I watched as David felt the man's neck; I couldn't hear what had been said to Russell as he approached the scene, his gun still aimed at the ground, but by the expression on David's face and by the way he shook his head…I could tell it wasn't good. I continued to lean against the fence; my fingernails were being ravaged by my chattering teeth as I watched the crowd surround the baseball field, mummers and assumptions swirled in the air, questions like 'who was it' and 'what was wrong with him?; were thrown around left and right. It was only a few seconds later that I heard the blaring sirens of the ambulance from behind me, the principals voice suddenly invaded my mind as he began to usher the folks away from the scene, pushing them towards the entrance to the stadium. I looked behind me and moved out of the way as a squad began to rush towards the scene, a gurney with a body bag held in their grasp. Russell crossed the field, tucking his pistol back in his holster; he looked at me for a split second, regret painted in his face. I walked around, stepping onto the edge of the field, watching as he approached me. He pulled is tan baseball cap off his head and slicked is hair back nervously before reapply his cap, finally coming to a stop in front of me. He took a quick glance back at the scene before focusing his attention back to me. He knew just as well as anyone that this would be the talk of the town for months and months to come; he rested his shoulder against the gate and looked down at the ground.
"What-"I began to ask, reaching out and gripping his other arm slightly, he shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose; that's when I knew that something was very wrong.
"Chief is clearin' this place out." He finally answered, "He and I have to go to the morgue." He scuffled his boots in the sand; kicking the dust into the air. I knew this was hard on him; he'd never had to deal with something like this before, it was just as daunting for him as it was for me. I nodded in understanding, lifting my head up just in time to see them wheeling the body bag towards the exit. Russell must have seen the look of fright on my face, his rubbed my back reassuringly and began to guide me towards the parking lot, "Come on, I'll walk you back to the car."
"I'll meet ya at home, alright." Russell reassured me as he shut the car door; I looked straight ahead hands on the steering wheel as I watched the blue and red lights of the ambulance pull out of the small school parking lot. I turned as Russell placed his hands on the part where the window was rolled down; he bent his head into the small car and caught my lips in a brief kiss.
"Alright." I nodded, turning the keys in the ignition and stepping on the brake as I put the car in drive, I took a glance at the multi colored sky; marking the dusk. "Should I expect you home for dinner?" I asked, leaning my head out of the window. He shrugged his shoulders and stepped away from the car as it began to roll forward slightly.
"I'll call you." I nodded and waved a slightly, "Love you, Russ."
"Love you too." I heard him respond as I turned my blinker on; the clicking sound alright getting on my nerves as I glanced at the review mirror, watching as Russell tucked his hands in his pockets and stalked slowly back towards the field.
On the journey back to the house I stopped at the Pierce County Country Store to grab a few groceries. I parked the old Honda on the other side of the street; waiting for a few cars to pass, I looked both ways before jogging across the street. The boots on my feet clicking against the black road; it was a cute little place, but, it looked like every other shop in Ogden Marsh; white face, blue shutters, and a nice hand made wooden sign plastered to the front. News in this town traveled fast, I had just opened the door when it seemed everyone looked at me; I stood in the door way for a few more seconds before holding my purse closer to me, my eyes scanning the isles of the small store, looking to escape the stares.
"Hey," she heard the deep southern drawl of the store owner; Randy Burton, but be told…I'd never liked this man much. He was a big guy with at least three chins, and a mouth worse than any sailors; his nose seemed too big for his body. I ignored the question and continued towards the back of the store, grabbing a pound of chicken; I'd make Russell's favorite tonight, hopefully he'd be there to eat it. "Come on girl," I heard his loud chuckle from the front of the store, "I know you got some idea about what's goin' on." I rolled my eyes and made a face as I tied the plastic bag that was containing the carrots I had just picked out. I continued down the isle, picking up some green beans and apples before making my way towards the front of the store; Randy sneezed loudly.
"Come on, we won't say uh peep." He smiled; I wanted to recoil in disgust, his teeth were yellowed, probably from all the smoking and drinking he did on a daily basis. I shook my head, never looking up from the counter as I set my contents onto the top.
"I have no idea what happened." I lied, digging through my purse for my wallet. I heard him scoff, my head raised slightly; my eyes focusing behind him so I was looking at the cabinet containing all the cigarettes.
"So Ronnie here was jus lyin' about ya bein' there then, hm?" he inquired, I cocked my head to side glaring at the man next to me; he was leaning against the opposite side of the counter, a cigarette held between his thin lips as he smirked at me.
"You was there," he paused for a second, pulling the cancer stick from his lips and blowing a plume of poison my way; I closed my eyes and fought back a cough as it hit me in the face, "weren't ya?" He knew I was here; he must have seen me. I shook my head and clenched my jaw, trying desperately to keep my mouth shut. I finally looked up at Randy, I was a little taken back by his appearance; it was worse than usual.
His eyes were bloodshot red and the veins looked sickly and swollen; almost like he had popped a blood vessel. His hand reached up and rubbed his eyes. I raised my eyebrow suspiciously and shrugged, hearing the beeping of the scanner as he loaded the carrots and chicken into the brown bags behind the counter.
"Look," I sighed, "Yes, I was at the game. Someone got shot," I paused for a moment more and then continued on, "that's all I know." I replied, sliding the money across the wooden counter. He huffed loudly, and rubbed his eyes, his nose ran, his free hand wiping the snot as she tried to suck it back up his nose.
"Hey, are you feeling okay?" I asked, not with genuine concern of course; like I said…I'd always been nosey. He waved me off and wiped his nose again, coughing. I gathered up the brown bag and listened to him wheeze.
"Don't you worry about me, darlin'." He gave me a wink, "It's just allergies." I grimaced and rolled my eyes before quickly walking out of the shop, mumbling under my breath about his lack of respect, my boots clicked on the floor; leaving his laughter and coughing behind me.
On the drive home, I couldn't shake myself of the feeling that something was wrong; you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes it feel like you insides are going to explode? Yeah, that one. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention and my throat felt dry; what was wrong? It was near dark by the time I reached out small white house, the dust swirling up and staining the black car I was in as I pulled into the dirt driveway. Russell's truck wasn't in the driveway; usually he was here by this time, I just had to assume that he was going to be late tonight. I unlocked the front door and hung my purse on the small coat rack by the door before making my way to the kitchen.
I was almost through breading the chicken when the phone rang; I glanced at the clock, seven forty-five…it has to be Russell, he would have been home by down. The phone rang again, its shrill scream filling the small room, echoing off the walls. "I'm comin', I'm comin'." I said loudly, cleaning my hands off on a checked blue dish towel. Just before the last ring issued I grabbed the phone; still cleaning the other hand off. "Hello?" I asked, breathlessly as I held the phone in between my right shoulder; turning the sink on I rinsed the crumbs from my fingers.
"Hey, baby." His voice as tired and haggard, I immediately turned the water off and held the phone closer, abandoning the dinner that was cooking.
"Hey, is everything alright?" I asked cautiously, slowly returning my remaining attention to the dinner. He sighed heavily; that wasn't a good sign, after a moment of silence before he spoke again.
"The shooter was Roy Hamill." He explained. My jaw dropped; his son, Curt, worked at the Outfitters with me part time. I'd known his father was a long time alcoholic , but he never came in complaining about it; I remembered it so vividly when he came in all excited one day.
Business was slow; as usual. It was still fairly chilly outside, even for it being close to the first of April. I watched as one of the teenagers that worked here with me walked out of the back, carrying a cake in his hands; Curt Hamill, he was a sweet kid, his mom would drop him off early in the mornings here, I'd let him in. He was the stock boy. He looked happier than usual. I finished up with a customer and smiled his way.
"I didn't know it was your birthday?" I questioned, scanning another item as it made its way down the black conveyer belt.
"Naw, it's not my birthday." He chuckled; he couldn't even contain his excitement. I furrowed my brows, confused.
"Then what's it for?" I pressed, bagging the customer's items.
"My dad's been clean for two years now." I abandoned my station and hugged him,
"Oh, wow that really is something to celebrate."
"Do they know yet?" I asked my voice low and pained, I slowly, and carefully, dropped the chicken into the fryer listening to it pop and crackle as it cooked.
"David's telling them now." He explained. I closed my eyes and shook my head slowly; pulling a knife from the drawer I set id down on the cutting board before grabbing the carrots and washing them.
"Poor Peggy." I sighed sadly, referring to Roy's wife, well now widow. "What made him do it?" I turned the water off and se the carrots down before I began to chop them up; the other line was oddly silent.
"Uh-we-we still haven't figured that out yet." I stopped cutting up the carrots and switched the phone to the other ear. Something didn't feel right. "Listen baby," his voice reappeared a few moments later, "I gotta go." I sighed.
"Should I make you a plate?" I asked, setting the knife down in the sink.
"If you don't mind." He replied. I shook my head in reply and poured the carrots into the boiling water on the stove. "Hey, and don't wait up for me. I'll be gettin' in pretty late." He explained.
"Alright," I sighed "I love you."
"Love you too baby. I'll see ya in the morning." I clicked the phone off and set it down on the counter; this would be the first time in a long, long time that I've eaten alone…and I didn't particularly like it.
After dinner I washed the dishes and cleaned off the counters; making sure to leave a plate for Russell in the microwave and a beer on the counter. I hated being here alone; I know I sound clingy. I glanced at the microwave clock; it was almost ten, deciding to skip the shower I changed into my pajamas; one of Russell's old shirts and pair of underwear. I sighed and crawled into the bed, propping myself up by sticking a pillow behind my back. I grabbed the book from the night stand and flipped it open to the page that was held by a book mark. As I read my mind raced with thoughts; The Andromeda Strain really was an interesting book. I mean, could a virus really wipe out an entire town? How would anyone even begin to prepare for something like that? I hadn't realized I had been reading for almost two hours until I looked at the clock; twelve am. I closed the book just as the bedroom door creaked open slowly. I looked up, startled to see Russell in the door way.
"Hey," he sounded surprised as he shut the door; pulling his hat off his head "I thought you would have been asleep by now." He questioned, tossing the tan cap onto the dresser before he began to unbutton his matching tan uniform shirt.
"I was reading." I replied dropping the book on the bedside table. He raised his eyebrows and chuckled, tossing the shirt onto the floor.
"Yeah, yeah" he didn't believe me, "I told you not the wait up." He bent over and began to unlace his work boots. I scoffed, trying to hold back my smile. I hadn't intended to wait up for him…but like he would believe that excuse either. He slipped off his jeans and crawled into the bed next to me, placing a kiss on my cheek as he propped himself up in his normal sleeping position; two pillows behind his head.
"What makes you think I was waiting up for you?" I teased crawling on top of him and straddling his waist; his hands rested on my hips as he leaned up and placed a kiss on my lips.
"Because," he kissed me again, my hands ran up the white wife beater that covered his chest "Usually you're in bed by nine thirty, and its now," he glanced at the alarm clock, "twelve o-seven." I shrugged and kissed him again, my lips linger for a few more moments as his hand slowly found it's way under this old shirt; his fingers were cold against my skin. I pulled away and looked at his green-blue eyes; they were gorgeous. I ran a hand though his dirty blonde hair,
"How'd they take it?" I asked, referring to the Hamill's; especially Curt. He closed his eyes for a moment and then reopened them, his fingers danced across my waist again.
"Not good." He replied, "David told them he wad drunk." He explained. I cocked my head to the side, drunk?
"What?" I asked surprised; I didn't want to believe it.
"But…Roy Hamill's been clean for two years; Curt told me so." I argued. He shrugged and looked up into my brown orbs; I could tell he was observing them.
"That's just what the Chief says. It'll take a week to get the toxology report done, but, doc said he should have his blood alcohol by tomorrow morning." I thought for a moment.
"Wow, that's-"I trailed off not knowing what else to say.
"David's being hard on himself," he mentioned. I sighed and kissed him again, moving my kisses to the side of his neck.
"Yeah," I mumbled against his skin, before sitting up "But he knows he didn't have any other choice." I reassured him; he nodded in agreement and ran his hands up and down my sides.
"Yeah but you know how he is."
Oh boy…did I
He leaned up and pressed his lips to mine again; one of his hands held the back of my neck, pulling me closer to him. My hips rolled against his, he moaned quietly.
"I have work in the morning." I mumbled against his lips, he pulled be closer barely even breaking the kiss.
"Me too." He mumbled back; he pulled me down on top of him as his hand ran up the full length of my shirt. Minutes, but what felt like a lifetime, later he rolled off of me spent and panting for breaths as he pulled me against his sweaty chest; brushing my sweat drenched hair away from my forehead as he kissed me again.