Terrouge E-zine Archives
By: Ashen Fox
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m with Jack.”
The young man standing behind Amanda smiled and gave Mrs. Dana a polite nod, a sort of civilian salute. “We should be back by ten.”
“And I’ll call you if we’ll be late.” Amanda hugged her mother, then danced through the front door.
It was six thirty then. The summer sun still hung lazily above the horizon, and a breeze touched the leaves on all the trees. Crickets called in the field behind the house, and for a few moments their song mixed with the rumbling of an engine as Jack started his car and drove away.
Mrs. Dana’s phone rang at nine o’clock. The sun still cast a few feeble rays through the front windows as she picked up the phone in the back room. She cried out an instant later.
Jack closed his phone and let it slip back down into his jacket pocket. He sat at the back of an ambulance, and a paramedic worked at the gash across his face, dabbing, prodding, bandaging. The wound stung. He winced, but said nothing.
Red and blue lights patrolled the walls of the alley, chasing each other in a maddened race. The gaudy colors were reflected in his eyes, but he did not watch them any more than he watched the man who put up the yellow tape around the place he and Amanda were attacked.
Two policemen finished zipping up a body bag a few yards away, and Jack heard a gurney clatter as they lifted Amanda onto it. One of its wheels squeaked as they wheeled her body away. He did not turn to look.
An officer he had spoken to earlier returned. Jack glanced up when he heard his approaching footsteps.
“No luck. We couldn’t find him.”
Jack dropped his head again, and managed a husky grunt. No words reached his lips.
“And you should get home. I’ll give you a ride.”
He started to mumble something about his own car, but the officer shook his head.
“Pick it up tomorrow.”
Jack did not remember climbing into the officer’s car. After he gave his address and vague directions, neither man spoke as they drove. It was altogether dark now, and Jack noticed for a moment that his hands were cold. The bruise on his knuckles grumbled a dull complaint as he clenched and unclenched his fist.
They reached his home a few minutes later, and he tramped up the steps to his door, then fumbled with his keys until he could push one into the lock and turn it. He stepped inside.
“It’s not your fault, kid. There’s plenty of men who wouldn’t have even tried to get in front of that bullet.”
The officer left, closing the door behind him. Light left with him, and Jack sat alone on his bed in a darkened room. He still wore his shoes, his jeans, his bloodied shirt and jacket. The display on his bedside clock switched noiselessly to read 10:00.