and everyone knows everyone’s business.
There was crack here. Not the good wet kind. The hard, fiery terrible sort that leaves you shorn.
She was eighteen. She was enjoying the Fourth with her family, her mother and half-sisters and –brothers. She ran outside her house, screaming, and the 9mm bullet hit the back of her head and traveled through, a pop she never heard, a flare she never saw.
She thought her mother was being murdered.
She wanted to go into nursing. Women she might have worked with in a few years held her as she died in the ER. She was wearing a white top and blue shorts, and the red was from her —
The red, it was from her.
They got him, as they often do, but they got him in a weird way, wandering dazed around the country club. He didn’t have membership but he was white. He almost wandered away because he was white.
Almost got away.
He pled not guilty. He had five witnesses placing him on the scene, and footprints, and his victims’ blood on his clothing. And he pled not guilty. The cheek, the arrogance. But it’s a small town, and he came from money.
His bail was set at seven figures, an unknown sum until then, and he sat and cooled and waited, and the money spoke.
Anger management, the court was told, had been taking its effect. He had been doing well. A change to a new prescription, that was all, a minor shift in his delicately balanced psychochemicals.
He was found not, by reason of.
He was three times the age of the girl he had killed. Three times the chances he had so casually negated.
It was the weekend, a celebration. She would have been nineteen. The summer she had been denied unrolled in heat and swimming and kids playing in the pool.
I remembered being nineteen. I cut off the top of my car and drove it around. People asked what I did when it rained, but it never rained. There was a girl, black-haired and coffee-eyed, who went with me in the car one day. As we drove her long hair flew about us in random dashes of silk. I wiped it from my mouth and eyes at each intersection. The sun shone on us, and we laughed and smiled, and I loved her.
She was seventeen.
It’s a small town. We’re relaxed here, we are casual in our open acceptance of Second Amendment rights. We are quintessentially, proudly American.
He was laughing with some of the Good Old Boys, the men in their eighties who had bought and sold the town many times over, their sons in their sixties, their grandsons. They all knew each other. They belonged together.
It’s not a 1911. It’s a subcompact Bersa, Argentine, and its recoil leaves a pinch on the web over my thumb. There is a reason Bersa named its model line Thunder, and stopped at .45. It scares my girlfriend because it is so powerful when it fires.
I went up to the grill and stood my place in line, and when he turned to me I put the fat little barrel under his jaw, and I saw his eyes.
It’s well made, its action smooth save for the odd feel of a double-rack as it ejects the spent shell and strips another into its chamber. My ears rang. It’s a loud little bastard.
I got my burger and sat down to eat.
Crack isn’t here any more, and eighteen year old girls walk the streets knowing they are safe.
Like I told you, it’s a small town, and everyone knows everyone’s business.
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