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   Chapter 16 No.16

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 14403

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:01


A WEEK EARLIER, I HAD SECURITY, a good reputation, and a thriving business. Everything except a woman to share my life. Then one stopped by. A woman. Just for an hour. But that's all it took to destroy everything that had taken me a lifetime to build. One hour. One lousy hour. When will I get it through my head that women and I don't mix?

I'd had no sleep, still wore the clothes I'd been arrested in, and was growing more panicked by the minute. What was taking so long? Why haven't I heard from Joe? Finally, shortly before noon, he showed up and there was someone with him.

"Scott McGillikin, Rich Baimbridge, " Joe said introducing us as a guard let them in. "Scott's a criminal attorney."

Scott extended his hand and, clearing his throat, waited for the guard to leave before speaking. "The Grand Jury just returned an indictment, Mr. Baimbridge. On what are they basing that?" he asked, his eyes cold, uncaring.

"I was in her house the night everything happened and they found a spot of her blood on my shirt."

"How'd that get there?" he asked.

"I have no idea."

"You have the victim's blood on your shirt and you don't know how it got there?"

"I wish I did. It would answer a hell of a lot of questions."

Taking a seat on the end of the cot, Scott sighed, propped his briefcase on his knees, and produced a tape recorder. "Suppose you start at the beginning and tell me everything." I lowered myself next to him and for the next thirty minutes gave him the complete story. Scott's eyes were dull and piercing—like Dad's—and he didn't seem to grasp the situation at all, asking questions that seemed completely off-base. He acted as if he presumed I was guilty.

When we finished, I asked, "So, what do we do now?"

He returned his tape recorder to the briefcase and withdrew a set of papers. "First, we get you out of here. Do you have two hundred thousand dollars?"

"Cash?"

"Or equity in something."

"I have some equity in my building downtown, but not much."

"I'll have to use it as collateral to post bail. Sign these papers."

I had no idea what I was signing, but signed and dated each one. He snapped the briefcase shut and rose. "You should be out in a couple of hours." After the guard closed and locked the door, the pounding in my chest returned and panic again swelled inside me. I dropped my head against the bars and closed my eyes.

By 3 p.m. I'd been released, given my belongings, and told they were keeping my car until they'd finished with it. I was tired, dirty, bewildered, and confused. I emerged from the building into another horde of frantic reporters that had obviously been tipped off by someone at the police station. Like children around the ice cream truck, they pushed and shoved seeking a headline and a sound byte for the evening news. Scott told me to keep my mouth shut and guided me through them to his Porsche Boxster.

Arriving at my house, he had to ease through yet another caravan of news trucks and reporters, some from as far away as Charlotte. Neighbors watched anxiously from their porches as if something important was about to happen.

"The best thing you can do is say nothing, " Scott said.

"Can't I at least tell them I didn't do it?"

"You can say that if you want, but no more. You'll just end up giving the prosecution rope that he'll use to hang you."

When I got out, the mob pushed in around me, knocking me off balance and yelling questions. They tripped over each other and stumbled about while keeping their cameras trained on me. A microphone swung in on an overhead boom and struck me on the forehead hard enough to break the skin. I pressed a hand to my head and there was a burst of at least thirty camera flashes. It reminded me of feeding the fish in the fountain at the cemetery where mother used to take us as kids. She'd give us stale bread to throw at them while she changed the flowers on a nearby grave and sat on a stone bench crying. The fish, some as big as cats, all fought to get to the front, rolling over each other, pushing and shoving like a pack of starving animals all wanting their piece of the kill—their mouths stretched wide like camera lenses. As we threw the bread crumbs, the water erupted in a frenzy of pushing and shoving that even splashed us. The only differenc

ot to care. So I don't care anymore—Daddy. You don't care how I'm feeling and I don't care how you're feeling. A chip off the old block!"

"Well, I'll tell you how I'm feeling. I go to the door last night and look out and I see the police all up and down the street—like something big has happened—like there'd been a murder. So I step out and what do I see? You being handcuffed and hauled off in a police car and all the neighbors and all the TV people taking it all in. How do you think I feel? Huh? It's all over town, you know."

"That's not my fault! I had nothing to do with any of it!"

"Liar!"

I stepped toward him. "I am not lying! What you saw was just the police trying to look like they're doing something."

"Well, how do you think I'm going to feel when I have to go back to work and face everybody? You think anybody's going to want to buy a car from me now?"

"Well, how do you think it's going to affect me? I'm the one that was spread all over the ground with handcuffs on. I'm the one that they paraded in front of the TV cameras. I'm the one that spent the night in jail! How do you think I feel?"

His hand went to his chest. "I would hope you're just as ashamed as I am."

I should have stopped right there and left, but I couldn't. There were things that had been bottled up inside me my entire life and they were coming out.

"You know what hurts the most, Dad?" My eyes stung and my chin quivered. "The thing that hurts the most is having to come here and face you. It's bad enough to have to face the rest of the town, but coming here is worse. Just once in my life I'd like to have your support on something. Just once in my life I'd like to feel that you were behind me."

His hand reached into a pocket, withdrew a tiny bottle, and opened it. "So you think I should have been proud of you last night?" He shook out a pill and placed it under his tongue.

Tears clouded my vision. "And just once in my life I'd like to have a real conversation with you, Dad. Something intelligent. Something that isn't me trying to explain some shit that you can't understand. Or won't!"

He extended an arm and pointed a finger at me speaking through his teeth. "Watch your mouth, boy. I can still take you down."

I'd said none of what I wanted to say, too much of what I didn't want to say, and knew it wasn't going to get any better. "I'm sorry about your attack. I'm sorry you're too stupid to have the surgery and I'm sorry I'm your son! I've got to go."

"And I'm sorry you were ever born!"

His last words pierced me like a spear and kept ricocheting through my mind all the way home. God, please let this shit blow over so I can get out of this damned town before I do kill somebody!

As I entered my house, I felt a sharp crack of pain in the back of my skull. My legs dropped out from under me and everything went black.

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