A Vigil for Justice: Episode Six

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

“You have a shower I can use?” Melanie asked Jake.

He hesitated. “My apartment is above the gym. You can use the one there, if you’d like.”

She bit her lower lip.

“I’m the last guy you have to worry about in Breck, Ms. Craig. Here are my keys. Lock the door if you’d like. I don’t have another set so bring them back to me.”

Or she could go to the coffee shop smelling like a horse. She hesitated another second and then took the keys from his and.

“Go up the stairs around back.” He shook his head. There was a fine line between cautious and stupid. She walked out the raised bay door and went up the stairs. She pushed the key in the lock and turned the handle.

“Hello?” she called. There was no answer. She went in and locked the door behind her. No reason for her to be stupid, when she had an option. The apartment was much more stylish than she expected for a cowboy. She had expected it to be dirty, but every inch of the place was tidy and clean. The kitchen, dining, and living room were all one area. Black leather couches lined the wall. Plain red and grey pillows adorned the corners. Black and white skylines hung in silver frames on the walls. A bookshelf stood in the corner stretching toward the high ceilings. A dark solid oak table, with red placemats, and four chairs sat on a black and white ceramic-tiled floor. Long stem wine glasses hung from beneath the oak cabinets.

She had to go through his bedroom to find the bathroom. The bedspread was a pattern of various shades of blue. Dark curtains blocked all but a dim light from the window.  The bureau was black and a flat screen TV hung above it. The nightstand matched the bureau and a book laid atop it. The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker, she read aloud. She flipped the book over to read the back, “True fear is a gift. Unwarranted fear is a curse. Learn how to tell the difference.” She placed the book back on the nightstand and looked around the room. There were no pictures of family or friends anywhere in the apartment.

She showered quickly. The towels were white and soft. She locked the door as she left.

“See you tomorrow?” Jake asked as she tossed him his keys.

“Yes. How much is a membership?”

“Let’s see how you do, alright?”

She slid into her car and drove the short distance to the coffee shop. She slipped her black apron over her head as she walked through the front door.

“Cutting it close Mel?” her boss Suzanne asked arching an eyebrow.

“Sorry.”

“You and Sarah are closing tonight. Your schedule for next week is in the back. I’ll see you later.” Suzanne left. Sarah wouldn’t be in for a few hours. Melanie sat on the tall stool behind the counter and breathed in the deep scent of the coffee house. She loved that smell.

She poured herself a cup of the house blend the aroma rose enveloping her. She inhaled a lung full and smiled. She poured in some cream and sprinkled chocolate on top. She wrapped her hands around the warm mug and sat back on the stool relishing the experience. She never wanted to forget how life was before the Justice Law passed. She filed this piece away in her memory for later use.

Sarah came in just as Melanie’s stomach began to growl from hunger. As soon as Sarah put her apron on and was ready to take over for Melanie at the counter, Melanie slipped out the door to find something to eat.

She grabbed a turkey cranberry sandwich from a little café and crossed the street to the bookstore. She could get any book on her ipad, but she like the feel of physical books in her hands. It reminded her of the nights she spent reading with her dad. He had read and she turned the pages.

She knew which book she wanted, so she wouldn’t be long in the bookstore. She ran her finger over the rows and slid two books off the shelves. The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker and a survival guide by some longhaired hippy guy.

She walked back to the coffee shop and read The Gift of Fear between customers for the rest of her shift.

On the following Monday, Richard Stein pulled is huge black Dodge truck into the Craig’s long drive way. Headlights shined into the kitchen and living room windows. Melanie stepped out of the house to greet Holly who was climbing out of her dad’s truck.

“Bye dad. Thanks for the ride.” Holly waved and the truck began to backup.

Jennifer pushed past Melanie and ran out to the truck, trying to catch Richard before he was gone. Holly and Melanie looked at each other, neither one of them knew what the big rush was. They walked out to the truck.

Jennifer was handing some papers through the truck window on tiptoe. Richard let out a long sigh and scanned the pages.

“Jennifer, I know you mean well, but I’m not signing your petition.” His Texas accent was thick. “It’s not that I’m going go out there shooting folks up or anything, but people need to know I’ve got no qualms about defending my own.”  He handed the papers back to her and she tried to push them back into the truck.

“But Richard if you sign—“

“I’m not and I’m not arguing with you either.”

Jennifer took the papers scowling.

“You girls have a good day. Melanie you’ll drop Holly off tonight?”

Melanie stretched up on her tiptoe to look at him more levelly. “Yes sir.”

Richard tipped his black cowboy hat at Jennifer. “You too Jennifer.”

Without a word, Jennifer turned and went back into the house. Holly and Melanie followed her.

The metal detectors arrived at Summit High School that morning along with the crews to install them. Things had calmed down at the school, as the administration dealt with threats and aggressive behavior in a consistent and quick manner regardless of who was making the threat.

Seth, Holly, Mitchel, and Melanie decided to stay at the school for lunch. The four of them sat at the end of one of the long orange picnic like tables that lined the lunchroom.

“Your mom starting that petition tonight?” Mitchel asked Melanie.

She took a bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and nodded her head.

Seth looked at her with one eyebrow raised. “What petition?”

Melanie held up her finger while she took a sip of her chocolate milk to wash down the sandwich. “It’s a no kill petition. She is asking everyone in Blue River to sign it. Basically it is an agreement not to use your Justice Deaths. She is going to take it to the City Council meeting. ”

“Are you guys signing it?” Holly asked Seth and Mitchel.

Seth snorted. “Are you?”

“We already did,” Holly said, smiling.

Seth shook his head. “What if some jackass comes and puts a gun to your mom’s head, are you telling me you are not going to shoot if you have the chance because you signed a petition?”

“No, Seth. It allows for killing in defense of another whose life is in jeopardy,” Melanie said.

“How long is your car going to be in the shop, Holly?” asked Melanie taking another bite of her sandwich.

“Wait. What? Why is your car in the shop?” asked Seth.

Holly laughed. “Where have you been Seth?” It was true, Seth seemed to be out of the loop on things that had been happening over the weekend.

“A freshman backed into it last Friday. I dropped it off at the shop this morning it will be there for until Wednesday, so they said. Maybe I’ll get it tomorrow. Until then I’m hitching along with Melanie.”

Melanie glanced sidelong at Seth. She looked up and smiled at Holly. “We still going to the firing range after school?”

Seth inhaled his soda. Mitchel patted him on the back shaking his head.

“Yeah, but I have homework to do too.” Holly stood up to go dump her garbage.

Mitchel reached across the table and took Melanie’s hand in his. “I’ll sign the petition, Mel.”

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