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E is for Everett Park
Read from the beginning HERE!
Authors Note: A famous writer once said writing a story is like uncovering a fossil. As we work we brush away the layers that block our view of the finished product, and only in the end, when we have uncovered the fossil completely, can we tell what it is. He went on to explain that many times the beginning of a story is not fully realized until the end of the story has been uncovered. Such is the case with E is for Everett Park, a title that only served as a place holder until I uncovered the real title, and the real thrust of the story.
As we reach the end of the tale, and the final details of the hidden fossil are exposed, we now see what the story’s true destination is. This will guide me, during the subsequent rewrite, to open the story as it should be.
“Can I touch it?” I asked, both fascinated and repulsed at the same time. I’d never held a gun before, or even shot one, these things were just not allowed in my house.
Jimmy nodded his assent and I reached out, my fingertips coming into contact with the oiled steel of that black barrel. As my flesh came into contact with it I was overcome by a feeling of uninhibited power. This thing, this object, this inert piece of metal contained a power I’d never known before.
“What kind is it?” I asked.
“My Dad said it’s a thirty eight special.”
“Have you shot it?”
“Once or twice.”
‘Where did you get it?”
“My dad keeps it in the glove box of his car, I swiped it this morning on my way over, I’m gonna scare Arnold with it.”
“Can I hold it?” I asked breathlessly as that sensation coursed through my body.
Again Jimmy nodded his assent and I wrapped my hand around the handle, the thatch work design of the grip coarse against the palm of my hand.
“He’s gonna show em,” Tina said but I didn’t hear her as I lifted the pistol from Jimmy’s hand, my finger naturally wrapping itself around the trigger.
“Don’t put your finger on the trigger, not yet, not until you’re ready to shoot,” Jimmy said and I shuddered at the thought that with a simple pull of the trigger, I could solve all of our problems on the playground.
The gun was heavier than I had anticipated, the weight dragging my hand towards the ground as I raised it to look closer at its black surface. The metal seemed to absorb the growing sunlight of the day, yet there was a faint reflection in the oiled side of the barrel, along with a smudged fingerprint. As I looked the pistol over my eyes kept getting drawn to that fingerprint, it was a shame to mar such a powerfully beautiful surface.
At the same time I felt the power of the gun, I sensed a dark force that hovered about it, a malignant air that came not from the object in my hand, but from somewhere deep within me. The presence of the gun touched something deep inside me, something I’d never faced before, a primitive thing that sought the power this object conveyed.
Voices from the other side of the playground drew out attention and I hurriedly passed the gun back to Jimmy and he tucked it into the waistband of his pants. Of course Tina knew about the gun, so there was no sense even hiding it as the first words out of her mouth when she saw Arnold and company, were of a specifically threatening nature.
“You better run home to Mommy, Arnold, Jimmy’s gonna fix you today.”
The power of the gun had even affected Tina whose comments were so out of place compared to the way she normally acted. The open threat only served to draw our three tormentors to us, and they crossed the playground with a small crowd around them.
“What’s the baby gonna do?” Arnold said as he stepped up to Jimmy who kept his eyes focused on the ground at his feet.
“Come on, do something, butt munch.” Arnold’s comment drew several laughs from the crowd around us.
“Show him, Jimmy, show him who’s the boss of the playground now,” Tina said, her comments like gasoline on a fire.
“Yeah, show me dick breath,” Arnold said, pushing Jimmy back with one hand, his other balled up into a fist ready to strike.
There was a moment, a brief second where I was sure Jimmy was about to turn and flee for good, it seemed like he was struggling with himself, and I was certain reason would reassert itself and everything would go back to normal, or as normal as one could expect at Everett Park.
“Show him Jimmy,” Tina said and Arnold lashed out at her with one hand, knocking baby Sally to the ground.
“Would you shut your cunt up.”
I honestly believe that had Tina kept her mouth shut Jimmy would have fled from the playground that day. As it was she didn’t and Jimmy responded, not to protect himself, but to protect her.
When Arnold spun back around to confront Jimmy, he’d pulled the gun from his waistband and was aiming it at Arnold’s head.
“You leave her alone,” Jimmy said, his voice low, full of menace as he stood in what I later learned was the classic two handed shooter’s stance. He’d obviously shot the pistol before, and knew what to expect.
Instead of turning to flee as we had expected Arnold raised his hands, palms out at shoulder level, as he sneered at Jimmy. “What are you gonna do with that?” Arnold said, taking a step closer, forcing Jimmy to take a step back.
I’d seen something in Arnold’s eye the moment he recognized the pistol, something that I didn’t understand until I was much older. There was no fear in his eyes, no anger either, just a mute acceptance of what he was confronting. There was a lot I learned later in life about what makes us who we are. But for the moment we had a standoff. I didn’t believe for one moment that Arnold was going to run, nor did I think Jimmy would pull the trigger.
I think Arnold knew this as well, just like a predator will know the difference between prey and other predators. He took another step closer to Jimmy, forcing him back to the edge of the pavement, and Jimmy was forced to look away, giving Arnold the opening he was looking for.
He snatched the pistol from Jimmy’s hand, pushing the younger boy down at the same time as he overwhelmed him with his bulk. Jimmy lay on the ground his hands up in a defensive manner as Arnold stood over him with the pistol.
“Let me show you how it’s done,” Arnold said as he pulled back the hammer with a loud click. Several of the others shouted for him not to do it, to let it go, but it appeared Arnold wasn’t hearing any of that. He looked like he was about ready to pull the trigger.
That was when I got involved. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I let him shoot Jimmy, yet even after my actions that day I’m still full of guilt. Had I not done what I did things would have maybe turned out different for everyone concerned. Before anyone could react I grabbed a ball bat from one of the spectators and pushed my way through the crowd.
Everyone’s attention was on Jimmy. Arnold’s back was to me so he didn’t see me raise the bat over my shoulder, or take the hardest swing of my life. But he felt it, maybe for a moment, or two, after the bat connected with the back of his head. For the second time in the time I’d known him, Arnold dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. He never go up again, thankfully he lived, but he never walked again. Spending his days confined to a wheel chair as he spoke in a child’s voice to things no one else could see.
I spent some time in juvenile detention and the crowd that once hung out at Everett Park grew up and went it’s different ways. Tina got married and raised a family of her own, the others scattered to the four winds, and I was left with my guilt. Since I was a juvenile when I was charged my records were sealed on my eighteenth birthday and I worked to rebuild my life.
Turning back to the front page I look again at the familiar face staring out at me from beneath the headline. He’s gotten older, as all of us have, yet I can still see the frightened child in his eyes. The same child who on a chilly morning showed me his father’s gun. Jimmy grew older as all of us did, but he never really grew up. Three days ago he walked into the place where he worked with a loaded gun.
I don’t need to explain the rest, but I will leave you with this.
Evil lives among us, we see it everyday as we go about the task of living, yet we don’t fully understand what we’re looking at. Evil is not some intangible force that comes and goes like the tides of the ocean, it lives in the heart of every man, woman, and child that draws a breath. Most of us can control those darker impulses that speak to us late at night as we struggle to fall asleep while reliving our day Pointing out our weaknesses, and sometimes cajoling us to seek revenge for slights real or imagined. There are those who listen to that inner voice, and it is they we need to watch out for.
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