A Mightier Penn (66)

On a circuitous route to the bank, Penn made a stop at a convenience store where he placed a call from an endangered standalone payphone. Attempting to echo a discombobulated old-timer from the depths of Georgia, he forewarned the bank that he was on his way with the intention of exchanging five thousand seven hundred and sixty dollars in larger bills into five-dollar bills and wanted to make sure they had an adequate number of bills on hand to facilitate the exchange. The amount was calculated, having lost seventy-two hundreds dollars when his loan was pulled, less twenty percent for his error. Additionally, he was hopeful the differing amounts would further distance him from his last visit to the bank.

The representative on the other end of the phone confirmed that the branch indeed had the change available and that the chief teller could set aside the necessary stacks of five-dollar bills. Customer service, thought Penn.

He returned the antiquated phone to its chrome cradle as his cell phone sprung to life in his pocket. Penn scooped the phone, looked at the number, and answered as Penn. “Hello, Holly. How are you?”

“I’m good. I just went for a ride and I’m on my way to campus for office hours, but I wanted to give you a heads up.”

“What’s going on?”

“The police were at my house.”

“Really, why?”

“They were asking about you.”

The blood raced to his war-painted face. Of everything Holly could have said, he was not expecting that. Penn struggled to take a breath.

Between the Knight Power & Light escapade, car dealership hijinks, and the clinic he knew the police would be entering the equation at some point, but he had not anticipated their arrival this soon, and certainly not by way of Holly.

“Penn?”

“Sorry,” he mustered, “I was just about to sneeze.”

“That’s the worst. So, yeah, this officer, or detective I guess, came by the house with some photographs.”

“Photographs of what?”

“You.”

The simplistic reply further numbed him. “Oh, that’s odd.”

“Two black and white shots of you looking oh-so cool in your stuffy suit,” she said with levity.

“That doesn’t sound good, aside from me looking cool,” he said with a forced laugh as he scrambled to get his arms around Holly’s words and the photographs. “I wonder what could they possibly want with me and why would they talk to you?”

“Because they didn’t know your name,” she explained. “Just the pictures.”

The inability of the police to source something as remedial as a name was a promising harbinger, and Penn felt incrementally relieved. Additionally, if the police were only presenting pictures of him without a disguise, then it was possible that they didn’t have him entirely pinned. “Wait a second, how’d they get your name?”

“It’s confusing, but somehow they backed into a list of protesters based on the membership of the organizing clubs, or something like that.”

“I’m sorry about all this,” said Penn. “Did you get any idea what they wanted?”

“It sounded like all they wanted was your name.”

“And you gave it to them, I trust?”

“Well, yeah. I hope that’s cool.”

“It’s fine.”

“The detective said you were at the power company when that smoke bombing occurred and that it was possible you saw something.”

“I wonder what I would I have seen?”

“I don’t know. But then again, I didn’t know you were at their building when all that went down – I’m pretty sure you never said anything about that.”

“Did I not mention that to you?”

“Nope.”

“Sorry about that. I was downtown talking to their HR department about a possible job. I left right when the fire alarm went off, but I didn’t really see anything. I actually didn’t realize anything had happened until I saw it on the news.”

“Wait, a job? Weren’t you just with me protesting that company, and now you’re applying for a job from them?”

“It’s a position within a subsidiary that’s spearheading their alternative energy initiatives,” Penn said before relaying some of what he had learned from the phone call with Knight prior to his attack. “I was asking about a project manager position within their Green Department.”

“Well, I guess that’s better than carving up the Earth for oil and coal,” conceded Holly, “but still – – why didn’t you tell me you were there during the bombing?”

“My mistake,” said Penn before blending his apology with more talk of the nonexistent opportunity. “I think you’d like the division. They’re focused not only on hydro and solar, but also on conservation. I’d be helping the environment from the inside out, just like you said.”

“Penn, did you have anything to do with the smoke bombing?”

The question felt as though it struck out of the blue, even though it should have been expected. Like Holly in her conversation with Avery, Penn was presented with a simple unavoidable decision. He could either cross the point of no return, head down a path of dishonesty, and lie. Or, tell the truth and watch the conversation and blooming relationship vanish.

Penn deliberated for an instant before making his choice. “Are you serious or are you joking? Of course I had nothing to do with it.”

“I know, I know, it sounded funny when I said it.”

Penn could hear the relief in her voice. “As cool as it sounds, an environmental terrorist, I am not,” he said before injecting stupefied astonishment into his voice. “Hold on, you don’t think the police think I had anything to do with the bombing?”

“No, relax,” said Holly. “I asked them if you were a suspect, and they said no.”

“Thanks for wondering.”

“Hey, a girl’s got to have standards,” she said with a smile that Penn could feel at the other end of the line.

With that, the professor invited Penn over for dinner later in the week. The African American imposter enthusiastically accepted and the two wished each other well, hung-up simultaneously, and went on their decidedly different ways.

If the above made little sense but you kind of liked it, I’d recommend beginning at the beginning, and clicking here…A Mightier Penn (1)

A Mightier Penn (65)

When Penn was a child he had watched his father prepare for a Halloween party with nothing more than his wife’s makeup and rubber cement. His old man had applied the cement to his skin, gripped the bits of cheek and flesh, folded it onto itself, and held the skin until the glue set. The result, after repeating the process several times over, was an eerily disfigured face – cheeks folded into themselves, lower lip fixed to chin, and a half-collapsed nose. With the glue dry, he then applied various shades of makeup over the high sheen glue and newly fabricated wrinkles. His father smiled in the mirror and then at him. The image and memory were indelible.

Like father, like son, Penn set up shop in his bathroom. With the brush mounted on the underside of the bottle top, Penn applied the rubber cement to the more malleable areas of his face and forged seams of glued skin and fraudulent scars. He admired his work in the mirror, but also couldn’t help notice his sunken eyes and the loose inky purple skin draped beneath them. In vain, he rubbed his eyes.

When rubber cement was sufficiently dry, he painted his face and neck with the racially disparaging foundation. Careful to spackled all the exposed skin, including his inners ears, the inside of his nose, and the tops of his eyelids, he addressed every surface and orifice that offered a hint of his actual race with the dark brown makeup. Complete, he was unrecognizable, even to himself. Although the hue of his skin leaned towards the unbelievable, the creased lines crisscrossing his face appeared genuine, even if unfathomable. He resembled an African-American airplane crash survivor whose face had incurred traumatic violence and followed by several rounds of cosmetic surgery.

Not wanting to smudge the makeup or soil his dress shirt, he dressed carefully and left his tie loosely knotted around his neck and his collar wide open. He fitted his wig onto his skull and capped it with the now snug-fitting hat. After loading the acetone and bundle of rags, along with a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses, and his BB gun into his backpack, he grabbed his suit jacket and walked to the kitchen where he was intercepted by Bayer, who was returning from the pool in search of a glass of water. They were mutually startled and cut skeptical looks at one another.

“Excuse me,” said Bayer. “May I help you?” Had he been standing in his own house, he would have been more demanding in his question; but as it was, he proceeded with a more courteous tone.

Penn recognized the effectiveness of the disguise and decided to toy with his anonymity. He downshifted his voice and asked with low rough rumbling words, “You must be Penn?”

“Ah, no.”

“You know where I could find him?”

“No, and may I ask what this is regarding?”

Penn appreciated the apparent loyalty, and was tempted to break character, but pressed on. “You know when he’ll be back?”

“I have no idea – you’ll have to forgive me, but I didn’t catch your name. Who are you?”

“Who am I? Who is anyone? Who are you?” A smile began to crack on Penn’s twisted face. “Who is Bayer?” At the last question Penn allowed his voice to revert to its accustomed pitch.

“Penn? Is that you? Man, that doesn’t look anything like you. You’re a black man,” he said with a grin. “And what happened to your face?”

“I hope you don’t mind the choice in color, I needed something that looked a little less like me.”

“Well, you certainly got that.” He neared Penn and studied the scars and creases. “And the scars?”

“Rubber cement.”

“That’s fantastic,” said an impressed Bayer before he noticed the backpack.. “What’s going on?”

“Costume party.”

“During the day?”

“Yup. It’s a fundraiser.”

Bayer may have had trouble in recognizing Penn through the disguise, but he saw through the spurious explanation.

Bayer’s suspicions were not one-sided. Since meeting Bayer, Penn had sensed a more significant backstory lurking in the depths of his houseguest’s history. The Colonel was a professional wanderer, Bob was traveling for a purpose, but Bayer was an accomplished man of seemingly sound mind consciously choosing to live on the streets. Whatever the skeletons dangled in his closet were wicked enough to keep Bayer on the road and off the grid. But Penn, like Bayer, knew enough to not ask questions.

Penn looked at Bayer’s disbelieving eyes and decided against patronizing the man. “It’s a long story,” said Penn. “Trust me; you’ll be better off if you don’t know.”

Bayer took Penn’s words at face value. Nothing more was said.

Click to keep reading… A Mightier Penn (66)

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A Mightier Penn (64)

Cooling down from a late morning bike ride designed to eclipse the trauma of the clinic, Holly coasted towards home, ears occupied by music and mind distracted by thoughts of Penn. She headed up onto the sidewalk near her house, paying little attention to the grey sedan parked on the street or Officer Avery Hughes as she stepped from the vehicle.

“Ms. Baker,” said Avery, as Holly, deaf from the music, hopped off her bike and went to walk her bike to her front porch.

Avery repeated her introduction as she approached Holly, this time at a higher volume. “Ms. Baker, My name is Avery Hughes.”

The louder mention of her name cut through the music and caught Holly’s attention. She looked over her shoulder and removed her earphones. “Excuse me.”

Avery walked towards Holly, and extended a hand, which Holly shook. “Avery Hughes. I’m a detective with the Metro North Division” She offered Holly a view of her identification to substantiate her claim.

Holly subtly recoiled upon hearing the name of Avery’s employer. Her tone tentative, she asked, “What can I do for you, Detective Hughes?”

“Avery. Just plain Avery,” she said, her voice intentionally upbeat in hopes of mitigating Holly’s unease. “No class this afternoon?” The question was intended to be innocuous, conversational, but came across as intrusive and mildly menacing.

“How can I help you?” replied Holly.

Avery’s investigation of the Knight Power & Light smoking bombing had led her to believe that Holly had little, if anything, to do with the actual crime. Not only was Holly an upstanding college professor with zero in the way of a criminal record, suspicious online activity, or extreme activism away from memberships with a few reputable environmental groups – none of which had claimed responsibility, but she had also been in class during the actual attack.

“Just have a quick question,” said Avery already opening the manila folder in her hand. She presented Holly an eight-by-ten black and white photograph. “Would you happen to know this man?”

Holly looked down at the photograph, a zoomed-in cropped close-up of a man. Thought ricocheted about, but her expression remained entirely unchanged. After a moment, she went to answer Avery’s simple, binary question, but struggled to find the right word.

Sensing Holly’s consternation and looking to ease her mind as well as get an honest answer, Avery added, “Look, I’m not trying to be cryptic or trick you into saying anything. I’m literally just trying to find out this man’s name. And before you ask me why I’m talking to you or feel like I’m trying to box you in, I want you to know that you know him or at least have met him.”

And before Holly could utter the word “how”, Avery had extracted a second a picture from the folder. It was similar to the first, but was taken at the protest and showed Holly talking with Penn.

Holly knew she had done nothing wrong, yet she felt cornered. “May I ask what is all this about?” she asked, stalling with the possibility of gleaning a little information from the detective.

“I’m just trying to get a name, Holly.”

“How’d you get my name?”

Avery gave in hopes of getting. “We had your picture from the protest. We also had the rosters of the two groups that organized the event. So, I ran the lists against the DMV, filtered by gender and race, and then basically got lucky. But again, I’m not here to talk about you. I’m just trying to get this man’s name and whatever information I can find on him.”

“I don’t really know him,” said Holly, treading lightly, but honestly. “I met him at that protest. He came up to me and asked a few questions about what was going on – – -” Holly trailed off. “Wait, why do you need to talk to him?”

“We have some questions regarding the Knight smoke bombing.”

“The smoke bombing?” repeated Holly.

“Yes,” replied Avery without further clarification. Since the incident, the story had been lead on every local newspaper and news program and had drummed up considerable interest and debate.

“You don’t think he has anything to do with that mess, do you?”

“Obviously, I can’t comment on an investigation, but this shot was taken in front of the Knight Power & Light building around the time of the bombing,” said Avery as she reverted back to the first picture. “But, I will say I don’t think he had anything to do with the bombing itself.” A white lie, but Avery knew that if she said otherwise or put her acquaintance in harm’s way she risked losing Holly as a willing source of information. “We have reason to believe he may have seen something and might have some information that could assist us in finding out who did.”

Before speaking, Holly ripped through the mental transcript of her dinner with Penn. Had he mentioned that he was at the Knight building during the attack? She struggled to recall the answer. She opened her mouth but nothing came forth.

“Holly?”

Unsure of what had been said, not seeing any reason to lie, and facing an officer of the law, Holly answered the question.

Click to keep reading… A Mightier Penn (65)

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A Mightier Penn (63)

This is not a standalone blog entry or short story, as such, I’d recommend beginning at the beginning and click here: A Mightier Penn (1)

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Throughout the night, Penn rolled amongst his sheets and crawled within his skin. His fatigued mind spun a frenzied web of fragmented thoughts that prevented him from finding serenity, much less sleep. Resigned to consciousness, he combatted his unbridled, manic thoughts by concentrating on his budding campaign. The bank that denied him soon found its way to the forefront.

From his bed, he ripped apart various forms of restitutions like a processing plant eviscerating the carcasses of chickens. But as he churned through different plots – some colorful, some sinister, all illegal – he kept arriving at the same sticking point, timing. Having just been rebuffed in his efforts to recoup the money, it was conceivable that he could be a prime suspect for any off-color prank at the expense of that particular branch without any direct evidence. Penn wanted to avoid the authorities at all cost, but he also wanted his due. He weighed and rationalized as his insomnia set to work twisting his perspective, and by dawn, he was convinced that he could act sooner rather later with an intellectual highroad defense: “Officer, I’d like to believe I’m smart enough not to rob the same bank I just visited.” And rob the bank was what he had decided to do.

That morning, shortly after PartyTown unlocked their doors for the day, Penn browsed the aisles and shelves of costumes. The scheme could not have been more simplistic. Penn would wear a mask, authentic beyond reproach and that of an innocent elderly man, which would be substantiated by a suit and Penn’s hat. The outfit would be adequate in getting him from the bank’s doors to the counter where he would softly request the funds from the cashier.

As he shopped he thought. Why not compound the disguise by applying a coat of dark brown makeup to his face before donning the mask? An exacting application, thought Penn, specifically around his eyes and mouth, could further mislead the scrutinizing eyes of the cashier, witnesses, and inspectors of camera footage into thinking the perpetrator behind the mask was of a different race. Opaque latex gloves would take care of his hands and wrists – in addition to his prints.

In his sleep-deprived state, he was emboldened by his ingenious, ironclad scheme until he realized that it was nothing more than an unoriginal masked robbery, a feat that more often than not ended in penniless incarceration. But he could do better; at least he thought he could. Then again, what criminals don’t think that?

By the third pass over the mask section, Penn began to not only question his angle, but feel disheartened by the mask prospects. From the vast inventory of latex, plastic, and rubber masks, he was unable to locate a disguise real enough to pass for actual skin in actual life. Mask-less, he stumbled upon the novelty make-up section, where his discouragement was eradicated by a renaissance of warped ingenuity.

Penn left the store, but not before purchasing a vat of racially incendiary dark brown make-up and a neatly cropped one-inch salt and pepper afro.

From PartyTown, he popped by a hardware store where he procured some black latex gloves, a bundle of paint rags, a liter of acetone, and bottle of rubber cement.

Click to keep reading… A Mightier Penn (64)

To begin at the beginning, click here… A Mightier Penn (1)

A Mightier Penn (62)

This is not a standalone blog entry or short story, as such, I’d recommend beginning at the beginning and click here: A Mightier Penn (1)

From Penn’s vantage point, the authority’s efforts were excruciatingly slow and nerve-racking. On a couple of occasions during the investigation officers approached his dumpster. Separated by a few inches and a thin wall of metal, Penn could hear not only their voices but feel their presence. When a cell phone rang, Penn screamed “Jesus Christ” to himself as his heart imploded. At the second ring, Penn began choking on his tongue – until he realized the ringing phone was an officer’s who was leaning against the dumpster. After the officer fielded the call and walked off, Penn carefully and quietly reached down into his front pant pocket and turned his phone off.

Following the cell phone fright, Penn endured two bouts of officers leaning into the dumpster and jabbing at the trash with the butts of their shotguns and nightsticks in hopes of looking busy or getting lucky. Penn felt the pokes, but remained silent and still, and the officers eventually continued on their way.

He stayed buried. Into the evening, breathing stale dumpster air, doing his best to lose track of time, and appreciating the lack of a canine unit, he played reels of thought that began with Holly.

Although the powdered concrete eyeshade tenuously pinning his lids, his relative freedom affirmed that Holly had not mentioned his whereabouts to the police. Now he wondered if that was because Holly had recognized him. Impossible, he wanted to believe. She had only seen a fraction of his face, not enough to recognize him at that distance, right? What would Holly think if she knew that the shooter was the man she had dined with and made out with the night before? Penn imagined that her view would be similar to that of Eve’s: juvenile, misguided, and inexcusable.

Thoughts of his sister morphed into images Andy and Ashley. The last time he was with his sister’s family, their house was filled with mourners and Penn was punishing a speeding car with a snowball. The snowball brought a slight smile to Penn’s buried face, and the grin strengthened as he traced the trigger of the pistol that rested on his chest and fantasized about crouching in Ashley’s bedroom window plugging racing sedans and roaring SUVs. Speed bumps, thought Penn, in the form of spider-cracked windshields, broken windows, pocked metal and chipped paint.

After the sun went down and the last voice and cruiser faded into the night, Penn cautiously emerged from his hole. He wiped the concrete dust from his face and opened his eyes, surprised to see such darkness. He cautiously peered from the dumpster, and to his relief, was alone.

Masked by darkness but still wary, he slithered from the dumpster and headed towards his Jeep, half expecting to be blinded by a flood of light and deafened by shouts of “freeze, don’t move”. He was pleasantly surprised to reach his Jeep and apartment unscathed.

When he walked in looking as though he had just crawled from the bottom of a dumpster, he piqued the interest of his roommates.

“What the Christ you gotten into?” asked the Colonel. “You look like you been dragged through the shit factory by your neck and rolled in flour.”

“Thanks.”

“You alright?” asked Bob with parental concern.

Penn looked down at the caked-on filth, and gently dusted off one of his arms. “Yeah, I’m fine. I was just helping a friend with some drywall.”

“Drywall? What, you plaster it with your face?” said the Colonel.

“That, and we moved a water heater from tight nook in a basement. It was dirty work.”

“I’ll say.”

Bayer ignored Penn’s soiled figured and suspicious explanation, and focused on his host’s eyes.

“Everything good, Bayer?” asked Penn.

“Couldn’t be better.”

“Well, if you’re good, then I’m good.”

“We’re better than good, we’re great,” said the Colonel with a hefty gulp of beer.

“Let me get cleaned up and I’ll be great.”

Penn stepped into his room, where he stashed the BB-gun that was uncomfortably wedged in the waistband of his pants.

Unclean, he took a seat on his bed and pulled out his phone, with which he fiddled. Holly had called him while he was nestled in the depths of the trash, and when he saw her number at the top of his call log on his drive home, his breath had been swept from his lungs. Nervous, he had listened to the voicemail.

 

“Hey, it’s Holly. I was just calling to let you know nothing much of anything, just that I was thinking about you. And that even though we had dinner last night, that our date feels like it happened a year ago – although, the sleep deprivation might have something to do with that. Anyway, hope all is well. Give me a call if you want. Otherwise, have a good evening or night.”

 

Penn listened to her message again before he returned her call. Holly’s phone rang three times before her voicemail fielded the call. He left a message, wishing her a good night, and letting her know he’d give her a call in the morning.

Click to keep reading… A Mightier Penn (63)

To begin at the beginning, click here… A Mightier Penn (1)

A Mightier Penn (61)

This is not a standalone blog entry or short story, as such, I’d recommend beginning at the beginning and click here: A Mightier Penn (1) 

“Shit,” he repeated from the belly of the oversized casket until the expletive lost meaning and was eclipsed by questions. She saw me, right? Did she know it was me? Is she turning me in? What the fuck is she doing here? She had mentioned helping a friend, but did she say anything about a protest?

Sirens emerged in the distance and increased in volume as drew closer.

“Shit.”

Without knowing the answers to his questions, Penn laid out his options, which numbered two: make a break for it or ride it out. In deciding his next move, he leaned his head sideways and slowly elevated half of an eye above to the dumpster’s edge. He hoped to see Holly gone and a continuation of the mass hysteria he had created, but was dismayed on both fronts. Holly remained staring at the dumpster as the protesters, on both sides of the equation, were assessing the damage. More troubling than Holly were the officers, who were fanning out with guns drawn. One of which was heading in Penn’s general direction, although not making a beeline to the dumpster, which lead Penn to believe that Holly had not yet divulged his location.

There was little chance Penn could make it to his Jeep without being spotted or worse. With his hand forced, he swallowed the urge to run and descended into the dumpster. He was trapped by the knowledge that the officer, soon to be accompanied by others, would eventually be on top of him. Penn sprung – inversely – into action and dug into the dumpster’s mishmash of industrial waste. He dug down into the crumbled drywall, aluminum frames, pieces wood, twisted metal and warped plastic. Within seconds, he had created an inhabitable divot that he crawled into. He wiggled and wedged himself towards the bottom of the dumpster before pulling unearthed garbage over top of him. Once his lower half was thoroughly blanketed, he lowered his shoulders and continued the self-burial by dragging garbage over top of his chest. With entombed hands, he tugged trash over his head and inched a half empty sack of unmixed concrete over the remainder of exposed face. The weathered bag gave way and a heavy white power cascaded onto his face and eyes, his world went dark.

Penn heard the arriving squad cars stop in the street out front. The shouts of responding officers reverberated off the metal walls of industrial sarcophagus. Penn remained perfectly still, only his pounding heart and anxious mind moving uncontrollably.

Click to keep reading… A Mightier Penn (62)

To begin at the beginning, click here… A Mightier Penn (1)

A Mightier Penn (60)

This is not a standalone blog entry or short story, as such, I’d recommend beginning at the beginning and click here: A Mightier Penn (1)

Holly was exhausted. Having avoided all-nighters, since her days as a student, she was unaccustomed to the tiredness that accompanied a sleepless night. But at the same time, she was happy to exchange the prior night’s sleep for the time with Penn.

She smiled and yawned repeatedly, both of which irked the pro-life opposition facing her and her friend, Amanda. It was Amanda, a slight woman with pale skin and black hair, who had asked Holly to join her at the clinic in countering the pro-life efforts, and although, Holly had her own reasons, she was there in support of her friend.

Amanda noticed early on that Holly was not only tired, but also distracted, and in the troughs of the rally, when the voices and signs were at rest, the friends hashed out the man on Holly’s mind.

“I like him. I like that he wore a suit to the Knight protest,” Holly had said.

“Wait, you said he was coming from a funeral.”

“Yeah, but he still looked good in the suit. I kind of like him. And I won’t say he’s different, but feel like there is something more to him – – -”

“- – – Of course you think there’s more to him,” interrupted Amanda. “You barely know him.”

“I was debating giving him a call.”

“From here?”

“Thinking about it, but I didn’t know what the dating protocol was, or the protocol around here for that matter.”

Amanda shook her head with a smile. “Around these parts, I’d say anything goes etiquette-wise. As for dating dos-and-don’t, who knows any more? I’m just glad you had fun, glad you like the guy, and glad you’re here.”

Holly opened her mouth to respond, but hesitated at the sight of the incoming patient. At the outpouring of vitriol from her opposition, she forgot about her date, Penn, and raised her Pro-Choice sign and silently supported the young girl making her way towards the clinic doors. Holly was not there to vocalize her support of abortion, or pound legalese like the zealots thumbed their bibles, or applaud the pained the decisions of others; Holly was present as a show of sympathy. To let those walking the fateful path to the clinic know they were loved and not alone.

With soft sympathetic eyes, Holly watched as the girl walked past. A few minutes later, when the man with the wooden cross howled in pain, Holly’s eyes moved down the line to cry. Holly and Amanda had been standing at the far end of pro-choicers, closest to the clinic. They, like their peers, were oblivious to the cause and mildly humored by the man’s outburst. At his second scream, Holly and Amanda looked at each other with bemused expressions and bit their lips. But when the circus began in earnest, both backpedaled from the chaos.

“What the hell’s going on?” Asked Amanda, equally confused and scared.

“No idea,” replied Holly, who caught a glimpse of the shimmering red dot bouncing from leg to butt to leg of the pro-life protesters. It took a second, but she quickly linked the pain to the dot and the dot to a gun. People were being shot. Someone somewhere was shooting them.

Her initial reaction was to yell or say something to Amanda, and she opened her mouth to do just that, but as she internalized the lack of gun shots, absence of blood and carnage, and the apparent fact that only the pro-life faction was being hit, she held up.

Movement across the street caught her eye and she honed in, staring at the shooter for good while before they dropped from sight and the shooting stopped.

Holly and Amanda then watched the inflow of police heralded by a storm of sirens. The police had little to go on, aside from an apparent motive, but nonetheless took time to investigate the crime scene and surrounding area. After taping off the walkway, officers literally crawled around the grass and sidewalk in a successful search for evidence, while others interviewed, documented and photographed the superficial wounds of the pro-life campaigners. Simultaneously, other officers spoke with the un-scathed pro-choice members, first as possible suspects, then as possible witnesses.

Amanda cleared herself with an officer, providing her story, name and number, and called it a day, but not before apologizing to Holly.

Holly lingered. She was torn as to what to do. While she condemned violence and was deeply troubled by a person willing to use some sort of BB gun on strangers, she didn’t want to be responsible for the police storming the dumpster and possibly shooting a prankster. And, though she knew it was self-serving, she was exhausted, and didn’t want to be ensnarled as a witness in a longwinded investigation with the police. For the same reasons she withheld what she knew from Amanda and she remained silent, but kept an eye on the dumpster.

Click to keep reading… A Mightier Penn (61)

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