Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters”
It had been years since Tim O’Shea had heard my voice, but it was still fresh enough in his memory to make him freeze in his chair.
“Go away, Ellis.” His voice was flat, displaying no emotion. No anger. No interest. He could just as easily have been a bus driver calling out the next stop along his route.
“Go away.” He still kept his back to me.
“I’d like to talk with you, Tim. I need some help on a case and you’re …”
“You’re not a Police Officer anymore. You have no case.” He slowly started to turn around. “Get out of here. You don’t belong here.” He had that part right, but still, I needed him.
“Tim, Please. This has to do with those three shootings – at the hospital, the gas station and the Mall. I’ve already spoken with Martindale about this.” I figured a little misdirection might help. It was technically the truth. We had spoken only he’d grilled me like a store brand bratwurst.
He was facing me now. His eyes squinting through some dirty glasses. He took his time as he looked me up and down. “You look like hell. Where you been living – at the bottom of a gin bottle?”
He was not far off.
“You’re not looking so hot either, Tim. When’s the last time you got your hair cut by somebody other than Stevie Wonder?’
A smile cracked across his face. That face of his looked like it hadn’t seen the sun in years. Did he ever get out of his basement lair?
“How long has it been, Mack?”
“I don’t know, Tim. It seems like a lifetime.”
“At least. You say you talked with Martindale about this?”
“I did too, you lying Son of a…”
“OK, I admit it,” I jumped in on him. “I did stretch things a bit about that, but…”
“Martindale told me that he thinks you’re tied into that mess somehow and that you might try to get me to save you some legwork.” He paused and took off his glasses, blowing on each lens. “Well, Martindale is a dick. I read the papers.”
He turned around again and leaned in close to a computer screen. That had to be bad for his him somehow. He stuck out his arm pointing at a folded chair leaning up against a bank of file cabinets.
For the rest of the morning I fed Tim names and any information I had and he nodded, grunted and let his fingers march back and forth across his keyboard. I couldn’t follow it all. He had three monitors going with changing screens displaying a number of official looking documents and pictures of the three shooters at various ages. Tim O’Shea was cooking.
He tackled the trio of killers one at a time. He was able, starting with just their names and their father’s names, to burrow back in time. Their school records and any juvenile brushes with the Law even those records officially locked or expunged. Nothing seemed to be off-limits or out of reach. He was able to find medical records, employment applications, and even school records on them.
Nate Williams Sr. was a career criminal who had the proverbial long as your arm record. He passed on his tendency to lie, cheat, and steal on to his son at an early age.
Nate Williams Jr. made his debut in a courtroom at the age of 9 when he stabbed a playmate with a plastic fork for his lunch money. He stabbed him in the eye. That was the part that got him the attention of the Police. Little Nate spent a year in Juvenile custody for that.
When he got out and was placed back with his family young Nate seemed to keep it together and behave himself – or at least he never got caught. It wasn’t until Daddy lost control one Sunday afternoon in a gas station mini-mart that Junior seriously got pulled into the family business.
According to Grand Jury testimony while Daddy was inside the mini-mart gathering up some cash and pistol whipping the clerk, young Nate stayed in the car. After a couple of minutes he got restless and came inside to see what was taking so long. He came through the door just in time to see the owner of the mini-mart come out of his office with a gun. Being the faithful little son Junior called out a warning and watched his father turn and put two rounds into the owner’s gut. He lived, and testified at Daddy’s trial that Junior was a part of the whole thing.
I was put on the case and in a couple of days I was able to follow the slime trail and track Nate Williams the Elder to the crawl space in his mother’s house. Me and another officer dragged him out while his mother screamed “Police Brutality.” Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I paused long enough to give his Mommy a healthy punch in her ample gut. She stopped screaming and nobody saw a thing according to the perfunctory report…except Nate Junior who saw his Grandmother doubled over on the floor.
For all of that ugly nonsense Daddy got 15 to 30 years in the meanest prison in the state. Six years into it he was shanked in the exercise yard for some reason that someone thought was important.
Nate Williams Junior went back into Juvie even though this time all he had done was react like any kid would have.
And so, a long standing resentment was born that vomited again onto the world in the same gas station mini-mart where a number of years before a boy had seen his father shoot a man in the stomach.
No matter how tragic and screwed up a road Nate Williams, father and son, traveled down theirs was a rose covered pathway compared to gauntlet that Leslie Ann Wolas had to run.