but wonder if it is going to some old house. I bet kids have been using those abandoned houses to party in. Then one pyro starts screwing around and the next thing you know there goes the house.
I have never understood the fascination some people have with fire. I grew up with a kid, Nathan, that kid would light anything he could get his hands on. Like the time he almost burned down his cousins deck at a barbecue trying to set one of those balsa wood planes on fire. At least he didn’t have time to throw the damn thing before it was engulfed. I was glad he grew out of that. He turned out to be a pretty good friend. I can’t believe he is gone. It’s tragic really, in every sense of the word. One minute you are married to the woman of your dreams with a baby girl and then you come home one day to find your world in pieces all around you. His wife left him a note saying she was leaving and taking his daughter, Bonnie was her name I think. I don’t blame Nate for what he did. I think if the most precious things in my life were ripped away from me in an instant I would eat a bullet too. Then again I am not depressed at all and I am going to do the same as soon as I find a gun.
I wonder what it will feel like. The moment just before I pull the trigger what will I feel? Will I feel? I have no fear of death in this moment, but it’s still distant. Who knows what will happen when I feel the cold metal press against my temple. I hope I feel something. Fear, remorse, hopelessness. Something. I have always understood these emotions. But understanding and experiencing is not the same thing. My passenger door suddenly opens. I jump, and then I realize it’s just Jason.
“Shit man you scared me! Did you get off early? I thought you still had a half hour?”
How about that, a feeling.
“No. It’s five after ten.”
“I must have zoned out. What do you want to do tonight? Anything but drink.”
“I understand. I have been hanging around drunks all night. I’m hungry, want to get some pizza or something?”
We go to Capulo’s, a place we used to go all the time after school. It isn’t the best pizza in town but it’s familiar. The place hasn’t changed much since I was here last. I like that. Jason orders our pizza at the counter, a large “Meats”, what we used to get. We grab a booth in the back corner of the restaurant. It was our usual booth in high school.
“So how was work?”
“It was work, nothing exciting. Although last week we had to call the cops because these guys got into a real bar fight.”
“Like in the movies?!”
“It was close. These two guys start shoving each other and then one of them just clocked the other one in the face. Well he falls down on to this couples table and spills beer all over the lady sitting there. Her husband gets up and starts wailing on the other guy. A couple other people jumped in. I didn’t really see why, I had gone to get my manager.”
“That’s kind of awesome.”
“Yeah it was pretty cool. Stuff like that doesn’t usually happen there. It is usually pretty chill there but there was a game on. You know how crazy some people can get over football.”
“By the way I talked to my manager and he said he has an opening if you are interested. It’s washing dishes but it’s something at least for now.”
I don’t need a job. I just need a gun.
“Yeah maybe. Can I ask you something?”
“Do you feel safe?”
“What like here?” He gestures to the restaurant.
“No not at Capulo’s. I mean in this town. It looks…rough.”
“I feel safe for the most part. Sure there is more crime than there used to be but the chance of you getting shot or robbed is pretty low. Why, are you?”
“Not for me. I am worried about mom.” I hesitate for a second. This is going to be tough sell. “I am thinking about getting a gun.”
“Jesse, are you serious!?” Jason leans in close and lowers his voice. “You can’t get a gun you are a felon!”
“I know I just feel like we may need some protection.”
“How are you planning on getting one anyway?”
“I don’t know. I obviously can’t go to the store; I would have to find someone to sell me one. I have no idea how to find someone like that.”
“I know someone.” I instantly see regret wash over his face. “But shit man I don’t think you should get one! I know the neighborhood looks rough man but it isn’t that bad, really!”
“I know man. It’s more for peace of mind than anything. I would rather have it and not need it than the other way around. You know?”
“But what if you get caught with it? You will go back to jail.”
“It’s not like I am going to walk around with it in my freaking pocket. I would keep it at home. Please Jason. I am not going to get caught with it.”
Jason let out a deep sigh. I know what he is thinking. He doesn’t want me to have a gun, but he feels like he can’t say no to me. He blames himself for that night. I have told him a thousand times it wasn’t his fault. This time I won’t say anything. I need that gun.
“Okay.” He concedes. “But you have to swear to be careful. I’m serious.”
I hate to do this to you Jason. You are going to regret this forever, but this is how it has to be.
“I will I swear. Here comes the pizza.”
Where is this guy? He said he would be here ten minutes ago. I think that’s him, yeah black pickup truck. He pulls up and rolls down the passenger side window.
“Are you Jesse?”
“Yeah Aaron right?”
“You got the cash?”
“Yeah here you go.” I hand him my money. He quickly counts it.
“Ok here you go.” He starts to hand me a paper sack, and then quickly pulls it back. “Needless to say if you get caught with this you did not get it from me. Understand?”
“Yeah, no problem.”
He hands me the sack and drives off. I stand there for a second making sure no one is around. I didn’t think there would be. I am in a deserted part of the neighborhood. They started developing back here years ago and ran out of money. There are a dozen or so half-finished houses back here, this place is as good as any. I walk into the house that I was standing in front of. This house, like most of these unfinished ones, has an upstairs. I go up and find a big open room. There is a big window at the end of the room, no glass. The plastic wrap on the house has started falling off and huge piece dangles in front of the window occasionally blowing in the wind.
Well here I am. This is the moment. Everything is in order. Will made out. Note in my pocket. The note was harder to right than I thought. Thinking through what I am doing doesn’t faze me. There is something different about putting the words in ink and paper. They are no longer negotiable in a way. Sure you can throw the paper away. I know that putting words on paper does not dictate action. Still, it is different. I hope I explained everything well. I hope Mom will be okay. She has always been strong, but everyone has a breaking point.
I suppose there is no point putting it off any longer. I raise the gun to my head. I softly push the barrel to my right temple. I wait for a moment trying to determine what, if anything, I feel. I know it doesn’t matter. I will be a lifeless body in a moment.
What was that?!
I lower the gun and rush to the window. That scream came from outside. I see a woman being chased by a man in the backyard of the house to the right. I rush down stairs and out the front door, sprinting after them.
“SOMEONE HELP ME!!!”
I run as fast as I can between the two houses, I can still here the woman screaming. When I round the corner into the back yard I see the man on top of her. He is struggling to get his pants off while keeping her pinned to the ground. I run over to them and I grab the man and throw him on his back. I point my gun at his forehead and pull the trigger without a thought crossing my mind. The sound is deafening.
The woman lies on her back sobbing uncontrollably. Her face is swollen from being hit and is splattered with blood. I look at the man and see that the top part of his head is split open and his brain is spilling out on the grass. I feel completely numb. I have no power to move, speak, or even think. All I can do is stand over the body and take in this gruesome scene. It takes me several seconds to shake myself back to reality. I take a couple steps back and bend over to make sure the woman is alright. She tries fighting me off, hysterical, not knowing what is going on.
I finally get her to the back of the house and get her calm enough to speak. She is still shaking. When she speaks her mouth barely moves it is hard to make out what she is saying.
“Do you have a cell phone?” I ask her.
“I…I don’t know….I ahhhh…..Ye….yes. I have ahhh” She lets out a wail.
I wrap my arms around her and rock back and forth. “Shhhh shhhh shhhh. You’re safe now. You’re safe. Shhh shhh. Where is your phone?”
“I… It’s in my jacket over there.” She points to the corner of the house.
I go to pick up her jacket to get out her phone. What are you doing? You have to get out of here you can’t leave your prints on her phone just go.
“Okay, listen to me. You need to call 911 and tell them what happened, okay?”
“Okay.” She is still sobbing. Snot pours out of her nose and mixes with the blood on her face. I don’t think that is her blood.
I kick her jacket over to her.
“I am going to leave now. You are safe okay. The police will come and help you.”
“No!! Don’t…don’t leave me please!!”
“I am sorry” I turn and start running. I can hear her screaming from behind me.
“Please stay with me. Please!”
Her voice fades by the time I pass a couple of houses. My mind is trying to process everything that just happened. Suddenly I realize I am carrying a gun and have blood on my arms and face. I start running through back yards trying my best to stay out of sight. My house comes into view; my mom’s car isn’t there. She shouldn’t be home for a few hours. I run up the front steps and go inside.
When I see myself in the mirror I see the right side of my face caught most of the blood. I must have turned my head. I did that when my dad took me shooting too. I have to get cleaned up. I run to my room and strip naked. I hide the gun and my close in my closet then run back to the bathroom. I hop in the shower and turn the water as hot as it will go.
I notice I am breathing very heavily. I take deep breaths and try to calm myself down. I feel the adrenaline pulsing through me. I am not panicked. I….feel alive!
Why do I feel that? I just killed somebody. Is something wrong with me? I didn’t feel this way after the accident when I killed Harold Davis. Harold Davis didn’t deserve to die. I just saved that girls life. That must be it. I am not a psychopath. I have to calm down.
My shower lasted the better part of an hour. I didn’t even realize it had been that long. When I finally snapped out of my trance the water was ice cold. I jumped out and ran to my room.
Then I have a sudden realization. I am still alive. I didn’t do it. Why? In the heat of the moment all I thought about was getting out of there.
I am glad I didn’t do it. If I would have killed myself after saving that girl that would destroy her. She had already gone through enough without having me blow my brains out right after killing her attacker. It was a good thing she screamed. If she would have waited another second I would have been dead, and so would she most likely.
I don’t believe in fate or destiny or any of that other stuff. But something has to be said for that timing. If I would have died that man would have his way with her. What’s worse, he most likely would have gotten away with it. Even if they caught him and he was convicted he would get ten years at the most. That disgusts me. Justice is a load of shit. In a way justice was served, more than it would be if the state had its way. I wonder how many people are out there you should have been put to death. Hell most murderers do 25 years tops. I wish there was something that could be done about that.
You know how you lay awake at night because you can’t seem to shut your brain down? No matter how many sheep you count your mind is racing. I can’t stop thinking about that girl and that monster that was after her. I can’t stop thinking about what I did for her. I have no regret about the man I killed. I feel no remorse. I do feel something however. Pride. It’s strange and morbid but I have an overwhelming sense of pride. I feel like I contributed to society by ridding it of this filth.
That is why I can’t sleep. My mind has caught on to a spark of an idea and my subconscious is pouring on gasoline. I have found a way to pay back my debt to society. Sitting in a cell is a poor payment if you ask me. Nothing is gained. For the first time the phrase addition by subtraction makes a lot of sense. How many murderers and rapists walk around free, after “paying their debt to society”? I am canceling my own execution by any means. I am just postponing it while.
One thing I know about myself is that I have to be deliberate. Since I have decided to put off my own execution I have to set a limit. If I don’t I will never “hang”. The second thing I need to be deliberate about is guilt. If I am to put someone to death I need to know that they deserve it.
After some thought I come up with four names, four that I can be certain are guilty. I met them while in prison. Each of them has been released and lives close by. Number one: George Martin, like me guilty of vehicular manslaughter, served 4 years. Number two: Conner Reese, rape and murder, served 20 years. Number three: Anthony Sanchez, bank robbery and murder, served 18 years. Number four: Jesse Coair vehicular manslaughter, served 4 years.
I pull up in front of 1407 N Maple. It used to be a nice home built back in the 20’s. Now it is a worn down triplex. One of the apartments houses George Martin. Now I just need to find a way to get him alone, isolated. The last thing I want is my own impromptu execution. That is my back up plan. If I get caught or think I will be caught I will end it. I am not going back to prison.
While I sit and wait for an opportunity to present itself I pull a folded piece of paper out of my pocket and read it for the one hundredth time. The paper is a calling card of sorts. I don’t want people thinking that George Martin is a victim of a burglary gone wrong. I want them to know why he is dead and more importantly I want him to know why he is about to die. I will read the note to him and pull the trigger.
“George Martin I hereby sentence you to death for the murder of Emily Black. BANG!”
Around 9:00 my opportunity presents itself. George comes out of his house and starts down the sidewalk. I follow him for a couple of blocks then pull up next to him.
He spins around. “What?”
“George it’s me Jesse from the pen.”
“Oh, hey Jesse I didn’t know you got out.”
“Yeah, about a week ago. Hey do you need a ride?”
“No I am fine. I am just going around the corner there.” He points to a convenience store several blocks down.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. It was good seeing you.” He turns and starts walking again.
I hop out of the car and take a step toward him. “George.” He turns back around. His eyes shoot down to see my gun pointing at his chest. “Get in the fucking car.”
Before going to George’s house I found a neighborhood much like my own. With many abandoned houses and entire streets that have been abandoned. I get George into an abandoned house listening all the while to his blubbering and begging. In the living room I force him to his knees and press the gun to the back of his head.
“Why are you doing this!?”
“George Martin I hereby sentence you to death for the murder of Emily Black.”
Conner and Anthony were very similar. The only difference was that Conner did not beg. He didn’t cry. He agreed with me. Since leaving the penitentiary he has spent all of his time either drunk or high. Trying to forget the horrible things he has done. He told me that he wanted to die but that he was too much of a coward to do it himself. After I read his letter to him he almost seemed at peace, and then I pulled the trigger.
The news has had a field day with the killings. They call me the Executioner. They claim that I am a serial killer. I am glad; I wanted the killings to get recognition. I want the people to realize the filth that walks their streets. I have gotten rid of a few of them, just one more left.
I have decided to do it tomorrow, in the same abandoned house from before. I am meeting with Jason tonight. I feel like I need to say goodbye to him. I hate what I have done to him. When he finds out he will fall apart. He is the one who got me the gun. I at least owe him one more night.
I stop in at The Pit Stop gas station right outside my neighborhood to get a drink. When I walked in the door hits a bell hanging above it. Announcing to the attendant the arrival of a new customer. From what I hear this place has been robbed a half a dozen times. I wonder if the teenager behind the counter thinks about that every time he hears that bell. It’s like a sick version of the experiment by Pavlov. Instead of salivating every muscle in his body tenses up and his finger floats just over the button that notifies the police.
I walk to the back of the store, it is nearly empty. Just me the clerk and an older lady holding up two candy bars trying to make what seems to be a very important decision. I walk back and forth across the back wall, scanning the coolers trying to find something that looks good. On my third pass I see root beer on the bottom shelf. The same brand I used to get when I was little. I open the cooler and bend down to get it. Then I hear the bell go off over the door.
“Knock knock.” The screen door squeaks as I pull it open. “Jesse?” I step into the living room and see Jesse’s mom sitting on the couch watching TV.
“Hey Jason come on in. Jesse isn’t home yet.”
“Ok. Do you mind if I wait for him here?”
“Not at all. Would you like something to drink?”
“That would be great Ms. C. Water is fine.”
She walks out of the living room and into the kitchen and comes back a moment later with a bottle of water and hands it to me.
“Are you and Jesse going somewhere tonight?”
“Yeah we are going to go see if there is anything worth watching at the movies. Do you mind if I check the news? It is almost time for the lottery drawing”
I grab the remote and change it to channel 2.
“and it looks like once again we will miss the playoffs. Back to you Melissa.”
“Thank you Ted. This just in, the Pit Stop gas station was once again a scene of violence this evening. The neighborhood gas station off of Miles Avenue has been robbed at gun point seven times in the past year. Tonight, however, was very different. For more on this we go to Simon Barrymore in the field. Simon?”
Outside the window I see blue lights flashing as a police car pulls in front of the house.
“Thank you Melissa.” The reporter stands in front of a gas station just down the road. His jacket and tie blow in the heavy wind. His hair never moves. “As you can see by the paramedics behind me we are not just dealing with armed robbery. At around 7:52 this evening the alarm was tripped by the clerk. An armed man entered the gas station and demanded that the clerk give him the money in the register. An elderly woman who was shopping in the store was then shot by the gunmen when she tried to flee the store. According to the clerk a man at the back of the store then opened fire on the gunmen and after the gunmen died he turned the gun on himself and took his own life. The clerk then…..”
Knock knock knock.
“Is that a police car outside?” Ms. C got up from the couch and hurried to the door and opened it wide inviting to police officers to enter the house.
“Good evening. Are you Ms. Emily Coair?” The officer was a short middle aged woman. I think she gave me a ticket once.
In the background the reporter says. “The police have found familiar notes on the two gunmen. They believe that this may be connected to three other murders committed over that past few weeks. The names of the decease will not be released until the families have been notified. Back to you Melissa.”
“Is your son Jesse Coair?” The second cop has a deep voice that does not quite match his mousy frame.
“Ma’am, you may want to have a seat.”
Ms. C lowers herself onto the couch next to me. Her hand is trembling and tears already threaten to plummet from the corners of her eyes. She reaches down and grabs my hand and squeezes it as hard as she can.
“Ms. Coair… your son is dead. He was involved in a shooting…”
Suddenly I can’t hear what is being said. I teetered on the edge of awareness. It is almost as if my senses are powering down. I hear mumbled voices and a shrill squeal coming from somewhere close. There is something around my neck and shoulders. Something shaking and holding on to me for dear life. My face is flushed and my stomach feels as if it is trying to leave my body using my throat. Did he say that Jesse is dead? That can’t be it. We are going to the movies. Jesse is fine. He will be home soon. They are just mistaken.
“and tonight’s winning lottery numbers are 7, 15, 20 and……”