looked down at the gun in his hand. He’d been a gun owner for most of his life,
taking pride and pleasure in shooting targets at the local police range. He had
several handguns and stored them at the range. His firearms permit didn’t
extend to carrying handguns around the city.
never take this gun to the range, though. The SIG Sauer M11 was a beautiful
piece of machinery, used worldwide by military and law enforcement personnel.
This particular firearm, with a mangled serial number, had been used in
Afghanistan and gone missing shortly after it arrived in-country. He’d paid a
high price for it and an extra 15-round magazine with the understanding that
they were untraceable.
bought it in the proverbial dark alley, dealing with a guy he found online.
the package,” the seller said, “I got it off a Blackwater guy who got it from a
sure it can’t be traced?” Corey asked.
at it,” the seller replied, “all the identification has been removed.”
good,” he said, “I think it will do the job.”
The seller laughed, “It will do whatever you want it to do.”
the gun to its fitted case, he looked out the window, staring at nothing,
thinking about the cascade of events that brought him to this point.
life was in shambles, again. How many times could he let people do these things
to him? His parents’ bankruptcy ruined his higher education prospects; between
the stress and waiting tables, he barely made it through his degree in
political science. He waited tables for almost a year after graduation before
he found a job as a sports writer for a small weekly newspaper.
he ended up on the entertainment beat of a daily paper. Covering music
festivals, reviewing movies, and opening art shows was more interesting than
sports, and he thought he’d settled down for the long haul. He got an apartment
in a nice neighborhood, bought real furniture, registered his guns and permits,
and learned to cook.
was covering an art opening when he saw a real celebrity in the room. Jason
Stashman, the TV talk show host, was engrossed in conversation with the
featured artist, a beautiful young woman.
approached them and waited for a lull before he spoke.
Stashman, I didn’t expect to see you here. I’m Corey Andreson from the Post.
How do you like the exhibit?”
exhibit is magnificent, as is the artist, Jane Wilson,” he lifted her hand to
his lips and kissed it. He was unnaturally perky. Corey recognized the effects
of cocaine, and seized the opportunity to get some good quotes.
work is important because she sees what’s important! Those flowers have soul!
That landscape represents all landscapes!” Corey’s tape recorder picked up more
gems like that, as Jason’s voice rolled on and on.
Jason’s attention was sought by someone else, and Corey lost him. Corey stayed
around until Jason and Jane left, and followed them out of the gallery.
saw him and said, “We’re going to Lotus Flower for Chinese, want to join us?”
And so, Corey became part of Jason Stashman’s inner circle.
was a football star in high school and college, until a knee injury deprived
him of the opportunity to go pro. It was just as well, because he moved from
the field to the broadcast booth, and made a name for himself making people
laugh while calling plays. He had a great face for television.
became an infamous character in the local cable station, his oversized
personality and insatiable appetites were well-documented, and people loved him
in spite of, maybe because of, the scandals. His wife, Gayle, was a fashion
model when they met, and hitched her wagon to his star while he was still a
sportscaster with great ambitions.
was a tall, willowy redhead with milk-white skin that never saw the sun. With
her regal bearing and finishing-school diction, she was the perfect trophy
amazing what a beautiful woman can do for my career,” Jason told Corey, “You
think the paparazzi loved me before? Look at this spread in the Sunday magazine!”
There were four pictures of the couple, looking totally glamorous. Gayle’s
diamond Tiffany earrings caught the camera’s flash like, well, Tiffany
believed she was the force behind his rapid ascent, others believed she stayed
with him for the glamour. Truth be told, both were true, and she put up with a
lot of nonsense on the way up. In due course she gave birth to Tommy and
Jennifer, and put most of her energy into raising them.
Corey found himself in front of a television camera, discussing the arts scene
with other local luminaries, laughing at Stashman’s jokes. The paper liked the
publicity, and he liked the notoriety.
also liked the cocaine. On top of a few drinks, it made him feel all-powerful,
invulnerable, on top of the world. He found himself dating models, escorting
beautiful women to important events, having the time of his life.
about 6 months of this, Jason called him on the phone.
Corey! I’ve got an offer from WBGY TV in Springfield! More money, more
exposure, more everything!”
that’s great,” said Corey, with an enthusiasm he did not feel, “I’m going to
won’t miss a thing!” Jason replied, “I want you to come with me as a staff
writer! I get staff writers on this gig!”
time Corey submitted his resignation happily. His co-workers threw him a
going-away party, congratulating him on his good luck.
writing was new to him, and it took him a while to get the hang of it. But
Jason expected that, and didn’t mind the time it took him to get up to speed.
They were best buddies who attended the best parties nearly every night.
station was working to promote Jason’s show to the networks, hoping to go
national, even if it was on cable. His face was becoming known beyond the local
market, and Corey was right there with him. But the media saw him as a
‘hanger-on,” not an important part of the story. If they only knew! Corey was
doing more of what he considered baby-sitting than writing for the show.
drinking and drug use were getting out of control, and a large part of Corey’s
job consisted of making sure Jason got home safely, before he embarrassed
himself in public. Gayle was stepping out of her background role, showing up
with him at public events. She’d make an entrance with him, be seen, and slip
out about an hour later.
began to resent the role Corey was playing in his life.
a major star!” he declared while under the influence of multiple substances,
“Who the hell are you to tell me what to do?”
your damned baby-sitter!” Corey shouted back, “You’d be on the street without
was not impressed. “I can handle myself,” he said, “I don’t need you! When’s
the last time you wrote a word for the show? You’re useless!”
useless? Okay, we’ll see just how useless I am! You owe me two weeks’ vacation,
and I’m taking it!”
stormed out, packed a bag, and took off to New Orleans. He was there for 48
hours when Jason called.
sorry, man,” he said, “I don’t know what got into me. You’re right, I need to
calm down with the drinks and stuff. Come back to Springfield. Gayle is really
giving me shit about it.”
come back after my vacation,” Corey said.
the phone rang every day, and the vacation was cut short after a week. Gayle
even called him, demanding he come back and do his job before Jason got fired.
Corey went back to Springfield. Jason cut back on his partying. Gayle settled
down. Corey met Maddie.
was a serious person, a registered nurse who worked in the emergency room of the
hospital. She worked long hours at a difficult job, and fit Corey into the time
she had left over. He was totally smitten.
he said one day, “Want to come jewelry shopping with me?”
looking for a new watch, Corey?”
I want to get an engagement ring for Maddie,” he announced proudly.
shouted his boss, ‘Yes, let’s do this!”
thought he knew how to make a woman happy.
With all his faults, Jason was a faithful husband, as far as Gayle and
Jason took Corey to the local chain jeweler, where they looked at dozens of
engagement rings. Corey picked out a few in the 1-1/2 carat range, but Jason
man, you want this to be the best day of her life so far! You’re looking at
rings that cost about 1 month’s salary. This place offers its own credit
policy, so go big! Go to 2 carats! She’ll appreciate it.”
Corey ended up with a new credit account with a $15,000 ring on it. The ring
was magnificent, a gorgeous work of art, and Corey presented it to Maddie with
pride. He got down on one knee.
will you marry me?” He asked, opening the box.
Are you crazy?” She asked, laughing, “This ring is gorgeous!” She took it out
of the box, and held it up to admire it.
can’t believe you did this for me,” She said, “But I can’t wear this!”
do you mean you can’t wear it?”
work in the ER! This will get full of nasty bodily fluids, even if I wear
gloves!” She handed it back to him, “I love it, but I can’t wear it.”
that mean you don’t want to marry me?” Corey was confused.
I’ll consider marrying you, but if you want me to have a ring, get me a little
diamond chip solitaire, that will be fine.”
had other ideas.
have to tell her she can stop working when you get married. You’ll have a
couple of kids to keep her busy in no time. Look how well that’s worked for
Maddie was not happy with that idea.
a nurse, I’m a professional medical caregiver, and I don’t want to stay home
and take care of kids. If that’s what you’re looking for, find somebody else.”
broke up with him, and Jason was unsympathetic.
but you’ll find somebody else,” he said, “There are plenty of nice girls
Corey didn’t find another nice girl. He was lonely. He stopped cooking, and
found himself a dive bar where he could get cocaine.
night, after bingeing on booze and coke, he started thinking. He was tired of
being Jason’s baby-sitter. He hadn’t written much in the last 6 months, and
what he did write wasn’t up to even his standards. It was all Jason’s fault.
Jason hired him, paid him, but Jason was demanding.
demanded Corey’s time on and off the clock. He demanded that Corey follow him
to the new job. And he’d ruined Corey’s relationship with Maddie. He had to go.
got into the car with the SIG in its case on the passenger seat. He sat there
in the driveway for a few minutes, did a couple extra bumps. Then he squared
his shoulders, turned on the engine, and drove to Jason’s place.
had to do it. Jason was a devil, a bad influence on everybody he met. He skated
on his good looks and charisma, and he was famous for being a celebrity—someone
who could do a good job reading what others wrote for him. Lived above his pay
grade, borrowing money all over, promising to pay it back when he went
he wouldn’t go national. The way Corey saw it, Jason had ruined the lives of
everybody he touched, and he had to pay for it.
house was a big brick pile, with a pretentious curved driveway where a garden
should be. Corey never liked it, knew Jason could not afford it.
parked on the street, took the gun out of its case, and suddenly wished he’d
brought a holster. He’d forgotten how heavy the gun was. He couldn’t put it in
a pocket, he’d have to carry it carefully. He smiled to himself as he thought
about watching Jason’s head explode. Useless? He’d show him who was useless!
walked around the house quietly, peering in the lighted windows. It was about 9
pm. There was nobody in the kitchen, nobody in the dining room, but bingo! In
the living room. Jason was sitting at a computer with his back to the window.
Corey listened carefully to the neighborhood sounds.
was a quiet block, very little traffic. He heard no raised voices, no
television noise from the neighbors. He aimed at carefully, squeezed the
jumped up at the noise and flash of light, stared out the window. When he saw
the body on the lawn, he ran out without a jacket, yelling for Gayle to call
the hell?” he yelled, “Corey! What the hell. . .” his voice stuck in his throat
as he realized Corey was dead.
official cause of death was a bullet that ricocheted off the bullet-proof glass
and hit the shooter square in the solar plexus, killing him instantly.
has been writing all her life. When she was in 6th grade, she started a monthly
newsletter for her class, the first in Woodrow Wilson School.
writing has been published in The Legal Letter of the National Association
of Theatre Owners, Publishers Weekly, PD News, Computer
Graphic Magazine, New York Magazine, and the poetry anthologies of
the Networking Cafe.
was editor-in-chief for the Exhibit Reporter, an R.R. Bowker publication.
has been a technical writer since the mid-1980s, and currently writes business
documents and proposals as a Software Development Project Manager.
She is also lead vocalist and rhythm
guitarist for the band Red, White and Blues. Some of her music is available on