The consequence of Consequence and the inevitability of Inevitability [No idea where this is going really]

Just outside the small city of Consequence, which as it may happen is of no consequence what so ever in the larger scheme of things, there is a canyon. You may wonder how the city got its name? Your guess is a good as any other, this part of the country is littered with names that seem to be picked at random out of whatever book the founding fathers had laying around.

The canyon on the other hand has no name, it probably had one in the past because someone who dares venture into the deeper parts, where the sunlight becomes shadow and the rock walls are polished smooth by the waters of times gone by, there you can find petroglyphs, the messages of the past telling us that someone was indeed here. Someone gave this place a name. We don’t need to engage in any sort of 18th century noble savage fantasies here — the natives in this area had a tendency to call a spade a spade and a shit hole a shit hole. So it may well be that this particular part of the canyon was called Fucking narrow. For all we know. The canyon goes on for many miles, mesas towering over it, structures unseen buried atop them, before ending up in the next city. It’s called Inevitability. It’s as if the landscape itself requires people to abandon all attempts at poetry. Things are what they are and the best names are just found by looking up the first remotely applicable name you can find.

Consequence is a mining town, or at least it used to be until all but one of the mines stopped being profitable. The city dwindled. Taxes stopped flowing in, people ended up unemployed, stores closed, those who could moved. The rest stuck around, not knowing what else they would do with their life. The road out of town was at once full of possibilities and yet wholly inhospitable; leading to a world they didn’t know, nor understand. The change was slow but no less cataclysmic than an earth quake. Consequence suffered and when there is suffering there will be blood.

There are many kinds of blood. Blood spilled for friendship or love, blood spilled toiling over the soil and then there’s the bad blood. The blood of unchecked aggression. Of controlling whatever little piece of the world that you can still hold on to. It started out easy enough. A black eye, a broken nose. Nothing that the local doctor, a woman who had lived there for most of her life and knew almost everyone by name, couldn’t fix right up in no time. But this was a tidal wave. Pride cometh before fall, says the book. What it doesn’t tell you is that the shattered pride easily leads to murder. And pride and blood have long memories, many conflicts across the world attest to that. Scores are settled, scores so old that the blood that once started them has long become part of the soil itself. A slight, perceived or real. An infidelity, imagined or actual. As darkness falls across the minds, the memories of such things surface easily. And they have consequences.

One part of it was envy of course, some of the workers still had a job to go to, the mine still handsomely profitable to whatever corporation that owned it. Their jobs were protected by the union and the miners union was strong, strong as the rock its members dynamited and hacked their way through. Those men, and the handful of women that worked in administrative capacities, brought home pay checks. Their lawns were still green, their cars still payed off on time. They were the affluent minority in a sea of desperation. Some of the men lived with women who had lost their jobs and seemed to take that in their stride. There’s no threat to a man’s pride when he suddenly becomes the sole bread winner. They managed well enough. Then there were the women.

Emma James was an office assistant by day. That meant that she filed paperwork, answered phones and made sure that the coffee was readily available to anyone who wanted a cup and most did. She was well like around the office, a little over weight perhaps but nothing surprising considering that she was a mother of three and besides, on average everyone was a little over weight around the office. She always wore a blouse and a skirt to the office, every single day. Some of the other women made fun of her, not in a nasty sort of way, just the sort of friendly jibes you would expect in a work place that is really quite laid back. But Emma had been raised by a mother who had told her, in no uncertain terms, that you should always be presentable. So every day Emma was presentable, her hair made, her nails done, her blouse and shirt making her look more like the secretary at a bank or a law firm than the office assistant at a minor mining outfit. She seemed happy, most days. Very few people are happy every day of course but she was one of those people who hoped for better days. Maybe it was religion, although belief in higher powers is rarely a guarantee for happiness. But Emma took each day in its stride. A rare kind of person.

And then her husband lost her job. The mine he worked in was one of the first to shut down. Back then everyone was hoping the rest of the city would pick up the surplus work force, it was only a couple of hundred people. But then another mine shut. And another mine. And the stores started shutting down. And her husband took the car and drove to the nearby towns to find work there but so did everybody else. And in a place where you can always find someone more desperate to mow your lawn there is no money. Emma started walking to work. 2.5 miles. “My daily exercise”, she called it. The road was dusty, unpaved and her skirt always needed a five minute stop in the bathroom before she went to work.

Until she didn’t. She was found dead a couple of hours later, battered beyond recognition, beaten to a pulp by her husband who had sold the pickup for about half its blue book value and bought himself a reasonable amount of alcohol. And the husband was gone and so where the kids. Only Emma James was left behind, or what was left of her.

More followed. Small children with severe fractures. People disappearing never to be found and even the few who still could make a living in Consequence started locking their doors at night, buying guns.

So what became of Leland James, you ask? They found him, years later, lost in the canyon, long dead. The kids never turned up.

But there are always those who thrive on desperation, there are always ways to make money when people are losing all hope. Grifters and con men tricked some out of their last savings. Others were more natural predators. Mining is hard work. It takes its toll on the body. Knees and backs and shoulders break, bone being much softer than rock after all. Years of working underground turn bodies into pain ridden wastelands. The doctor had been good. She had tended to her patients, ensured — encouraged by the employers certainly — to make sure there was no loss in productivity. “Here”, she said to them, “there’s help. Just take two of these in the morning and two at night and you’ll be right as rain”. And the synthetic opiates flowed and in their path came the addiction. And once the work dried up, well, it was obvious what would happen.

Some kicked their habit, some never even developed one but for many the drugs became a crutch, a way to cope with the bleak future that now lay ahead of them. And so the market was created. It’s one thing to medicate against physical pain, when the pain is located elsewhere, then nothing is enough. And so Consequence slipped even further into its decline.

And so the pickup trucks started turning up. Men from out of town, hard eyes, no smiles, loads of cash. They bought a house here and a house there. They didn’t really speak and made no attempt of fitting in. They had found a market and that was all they needed. The sheriff’s department did what they could, asked around, stopped the pickups once or twice but could never find anything that would stick. Some said that they got paid nicely for not finding anything. Who knows, money can bend men and women into turning a blind eye to many things. The doctor gave up, she closed up her clinic and moved away. Too many empty eyes children, too many bruised women, too many stab wounds on a Friday night for someone who wanted to do good but realised the futility of standing against the tide that was rising.

We don’t need to go deeper into what Consequence became. The old history of the frog in the pot seems applicable. Most changed their way of living every so slightly. Barred their doors and windows. The gun store made good business. The blood kept flowing.

And so it was that on a moonless night Ava and Joe found themselves sitting on top of the old, rusty water tower looking down upon the city. She a dark haired girl with a distant expression and a large bruise on her leg and him just trying to comfort her.

“He’ll be ok, you know”, he said.

She didn’t respond, didn’t even move an inch. They had been sitting here for three hours, ever since the sun went down, ever since the ambulance had taken her little brother, Joe’s best friend, to the hospital.

“I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

“It was though, wasn’t it? I have never seen so much blood.”

Joe expected her to sob or show some sort of emotion when saying this but her face was just as blank as ever.

“What happened?”

“He asked what was for dinner. And that asshole hit him with the frying pan, the old big one, the heavy one. Twice I think.”

“Jesus.”

“Yeah.”

They watched the stars, eternal and unfeeling, above them. Below they could hear the sounds of yelling, sirens blaring. No gun shots tonight though. A calm night all things considering given that it was a Friday.

“What do you think will happen?”

“Oh, they’ll catch the bastard and throw him in jail and Mark.”

Her voice trailed of into the darkness. He could hear the hopelessness in it and reached out to put a hand on her shoulder but changed his mind.

“I hope he burns for what he did”, he said.

“Who cares. Mark is already gone.”

When the sun rose above the hills the social workers came to the house, Joe had stayed over, sleeping on the couch, helping Ava to clean up in the kitchen as best they could. The women for social services told them that Mark was in stable but critical condition and the doctors weren’t sure about whether he would recover and that Ava should come see him. She refused. She screamed. She ran and Joe stayed behind and tried to explain that it was too soon, far too soon. He asked if the man who did it was caught but the women didn’t know. And so they left, having fulfilled whatever duty they could and Joe went to find Ava up at the water tower again.

“He’s dying”, she said and now she was crying, crying for all she was worth. Joe moved close, she put her head on his shoulder and while she cried he silently explored the hole in his mind that his friend had occupied.

The friendships of youth are hard for us to understand, tarnished as we are by age and cynicism. True, some of us are born cynical but most of us are turned slightly twisted with age. We watch people do what people do and start, in the way that men and women always have, thinking that there is little actual good in the world at all. And that true friends, outside of the dogs that some keep as company, are nothing but a fairytale for children. And perhaps friendship, in its purest form, is something that is reserved for the young. Before the desires and demands of the world make priorities bend before our very eyes.

Mark and Joe had always been friends, normally people that spend all their time together have somewhat different characteristics. They didn’t. They could’ve been twins if it wasn’t for the fact that Mark was darker, shoulder length black hair framing a golden brown face. Joe was taller, lanky and freckled. But their minds were one of a kind. Not bad kids, not the ones that scare neighbours, rather the other way around. They were nice kids, when someone needed their dog walked, they did it. They babysat and helped out with shopping and mowed lawns and made a bit of money and bought skateboards that the rode on everywhere. They knew everything about each other and now Mark was all but gone.

When we grow old we get used to death. Perhaps we experience it first when our grandparents die, or if we are unlucky we lose a friend or two to and accident, But children shouldn’t die, not like this. Joe didn’t know this and still he did. He had lost something that had become part of himself but had no idea how to deal with it. So they just sat there, Ava’s tears finally drying out, her sobbing subsisting and when she said that they should leave this place behind and never come back Joe could only nod in agreement.

Together they walked down the more or less deserted street, aimless now, only knowing that they had to get away.

“Where do we go?”, he asked.

“I have an aunt in Inevitability. We can go there. She’s nice and she has a couple of dogs and a big house.”

“Ok.”

“Do you know how to steal a car?”

“What?”

“Never mind, I just thought it was something you and Mark might have done.”

Joe couldn’t help laughing. It never would have entered their mind. There were kids around that did that sort of thing, hot wiring some shitty old wreck and driving around for lack of anything better to do but him and Mark? No. Comic books and skateboarding, horror movies and popcorn, stories about giant space ships and every now and then a glimpse of Mark’s stepdad’s collection of Hustler.

It was getting late, the sounds of night are becoming louder and louder and as they pass the street where a couple of the few remaining dive bars are located there suddenly is a car right there. Driver door open, motor running, nobody inside. Inside there bar there’s a fight going on, a yelling match. Spanish, english. Curses. Ava jumped in behind the wheel and gestured to Joe to follow. He hesitated. This, he though to himself, is a step he can’t undo. He can’t walk backwards from this point and he was on the verge of turning around and walking away when a loud bang from inside the bar makes him jump and somehow forces him to get into the car. Ava drove off, the car was a stick shift and she was struggling with it, the car lurched, stopped, lurched and finally started rolling at some speed away towards the intersection. Joe’s heart was beating so hard he thought it would burst out of his chest. He looked down to make sure his ribs were still capable of holding it in, fully convinced that his t-shirt, an orange, washed out old t-shirt , would be covered in blood.

“What if my heart would burst out of my chest, like in Alien”, he thought to himself. Envisioning it breaking the ribs open and falling down into his lap, still pumping. Ava just drove, when he glanced over he saw her face lit up by the dashboard, her jaws clenched and her eyes moist. Her hand grasping the stick is holding on so hard the knuckles are white. And they drove on, farther into the unknown.

Cars are many things to many people but to most they represent freedom. The ability to suddenly, as the whim strikes, pack up and go from one place to the next. In less than a hundred years a country which took decades to cross turned into a patchwork by roads, interstates, highways. We started using cars as an analogy for freedom, roads as a metaphor for change. But they are still nothing more than metal and concrete. The freedom the car represented was nothing more than the vain fantasy of the modern human that breaking the shackles of life was somehow possible, that the ties that truly bind, the mortgage, the job, the elderly parents, could be severed in an instant. The road was always there, humans have always carved paths in the earth since the dawn of time, proof of our need to go beyond the next hill, the next river bend.

“We need to ditch this car though”, she said after a while. They were close to the outskirts, close to the gas station along the highway.

“We can stop there and buy some stuff, you have any money?”

He nodded. 15, maybe 16 dollars in small bills and change, Ava had20. They stopped the car around the corner from the station. and went inside.

The lights were bright in there, enough to make them squint and they whispered to each other, trying to come up with a list of supplies. Water. Beef jerky? Ava hated the idea but went along with it anyway, her whole appearance strangely detached. They splurged for a packet of cigarettes as well and a lighter. The bored clerk punched it all in and packed it up in flimsy see through plastic bags. He didn’t ask for an ID. What was the point anyway. They carried their haul back to the car to drive the last mile or so up to the canyon to ditch the car and get moving. Joe put the bags in the back and there it is, a large canvas bag, olive green, rectangular.

“Is that yours?”

Obviously he knew it wasn’t, they didn’t have anything with them. He turned on the dome light and opens the back. Stacked inside are bills. Hundreds of them. Hundreds of hundreds of them. Ava came over and had a look.

“Holy shit.”

“This is bad you know, very very bad”, Joe said. “We should just run. Let’s run Ava. Come on. This is dangerous.”

But Ava just calmly closed the bag, the door and got back behind the wheel.

“You can leave”, she said. “I don’t really care anymore.”

Another step that can’t be undone and Joe went back inside the car and they drove off, silently. Slowly. They passed under the highway and followed the winding dirt road up towards the canyon. When they got out of the car Ava turned to him and stroked his cheek. It was too dark to see her face but he imagined her smiling for some reason. Then they unloaded the car. The canvas bag was heavy, much heavier than they thought but Ava put it on her back and in the darkness they began their trek along the canyon floor. Joe turned around one last time, watching the flickering lights of the fast food signs in the distance and then they turned a corner and all went dark.

They walked for what seems like hours, loose rocks tripping them up, an encounter with a bush left Ava swearing and bleeding from her arm. But they moved on.

“We shouldn’t have left the car there Ava, they’ll know where we are.”

“I guess.”

“They’ll chase us. We stole their money.”

“I guess.”

“Do you even know where we’re going.”

They finally gave up, collapsed and drink and ate and tried to not think about the big green bag that was standing right next to them. And yet it loomed over them, poisoning everything.

“Where do you think it comes from?”

“What?”

“The money?”

Ava thinks. She smoking, chain smoking in fact.

“Drugs I guess. You don’t make that kind of money doing much else now.”

Neither of them looked at the bag, they tried to get some sleep among the rocks and Joe dreamt of Mark with blood streaming down his face pleading with him to come home so they can go skateboarding. Ava dreamt of killing her stepdad. Over and over again. These were the bloody consequences of Consequence. Children dreaming dreams of blood while running towards a better life.

When the sun came up they were stiff and sore. A raven sat on a large boulder next to them, sharpening it’s beak against the rough surface. It had one eye fixed upon the visitors, its expression mildly amused. They weren’t supposed to be here after all. Not suited for this place at all. But who knows. Perhaps even ravens believe in miracles.

They kept walking, in silence. The bag was too heavy to carry all the time so they alternate. In the mid day sun they found shelter in the shadow of an overhang and stayed there, very still, sweating and panting in the heat.

“How far is it?”

“Don’t know, can’t be much farther.”

“You sure?”

Ava didn’t respond. She just stared into the distance. Joe noticed that she had three big gashes on her right thigh but he didn’t dare to ask where they came from. Self afflicted? He didn’t want to know. He just wanted the sun to move along its course in the heavens so that they can move along. Get going. Joe prayed for the first time then, not to anything in particular, to the high desert itself perhaps. There was no answer.

And so they do get going, for a few more hours and for once they found a good place to sleep. The ground is smooth and they both stretched out. They have come so far now. Surely they’re ok. And when the night fell they whispered to each other about what they would do with the money. Hope rekindled.

They woke up a couple of hours later.

“You two”, the man said, his words echoing in the darkness from high up above, “are children. I don’t enjoy killing children. Truth be told I don’t enjoy killing anyone but it becomes habit after a while. But children is a different thing. On the other hand you have angered people. Important people. And they have asked me to kill you. So, you can see, I have no choice in the matter. I’m a tool after all. A hammer does not question which nails it hits. It is a hammer and I suppose even a hammer takes some pleasure in being a hammer. I’m another sort of tool and I don’t question. The difference between me and a hammer is that I have a conscience. Yes, that may sound strange to you, I hope that would doesn’t hurt to bad little girl, I really do. You did something you really shouldn’t have and not the price has to be paid. Tomorrow probably or maybe the day after. But the price will be paid. The things that led up to this point is not your fault. You know this, I know this but it is of no consequence. What remains now is inevitable”

Joe leaned back against the canyon wall and saw the glow from the cigarette up above for a minute or two and then it went out.

“I could come down there now. But walking in the dark is dangerous, even for me. So I’ll wait. I’ll sit here and wait and soon the sun will come up. Until then, let me tell you a story. Like a bed time story, no?”

“I grew up far from here, a place you never heard of. My father was a farmer, he had a field and a burro, a donkey. The field was full of stones and the rains, well, the rains came and went as they wanted. I don’t think my father was a bad farmer but unlucky. Like you two. Some people are just unlucky. It’s the way of the world. But he was a proud man so he kept going even though he could hardly feed his family. I was very young then. I had three older brothers and they worked hard too. We all did. But in the end, it wasn’t enough. So my brother sold my sister to some bad men. Very bad men. This brother, I won’t mention his name because it doesn’t matter and he’s long dead now, was — how do you say — rotten to the core. A hard worker but bad. Very bad. So he got some money for her and when my father asked where his daughter was he just handed him the money. My father beat my brother and then went to see the bad men. He never came back. And my brother disappeared too. There are people you should never become involved with. Children are not supposed to be a part of this world. It will eat them up, skin and bone and all. A darkness under the surface that will pull you in and strip you clean. And this, I’m afraid is what has happened to you. I tell you this not to scare you but to explain how the world works. It would have been better if your mother or father had done it but they didn’t and now it’s too late.”

The last of his words echo and faded out. Ava and Joe hugged in the darkness, crying, shaking. And morning came.

The last of his words echoed and faded out. Ava and Joe hugged in the darkness, crying, shaking. And inevitably morning came.
The man was short, not much taller than Ava. He had kind eyes even as he shoot the children where they stood. He crossed himself, brought out a notebook, checked the GPS coordinates and wrote them down before he picked up the canvas bag and walked away whistling while he made the trek back towards Consequence.

“So let me see if I got this straight? One boy, 12 year old, beaten to death by his step dad — Jack, is that the fucking asshole we got in the holding cell? Yeah? Ok. — and his sister and best friend gone?”
The sheriff had a bad morning. There weren’t a lot of good mornings these days, but at least sometimes he might walk into the office without having to deal with endless amounts of bullshit. He was in his early forties, tall and skinny, an old cross country runner from his college days and even now he didn’t seem to be able to pack on the pounds. His wife had asked him to run for office and he had figured he didn’t stand much chance going up against the incumbent, and old grizzly who had been around for almost as long as anyone could remember. But the old timer had a heart attack, died sitting behind his desk with a bottle of bourbon right next to him. And so the town had a new sheriff. The office was still much the same, the old pictures had been removed, since the new sheriff still hadn’t had the privilege to meet presidents of governors the walls had lighter rectangles on them where the old ones had been. But his wife had bought him a new desk and a nice desk lamp, one of those old time ones in bright brass with a bottle green glass shade. And in front of it was the nameplate. Hubert Raleigh, Sheriff. When Hubert was young he had considered changing his name, perhaps to Ray or Luke or John. But when he met his wife she had convinced him that Hubert was the perfect name for him and since he trusted her judgement, more than he trusted his own, he had let it go. And now he was Sheriff Raleigh anyway, first name no longer of any consequence.

When he had moved in he had figured the rest of the staff might have issues, he had heard stories about other places where they had made life difficult for the newcomer. But they’d been as nice as could be expected. Helped him out, showed him the ropes. Sure, there was one or two that thought they might have been better suited to the position but they kept their mouths shut for the most part and Hubert Raleigh looked between his fingers as long as things didn’t go too far. They had enough shit on their plate to deal with anyway. The city had become a flytrap for all sorts of federal agencies. The DEA was here and so was the FBI, set up in their own offices on the third floor, not many of them, just a couple. The DEA guys were friendly enough, one had served in Iraq and Raleigh, who’d done two tours himself, enjoyed swapping stories over the occasional beer. The FBI men however were very serious. They had reason to be too, a string of murders across three states, same MO, same killer. But there wasn’t much they could do here, they got copies of the reports that came through, just like everyone else. So they kept to themselves, coming and going when they felt like it.

Before noon another body was reported. Nothing surprising really, death wasn’t all that uncommon. A gas station clerk shot at point blank range. Apparently it must’ve happened at least 12 hours earlier because the place was looted clean. The coroner just shrugged and noted that shit happens and that was that. They cordoned the whole thing off, called the manager who swore for a five full minutes and then hung up. The sheriff had a strong feeling that the station wouldn’t open back up again. Not much money in it anyway. But there was something bothering him about it. The body was found behind the station, someone had made the poor guy walk outside, or perhaps tricked him into walking outside, before killing him. Making sure he was out of sight. They checked the surveillance tapes but they were blank. The cheapskate owner had disconnected the cameras, probably assuming that the mere existence of cameras was enough to scare people off.

The rest of the day went by more or less without incident. An empty car was found up by the canyon, one of those black pickups. They handed it over to the DEA, normally those were used for trafficking and it wasn’t really something that the PD was particularly well suited to handling. And once 5 PM rolled around, the sheriff took his coat, locked up his gun and drove home to his wife.

Agnes came out on the porch when he parked in the driveway, he was trying to make her calm down a bit, being eight months pregnant seemed to be a lot of work but she wouldn’t listen. She winked at him as he approached and greeted him with a warm hug and a big kiss. She smelled like fresh apples and lilies, he always marvelled at that. No matter what time of day, no matter when, she always smelled fantastic. At night, when he couldn’t sleep, he spent hours with his nose burrowed in her hair, smelling her neck, listening to her slow, deep breathing. Then she smelled of cinnamon and dark chocolate. Not the soft kind, the hard kind that you had to use some force to break into pieces. He had spent years trying to figure out how she did it, she rarely used perfume, she had a bottle or two that he had bought her as presents but as far as he could tell she rarely if ever used them. The soaps they had was ordinary hand soap, the hair products just generic brands from the local superstore.
“You smell wonderful” he said and kissed her again.
She wrinkled her nose and grinned.
“Well, you don’t, go get a shower and let’s have some dinner.”

After dinner they took a walk, she liked walking now even though it was slow. It helped with the pain, she told him. The school had asked her to stay on for a few more weeks but she had said no and for the last month or so she had spent her time at the house. Her father, one of the old miners who had passed away from lung cancer years ago, had been an avid wood worker and passed the knowledge along to all his kids so out in the shed there was a crib, almost ready. The nursery was painted a warm yellow shade and the walls had pictures of colourful flowers, balloons and teddybears. Nesting, she called it. And he laughed and in the evenings they’d sit on the floor in the nursery and he’d sing songs to the unborn child inside her.
“Can you feel it” she’d say. “It’s kicking.”
And she’d show her belly and sure enough, under the skin there was movement, life.
“What do you think, boy or girl?”
She’d just smile and he knew that it wouldn’t matter.

When she told him they were having a baby, just after the election, he had immediately asked her if they shouldn’t move. This place was bad, toxic. Not a place to raise a family. She was a teacher, a good teacher, and could work anywhere. And there were always a need for police officers. But she didn’t want to. This was their home, she had said. And she was right. They had inherited her father’s house, painstakingly removing all the panelling that he had been so fond of, redecorating, raising a garden. He had built a picket fence which had promptly collapsed and Agnes had laughingly showed him how to do it properly. And he had done it again and now there was a white picket fence surrounding a white house with a garden filled with flowers. He supposed this meant that he was responsible to ensure that Consequence became a better place to live, for all of them.

The next morning the children were still missing and Hubert decided that it was time he had a conversation with the miscreant who had beaten his son to death. It was unlikely that he was involved, the kids had been seen after he was arrested but then again, it was worth a shot. One of the deputies fetched him from the cells and put him down, with a bit more force than necessary, in the chair in the interrogation room.
The man had been well built once upon a time, there were still hints of muscle mass that had been impressive if there rest of him wasn’t ravaged by what must have been a significant meth habit. His dark hair was tussled and unkempt and he hadn’t shaved for days, his eyes darting back and forth and his hands kept scratching everywhere the handcuffs let him reach.
“You’re Andrew Jackson?”
“Andy, Andy, people call me Andy.”
“Like the president?”
A blank look and then a nod.
“Yeah, Andy Jackson, the president.”
The deputy standing by the door rolled his eyes and left. He was completely uninterested in this conversation, having heard similar ones far too many times.
“So. Andrew. Do you like beating up kids?”
“Andy.”
“Andy. Ok. Do you like beating up kids Andy?”
Raleigh opened up a manila folder and spread out some pictures on the desk. A wave of nausea came and went. He’d seen them before but it was always different when you showed them like this.
“I didn’t mean to. Really didn’t. And I’ve already admitted to it. I got angry. Shit, that little ass… I mean, the boy talked back to me and I lost it. It’s the drugs you know. The drugs did it.”
“The drugs picked up a frying pan and hit the boy? Is that what you’re saying?”
“No, you’re twisting the words. Fuck, the drugs fuck me up ok? They make me do shit. Think shit.”
The scratching became even more intense, he was picking at scabs, turning them into open sores.
“Ok, the boy is dead. You will be charged accordingly. At this point I need to ask you again if you want an attorney present?”
“No, fuck shysters. Fuck them. What do you want?”
“The girl.”
“What about the girl? Haven’t seen the girl?”
“She’s gone. And the neighbour’s kid is gone too.”
“Fuck, I had nothin’ to do with that. Did I?”
A pleading look in his eyes. There’s not much left in him, not much at all. Only the greed that comes with deep addiction.
“I don’t think you did. But maybe you know where they are?”
“Hell no, I don’t know anything. That girl is bitch though. Always giving me shit. Perhaps she pissed someone off. Or ran off. She has kin elsewhere. Inevitable I think.”
“Ok. But you don’t know where they could be?”
“No sir, not a clue.”
Raleigh presses the call button and the deputy saunters back in, he grabs the prisoner and leads him out, pushing him hard into the doorframe on the way out. The deputy has children of his own. The cameras won’t see it, the microphones are turned off. Andrew “Andy” Jackson will hit many inanimate objects before his day in court. Such is the fate of those that murder the innocent in fits of rage and even though Hubert Raleigh sees himself as a man of principle he can’t say that he disapproves. And he knows as well as anyone that once the sentence is passed down, mr Jackson won’t live long. The jail system has its own laws and there the judgement is much harsher. He heads back to his office, picking up a cup of coffee on the way and keeps thinking about the missing children. Where did they go? When he sits down behind his desk he puts out an APB and calls the office in Inevitable. It’s the least he can do right now.

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