Monday, March 28, 2011

The Opening for Dying Memories

Other than the man who watched her intently though a pair of high-powered binoculars from a fifth-floor office window across the street, most of the people who passed the woman didn’t notice her, which was understandable. She was in her thirties, nondescript, dressed neither expensively nor shabbily, her hair thin and dull brown in color, her body hidden under a bulky black-and-white checkered cloth coat. It didn’t help matters as far as her near invisibility went that she was standing at a busy spot for pedestrians rushing off to work: right outside the entrance for the forty floor office building at One Post Office Square in the heart of Boston’s financial district.

Those who did glance at her might’ve wondered about the tautness hardening her face into an angry mask and the deadness glazing her red-rimmed eyes if they weren’t so preoccupied with their own busied thoughts or their cell phone conversations or wolfing down their greasy breakfast sandwiches and gulping down the remnants of their coffee. It was eight thirty-seven in the morning, which meant that most of these people were already seven minutes late for work. The few who did slow down on noticing her assumed that her obvious distress was over something trivial, such as a rough morning or an unpleasant business meeting scheduled for later, and they sped up quickly as they dismissed the idea that she was anyone to be concerned about.

They paid attention to her after the shots blasted out. There were a lot of them and everything seemed to stop then. Nobody screamed, though. As people turned to her she stood stone-faced, her right hand stretched out in front of her, her knuckles white as she gripped the handgun that had earlier been hidden under her cloth coat, red speckles dotting her coat sleeve and gun hand, the acrid smell of gunpowder penetrating the crisp autumn air. Lying on the sidewalk crumpled only a few feet from her was a well-dressed man, his legs twisted unnaturally beneath him. From the gray showing in his hair and his weathered face, he appeared to have been in his early fifties. He looked like before the shooting that he could’ve been a good-looking man; slim, athletic, but it was hard to tell with the way his chest had been turned to a bloody pulp and the gaping red hole carved out where his left eye had been only seconds earlier. Some of the people staring at the scene were probably in shock, others might’ve thought this was some sort of TV stunt and were expecting Ashton Kutcher or some other such person to come running out yelling that they had all been punk’d.

Nobody ran, but people slowly began to back away from her, especially as they realized that as unreal as the scene may have seemed it was quite real. The blood that had spattered on the woman was genuine, as was the gore littering the sidewalk and the blood pooling beneath the man that she had shot. He was dead. This wasn’t staged, the shooting wasn’t an elaborate special effects and make up job. The gunshots still reverberating through the street were real. The woman standing as still as a statue with her gun hand outstretched had indeed fired bullets into the man lying dead on the sidewalk in front of her.

As people moved away from her they did so as if they were moving through molasses, even the ex-Marine who recognized the model of the gun that she was holding and was pretty sure he had counted seven shots, which would’ve left the magazine empty. When the crowd had gotten to what they felt was a safe distance from her, some stopped to watch, others continued on. Nobody spoke. A hushed silence had descended on the area. The woman seemed oblivious to them all, her attention focused solely on the ruined body of the man she had murdered.

Several minutes passed before the quiet was broken by the pulsating wail of police sirens. By the time four Boston police cruisers came screeching to a halt in front of her, the woman was alone on the sidewalk; all other pedestrians had moved to the other side of Post Office Square to watch the events from there. Orders were barked at the woman to drop her gun.

The woman remained frozen. She appeared unaware of the small mob of police officers shouting at her to give up her weapon. They didn’t fire on her. Instead three of them edged closer to her with their own guns drawn. When they got within ten feet of her, they charged her, first pulling her gun out of her hand, then pushing her to the sidewalk and, with their adrenaline pumping, violently jerking her arms behind her back so they could cuff her. The woman remained mute throughout it, just as she had while she had waited for her victim and later during her assassination of him. If she felt any pain from the near dislocation of both her shoulders or the abrasions that the rough cement of the sidewalk caused to her face, she didn’t show it. It was only when she was pulled to her feet that she muttered something under her breath.

One of the police officers asked her what she had said. He was holding her by her right elbow, his hard, narrow face red from the excitement, perspiration wetting his upper lip and gleaming along his forehead. She turned to face him, confused, as if she were only just realizing he was there.

“I’m glad I killed him,” she said.

The officer was still breathing hard from the arrest. He grunted, nodding towards the dead man. “You knew him?”

Her eyes grew small and her mouth started to quiver as she glanced towards what was left of the man she had shot seven times. She swallowed back whatever emotion was fighting to come surging out.

“I knew him,” she said. Her voice broke off for a moment before she continued. “Kent Forster. He raped and murdered my daughter. Jenny was only eleven when that monster did that to her. He deserved worse than what I did.”

She started crying then. Mostly a silent sobbing, her face twisting into a massive crease and showing nothing but pain. Two of the officers put her in a police cruiser and drove off.

Simon, the man who had been watching her through binoculars, was alone in the office. He had also listened to her statement to the police using a state-of-the-art parabolic microphone. He was dressed neatly and conservatively in a dark gray suit, white shirt, light gray tie, and black oxfords. Thin, with black hair that had been cut short, and a square-shaped and freshly-scrubbed pink face; his most distinguishing features other than the extreme pink hue of his skin color were slightly pointed ears and small round eyes that didn’t look much bigger than a pair of dimes. Satisfied with what he had seen and heard, he packed the equipment into a small canvas suitcase and left the office.

Dying Memories is available now for $2.99 as a Kindle or Nook download

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