Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Two
Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters”
My stomach was hurting. I decided to take a walk around the Mall hoping it would ease up and then I’d stop for a beer. That was my plan if you could call it that.
Five minutes into my leg stretch I was down by the Food Court, looking at the window display at Victoria’s Secret.
It was no secret to me. It was 5:40 PM when the world began to rock.
It sounded like a shotgun blast. Someone screamed. Someone else started to scream, but was cut off when a second report from the shotgun cut it short. A third and fourth shots echoed through the Mall. People started running away from the noise.
I hit the floor and scooted on my aching belly up to the corner of the storefront. I could see the shooter. He looked to be in his mid 20s. He was reloading his single barrel shotgun for another go at the shoppers who were down or still within his range. He was laughing, looking at the mess in front of him.
I slipped back out of his sightline and reached down to my right calf, lifted my pantleg, and got my short barrel .38. The sight of me with my weapon started a fresh round of screaming, but the shoppers were going in one direction and I was crawling in the other.
The shooter was firing again as he got closer. He was heading toward the crowded Food Court. I didn’t know what this was all about except that people were being chopped up.
When I poked my head around the corner again he was only about twenty feet away. He saw me and turned to have a go at me. He stopped laughing and looked dead serious I think he was surprised to see someone heading toward him instead of running away. He leveled the shotgun in my direction. I wasn’t laughing either. I put two quick shots into him. Center Mass – into his chest. When it counts I’ll leave the head shots or aiming at the other guy’s gun to the cowboys on TV. If I need to stop the killing I kill him first. My rounds hit home. The man lurched back and fell. The shotgun hit the ground at the same time. Everything got real quiet it seemed to me. Then the continuous screams worked their way back into my head. They were farther away now, just a panic residue.
I stood up, keeping my eyes and my weapon on the shooter to make sure that he was done and not going to pull a handgun on me. As I got closer I could see both of his hands and they were empty and motionless. His eyes were wide open. He had a surprised look on his face, but I didn’t think he was seeing anything anymore.
I gave him a quick patdown. Outside I could hear sirens getting closer. I knew that the uniformed responders wouldn’t appreciate my meddling with anything at what was now a “Crime Scene.” All I learned from my examination of the shooter’s dead body was that he was, indeed, dead, that he had no other weapons, and that he didn’t have a wallet either. He must have figured that he would walk away clean or end up as a John Doe corpse leaving no easy trail to follow. Fingerprints and DNA take time to give up an ID and trails grow cold within hours.
After feeling sure that the shooting was over I put my weapon back in my ankle holster and found an empty bench in front of the Lenscrafter eyeglass store. I tried not to look at the shoppers who were spread around on the floor. It was too late to help them even if I could. I counted nine dead. Any who were still alive had kept running and were as far away as they could get.
The first uniforms into the Mall were geared up like Imperial Storm Troopers. They didn’t know what was going to greet them, but these men were all seasoned professionals. – Veterans of Seal Teams and Special Forces military units in an earlier life and were deadly efficient.
I sat on my bench quietly with my hands visible. I waited for them to come to me. I made no moves that could be construed as aggressive or anything else. There was no rush. At least my stomach wasn’t hurting anymore.
In all of the hullabaloo I’d lost my “to-go” box. I could see it on the floor outside of Victoria’s Secret. Somebody had stepped on it. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was that guy lying next to it with half his face gone. It didn’t matter anymore. I wasn’t hungry and wouldn’t be for quite a while.
I stayed put on my bench until they came to me. I had been on the force for fifteen years, but I’ve been gone for almost ten, so none of these men looking like they were fresh from an “Arnold” movie knew me from Adam.
Advice tip: If the cop has his weapon out let him do all the talking. You just answer his questions, don’t give him any lip and don’t make any sudden moves – unless you’re curious about how it feels to be inside a cooler down at the morgue.
Three hours later I was cut loose from the Mall. They’d said something about there had been two other shooting incidents in town at about the same time and did I know anything about them? I told them that I didn’t believe in coincidences. Unfortunately for them my shooter wasn’t going to be much help with information.
On my way home I turned on the car radio and learned a bit about the shootings at that gas station and at the Hospital. In both cases the shooters got away. The one at the Hospital was a woman. That’s a bit unusual. Most women shooters generally take out only one person – either a boyfriend or husband – and then they blow their own brains out.
I stopped at the mini-mart at a gas station, picked up a 12-pack and some salty snacks. I’d used up a lot on the floor outside of Victoria’s Secret.
I’m not on the force any more. I’m just a concerned citizen. Who did all of the killing and why?
Not my problem.
At least that was how I wanted it.
Excellent episode, John.
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