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The Son (First chapter for your thoughts)

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Old 11-13-2013, 02:36 PM
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Default The Son (First chapter for your thoughts)


(Hey, I'm Brent Coffey, and this is the first chapter from my self-published novel from Amazon, The Son. What do you guys think?)
Chapter One
“I’ll get you your boy.”
“What?”
“I’ll get you your boy.”
“If you touch that child, I swear I’ll kill you!”
“I said I’ll get you your boy. I didn’t say I’ll get your boy. You’re welcome by the way.”
Turning around and walking away without further explanation, Boston’s latest celebrity criminal, Gabriel Adelaide, strode out of the Suffolk County Courthouse with his team of lawyers in tow and walked into an awaiting throng of reporters on the courthouse stairs. Guilty of no less than two dozen accounts of protection racketeering and convicted for none, Gabe was the type of criminal Bostonians enjoyed. Young, handsomely dressed in a three-piece suit, smirking, and seductively arrogant, he embodied the Mafia greats that the city’s older residents missed. Long gone were the Gaspare Messina’s and Raymond Patriarca’s famous for their Italian exploits in wine, fine dining, and murder, but Gabe embodied their most memorable and celebrated traits. Boston’s coffee shop commentators liked to say that the mob gave the city flavor, character almost, and they relished the mob’s contributions to the city’s tough image. Thanks to Gabe’s recent arrival on newspapers’ headlines, “Boston Tough” once more demanded respect, instead of the raised eyebrows of the city’s incredulous college kids, unwilling to absorb the folklore about dead criminal legends.
Indeed, the consensus among the city’s elderly citizens was clear. Gabe was the up-and-coming figure that Boston’s reputation needed. He revived the city’s image of its in-your-face ethos, but with a taste for the finer things in life. He was rumored to be strong enough to crack a few skulls, but classy enough to steal a Lincoln Towncar when dumping a body in an auto’s trunk, and he could pahk his cah in Hahvahd Yahd to old school reporters pining for the city’s blue collar accent. Beantown’s aging chattering class had high expectations for criminals, and Gabe met them all. Polished in appearance and salt of the earth in speech, he was the perfect dichotomy of elegance and brutishness, and he hailed from one of New England’s few remaining active Families.
Bruce Hudson, the D.A. who’d just failed to persuade twelve of Gabe’s peers to send the mobster to a federal penitentiary (and who was now confused at Gabe’s offer to get him his boy), wasn’t a dichotomy of anything. He was simply working class, simply devoted to his wife, and, on principle, simple. Despite being a successful lawyer, Hudson didn’t believe in living a complicated life or one of luxury. He preferred the opposite of most everything the Adelaides were famous for. Microwaveable pasta and gas station wine suited his taste, and his clothes were never custom tailored. Nor did they conceal 9mm pistols.
As Bruce Hudson also walked out of the Suffolk County Courthouse and into the same throng of reporters, the voice in his head asked I’ll get you your boy? What the hell does that mean? Is this some kind of sick threat that only a mobster would make? And then the voice in his head asked a question more startling than, “How does it feel to know that you blew it and that Gabriel Adelaide is a free man?” shouted by a guy from the Boston Times. It was Surely to Christ he doesn’t know about August… does he? Followed by How could he possibly know we’re trying to adopt August? He realized with regret that he had admitted to Gabe that there was a child that he was concerned about, when he’d sworn to God to kill Gabe for the mobster’s bizarre promise to get him his boy.
“Let me just say that I’m proud of American justice, because this is a country where justice rules supreme. This institution, this building behind me, is a damn fine institution, and it’s governed by the way stuff’s supposed to work.” Normally, only the accused’s lawyers talked to the press, but few accused souls are as arrogant as those in a Family. Gabe went on:
“And let me add that these baseless allegations against me were a waste of both taxpayers’ dollars and the court system’s time. Forcing you, the good citizens of Boston, to fund the smear campaign that the prosecutor ran against me is the real extortion scandal.”
Bruce had difficulty answering the questions tossed at him, as he was trying to overhear what Gabe was saying to the media from the opposite side of the courthouse stairs.
“Sometimes the jury is wrong. Period. That’s the only explanation I have, but it’s the only one I need. The evidence was there, and, well, everyone knows that the Adelaides literally are the mob. There’s no serious debate there. Gabriel Adelaide may be walking free this afternoon, but that’s a legal technicality, not proof of his moral innocence,” Bruce complained.
“Do you plan to bring new charges against either Gabriel Adelaide or other Adelaides?”
“How much blame do you bear for the botched evidence?”
“Is it your position that some of Boston’s Finest tainted the evidence, and, if so, how widespread is the corruption in Boston’s Police Department?”
Bruce tried to parry the aggressive questions thrown at him, but there were too many, and they were coming too fast. Eventually, the Umm’s and Well’s disrupting his answers made him sound uncertain of Gabe’s guilt. But uncertain he was not! Bruce had spent the past five years working the Adelaide case: making connections, offering pardons to snitches, and hiding informants in witness protection. He’d spent two of the past five years gathering information against Gabe from folks in Southie, Boston’s southern neighborhood. He knew Gabe was guilty. He’d seen the bodies, heard the stories, and talked to the eyewitnesses. He suspected, though he wouldn’t say it because he couldn’t prove it, that, yes, some of Boston’s Finest were in bed with the Adelaides. He also suspected that jury intimidation was a factor in Gabe’s acquittal, as previous jurors who’d convicted other Family members had died from causes that were never explained in detail by the suspiciously silent county coroner. The pressure on Bruce began to stack up at this press conference on the courthouse stairs, as thoughts of Gabe’s ominous promise floated through his mind.
“Will you seek a new trial?”
I’ll get you your boy.
“Do you think jury selection was a factor in this case’s outcome?”
I’ll get you your boy.
“Are Boston’s streets more dangerous because Gabriel Adelaide wasn’t found guilty?”
I’ll get you your boy.
Replaying in his mind like an unwanted song, the thought of a mobster getting him his boy made talking to the swell of eager media members even more difficult than usual. Adding to that difficulty was the loud and boisterous sermon on American justice being delivered by the should-have-been-convicted Gabriel Adelaide, a mere forty feet to his right. The press, torn between its love for acquitted mobsters and prosecutorial failures, split evenly, surrounding Gabe and Bruce with a near equal number of face-close cameras and mikes. At times, the questions posed to one man were asked in response to a statement the other had just made, as reporters were in earshot of both.
“Mr. Adelaide, do you feel you’re the victim of selective prosecution?”
“If you mean, Was I harassed because of my last name, then, yes.”
“Mr. Hudson, Mr. Adelaide alleges that he was harassed because of his last name. Your response?”
“Again, anyone following the, umm, details of the case, and, umm, the clear and irrefutable evidence (I’ll get you your boy) would concur that crimes of the most vicious nature were committed by Mr. Adelaide (I’ll get you your boy) against some of Boston’s hardest working business owners in an effort to coerce other business owners into paying for fraudulent and makeshift, umm, protection services.”
Bruce silently conceded that Gabe’s offer to get him his boy was screwing with his head something fierce. He briefly considered telling the press This asshole just threatened the kid that I’m trying to adopt, but he held his tongue. Going public with the threat might further endanger August.
With cameras quickly flashing like a factory quota was being met, Bruce stared into the heart of every city’s most enthusiastic fans of drama: street reporters and evening newscasters. He was tired of this. What good ever came from talking to the press? The jury wasn’t going to reverse its decision because he was quoted in an editorial. The judge wasn’t going to order that Gabe be locked up because he held court with electronic eyes and ears. This was all a waste of time. Time that could be spent at home with a Guiness and the Red Sox. Time that could be spent with his wife, Betty. Time that could be spent on the internet looking at how damn cute August was, while warmly chatting with Betty about how great it would be, after all these years, to finally have a child. He steeled his resolve to end this tiresome barrage of questions, by shortening his responses to the most boring answers he could think of: Maybe and I don’t know.
“Is this the end of your office’s focus on the Adelaide Family?”
“Maybe.”
“Will you work with the chief of police to investigate allegations of police corruption?”
“I don’t know.”
And so it went, until the press lost interest in questioning a D.A. who wouldn’t commit to specific answers. Meanwhile, much to his lawyers’ dismay, Gabe was just getting started:
“The jury’s decision to clear me of all charges reflects the fact that I’m not connected to the tragic slayings of Arthur Mulberry and Mike Bronston. This D.A., Bruce Hudson, tried to string me up on bogus racketeering charges, thinking that if he could trick people into believing that I had something to do with extorting Mulberry and Bronston’s businesses, he could later bring additional charges of first-degree murder against me. I’d like to think the events of today mean that I’m not only cleared of all these ridiculous accusations of protection racketeering, but that I’m also off the hook for whatever happened to those guys.”
Off the hook! Gabe’s lawyers tried not to grimace. They’d warned their client not to mention the deaths of Arthur Mulberry and Mike Bronston, who’d respectively owned a dry cleaning shop and a restaurant in Chinatown. It was damning enough that Gabe had been tried for extorting their businesses for cash, and it was even more suspicious that both men had died before they could testify. Hopefully, his lawyers thought, he has the good sense not to mention that Mulberry and Bronston were killed, in classic Mafia tradition, execution style.
Nope.
“And whoever shot those guys in the head when they were on their knees… Or that’s how I imagine people are shot,” he quickly clarified, clearing this throat for emphasis and starting again. “It couldn’t have been me since I was detained during my trial.”
In fact, Gabe hadn’t killed Mulberry and Bronston. His associate, Luke Espinoza, acting on his order, had killed them.
Bruce walked to his car and wanted not to think about losing this case, but it was hard to shrug off the loss with the sound of Gabe rambling to every reporter willing to listen. As Bruce got in his car, he placed his briefcase on the passenger’s seat and opened it. He dug underneath the small mountain of paperwork detailing Gabe’s guilt and found what truly interested him, the Massachusetts Child Services case file on 5-year-old August Middleton. Bruce didn’t know why he took August’s file to work… perhaps it was the closest to a “bring your child to work day” that a man trying to adopt a son could experience. He quickly opened the manila folder, as he was suddenly curious if August had any connection to the Adelaides. He reread the file for the sixth time that day (reading August’s background had been his favorite pastime when the jury had deliberated) and reviewed the kid’s history.
August George Middleton, born August 1st 2005 to June and Larry Middleton. (Evidently August’s mom liked her name, Bruce thought, since her son’s also named after a month.) Race: Caucasian, Weight: 42 pounds, Height: 46 inches, Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue… About August: August is a shy little boy who enjoys television and coloring. His other favorite activities are going to the zoo and watching people walk their dogs at Boston Common. He likes most foods, but he is allergic to peanuts. He says he wants to be either an astronaut or a firefighter when he grows up. He did not attend preschool, so he was disadvantaged this past year in kindergarten. Do to this disadvantage and his troubled home life, he must repeat kindergarten. Though, his teacher and counselor believe that he is a bright young man with plenty of potential. He needs a structured home with loving parents who will be patient with his shyness, as he often struggles to say what he feels. Continued therapy is needed so he can cope with his disturbing background, and his adoptive parents must contractually agree to keep his future appointments with his psychologist. August needs parents who understand that reserved and withdrawn children have a lot of love to offer. Scanning the file further, Bruce was relieved to see there weren’t any Italian sounding names in August’s list of grandparents, aunts, and uncles. If the kid had a connection to the Adelaides, it was hard to see how.
Bruce did his homework to a fault. He knew August’s “disturbing background” was a finessed way of saying, “When August was three, he watched his father burst through the Middletons’ apartment door in Dorchester, one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods, in a vomiting drunken stupor and (after Larry Middleton woke up on the kitchen floor) rape, beat, and strangle June Middleton to death. Oh! And then, August had a front row ticket to see good old pop finish things off on the family’s Rent-A-Lot sofa with dad’s last six shots of Wild Turkey and a 120mg of methadone.” Yes, such a homicide-suicide was “Boston tough” on the attentive little guy hiding, peeking around the kitchen wall. Disturbing background was putting it mildly. Little wonder that two years later August was having trouble in school. Little wonder as well that he was shy and withdrawn. “What kid wouldn’t be?” Bruce wondered aloud. Over the years, Bruce had studied many homicide-suicides, but this was the first time that he recalled an orphan being the result of one. When a father went nuts or got blitzed, he usually killed the entire family before knocking himself off. No one knew why August was spared that tragic night, because dearest dad wasn’t around to explain.
As Bruce drove away from 3 Pemberton Square, the location of the Suffolk County Courthouse, his rearview mirror confirmed that Gabe still held the media’s rapt attention. No matter. He had other concerns on his mind.
------------------------------------------------
Martha’s embrace and the smell of chicken pot pies greeted Bruce from his long day of losing. A few hours earlier, Martha had heard about Gabe’s acquittal on the radio. She knew the loss was heartbreaking. Her husband dedicated every second of his nine-to-five to the pursuit of justice, which is why many of his nine-to-five’s stretched into nine-to-nine’s, and sometimes nine-to-twelve’s. Sixty to 80 hour workweeks, countless of bottles of Excedrin, and unresolved muscle tension in his back and neck all came with the territory of being the most committed D.A. the city had seen in years. A salary larger than other attorneys’ income wasn’t part of that territory. Personal injury lawyers made more money than Bruce did in his pursuit of justice. Corporate lawyers made more than them both. No, cash didn’t fuel Bruce. This evening, Martha and pot pie did.
“Well, that’s why God created hell. He’ll get what’s coming to him eventually, dear,” Martha reminded him. “I’ll put on the coffee.”
“You know,” Bruce interrupted, “I’d rather have another pot pie.”
“I’m out of carrots and potatoes. But if you give me about an hour, I can make you one with just chicken and gravy.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll grab one from the freezer at Stop and Run.”
Bruce intended no disrespect, but few acts of treachery hurt Martha as much as having her homemade meals spurned in favor of frozen crap. Cooking was one of her many talents, and she enjoyed showcasing her culinary skills. It was with a cold, distant gaze that she watched her husband walk through the breaker room adjacent to the kitchen and open the door to the garage. Pissed, she began washing dishes in the kitchen sink and tuned the room’s radio to her parish’s broadcast of EWTN, the Eternal Word of Truth Network. Like most middle class Bostonians, she was Catholic. Unlike most middle class Bostonians, she practiced Catholicism. EWTN’s broadcast of Father Mack’s sermons had inspired her to investigate the possibility of adoption. Adoption is more than just an alternative to abortion, Father Mack had explained. It’s also the birth of a new family, Martha had learned. Bruce was Catholic in heritage, but he rarely bothered with his faith. He had no patience for Martha’s constant radio sermons. The Sox’s daily stats were radio enough for him. He had to be threatened with involuntary celibacy to listen to the CD copy of Father Mack’s sermon on the merits of adoption. But, once he heard it, something in Bruce’s 55-year-old heart tore. That longing. That buried and forgotten longing. A boy to carry on his last name, a boy to play catch with, a boy… dare he think it?… could life really be this good?... a boy to accompany him to Sox games. Bruce got in touch with his Catholic roots after that. It was their local priest, Father Bush, who helped the Hudsons find an adoption agency, choose an adoption lawyer, and prepare for their legally required home study.
Still pissed about having her cooking shunned in favor of frozen crap, Martha ignored tonight’s charge from Father Mack to “keep the faith.” The sermon provided the background noise she needed to channel her anger against remembered setbacks. This evening was Father Mack’s turn to be the background noise. This evening was Sara Madison’s turn to be the setback remembered…
“I’m sorry, but ulcerative colitis at your age presents a serious obstacle to adopting a young child,” Sara Madison, August’s social worker, had explained. “I’m sure you’d make great parents under ideal circumstances, but these aren’t ideal circumstances.”
“You think bouncing around from one foster home to the next is an ideal circumstance?” Bruce countered through clenched teeth. He tried to stay calm, but his anger, born out of disappointment, was too strong.
Sara took offense at Bruce’s claim that she was “bouncing” August around to different homes. It hadn’t been her decision to place him in three different homes in the past two years. His previous foster parents had bailed on him when the state cut funding for the foster care program. She replied with forced composure, ignored his comment about August’s background, and returned the conversation to Bruce’s health:
“Look, Mr. Hudson, I’m just doing my job. I’m not passing judgment on you. I’m sure you’re a loving man and your wife is a loving woman. I know you want to provide a home for a child, and I commend you for being kind-hearted. I also know how much this means to you, and I hate to be the one who stands in your way, but August needs healthy parents.”
“I work. I work all the time. I work longer hours than you do. I work longer hours than any social worker in this city. Reconcile that with your perception that I’m an invalid,” Bruce spat out.
“I never said you were an invalid, and I don’t doubt that you work long hours. But, with all due respect, Mr. Hudson, your job is mostly a desk job. Raising a young child requires more physical energy than pushing papers on a desk. It requires a lot of get-up-and-go, not just the occasional standing that you do in court. According to the results of your physical, you suffer from limited mobility because of your ankles’ sever joint pain, you suffer from occasional loss of vision in both eyes, and your life expectancy is years below the average man’s.
“Again,” she held up both hands in a don’t-stone-the-messenger style, “I’m just repeating the facts your doctor provided our office with. You’re already fifty-five and in bad health, and August may find himself one parent short at an early age.”
“So what? At present he’s two parents short at a very early age!”
This was not going well. Home studies were supposed to be warm and friendly meet and greets. You meet the social worker. You greet the social worker. The social worker tells you what wonderful people you are for opening your home to a needy child. This, however, was no home study. This was a bitch named Sara Madison, Bruce would later complain to Martha, hastily writing reasons in a notebook why ulcerative colitis, with all its complications, disqualified him from being an adoptive father.
The painful memory of their home study invited itself over and made itself comfy in Martha’s memory tonight, as she began drying dishes. As she waited for her disqualified (but kind-hearted! wasn’t that the lame compliment the social worker gave? she sarcastically thought)husband to return, she finished with the dishes, while remembering Sara and Bruce’s fight. Suddenly, she wanted to cry. She wanted Bruce to come home. She wanted to be with him, to hold him, to tell him it wasn’t his fault they couldn’t adopt. She didn’t blame Bruce’s health for the obstacle in their attempted adoption, and she certainly didn’t blame Bruce. Bruce blamed Bruce. That’s why, she realized, he wants away from me. He’s ashamed. He lost August, and today he lost in court. She resolved not to complain about his trip out for frozen food. He needed his space tonight, and she decided to give it to him.
------------------------------------------------
Two weeks ago…
The dog, a gentle giant of a white and light brown St. Bernard, smelled bacon. Not imitation meat processed into a treat, but honest-to-god real bacon. The man had lured the dog upstairs, by giving it a few slices outside of the high-rise and then shoving the rest of the meat into his large overcoat’s pocket so the dog would follow him inside. The dog knew the rest of the nice man’s bacon was in his pocket. The dog didn’t know that the man had a serrated twelve inch carving knife next to the bacon in his pocket, and the dog didn’t know that the man wasn’t so nice.
------------------------------------------------
Toy blocks. She had to remember to bring him toy blocks next time. She’d promised him toy blocks two weeks ago and had forgotten to bring them during today’s visit. Sara Madison liked August. In fact, she liked all kids. She’d told her friends in college that she wanted to be a social worker because she understood kids. She’d grown up with seven siblings, three brothers and four sisters. She was the second oldest child in her family, and she had plenty of experience helping her mom care for the younger Madison clan. Glad to be in her line of work, it wasn’t like her to make a promise to a ward of the state (God! how she hated that term… it’s too formal for a little guy) and not keep it. “Next time, I’m going to bring you a whole bunch of brand new blocks with painted letters and numbers on them, and you’re going to have so much fun stacking them on each other and matching the colored letters with the same colored numbers! You’ll love ‘em, August,” she recalled saying. It was one of the few times she’d seen him smile. Smiling was such a rare occurrence for him that she’d silently applauded herself for a job well done. If she could make him smile after the little man had seen his jackass of a father kill the little tyke’s mother and commit suicide afterwards, then she was doing something right.
Driving home tonight, she felt guilty for not bringing August his blocks. She loved the foster kids in her district’s program, and she kept her promises to them. All her promises. Which is why this first broken promise of her career as a social worker (well, forgotten, really, not exactly broken, she consoled herself) troubled her. Never before had she promised a child to bring him toys and failed to do it. She didn’t want to admit how scared and rattled she was after finding the dog in her bed, but the grip of fear that the dead dog held on her was the only cause she could think of for forgetting August’s blocks.
------------------------------------------------
Two weeks before tonight, and one week after she’d disqualified Bruce Hudson from being an adoptive father, Sara Madison had arrived home from work to her 1,100 square foot condo on the fifth-floor of East Camelot Towers in Back Bay, one of Boston’s 21 neighborhoods. She liked the location of her condo because it was close to the Charles River and within walking distance of a library. Despite living several floors up and despite having just arrived home from a stressful day of work, she took the stairs instead of the elevator. After all, she told herself, you’ll soon be thirty, and you need to stay in the same shape that you were in during college.She often motivated herself with small nuggets of wise suggestions. Taking the stairs was one such nugget.
Coming in the Towers’ front entrance and walking up the stairs had been a familiar experience. Passing the building’s maintenance man coming down the stairs had been a familiar experience. Walking down the hall of the fifth-floor to room 5C had been a familiar experience. Digging in her purse for her keys, unlocking the door, and letting herself in… all familiar as well. Finding blood splattered on her living room walls, her flat screen television smashed on the floor below its normal position on the wall mount, her plants uprooted and dumped out of their containers, well, all of that was very unfamiliar. Eventually, she’d find a dead dog, (A whole fucking St. Bernard! she’d tell police) a near two hundred pound fully grown dead dog with the underside of its belly ripped open and its entrails dangling out like tentacles, casually lying in her bed with glossy eyes opened in her direction. That would be unfamiliar too.
As Sara first absorbed the vandalism inflicted on her home, she stood stone still in her condo’s front entrance, unaware that she’d dropped her purse and that she hadn’t removed the keys from her open door. She could only stare. Then, she could only tremble. With fear coursing through her like so many seizures, she took in the aftermath of her home’s invasion, with the sight of everything she owned spread in a wild fashion like the unarranged pieces of a puzzle. There was her silverware, her fine china, her books, empty dresser drawers, and laundry… strewn about the carpet on the living room floor. She tried to think, to make sense of what she was seeing, but the only word her mind heard was Why? Not wanting to recognize the war zone that was her place, she could only stand in the doorway, taking in the chaos of the room. When she finally allowed herself to acknowledge that she was the victim of a break-in, she willed herself to exorcise the demon of terror possessing her, the trembling stopped, and she decided the safest course of action was to call out before entering.
“Hello? Is someone in here?”
An eerie quietness invited her in.
She called again, and there was still no response.
She took a cautious step inside, keeping the door open in case she needed a quick exit.
Quickly and quietly, she surveyed the damage further. Stepping over her belongings, she felt like a federal agent noting the path of a tornado. After the shock subsided from seeing her condo leveled, she heard a furious noise coming from the kitchen and slowly advanced towards the sound. Coming around a corner, her peripheral vision spied her sink running full blast with a towel clogging the drain, causing an onslaught of water to spill over the sink’s countertop. She hurried across the flooded linoleum to end the downpour. After she shut off the sink, she next heard the quieter sound of her microwave beeping behind her. Turning away from the sink, she saw her microwave’s digital screen flashing “FINISHED.” With a shaky hand, she opened the unit’s door and found her family photo album inside. The album’s cover picture had been melted with wicked electric heat into a glob of distorted faces. Horrified, she backed away from the microwave only to hear the crunching sound of glass. Portions of her coffee maker’s carafe ground beneath her shoes, and she glanced down and spotted its nearby handle with shards of the former pot still attached. She’d had enough of the kitchen.
She stepped back into the living room, too stunned to notice that the wall behind her torn and gutted couch (with her entire screwdriver set stabbed in it like needles in an acupuncture patient) had reddish brown ALL CAPS letters reading, “Give August to the Hudsons,” written in dog blood. She’d see that later. And scream.
For now, she was curious about her bedroom. The condo was quiet enough that she believed that no one else was here. She stepped over her shoes, underwear, and makeup littering the space in front of her bedroom door, peeked inside, and saw the dog in her bed. It was too much. Its mouth open, its drooping tongue connected to the floor by a long trail of bloody spittle, its knotty guts and bits of half-digested bacon spilling out… she’d later realize that it was the source of the blood on her walls, as if someone had dipped a quill pen into an inkwell to send her a message, only this someone had taken a blade to a purebred and bled it for wall paint to make large, stencil like letters.
She was so hopped up on adrenaline that she first mistook the dog’s corpse for a person’s. That was when the first round of screaming began. Channeling her inner 2-year-old, she thrust stiff arms and fists down to her waist and voiced a shrill alarm that she could never have purposefully made. The screaming ended when she realized that, no, she wasn’t looking at a dead person, but, rather, a dead animal. That brought a small element of relief. Too disgusted to be within touching distance of the dog (or her bed ever, ever again), she backed out of her bedroom door and, turning, noticed the dog’s blood making words on the wall that once faced her (no longer) mounted television.
“Give August to the Hudsons,” she read aloud. Though startled, she was still able to instantly connect the dots. Someone knew her, someone knew her work, someone knew she’d disqualified Bruce from being an adoptive father because of his failing health. Someone was spying, watching, stalking her. And they’d come with a message. See all this shit around you? See what was once your clean and tidy shit? See how it’s all fucked up now? Well, baby, that’s you next time. Next time it won’t be the dog gutted like a fish, if you don’t give that August kid to the Hudsons.
Message received. She called the police.
------------------------------------------------
Bruce stood in line with his third six-pack of the week and, precisely, one pot pie. The pot pie had been an excuse to drive to Stop and Run so he could buy more Guiness. Outraged thoughts of Gabriel Adelaide’s acquittal ran through his mind, and he also thought about his curious encounter with Gabe earlier that day. He couldn’t make heads or tails out of what Gabe had said to him. What did it mean for someone to get you your boy? And, then, standing in line waiting to checkout, he recalled the police having visited his home two weeks ago.
------------------------------------------------
It had been late in the evening, and, as usual, Bruce was sitting in his home’s office plugging away on his MacBook, writing an outline for the state’s presentation of the facts against Gabe. In The People of Massachusetts vs. Gabriel Adelaide, the people sketched the following argument:
I. Store cameras show Gabriel Adelaide entering Arthur Mulberry’s dry cleaning on March 14th, walking behind the counter, opening the register, and emptying its contents into a briefcase. Mulberry is also behind the counter and appears to be keeping a wary distance of him. After Adelaide leaves, Mulberry remains behind the counter instead of calling the police, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He didn’t phone for help because Adelaide was collecting his weekly premium for mob protection. If Mulberry had refused to pay the premium, his business would’ve suffered an “accident.”
II. Store cameras show Gabriel Adelaide entering Charles Bronston’s Chinese carryout on March 15th and repeating the events at Mulberry’s. Bronston also stood idly by without muttering a peep in protest and for the same reasons. Bronston didn’t want his establishment to burn to the ground because one of his employees “accidentally” left an oven on, anymore than he wanted to be dumped in the Atlantic with cinderblocks attached to his ankles and tightly wound stretch wrap preventing him from screaming.
III. Persons of interest currently in witness protection, who shall remain anonymous due to a court order, have submitted sworn affidavits that they drove, escorted, and protected Adelaide as his associates during these weekly pickups of protection premiums.
IV. Fingerprints and DNA samples link Adelaide to…
That was when a knock on his front door interrupted Bruce’s work. Knowing that Martha had turned in for the evening, he rose from his late night shift at his desk and went to answer the door.
“Hey, Bruce, sorry to bother you at this hour, but we need to ask you some questions. Can we come in?”
Bruce was surprised to see his longtime colleague, Detective Richard Dorsey, and an officer (who he didn’t recognize) standing in his doorway. Bruce and Richard had collaborated on gathering evidence against the Adelaides for several years, and Bruce hoped Richard was stopping by to bring new information to combat Boston’s crime syndicate. Richard, who was around Bruce’s age, had a penchant for overeating, showed his age with gray and thinning hair, and pushed his weight around Boston’s cops to get the evidence he needed for compiling charges. Bruce was excited to see Richard, wanting Richard’s help with his outline.
“Of course, Richard. Come in. What’s going on?”
“I don’t quite know how to tell you this, ask you this really, but I’m sure the name Sara Madison rings a bell,” he said, hiking up his belt as he made himself at home.
“Yeah, I know her. She’s the social worker for this boy that Martha and I are trying to adopt.”
“Well, she says that you broke into her condo today. So, I’m obligated to ask you, even though I’d rather not. Did you do it?”
“What are you talking about? I’ve never been inside her condo. Hell, I didn’t even know that she lived in a condo. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
Richard, without bothering to introduce his nameless coworker, helped himself to a bowl of candy on the Hudsons’ coffee table and went on to describe the scene that Sara had discovered earlier that evening. Bruce listened, stunned beyond words. He was especially shocked to learn that his last name appeared at the scene of the crime. After listening to Richard’s recap, there was a lengthy period of contemplative silence.
Bruce finally worked up the nerve to ask, “Are you sure that’s what the message read?”
“No doubt about it. I went over to investigate, and I saw it myself. Her wall clearly reads, ‘Give August to the Hudsons,’ and the department has to assume that you’re connected to this crap somehow.”
“So I’m your suspect, huh?”
“It’s either you or Martha, and you’re the one with the famous temper.”
Bruce couldn’t argue with Richard’s assessment of him, because his many appearances in court had inspired several write-ups about how quick tempered he was. He knew that if one of them was going to take the fall for this it would be him. The idea of being convicted for something he hadn’t done aggravated him. He saw the state’s outline against him coming together to form a terrifying picture of an indictment and a prison sentence. I: He’d been pissed about not being able to adopt. II: Sara was the person who wouldn’t allow him to adopt. III: His name was on her wall at the crime scene. That might be all the proof any jury would need. Bruce suddenly faced a new possibility. He and Richard might not throw Gabe in prison after all. Richard might be throwing him in prison, if he didn’t figure out what the hell was going on ASAP.
“Look, Richard, you know that I didn’t do this,” Bruce said for the benefit of Richard’s silent partner.
“Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t look good. The press is going to find out, and this is a bad time for shit to hit the fan. We can’t have a tainted D.A. prosecuting the mob. You might have to excuse yourself from this case. We’ve both worked too hard on this to blow our public support over some setup.”
“But that’s exactly what these guys want! Whoever did this, either Adelaide or one of his lackeys, obviously knows a lot about me and had an incentive to sling mud on my good name. This has to be the Mafia, and if I resign today then you’ll be resigning tomorrow. You think the Adelaides will stop with me? No way! You’re next, Richard. If they can intimidate me with some trumped-up bullshit charges, then they’ll sure as hell do the same to you. We’ve got to fight this. I’ve got to be publicly exonerated. Take fingerprints from the crime scene. You won’t find my prints there. Look for any sort of clues the intruders may have left. A dropped glove, a hair follicle, anything. There’s got to be something that we can use to catch the real perps.”
“You’re grasping at straws, Bruce. The mob doesn’t drop gloves, and they’ve worn hairnets under their masks for years. We aren’t dealing with amateurs.”
“At least sweep the place for prints. At minimum, I want it made known that my prints weren’t found there.”
------------------------------------------------
As he remembered the night Richard had stopped by to investigate, Bruce had an eerie epiphany at Stop and Go. Was there a connection between the message found on Sara’s wall and Gabe’s threat to get him his boy?
------------------------------------------------
As Richard had suspected, Bruce’s fingerprints weren’t found at Sara’s condo. Nothing, other than his last name, linked Bruce to the break-in and the dead dog. For her part, Sara became even more adamant against Bruce adopting August. Two days after her home was ransacked and twelve days before Bruce would lose in court, she’d paid the Hudsons an unofficial visit.
“So, you think being a D.A. makes you immune to prosecution? Is that it, you son of a bitch?” Sara stated more than she asked. Standing in the Hudsons’ open doorway and refusing to come inside and stop yelling, she continued:
“You can forget about adoption. You can also forget about becoming foster parents. In fact, asshole, I wouldn’t even try out for Big Brothers and Big Sisters if I were you. I’ve alerted every case worker in this city, and you’ll never get within a hundred yards of a child. I don’t know what your deal is or who you think you are, but you aren’t going to scare me into going along to get along. I don’t play that way.”
Bruce had been expecting this visit, ever since he’d learned that his name was spelled out on her wall with dog blood. He remained calm and quiet, allowing Sara to process her anger. Trying to reason with a person this angry would only make matters worse. There was no stopping this: she was too heated. Like a hapless coastal resident waiting out a hurricane, he braced himself for more.
“And what kind of sick perv kills an animal to get revenge? I can’t imagine how cold-hearted you’d have to be to do something that chilling.” The thought of Bruce doing something that chilling suddenly gave her pause. Perhaps, she quickly thought, he’s a psychopath, and it’s dangerous to yell at him. She clinched her eyes and shook an accusatory finger at him, trying to erase the dog’s image.
“I understand that you’re upset,” was all he could offer before she began again.
“You’re damn right I’m upset!” she shouted, concluding that, even if he was a psychopath, she should stand her ground. “So why don’t I break into your place and scatter your shit everywhere, since that seems to be way we’re supposed to handle things when we’re upset.”
“Leave!” Martha demanded.
“Oh, so now I’m just supposed to…”
“I said leave and I meant it. I’ve had enough of you harassing my husband. You won’t listen to his side, you keep interrupting, and you’ve used quite enough foul language, thank you very much. Leave, or I’ll call the cops.”
Sara glared. She knew she was bested. If the cops were called, she’d have a hard time explaining her behavior to her supervisor. She wasn’t on the clock, but social workers were routinely let go for problems in their private lives… drinking problems, gambling problems, whatever. Having “issues” did nothing for a social worker’s reputation. Having a cop called on you because you took matters into your own hands wouldn’t sit well at the office.
“Okay, I’ll go, and you don’t have to worry about me ever coming back. But I want the same from you. Don’t you ever, don’t you dare ever step foot in my home again. Because if you do, I’ll catch you next time. I’ve installed security cameras that you’ll never find, I’ve got a new alarm system, and my neighbors have all seen pictures of you. You’ll never get away with this again.” She wondered how he’d gotten away with it this time. How the hell do you kill a dog in a high-rise without someone noticing its cries of pain?
With great relief, Bruce closed their home’s heavy oak door as she left. He always answered when he heard a visitor. Mormons, girl scouts, didn’t matter. If someone knocked, he answered. Even suspecting a confrontational visit such as this one hadn’t changed him. Frightened people, he reasoned, don’t answer their doors and pretend not to be home, and I’m no frightened person. He would’ve answered his door even if Sara had dispatched an angry boyfriend to confront him. But he had to admit, it was nice to finally close his door.
“It’s over, Martha. August will live with someone else now.”
“You don’t know that. We don’t know that. It may be over insofar as Sara’s concerned, but she’s just one social worker among many in this city. We can work around her. It’ll take time, and we might have to work with a new adoption agency, but that’s what our lawyer’s for. We need to talk to him. He’ll believe us when we tell him that you didn’t do anything to her home. He’ll figure something out.”
“No, Martha, it’s truly over. I don’t have the energy to fight two battles at once. I’m spreading myself thin trying to prosecute Gabriel Adelaide. I don’t have the strength to wrestle with social services too. I…” he stopped. The urge hit him. The urge to instantly relieve himself hit him on the spot, midsentence. Bruce’s ulcerative colitis was an inflammatory bowel disease exacerbated by stress, and the encounter with Sara had been very stressful. He barely made it to the toilet on time. On the john and relieved that he hadn’t soiled himself, he thought, Maybe it’s for the best. I do have shitty health. Haha! He weakly smiled. Let the kid live with someone younger, someone healthier.
------------------------------------------------
D.A. Investigated for Home Invasion. The headline was the story. Gina Ringer read the article in the metro section, after being alerted to it by her husband of thirty-three years, Bill. She read it with the same disapproving silence that Bill had read it with. It was that lawyer guy who was trying to adopt August. He’d gone crazy when he found out that the adoption had fallen through. He’d broken into Sara’s home, and he’d made quite a mess. It didn’t matter that the Boston Times also said that the investigation was still underway and that no one had been arrested yet. That lawyer guy was already guilty in their eyes. They knew Sara, because they were August’s current foster parents. They’d never liked the idea of August leaving their home, and so they’d never liked the Hudsons. As a foster child, August was a monthly generator of $500, and there weren’t many sources of income as effortless as babysitting a child too scared to move. Sara, ever the optimist, had been wrong to tell Bruce during the Hudsons’ home study that it would take a lot of get-up-and-go to watch August.

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Old 11-13-2013, 02:39 PM
Thriller (Offline)
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Sorry about the formatting! I'm still learning how to use message boards.
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Old 11-16-2013, 05:19 PM
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Big suggestion: Remove the Amazon return to the original script. Also, repost it in no 12 type, I like Ariel, so your words can be easily read.

Tom
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Old 11-16-2013, 05:56 PM
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I'd suggest editing it so that there is at least one if not two spaces between paragraphs. That way it's easier on the eye to read. Can honestly say I won't even try with it how it is, cause I'm lazy like that.

Font is a bit small. Maybe use a larger font size, or use a font that is larger in general.

So far as formatting goes, and the quick scan I gave the page, that's all I could see that would be helpful changes for the readers.

If you change those, I'll give you a legitimate read through and proffer some tips / critique.
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