The odds were in my favor, the gun in my hand.
I finally had the chance to do what I should have done 13 years ago, when this monster killed my mother.
So why the hell am I hesitating?
‘Josie, you’re better than this.’ Carl Page, my partner in crime and best friend for life, had his own gun leveled in my direction. ‘Don’t stoop down to his level.’
I kept my arm level, straight at the murderer. ‘You never got it, did you? Page, I’m not going anywhere without his dead body.’
‘Walker, just listen –’
‘You don’t get it. HE KILLED MY MOTHER, MURDERED HER IN COLD BLOOD, AND YOU WANT ME TO STOP?‘
‘Yes! Yes I want you to stop! Do you see yourself? Listen to yourself, Walker! Is this the Walker I know? Is this the Josie you are?
The murderer looked at me, his eyes taunting. ‘No, Mr. Page, sir, I just think she is afraid to get blood on her Prada Shirt.’
Carl gave him a look of pure white hatred while the annoying little voice in my head was yelling, ‘He’s right, you coward! And you know it!’
My hands tightened around the trigger.
He rolled his neck. ‘And besides, Josie couldn’t kill. Not sweet ol’ Josie. She wouldn’t harm a hair on my head. And you know it.’ The smug smile made me nearly blow a hole into the imbecile’s head.
Why aren’t you shooting?
‘Josie, ignore him. Listen to me. JUST LISTEN! Have I ever given you advice that would hurt you? Have I ever said anything that you ever regretted listening to?’
Well, yes. That time we were seven, and he told me to eat the Milky Bar, because it has magical healing powers for “being sick”. But this wouldn’t be an ideal time to mention it.
But to be fair, that was the only time that he gave me bad advice.
‘Never. And trust me when I say, you would be better off walking away from this. I know your mother. She wouldn’t want you to become a murderer for her. I know that. So drop that gun, Walker. Please.’
I always trusted Carl. I trust him with my life. How else would it be if you have been friends since you were six? Is this why it is so hard?
But my gun didn’t waver. ‘My mother should have been at my graduation from the Police Academy, she should have seen me follow her footsteps as detective. But this – this thing, this bastard – is the reason why she isn’t. Why he didn’t do my hair for my Prom. Why she didn’t see me graduate from school. All because he pulled a trigger.’
The murderer grinned like the crazy person he was.
‘Yep. All my doing. My, I am leaving a bit of a trail behind me, aren’t I? How did you know it was me anyway? You found the cuffs, didn’t you?’ He shook his head, in mock regret. ‘Bin them, I said. Burn ’em, I said. But why would anyone listen to me?’ He looked at Page, who gave him a stony glare.
The man laughed and then turned to me. ‘But, let me tell you, Li’l Miss Walker, I enjoyed every last second. The fear in your mother’s eyes was just… pathetic. Look at us, 13 years later, in the exact same situation, with slight changes of course, but it actually never hit me that the pathetic-ness must run through the family. Look at you, little darling, can’t even hold a gun straight.’
I cocked my gun.
‘Do it, girl.’ The man was whispering. ‘Do what your mother wasn’t able to do all those years ago.’
‘Carl.’ My voice was surprisingly steady. How would he ever forgive me? ‘I’m sorry.’
I knew Carl wouldn’t be able to shoot me. Ever. In all fairness, I wouldn’t be able to shoot him either.
But he didn’t have to go through the nightmares. Or the years of self-destruction. The guilt.
There was a line in a movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, when a girl got hit by a car. Benjamin said that if one thing in the series of events leading out to the crash had changed, just a single thing, for a single second, she wouldn’t by lying there in the hospital. The car might have missed her by seconds, because seconds was all she needed.
But it didn’t.
So I found myself thinking that way about my mother’s death. If she had answered the phone, instead of answering the door, she might have been here with me today. If she had just an extra second to reach for her hand gun in the drawer beside the mirror in the hallway, she could have been responsible for another man’s death. If she hadn’t convinced me to go to school even though I wasn’t feeling well, I would be dead along side with her. If I had gotten up ten minutes later, I would have missed the bus, which means that she would have to drop me on the way to work. If she hadn’t forgotten her briefcase at home, which she needed for work, if I had reminded her, my mother would be here today, alive and well.
But she isn’t.
My whole entire body was in lock-down, my aim straight and true. I couldn’t miss, not now.
What would Mama say to this? Page is right, she wouldn’t want me to be responsible for a man’s life.
The sweetest revenge is getting even. Who was it that said that?
I didn’t know what to do.
I reached out to Page with my desperation, my confusion.
‘Page, the man who was executed for my mother’s murder 9 years ago was innocent. This man
My eyes were still leveled to the man, but I knew that Carl was looking at me. Trying to read me. As he does so well.
‘Did you even know the guy?’ I heard the smile in his voice.
‘No, but – ‘
‘So how would you know?’
I stared at the man, stared into his eyes, looked at all the despair and anguish.
‘He wants you to do this, Josie. Don’t let him tell you what to do.’
I started to lower my gun.
‘That’s my girl, Josie.’ Carl lowered his, too.
The murderer only whispered one word. ‘Coward.’
Then a gun went off.