Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” Part Twelve
Now I know how a mouse feels when it’s trapped inside a house full of cats. When a house cat catches a mouse it doesn’t kill and eat it like a feral cat would. No, they play with it. One cat stands on the mouse’s tail while another cat beats the crap out of it. Then they let it go so they can hunt and catch it again. In this scenario Nate Williams and Leslie Ann Wolas are the cats and I am the mouse, being hunted and toyed with.
I thought it was the other way around when I found Nate Williams had been arrested and I’d be able to find out what this nonsense of hunting for me was all about – but he got cut loose before I could get at him. Now I was back to where I started, worse actually, because now he knew I was on his trail. That jockey would blow the whistle on me.
Lacking anything better to do I went home. I saw no sense trying to guess where Williams and his lawyer had gone for lunch. I was hungry myself.
An afternoon at home isn’t all that relaxing when you know that a man who has said that he wants you dead is loose and in a good mood. I know that I sure wasn’t in a good mood.
I was sitting at my kitchen table. My fancy lunch was a sandwich – Braunschweiger and Onion. Who did I have to impress? Nobody. Nobody who couldn’t take me out from a distance.
Sitting there, wondering what to do next, when the answer came sliding under my door. A single sheet of paper, folded, slid under my front door. It didn’t look like an advertisement. There was a new dry cleaner in the neighborhood, but this wasn’t a sheet full of coupons.
It was there on the floor and I had half a sandwich in my hand. The paper could wait. At this point in my day it was just one more piece of trash that needed picking up. Ever since my last lady friend moved out on me my housekeeping skills have really gotten a bit lax.
A single sheet of paper. I suppose that if I’d gotten up quickly and opened the door I might have seen who left it, but I didn’t. First things first. Finish my sandwich and then open another can of something I really don’t need.
OK…OK. A single sheet of paper and I could see that it had handwriting on it. A love note? Not likely. A “Dear John” letter? Most of the women I know would have tied that paper to a brick and tossed through my front window.
Enough speculation. I got up off my ass and crossed over to the door and picked it up off the floor.
“We need to talk. Open the door.”
“What the…” I said to myself. That note could be a come-on from an insurance agent, a Jehovah’s Witness trying a new approach, or maybe Nate Williams. Unless it was Williams I guessed that they’d be long gone by now.
Here we go with “The Lady or the Tiger” again. Against my better judgment and the feeling in my braunschweigered stomach, I turned the knob and opened the door. It was the Lady – Leslie Ann Wolas and she had small Walther pointed at my chest.
At least it wasn’t the Jehovah’s Witness.
“We need to talk,” she said, but she kept the pistol aimed at me. I was in no position to argue.
“C’mon in, “I said.
I turned around and walked back into my kitchen. I was trusting that she wouldn’t plug me between the shoulder blades. She followed me. I sat down and picked up the rest of my sandwich. It might be my last meal, so what the heck.
I didn’t say anything as she sat down across the table from me staring at me like I was a two-headed chicken. I didn’t say anything and neither did she. It was making me nervous because I didn’t really know if she was stoned, drunk, or just crazy. At any moment she might start seeing things and open fire. I couldn’t take it. I broke the ice.
“You’re the one who wanted to talk, so if you want to start now I’d appreciate it. I had planned on going to the two o’clock matinee at the Cineplex. …Or, if you’re going to shoot me with that thing get on with it and I’ll forget the movie.”
Saying this while gnawing on my sandwich didn’t make me look like too much of a threat. She laid the gun down on the table.
“I need to explain something to you, Mr. Ellis.”
What else could I say to that?
She hemmed and hawed for a minute or so like she was trying to find the right words. Not too hot. Not too cold, but just right. How Goldilocks of her except for that black, ugly Walther PPK on the table – still pointed in my direction.
“First off, Mr. Ellis…I have no desire to kill you for shooting my father or for anything else before or…” I interrupted her.
“I’m glad to hear that, but why that calls to that TV station saying the opposite?”
“Oh, that was Nate’s idea. Motives for our actions and that. A distraction really.”
“But what was your motive? All those people? Why?”
“We‘ve each got our own motives and you were just a convenient coincidence. We are all from here so the odds of our fathers mixing it up with you at some point seemed pretty high.”
“You all had reasons, what you think were good reasons, to shoot up the Mall, that Mini-Mart, and you – the ER at the hospital? I don’t get it at all. I also don’t get why you’re here. Why you want to talk to me?”
She held up her hand to stop my talking. She was getting upset.
“I wanted to talk with you to explain… to explain and to ask for your help.”
“Yes, you see, we had our reasons…”
“You’ve said that before, but I haven’t heard anything coming from you that is even close to an explanation for mass murder. Why don’t you start over and quit dancing all around it?”
She lowered her head and closed her eyes. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to pull herself together or getting ready to lose it and pick up the gun again.
“I…it was that Emergency Room that kept me alive after I was…I should have died. I wanted to die. I deserved to die. It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.”
“No! No it’s not complicated. I do understand. Your Old Man put two shots into my back. It was a long time before I felt half human again, before I wasn’t in constant pain with every breath. They put me on a ‘Recovery Leave’ for the better part of a year. That just about did me in. It cost me my marriage and I thought of eating my service revolver a thousand times. So, don’t tell me that ‘It’s complicated’ stuff.
She looked at me with the saddest eyes I’d seen since my mother buried my baby sister when I was ten. I might have gotten too hard on her.
“I’m sorry, Leslie Ann. I shouldn’t have jumped on you like that.”
“No. No, you have every right. I haven’t got the courage to take this gun here and finish what was started when I was twelve.”
“Stop that talk. What about the others?” I asked her. “What about Timothy Collins…the one in the Mall?”
“The one you killed?
“Yes. The one I killed.”
“Timmy. He was a sweet boy.”