Chapter 25

“If you say one word, Riley, I will kill everyone in this wretched hole in the wall bar…and first to go will be the cute, little pregnant woman.”

“Do.  You.  Understand?”  He spoke each word so very carefully.

I could hardly breathe.  But I nodded.

Tommy chuckled softly.  “You really didn’t believe me when I said that I wasn’t going to kill you…did you, Riley?”

“Of course, I’m going to kill you.”

“I’ve waited fifty years to do this.  Have you ever heard of that saying, ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’?  Well, this ‘dish’ is almost frozen…and will be all the sweeter.”

“When Sheila and Gerald died…I was supposed to be with them.  I was the explosives expert…but I was dead drunk in some crap apartment I was crashing at with some crap girl I had met at a bar.”

“Do you know why I was drunk, Riley?  I had just received a letter…from the American Bar Association telling me that no state in this glorious country would grant me permission to practice law…due to ‘lack of good moral character'”.

“No moral character, Riley!  Me…who had spent the best six years of his life working to prevent the deaths of thousands of young men in that stupid war.”

“And poor Mikey…he never got over the deaths of Sheila and Gerald.”

“He blamed himself for not being there…blamed me too…used to send me pathetic letters…trying to make himself feel better.”

“Finally, after five years of guilt that he couldn’t handle…he hung himself.”

“But what happened to me…you ask?  I ended up in California and spent the next forty years working under a phony name, as a paralegal during the day.”

“They didn’t even check my fake references…they just wanted me cheap.  And at night…I drank myself to sleep in front of the television set…waiting…”

“I always hoped I would see you again, Riley.  After I “retired”, I moved back to Minnesota…kept an eye on little Alec and his lovely wife…and of course I bought this gun.”

“But you were always just a dream away…until  your angry Letter to the Editor last month in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the increase in suicide rates of veterans.”

“You shouldn’t have used your real name, Riley.  That was very careless of you…very careless.”

Suddenly there was a change in Tommy…the calmness was gone…replaced by a quiet rage.