Final Chapter…

The very brave Officer Daniel Nelson, a member of the police force for only three days, swallowed hard and even though he was now looking down the barrel of a very shiny but deadly weapon…he resisted every instinct he had…to pull out his own gun and shoot this obviously demented woman…who could probably end his life and/or his career this very night.

But instead…he took a deep breath and somewhat calmly said…with only a slight quiver in his voice…

“Mrs. Johnson…would you please put your gun down?”

My mother was a sucker for polite young men…so she promptly did exactly what she was asked to do.

And then…from the backyard…Officer Roger Small, who was Officer Nelson’s partner, hollered…

“Hey Danny!!  There’s a dead guy on the back porch!  And he’s wearing a Halloween mask!”

It was the first time that cold, winter night that Gee smiled.

The End.

…Larson’s Grocery…

…NOW….

I stepped back…I could not believe that Tommy Clark was standing less than three feet in front of me…smiling that disgusting smile of his.

My heart began to pound like a jack-hammer.

I had been wrong…all these years…I had been so wrong.

Not everyone was dead after all.

They say…that if you are ever confronted by a vicious  animal, you should never run.  They will instinctively think you are prey and chase you .

And when they catch you…and they will catch you…they will kill you.

Instead, shout as loudly as you can or grab a couple of rocks and bang them together.

Your chances are good the animal will be momentarily startled at least for a short time…giving you a chance to escape.

I had no rocks.  My mouth was so dry I could hardly swallow…much less shout. And what exactly would I shout?   So I stood and waited.

“You look good, Riley.”

I suddenly felt dizzy and I swayed just a little.

“I need to sit down…” I said and made an effort to walk back to where I had been sitting.

But Tommy took my elbow and steered me out the door of Larson’s.

“I think what you need is a drink, Riley.  I know I could use one.  There’s a friendly-looking little bar a couple of doors down.”

It had started to rain ever so  slightly…and still holding tightly to my arm…he led me down the block.

Maybe Tommy had mellowed.  It had been so many years.  Maybe this was just a chance encounter.

Maybe his frightening smile was just a…smile.  Maybe this was a dream and I would wake up.

And maybe pigs could fly…

Two doors down from Larson’s was the kind of neighborhood bar that seldom saw strangers…especially in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.

Sure enough…when we walked in…the three men at the bar turned at the sound of the door opening…stopped talking and just looked at the two of us.

Tommy gave them a nod and then guided me to a booth way over in a corner by a window.  It was stuffy in the bar and Tommy opened the window a little.  The cool air felt good.

An older woman…perhaps in her sixties came right over and leaned against the side of the booth.  I had a feeling she may have been the owner.

She gave us a cool smile…and I’m sure she was thinking…”Now…who the hell are you two?”

But she said pleasantly, “Nice rainy day, right?”

I returned her smile…and desperately tried to think of something I could say or do to get me out of this booth…and away from Tommy.

I had decided…pigs can’t fly.

“Where is the ladies’ room?” I asked.

She looked away from us and pointed to a neon sign on the other side of the bar…past a few tables.

I made a move to get up…but Tommy reached across and put a restraining hand on my arm…

“Riley, can you hold on for just a couple of minutes?  Let’s order first.  I’m starving.”

He gave the waitress a big smile and said, “We’ll need a second or two.”

He reached for the little menus propped up by the salt & pepper shakers.  His jacket fell open a little.

That’s when I saw the holster…and the gun.

“Sure, blue eyes…I’ll be back.”

Tommy smiled at her again and then turned back…but there was no smile for me…he knew I had seen the gun.

 

 

“Oh, don’t be scared, Riley…I’m not going to kill you.  The gun’s not for you.  I always carry now…it’s legal in Minnesota, you know…or maybe you don’t.  You’ve been gone for such a long time.”

But I do have a story to tell you and I want you to hear it.   I want you to know how…” he paused, folded his hands together in front of him, took a deep breath…and then began again.

“I want you to completely understand the consequences of your foolish actions that night when you and your uncle decided to call the police.”

I made an effort to speak but before I could say anything…

“No…let me talk.  I’ve waited a long time, Riley.”  Tommy seemed very calm…not angry at all.

I relaxed a little.

“Fine.  I’l listen to you, Tommy.  But I read about Sheila and Gerald in the newspaper.  I know what happened to them.”

“I read that about six months after we were all expelled from the University of Minnesota…they blew themselves up in an abandoned apartment building in New York City…along with four innocent teenagers who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“…and Mikey…I can’t help it that his marriage failed…or should I say marriages…and that he felt that suicide was the solution to his problems.”

“That’s not on me.” I said, feeling more sure of myself now…

“I’ve even kept track of you…Tommy…but I thought you were dead.”